Labradors are affectionate, people-oriented dogs that are active, love attention, and are enthusiastic cuddle-buddies too. Whether you want a dog to curl up on the couch with, or go for a fun walk in the park with, a Labrador will prove to be an excellent companion and the perfect addition to the family unit. That may be true, but how do Labradors get along with other dogs? Will your new pup get along with your resident German Shepherd, or vice versa? In this article, we answer pertinent questions about Labradors and German Shepherds cohabiting.
Can Labradors and German Shepherds live together? Yes, Labradors and German Shepherds can live very well together, if they are correctly introduced and taught good behavioral traits.
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However, just like humans, some Labradors and German Shepherds just don’t get along – a lot of it comes down to each dog’s temperament.
It is always important to take the personality and temperament of the resident dog into consideration before adding a new puppy to the family unit, regardless of breeds. Below we take a closer look at the compatibility of Labradors and German Shepherds and how to correctly introduce them for a harmonious living environment.
Temperament & Personality | Labrador vs. German Shepherd
It is important to consider what is expected from a particular breed in terms of temperament and personality. It is just as important to note that some breeds won’t present the exact temperament and personality traits expected and this is where unique personality traits may come into play. Consider the following expected traits of each breed.
Labradors are generally friendly, good-natured, intelligent dogs. They are easily trained and as a result, are a top choice as a family pet. Most male Labradors reach a weight of 80lbs max while the females don’t grow much beyond 70lbs.
Related: If you’d like to learn all about your Labrador please check out our article All About Labradors, where we go in-depth into facts, tips, traits, and history of the Labrador breed.
A Labrador is not the type of dog to be left to its own devices, as it needs mental stimulation and company/attention to be happy. Labradors are very social and love to be around people. You can read a little more about this in our article Are Labradors Inside or Outside Dogs.
Most Labradors get along well with other pets and dogs as well as children. As they can be quite exuberant or excitable, they may need some training to teach them good manners, how to respect personal space, and of course, what is considered acceptable behavior.
As a result, you should start obedience training at a very early age. Luckily, they learn quickly and with repetition, you should be able to quickly teach your Lab pup everything it needs in order to be a much-loved and enjoyed family pet.
Related: To learn more about training your Labrador, check out our articles
Complete Puppy Training Guide and
8 Basic Commands Every Lab Should Know.
If you neglect training or leave your Labrador alone and unstimulated for hours at a time, you can expect it to present poor behavior traits such as digging, chewing, and in some cases, barking. To learn more about these issues you can read our article 9 Common Labrador Behavior Problems.
These particular dogs were designed for retrieving, which can make them fixate on chewing, so if you get one you should be prepared to invest in a variety of strong chew toys too.
Their loving and “include me” nature makes them a bad candidate for a guard dog. You can check out our article Do Labradors Make Good Guard Dogs to learn more about this.
While not highly athletic, these dogs do require daily exercise of around 40 minutes (this can be in the form of walks, playing fetch, or running short sprints in the yard). Check out our article How to Walk Your Dog to learn more about your Lab’s exercise needs.
Labradors are prone to hip dysplasia so it is best to keep them away from stairs and to discourage excessive jumping around. You can learn more about hip dysplasia and other health issues in our article 14 Common Labrador Health Problems.
German Shepherds are very often sought after for their guard dog characteristics. Much like Labradors, German Shepherds are very intelligent and therefore learn quickly from an early age. Most grow to a weight of between 60lbs and 80lbs.
Due to their protective nature, they are prone to developing a deep emotional bond with their owners and will do whatever it takes to please and protect.
Much like Labradors, German Shepherds do not do well if they are left untrained. It is important to train the dog in good group behavior, socializing, and respecting personal space. German Shepherds are highly energetic dogs and are not suited for living in cramped indoor spaces.
This breed of dog requires both mental and physical stimulation on a daily basis and as such are only suited to families that enjoy an active lifestyle. If you leave your German Shepherd to its own devices, it can become quite destructive (digging and chewing) and is prone to excessive barking.
German Shepherds are prone to sensitive digestive systems and hip dysplasia too.
