- Overview of German Shepherd and Golden Retriever
- History and Original Purpose of German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- Quick Summary of the Golden Shepherd
- Pros of Getting a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- Cons of Getting a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- Fun Facts about German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Popularity
- The lifespan of a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Temperament
- How Big a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Will Get
- German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Appearance
- The Coat of the German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- Grooming and Brushing
- Does the German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Shed?
- German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Health and Care
- German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Tolerance to Weather
- Is a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Good for Families?
- Is a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Good with Children and Other Pets?
- Is a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Good for New Owners?
- Is a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix a Good Apartment Dog?
- Is a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Easy to Train?
- Exercise Requirements for German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- Weight Gain in the German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- Feeding Your German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- How Much Does a Golden Retriever German Shepherd Mix Cost?
- How to Train a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- Where to Get a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- Final Thoughts
A German shepherd golden retriever mix is most commonly referred to as a “golden shepherd,” but you might also hear “golden German shepherd” or “German retriever.” Given the popularity of both German shepherds and golden retrievers as pets, it’s only natural that breeders would want to combine the best attributes of each dog. Both breeds are highly intelligent and loyal, and the golden shepherd combines the German shepherd’s protectiveness with the golden retriever’s friendliness.
Although this breed officially dates back to 2009 in North America, when it was recognized by the Designer Breed Registry, it is likely that golden shepherds have been bred unofficially for some time. As designer breeds, they were created primarily as pets, although some owners might find value in the protective instincts of the German shepherd and see a golden shepherd as a more low-key guard dog.
Is this designer dog breed the right pet for you and your family? We’ll break down the golden shepherd’s temperament, health, pros and cons, and more to give you a better understanding of what it’s like to own this smart, active dog breed. Golden shepherds are best for individuals or families with large homes and highly active lifestyles, to which this loyal, loving breed will make the perfect companion.
Overview of German Shepherd and Golden Retriever
Obviously, a mixed breed German shepherd and golden retriever will have characteristics from both of its parents, both in appearance and temperament. Here is a quick overview of the two-parent breeds for the sake of comparison.
Comparison of German Shepherd and Golden Retriever
|Items||German Shepherd||Golden Retriever|
|Type||Herding dog||Hunting dog|
|Origins||19th-20th century||Mid-19th century|
|Country of Origin||Germany||Scotland|
|Height||F: 21 to 25” / M: 24 to 27”||F: 20 to 23” / M: 22 to 25”|
|Weight||74 to 98 pounds||F: 55 to 71 lbs. / M: 59 to 80 lbs.|
|Life Span||9-13 years||10-12 years|
|Coat||Thick, dense, short or long||Straight or wavy|
|Coloring||Black and tan, black, sable||Light to dark golden red|
|Shedding||Constant and seasonal||Moderate|
|Temperament||Alert, intelligent, loyal, outgoing, protective||Alert, friendly, intelligent, loyal, playful|
As you can see, the two parental breeds have many characteristics in common, including approximate size, lifespan, trainability, and kid-friendliness. This mean there isn’t generally too much variation in temperament between one golden shepherd and another. However, when it comes to appearance, your golden shepherd may have distinctive features from either parent.
History and Original Purpose of German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
The golden shepherd is a designer dog, produced from two well-established breeds but not yet recognized as a breed itself by the American Kennel Club. It is, however, recognized by the Designer Breed Registry (DBR), the American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC), the Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA), and the International Designer Canine Registry (IDCR).
Generally, breeders are looking to combine the traits that make a German shepherd a good watchdog with the traits that make the golden retriever a lovable, playful pet. There’s always the possibility of getting the overprotectiveness of the German shepherd and the excitability of a golden retriever, but all golden shepherds are intelligent and trainable enough to make good pets.
That said, they are smart, energetic, and strong enough dogs that they’re best for experienced dog owners. First-time dog owners are better off opting for a more laid-back breed.
