The Great Dane German Shepherd mix, also known as the German Shepherd Great Dane mix or Shepherdane, is a large designer dog that blends two of the most popular breeds. This crossbreed combines the intelligence and trainability of the German Shepherd with the gentle, affectionate nature of the Great Dane. While a relatively new mixed breed, the Great Dane German Shepherd mix has quickly grown in popularity.
However, this is a very large and powerful dog with high exercise needs and special care requirements. These hybrids make devoted family companions but require dedicated, experienced owners. Read on to learn more about the history, temperament, appearance, health issues, exercise requirements, training tips, and suitability of the Great Dane German Shepherd hybrid dog.
As a newer intentionally bred hybrid dog, the Great Dane German Shepherd mix does not have a long documented history. Most designer dogs, especially first generation crosses, originated within the past 10-20 years.
The Great Dane descends from old English Mastiff-type dogs bred for hunting boar, bear and deer in Germany. Their name references Denmark, one of the early origins of the breed. German Shepherds were first bred specifically for herding abilities in Germany in 1899. They quickly became popular as working dogs used by the military and police.
While the exact origins are undocumented, this giant crossbreed was likely first intentionally developed in North America or Europe to combine positive attributes from both parent breeds. They have grown in popularity along with other large designer dogs like Great Danes crossed with Labradors or Boxers.
Appearance and Size
Since the Great Dane German Shepherd mix is a newer crossbreed, their appearance can vary quite a bit even within the same litter. In general, these hybrids are quite large, ranging from about 28-34 inches tall at the shoulder and often weighing 90 to 180 pounds.
Most have a strong, muscular and athletic build. They tend to have a combination of a German Shepherd’s pointed ears and long muzzle along with some features of a Great Dane like their soulful eyes. Common coat colors include black, gray, fawn, brown, blue, as well as brindle and merle patterns from the Great Dane.
Temperament and Personality Traits
Intelligent, energetic and affectionate, the Shepherdane combines some of the best traits of the German Shepherd and Great Dane. They are intensely loyal to their families and highly trainable when properly motivated. With good socialization and handling from an early age, these hybrids generally have calm, gentle dispositions ideal for a family pet.
Some caution should be taken, as German Shepherd hybrids can often be more reactive or protective than purebred Labs or Retrievers. Ongoing obedience training and firm leadership is a must. If not provided with enough physical and mental exercise, these energetic dogs may become bored and destructive. But with the right owner, they make wonderful companions.
Exercise and Activity Level
Plan to provide at least 60-90 minutes of vigorous daily exercise for a Great Dane German Shepherd mix. These high-energy dogs need regular opportunities both to run and play. Long walks, hiking, running beside a bike, swimming and retrieving games are great activities for this crossbreed.
As both parent breeds are working dogs bred for their strength and endurance, this is not a dog suited for small living spaces. They should have access to a securely fenced yard. Keep in mind that younger and more active Great Dane German Shepherd mixes may require even more exercise and intensive activities to stay happy and stimulated.
Without adequate outlets for their energy, these hybrids are prone to developing behavioral issues like destruction of property, excessive barking and aggression. An under stimulated dog can easily become an unmanageable dog. Providing mental stimulation through obedience or agility training is also important.
Thanks to the intelligence and working drive of both the German Shepherd and Great Dane, these hybrids typically respond very well to training. They aim to please their owners. Starting obedience training early and continuing it throughout life is highly recommended for these powerful pups.
Use positive reinforcement methods, rewarding desired behaviors with treats and praise. Avoid any harsh scolding or punitive techniques. Given their large size, it’s vital to teach Great Dane German Shepherd puppies not to jump up on people from an early age as well.
While naturally protective, socialization to prevent sharpness or aggression towards strangers and other animals is essential. Expose your Great Dane Shepherd pup to a wide variety of people and situations early on to set them up for success as an adult.
Grooming and Care
The Great Dane German Shepherd mix sheds year-round, more heavily during seasonal changes. Plan to brush them 2-3 times per week to control loose hair. Bathing only when necessary helps maintain coat oils. Check and clean ears regularly to avoid infections.
Use a nail clipper or grinder to trim nails as needed. Get pups accustomed to being handled, brushed and having their nails and feet touched from a young age. Most will need professional grooming every 6-8 weeks for bathing and nail maintenance. Avoid over-bathing, as this can dry out skin and fur.
It’s also important to properly care for their teeth. Brush teeth at least two to three times a week and provide chew toys and treats to prevent tartar buildup. As giant breeds, it’s critical to feed high-quality dog foods formulated for larger dogs and follow feeding guidelines carefully to prevent rapid growth.
Health and Lifespan
Crossbreed dogs can inherit a combination of health issues seen in one or both of their parent breeds. For the Great Dane German Shepherd mix, some concerns to be aware of include:
- Bloat or gastric torsion – life threatening stomach condition requiring emergency surgery. Avoid vigorous exercise before and after eating, and limit water intake when eating.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia – malformation of joints. Keep lean, follow exercise limits during growth.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy – weakening heart muscle. Use caution during anesthesia.
- Degenerative myelopathy – spinal cord nerve damage causing hind limb weakness and paralysis over time. No cure, only supportive care. More common in older dogs.
With proper care, exercise and vet checkups, a healthy Shepherdane can live 10-13 years on average. High-quality nutrition and maintaining a lean body condition supports joint, heart and immune health.
Is the Great Dane German Shepherd Mix Right for You?
Before seeking out any crossbreed puppy, make sure you thoroughly research the breed and can provide for their extensive needs. Both Great Danes and German Shepherds require dedicated owners able to give them appropriate exercise, training, socialization and veterinary care.
While good-natured family companions, Great Dane Shepherd mixes should be supervised around very young children due to their large size. Their high prey drive means they may not cohabit well with smaller household pets like cats either. They’re better suited for active, experienced dog owners able to properly handle their energy levels and strength.
For the right owner willing to put in the time and effort these giant hybrids need to thrive, the Great Dane German Shepherd mix can be a wonderfully loyal and loving canine companion. Be sure you’re prepared for this commitment before bringing one of these magnificent dogs into your home.