Warning Signs That Your Lab & German Shepherd Aren’t Compatible
Monitoring how your dogs behave together and engage with each other can give you a bit of insight into how they truly feel about each other. Much like humans, sometimes certain dogs just don’t get along. Below are a few tell-tale signs that your Labrador and German Shepherd may not be the best fit:
- Increased arousal. It may look like your dog is “humping” another dog, but this type of behavior is very closely linked to aggression. When your dog shows an increase in arousal, it’s best to redirect the attention as this is a sign of asserting dominance.
- The dogs are behaving inappropriately with each other. What’s considered “inappropriate” when it comes to dog play? It’s not as easy to determine as you might think. Often, people overlook the behavior as normal. Anything that’s not considered normal respectful behavior should not be allowed. This includes rolling another dog over, pinning another dog down, or chasing a dog down while it runs or hides away.
- Aggressive signaling. These signs are easier to note and include: growling, snarling, standing stiffly, and staring directly at one another.
Never let either dog get away with behavior that is not kind and accepting. When any of the warning signs present, create a diversion. Distract the dogs from their current interaction and encourage them to move on from it. Correct poor behavior or interaction immediately and make sure that you reward both dogs when they are getting along and interacting correctly.
How to Prepare Your Home for Labs & German Shepherds
Preparing your home for a Labrador and German Shepherd is not too difficult. First and foremost, you need to ensure that there is sufficient space. Remember that these two breeds tend to be larger in size and are energetic dogs that need daily exercise.
Having a large yard is beneficial. It’s not a good idea to keep these dogs in an apartment or limited space unless you are willing to make the effort to take them out and get them regular exercise. Be sure to check out one of our most popular articles, Can a Lab Live in an Apartment for more advice about this subject.
Make sure that there are chew toys available for each dog and that there are also activity toys such as balls, tug ropes, and interactive toys.
You should also make sure that each dog has its own personal space. Whether you are using a bed or crate, make sure that it is positioned in a private spot and ensure that it is comfortable. It is important for both dogs to know that they do have their own comfy space to retreat to when required.
If you are introducing these breeds for the first time, make sure that there are water bowls available, but don’t leave other food bowls in easy reach. When you begin socializing the pets, you should include both dogs in activities such as walking, playing, and cuddling. Only consider shared feeding when you are sure that both dogs are well adjusted and getting along. Space and food are the most common causes of fights between dogs that don’t know each other.
What Other Breeds Are Compatible with Labradors?
Maybe German Shepherds aren’t your first choice as a new family pet. If you already have a Labrador, you can expect the following breeds to generally get along well with your resident dog:
Related: To see a more exhaustive list and in-depth review of dog breeds that are compatible with Labradors, you’ll want to check out our article, 25 Dog Breeds That Are Most Compatible with Labradors.
Golden Retrievers and Labradors have a lot in common, starting with their common ancestor, the St. John’s Water Dog. They are both highly intelligent, energetic, and have a fun and friendly personality. Both breeds love attention and thrive when given a lot of it, along with both mental and physical stimulation.
Much like Labradors, Beagles are affectionate dogs that get along well with other pets and kids. They aren’t as hyperactive as Labrador pups can be before training, but they do settle in well with Labradors quite nicely as they require similar amounts of exercise and are also considered intelligent.
Border Collies and Labradors share so many positive characteristics that many people consider actually crossing the two breeds! Both breeds are intelligent, energetic and affectionate dogs. Border Collies share the same family-friendly trait and simply love to be involved in the activities of the family unit.
The Dachshund with its potential back problems can benefit from sharing a home with a gentle-spirited Labrador. Both are affectionate dogs that love to be included as part of a family. As both form a strong bond with their humans, it is often a good mix.
English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniels and Labradors make a nice mix as both are great companion dogs. As long as they are properly introduced and socialized, there should be no jealousy issues as these are typically relaxed, fun dogs that are highly affectionate.
Labradors and German Shepherds can certainly live together harmoniously. In fact, Labradors get along with most other dogs and pets if they are trained from an early age and properly introduced. If you wish to add a new pet to the family, take your dog’s unique temperament into account and choose a dog that will add to the value and enjoyment of its life. Don’t worry – Labrador’s are as easy to please as they are eager to please.