Quick Summary of the Golden Shepherd
|Purpose||Family pet or watchdog|
|Suitable For||Families with children, people with large yards|
|Lifespan||10 to 14 years|
|Temperament||Intelligent, energetic, playful, friendly, affectionate, protective|
|Average Height||20 inches to 26 inches|
|Average Weight||55 pounds to 85 pounds|
|Coat Type||Thick double coat, may be smooth or rough|
|Color Variations||Any combination of gold, black, and tan|
|Grooming Needs||Moderate – brushing, nails, teeth, ears, bath every 6-8 weeks|
|Brushing||2-3 times a week (at least)|
|Tolerant to Solitude||Very low – prone to separation anxiety|
|Tolerance to Heat||High|
|Tolerance to Cold||Very high|
|Good Family Pet?||Excellent|
|Good with Children?||Excellent|
|Good with Other Dogs?||Moderate to excellent with proper socialization|
|Good with Other Pets?||Moderate to excellent with proper socialization|
|Good Apartment Dweller?||No – high activity levels|
|Good Pet for New Owner?||No – easily bored, very active|
|Trainability||Intelligent and easy to train|
|Exercise Needs||High – at least one hour of daily physical activity|
|The tendency to Gain Weight||Moderate|
|Daily Food Consumption||Approximately 2.5 to 3 cups of large-breed kibble a day split over 2 to 4 meals|
|Common Health Concerns||Hip/elbow dysplasia, eye problems, cancer, hyperthyroidism, degenerative myelopathy|
|Average New Puppy Price||$400 to $800+|
|Average Annual Medical Expense||$500 to $600|
|Average Annual Non-Medical Expense||$500 to $600|
|Yearly Cost to Own This Breed||$1,000+|
Pros of Getting a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- The friendly, sociable family dog.
- Gets along well with children, other dogs, and other pets
- Easy to train
Cons of Getting a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- Easily bored
- Can become destructive if left alone
- Prone to separation anxiety
- Requires substantial exercise
- Prone to heavy shedding, both seasonal and year-round
Fun Facts about German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
- The German shepherd is the second most popular dog breed in the United States, and the golden retriever is the third most popular.
- The Designer Breed Registry first recognized the golden shepherd in 2009.
- Both parent breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, so it’s especially important to keep your golden shepherd at a healthy weight to avoid putting too much stress on the joints.
- Golden shepherds are the perfect dogs for agility training. With their combination of brains and energy, they’ll love having an obstacle course to navigate.
- Golden retrievers are bred hunting dogs, so the instinct to play fetch runs deep in them. Not so much in the German shepherd! However, if you teach your golden shepherd to fetch when they’re young, they’ll be hooked for life.
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Popularity
While there are no readily-available statistics on golden shepherd ownership, it is thought that this is a very popular hybrid breed in the United States given the popularity of the parent breeds. Although some apartment complexes and other living areas may have breed restrictions against so-called “aggressive” breeds like the German shepherd, these guard dogs remain popular pets. Some of the motivation for breeding German shepherds with golden retrievers may be to achieve a mixed breed with the German shepherd’s loyalty but without its potentially aggressive instincts.
The lifespan of a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
A golden shepherd will typically live between 10 and 14 years, which is slightly longer than the lifespan of either parent breed.
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Temperament
Golden shepherds are excellent family and companion dogs with their playful, friendly, and loyal temperaments. Their high energy and affectionate nature make them great with kids. Of course, like any dog breed, they need the training to learn how to behave around children. Similarly, children must be taught how to play nicely with dogs. Golden shepherds are smart and will enjoy playing with puzzle toys. However, they are also power chewers, so make sure to invest in heavy-duty toys that they won’t destroy immediately.
While German shepherds aren’t naturally aggressive, they can be protective, and combined with their strong loyalty, this can sometimes mean that they become very attached to one person and see other people, particularly strangers in the home, and animals as threats. However, this is a worst-case scenario, and in a golden shepherd, this protectiveness is mitigated by the golden retriever’s sociability. Still, it’s important to socialize your golden shepherd from a young age, getting them used to other people, children, and other pets and dogs.
How Big a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Will Get
Despite the fact that German shepherds and golden retrievers are both large dogs, their mixes can vary greatly in size and weight. On the lower end, you may have a golden shepherd around 20” in height and 55 pounds, and on the higher end, you may have one closer to 26” in height and 85 pounds.
