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German Shepherd Vs Labrador – How Different Are They?

German Shepherd Vs Labrador – How Different Are They?

Comparing two dog breeds, in our case, the German Shepherd vs Labrador Retriever, can come in handy when we want to choose the right dog for us or our family.

It is easy to choose whether we like a large dog or a small dog, yellow or bi-colored, but choosing the right dog according to its temperament, health, and grooming needs is the most important thing to do.

We all love dogs, and all dogs are amazing, but it can be quite different owning a Tibetan Mastiff versus owning a Chihuahua. It’s the same thing with most dog breeds coming from two separate dog groups.

Do you think there is a big difference between owning a GSD and a Lab? They look very different, both in coat color and conformation. But, what about their temperamental traits?

Let’s find out…

Maybe you will see that they are not as different as they seem to be.

German Shepherd Vs Labrador

german shepherd and labrador walking

The first thing we notice when we talk about the German Shepherd vs Labrador is that they are both very popular dog breeds. They can be seen everywhere, all around the world — and for a good reason!

But, let’s take a look at their size difference and lifespan/price range first.

German Shepherd Labrador Retriever
Height22-26 inches 21-24 inches
Weight50-90 lb 55-80 lb
Lifespan7-10 years 11-14 years
Price$500-2000 $700-1500

It seems as if both dogs are of similar weight and height. Their price range is also quite similar, with the German Shepherd costing a bit more.

What’s important to know in the German Shepherd vs Labrador Retriever chart is their social and temperamental traits. After all… those traits will determine if they are great as family pets or if they are just excellent working dogs.

It has to be noted that not all dogs fit under these traits, no matter if they are purebred dogs or not. Every dog is unique, and can be different from the average.

German Shepherd Labrador Retriever
Affectionate Affectionate
Excellent with childrenExcellent with children
Not so good with other dogs Good with other dogs
Not so open to strangers Open to strangers
Excellent watchdog Average watchdog
Very playful Very playful
Highly adaptable Highly adaptable
Moderate barking Moderate barking
Lots of shedding Lots of shedding
No droolingNo drooling

Physical Appearance

beautiful german shepherd sitting in the park

The first and biggest difference when we look at the German Shepherd vs Labrador Retriever chart is their physical appearance.

You cannot think it’s a Lab when you see a GSD. There is no chance for a lot of reasons. They are different conformations, coat color, head shape, ear shape, tail… There are so many physical differences between a German Shepherd dog and a Labrador Retriever.

The only physical traits we can attach to both dogs is that they are medium to large dogs, and that they both have double coat types.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a big dog with a size difference between a male and a female. The latter is smaller in height and weight.

Once bred as a herding dog, the German Shepherd is a famous working and guard dog. They are one of the most used dogs in Police and Military training, together with Belgian Malinois and Rottweilers.

They come in the famous black and rust, or tan coat color, and unique GSD markings. However, there are many other coat colors; for example, a silver GSD, a sable GSD, black, blue, and many more.

The most characteristic physical trait of a GSD is its sloped back. How much the back is slopped depends on the type of German Shepherd. Generally speaking, working GSDs have the least sloped back.

Labrador Retriever

This is also a big dog, and when you take a look at the first German Shepherd vs Labrador chart, you can see that they can have the same weight and height as a GSD. Yes, the GSD can be taller and heavier than the Lab, but the difference is not very big.

Labs are also popular doggos all around the world, but they are very popular among American dog owners and families. In fact, they are the most popular dogs in the States. There are two bloodlines: English Labrador, and American, but they all have the same coat colors:

  • Black lab
  • Yellow lab
  • Chocolate lab

These are the three official AKC-accepted coat colors. However, there are other coat colors not accepted by the AKC, but are still very popular: white lab, charcoal lab, black and tan, silver, etc.

Just like GSDs, they have a double coat type, but Labs have a short, and GSDs have a medium-length or long coat.

Personality Traits

yellow labrador retriever standing on the lawn

So, we’ve seen the German Shepherd vs Labrador Retriever chart in physical differences. There are many of those, starting from coat color to coat length.

What about their temperamental or personality traits? Now, that is where the surprise comes. These two dog breeds have very similar temperamental traits.

The first thing is that they are both great family dogs, especially because they are so great with young children. This trait is commonly seen in German Shepherd mixes and Labrador Retriever mixes, whether it’s a Great Dane/Lab or Pitbull/Lab mix.

Of course, both the German Shepherd puppies and the Labrador dog puppies need proper socialization in order to fully shine and show their incredible nature to the fullest.

German Shepherd

The GSDs are affectionate dogs that go great with children of all ages, but they are not very open to other dogs and strangers. This trait comes from the fact that they are excellent watchdogs.

That’s why they also like to bark. They are not as vocal as Siberian Huskies, but they will bark moderately. This is something to think about if you plan on getting a GSD dog.

Also, because of their intelligence and high trainability, German Shepherds are a popular breed used as service dogs. They love to obey, and they quickly catch onto things.

But, if you are a first-time pet parent, it is better to find another dog — like a Labrador Retriever!

The reason why GSDs are not suitable for first-time owners is their mentioned aloofness, and because of that, they need proper training and proper early socialization.

Also, they shed a lot, and they will require daily brushing to keep both the top coat and the undercoat healthy and without mats.

Read Next: How Often Should You Bathe A German Shepherd?

Labrador Retriever

Let’s talk about popularity again. Some people say Golden Retrievers are the best dogs for families, others say it’s the Lab. Whatever you think is the truth, we think they both make excellent family members.

Labs are just like GSDs, very affectionate and excellent with children, but they are also great with other dogs, and they are open to strangers. This doesn’t make them the best watchdogs or guard dogs, but they can do that, too, through training programs.

Labs were bred as hunting (bird retrieving) dogs, and they love to run, swim, and express their playful nature somewhere in the field. This all tells us they have high energy levels, and that they need lots of exercise every day.

Labs are also known to bark, and they also shed a lot, especially during shedding seasons — late summer to fall and spring.

Read Next: Do Labradors Shed? A Complete Guide To Labrador Shedding

Health Issues

labrador dog lying on examination table in vet clinic

Even though both dog breeds are generally healthy, they still have some common health issues. Most of the issues we will mention are hereditary diseases, which means you have to pay attention to which breeder you get your new puppy from.

You need a responsible breeder who will not breed dogs that have some health conditions that can be transferred to their offspring.

Common health problems and health concerns for both dog breeds include:

All of these conditions require you to take your dog to your local veterinarian, especially if you notice some of the signs of bloat (gastric dilatation volvulus), which is a life-threatening condition in dogs.

Another interesting (but sad) fact is that GSDs have a short lifespan — up to 10 years. Compared to Labs, which can live up to 14 years, that is a short time to spend with your doggo.

The Conclusion

It’s the German Shepherd vs Labrador Retriever — so, how different are they? If you go through the charts, you will see these two dog breeds have more in common than we might think.

Of course, we are talking about their temperamental traits, not their physical ones. Physically, these two dogs couldn’t be more different. But, when it comes to their affection, loyalty, patience with children, shedding, and barking — they are very similar.

The temperamental traits that make the Lab the perfect dog for first-time owners are their openness to strangers and other dogs, their innate playfulness, and their cheerfulness.

However, if you are looking for one of the best guards and watchdogs, then the German Shepherd is the right choice. It will protect you and your family, making you feel safe just by looking at its calm and confident posture.

Whichever you choose, we are sure they will make your days brighter and better.