GERMAN SHEPHERD vs LABRADOR RETRIEVER
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The German Shepherd has a long history of being used as a working dog in military and
police settings because of their protective and loyal natures. In the home, and even without
protection training, the German Shepherd is an excellent guard dog who will not hesitate to
act if they perceive a threat to what they consider their territory or their family. That's not to
say they aren't very loving and affectionate dogs but they do have a very strong drive to
protect. The German Shepherd has to see you as their canine leader so they will look to you
for guidance in all situations rather than acting on their own.
The Labrador, despite being only slightly smaller than the German Shepherd, does not often
make a good guard dog because of their friendly and loving nature. The Lab is extremely
loyal to its family but does not have the same protection and guarding instinct to the level
that the German Shepherd does. While the Bab may bark at an intruder and if there is a real
threat they will likely act, as most canines will, but they should not necessarily be relied upon
to guard the home since they typically have no fear of strangers.
Our next category of comparison is intelligence. Both the German Shepherd and Lab are
considered very intelligent breeds and both excel at different types of speciality work. The
German Shepherd is known for a very high obedience level and willingness to please at a
competition level. They have a very high drive and thrive when they have a job to do.
The Labrador is very similar but excels mostly as a hunting dog retrieving downed game for
its owners and as a scent work dog. Both dogs are used for their sent to work abilities
sniffing out things like drugs or bombs or people.
The German Shepherd is very recognisable because of its thick coat and typical brown and
black markings. And they do have quite a bit of fur which means they shed continuously
year-round with seasonal periods of higher shedding.
The Lab was bred to excel in wetlands and in water so they have a thick undercoat and
water repellent outer coat. Their undercoat sheds frequently year-round and like the German
Shepherd and most double coded breeds, they blow their coat seasonally typically in the
spring and fall.
Both of these breeds will have higher grooming requirements than many other short coded
dog breeds and are considered to be on the larger end of medium-sized breeds. Both are
also known to develop a condition called Hip Dysplasia so extra care needs to be taken to
protect their joints throughout their lives.
The German Shepherd is typically a very high-energy dog that thrives in an environment
where they have the job to do and plenty of exercise. They excel at protection work with the
police and military because of this high-energy and drive to always be doing something.
They do like to be home with their family and will settle in for a night on the couch easily after
they've had a good long play session.
The Lab also tends to have quite a bit of energy and the needs at least a couple of hours
each day for mental and physical stimulation but they are at a slightly lower energy than the
German Shepherd. When conditioned properly they can run, hike, and swim all day and
without this exercise, just like us, they are prone to overeating and gaining weight.
Our final category of comparison is as a family dog. The German Shepherd is extremely
loyal to his family and tends to bond more closely with the person that trains and works with
them the most. Most German shepherds are good with children but play should be
supervised since they are large dogs with a high energy level and may perceive children
playing as a potential threat.
The Labrador is quite laid-back by comparison and makes a wonderful family dog. They will
play and engage with children loving a game of fetch and are watchful but not overly
protective. The Labrador is a medium-size dog so they should of course be supervised
especially around small children who can easily be knocked over or whacked by their always
And there you have it, the main differences between the German Shepherd and Labrador. I
hope this has given you a bit more insight into two of the most popular breeds in the world so
you can make the best and most informed choice for your next canine companion.