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Appearance
As with many new designer breeds, there are no appearance standards yet for the golden shepherd. These dogs are usually first-generation hybrids, meaning that one parent is a full-blooded German shepherd and the other is a full-blooded golden retriever. As a result, golden shepherds may end up with physical characteristics from either breed, and one golden shepherd won’t necessarily look like another. That is, there’s no “typical” appearance.
That said, it’s common to see the characteristic black muzzle and ears of the German shepherd on a golden shepherd. They may also carry the German shepherd’s black “saddle” coloring across the back. The body may be any combination of red, black, or tan, and the triangular ears may be erect and or floppy.
The Coat of the German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
A golden shepherd’s fur may be any combination of colors from its parents, which include the following:
Additionally, golden retrievers have longer coats that may be straight or moderately wavy. German shepherds have double coats that consist of a top layer of longer, stiffer hairs and an under layer of shorter, softer hairs. Golden shepherds will almost invariably inherit this double coat, but the length and waviness may vary.
Grooming and Brushing
A golden shepherd’s coat may be long or short, depending on the parents. However, they’ll all have a very thick double coat that needs brushing at least 2-3 times a week, if not daily. If not brushed, this long, thick fur is prone to matting, especially on the ears and under the belly and legs. Matted, knotted fur can eventually cause pain and discomfort if not trimmed away.
As with all dogs, teeth and ear cleaning is important to a golden shepherd’s general health. You should brush your dog’s teeth daily and check ears for debris or insects on a regular basis. Bathing your golden shepherd once every six to eight weeks should be sufficient. More than that can dry out their skin and coat.
Does the German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Shed?
Golden shepherds shed quite a lot, particularly seasonally, but all year round, as well. They are clearly not hypoallergenic. If you absolutely can’t stand vacuuming, you’ll probably want to choose a different breed of dog.
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Health and Care
The golden shepherd is not a good apartment dog. Although you don’t absolutely have to have a huge yard to raise a happy golden shepherd, it will help quite a bit. These are large, active dogs who need plenty of exercise in a stimulating environment.
The last thing you should do is leave these energetic, social dogs alone all day – that’s not good for their physical or mental health. If you do live in a small space and have very little time for walks, you’ll need to either plan your days very carefully around your dog’s exercise or consider a different dog breed.
Mixed breed dogs are usually hardier and have fewer health problems than purebreds, and golden shepherds are generally healthy dogs. However, both the German shepherd and the golden retriever are prone to a joint condition called hip dysplasia. Amateur breeders or puppy mills may inadvertently breed two dogs who carry the genetic condition, creating puppies that may ultimately suffer from severe joint pain.
We always recommend adopting over shopping, but if you’re absolutely desperate for a golden shepherd puppy, make sure you go to a reputable breeder. This will give you the best chance of finding a healthy dog who will give you many years of love.
Here are some other health conditions that golden shepherds may be prone to:
- Hip/elbow dysplasia
- Eye problems
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Corneal dystrophy
- Retinal dysplasia
- Mast cell tumor
- Heart disease
- Skin disease
- Sebaceous adenitis
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Von Willebrand disease
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Tolerance to Weather
Golden shepherds are generally tolerant to both heat and cold. Those with thick coats have an especially high tolerance for cold. Despite this tolerance, however, you should never leave your golden shepherd outside in extreme temperatures for long amounts of time. Additionally, always make sure they have plenty of water to drink when in the heat.
Golden shepherds tend to bark a moderate amount, though they can be trained to bark less. Additionally, because of their protectiveness, they may alert you when strangers approach.
Is a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Good for Families?
A golden shepherd is a good fit for many families, particularly active ones. This is a dog that needs longs of physical and mental stimulation, so the presence of many active people will keep the golden shepherd engaged and playful.
Is a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Good with Children and Other Pets?
Golden shepherds are generally good with children and other pets, though they need to be socialized from a young age so they can become accustomed to creatures smaller than they are. Keep in mind, however, that these are large, energetic dogs, and children and pets who are fearful may be overwhelmed.
Remember that just like dogs need to be socialized with children, children also need to be socialized with dogs. They need to be taught how to play gently with dogs and pet them without tugging on ears or tails. Children should never be left unsupervised with a dog, nor should they attempt to take any dog’s food away when it is eating. Some dogs feel very vulnerable at mealtimes, and they may lash out if they feel threatened while eating.
Is a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Good for New Owners?
Unfortunately, because of its high energy and intelligence, the golden shepherd is not the best breed for new dog owners. Although they are easy to train, they are also strong, energetic dogs, which can make them difficult to control at times. They also have relatively high grooming needs, which may be overwhelming to new owners. It is not recommended that you adopt a golden shepherd as your very first dog.
Is a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix a Good Apartment Dog?
No, the golden shepherd is categorically not a good apartment dog. While it is not impossible to live in an apartment with a happy, healthy golden shepherd, it is extremely difficult. They are large dogs that need a lot of food and exercise, so they don’t tend to do well in small living spaces.
Is a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Easy to Train?
Yes, because this breed is so intelligent, it is easy to train them. However, it is important to keep in mind that positive reinforcement, not punishment, is the best way to train any dog, including a golden shepherd.
Exercise Requirements for German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
All that intelligence and loving energy come with a cost, though – golden shepherds need significant exercise, at least an hour every day. They also like variety in their exercise, as they can easily become bored without diverse stimuli. If you’re an avid runner or hiker, your golden shepherd will love tagging along, running off their energy, and experiencing new surroundings.
You might also consider some more formal exercise training for your golden shepherd. Competitive events like agility, flyball, and chase will appeal to these dogs. Even if you don’t intend to compete, golden shepherds will love the combination of physical and intellectual challenge that comes with navigating obstacle courses and racing to retrieve toys.
Weight Gain in the German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
Like many large dogs, the golden shepherd can be prone to weight gain if overfed. It can actually suffer from a condition called bloat, also known as gastric torsion, in which the stomach becomes stretched and filled with gas. Although several different factors can contribute to bloat, overfeeding is one of them, so it’s important for your golden shepherd to have a healthy, moderate diet.
Feeding Your German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
The best food for a German shepherd golden retriever mix is a blend created for large dogs with lots of energy. However, the wide variation in weight and size means that a more specific recommendation will depend on your particular golden shepherd’s body. Ask your vet if you aren’t sure. Usually, though, a golden shepherd will need between 2.5 and 3 cups of food a day. When the golden shepherd is a puppy, this should be split over four meals, but for an adult, it can be split into two meals.
How Much Does a Golden Retriever German Shepherd Mix Cost?
A reputable breeder will usually charge at least $500 for a golden shepherd puppy, and may charge $800 or more. While this is expensive for a non-show-quality dog, you’re paying for the good genetics of a healthy dog who will hopefully be a companion to you for many years. A cheap, disreputable breeder may charge less, but you may end up with an unhealthy golden shepherd who only lives a few years.
How to Train a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
Luckily for the trainer, golden shepherds are both intelligent and eager to please, meaning that they are generally easy to train. They may be motivated by either toys or praise, depending on the individual dog, but always be sure to use positive reinforcement. Keep in mind, however, that they’re also sensitive dogs, so if your golden shepherd becomes frustrated during a training session that runs too long, it’s best to take a break and resume training later.
Golden shepherds can benefit from crate training so that they don’t become destructive when you must leave them home alone. The crate should be a safe, restful space for your dog to relax while you’re gone. As long as you don’t leave them crated for long periods of time, your golden shepherd will see the crate as their personal domain. Also, be sure to curb destructive chewing by providing them with plenty of heavy-duty chew toys.
Where to Get a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
Finding a German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix can be a little bit difficult because it’s a designer breed. However, rescuing a German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix is still possible if you contact rescue organizations for both parental breeds. You may not know the dog’s parentage for certain, but you’ll be giving a good home to a dog that needs one.
However, if you’re set on raising a German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix puppy, make sure to go to a reputable breeder. A good breeder will have extensive information on both parents and their health history. They will know how to select the best parents to breed healthy golden shepherds.
Is a German shepherd golden retriever mix the right dog for you? If you identify yourself on the list below, you may be the perfect owner for a golden shepherd:
- You want a family dog to play with your active children in your large yard.
- You want a companion to go with you on hikes or runs.
- You want a smart dog who can learn to run an obstacle course.
- You don’t have allergies, nor do you mind frequent brushing and vacuuming.
- You want a loyal friend with boundless energy.