German Shepherd VS Husky – Which Breed Is Right For You?

Every breed of dog has something special to offer. The German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky are two popular breeds that are both great for different reasons. Some breeds do better in warmer climates and some excel in colder climates, while others make for great guard dogs or family pets. So which one is right for you?

German Shepherds and Huskies are both high-energy working dogs, good with kids, and need a lot of exercise and room to play. German Shepherd can make a loyal guard dog and love to be attached to their owner. The Huskies is a more sociable dog with even higher energy and love to be around your family (especially with kids).

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In this article, we are going the examine the origins, appearance, temperament, energy level, lifestyle as well as popularity of the two breeds. Here is a quick summary:

German ShepherdSiberian Husky
OriginOriginate as a herding breed and developed by Captain Max von Stephanitz in the late 1800s.The Siberian Husky is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They were developed by the Chukchi Tribe in Russia.
Size22-26 inches tall20-23.5 inches tall
WeightMales: 70-90 lbs.
Females: 65-80 lbs.
Males: 40-60 lbs.
Females: 35-50 lbs.
CoatDouble coated. Available short or long. They shed all year.Double coated. Their thick undercoat makes them look fluffy. They shed twice a year.
ColorBlack and tan is the most commonly recognized color. Rarer color variations, including sable, black, white, liver, and blue are available as well.Usually appears in mahogany with lighter shades on the stomach. Their faces usually have a black mask.
Lifespan9-13 years12-14 years
Energy levelHigh. Need at least 90 minutes of physical and mental exercise per day.High. They are natural-born marathoners and can run long-distance every day.
Family friendlinessLove and very protective of their family, very child friendlyHuskies love to live in packs and they are very sociable. They are good with children as well as other animals in the household.
TrainabilityGreat, can do just about any job they are assigned to. (Why Are German Shepherds Used as Police Dogs?)Good. But they tend to do things that see the benefit in. So a pack of high-value treats and patience is what you need.
PopularityRanked as AKC’s 3rd most popular breed.Ranked as AKC’s 12th most popular breed
Cost of a puppyUS$1,000 to $3,000US$1000-2500

Origins

The German Shepherd Dogs were obviously originated in Germany. This breed was first responsible for herding sheep and protecting flocks from predators.

In 1899, while attending a show, Captain Max von Stephanitz was deeply impressed by a dog’s intelligence, strength, and obedience. He purchased the dog immediately. This very dog was then registered in the same year, under a new breed registry –  as the German Shepherd Dog.

Related post: The White German Shepherd – the Ancestor of All GSDs

The Siberian Husky is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They were developed by the Chukchi Tribe in Russia with the strength and stamina to haul loads at a fast pace over icy terrain.

The most famous Husky was Balto, who led a pack of dogs during the most difficult stretch of a 658-mile journey while he carried medication to save hundreds of lives from a deadly outbreak of Diphtheria in 1925

Appearance

The German Shepherd measures 22 to 26 inches tall, from paw to shoulder, whereas the Siberian Husky measures slightly shorter at 20 to 23.5 inches tall. The German Shepherd also weighs much more between 65 and 90 pounds, whereas the Siberian Husky weighs between 35 and 65 pounds.

The German Shepherd is longer than a Siberian Husky. This gives him a powerful appearance. The Husky is more proportionate and compact in his shape, whereas the German Shepherd is a lot more muscular. And it is his muscles that give GSD the extra weight.

Looks

They have similarly shaped heads with large ears, with dark features such as their nose and lips. They also have a similar tail when they are in a relaxed state, which is long and thick.

One of the most distinctive differences between these two breeds is their eye color. The Husky, however, is more likely to have bright blue eyes, or even different color eyes, compared to the German Shepherd who should always have dark-colored, usually brown eyes.

Coat length an color

They both have a double coat, which functions to keep them warm in hostile weather conditions.

The GSD comes in a much wider variety of colors: The classic black and tan is their signature coat color. Rarer colors including sable, black, white, liver, and blue are available as well. Yet, the White German Shepherd is not recognized as a show color by the American Kennel Club.

The Husky is recognized in nine colors, with his white and grey coat being the most popular.

Photos from https://www.deviantart.com/

Temperament

Both German Shepherds and the Siberian Huskies can make a good family pet.

German Shepherd is loyal and affectionate. They have strong guarding instincts and don’t make friends immediately, but once they do. With their family, they’re easy-going and approachable, but when threatened, they can be strong and protective, making them excellent watchdogs.

This highly intelligent and trainable breed thrives on having a job to do. German Shepherd can make a loyal guard dog and love to be attached to their owner as well as their handler. And they can be trained to do just about anything, from tracking bombs on the battlefield to being an eye-seeing dog.

The Husky is a sociable breed that loves to be in the pack at all times. For this reason, they are affectionate to every family member, including the pets at home. They are not as aloof to strangers as compared to the GSD.

The Siberian Huskies are not particularly attached to one person. They are usually quite friendly with everyone. And because they were not bred to be super trainable, they are very independent dogs.

The Husky is still a very primitive dog. They retain a lot of wild traits, howling a lot more than barking, and not having as strong a motivation to take direction from a person.

Early socialization is a must for both breeds – exposure to as many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences as possible. It is essential for ensuring the puppies grow up to be well-rounded dogs. 

Evergy levels

While both are high-energy breeds that need a lot of daily exercise. Both are active breeds, but the Husky especially loves to run and they can run at longer distances.

The German Shepherd, as we know it, is a high-energy dog that requires 60-90 minutes of exercise per day to keep him fit, healthy, and happy. The German Shepherd would prefer to partake in challenging activities such as agility courses, or playing fetch and frisbee.

The Husky, on the other hand, is a super high-energy dog who needs at least 90 minutes of exercise a day and would prefer long walks. And he makes for an excellent jogging partner. And if you live somewhere snowy or icy, he would especially love to go sledding, just like what he was originally bred to do.

Be mindful that they are both known to jump 6-foot fences easily – if left bored and unattended. It is very important to help these dogs channel their energy before it manifests itself into destructive behavior. And you must ensure that you enclose your yard with extra tall fencing.

Prey Drive

A “prey drive” is what compels a dog to chase small animals instinctively, which can include birds, mice, insects, squirrels, and even the household cat.

What fires a dog’s prey drive is movement. Sudden and quick movement triggers a reflexive response in dogs. If your dog sees a running cat, his prey drive could have triggered him to chase. 

German Shepherds are originally bred as herding dogs with the job of protecting livestock. They tend to have less prey drive than Huskies and other hunting dogs if well socialized at an early age.

Related: Will German Shepherd Dogs Kill Cats?

On the other hand, Huskies can have a stronger prey drive because they originated in the harsh conditions in Siberia where the food source is scarce. It is merely a built-in survival skill they inherit.

While huskies are generally friendly and not aggressive towards other dogs, they must be supervised around small animals in and around the home, especially if you have cats, rabbits or even chickens.

Grooming Need

Both the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky have double coats.

German Shepherd whose coat feels slightly harsher and the Husky’s coat is much softer to touch in comparison. Regardless, they will both require brushing 2 to 3 times a week.

During their shedding season, which happens twice a year, they will “blow” his inner coat all at once – to prepare for a seasonal change. During this time, they will most certainly need brushing every day. This not only keeps their coat healthy but also keeps your household handy.

The German Shepherd should be bathed once every 8 weeks or so, whereas the Husky is known to be a self-cleaning pup, who will only need a bath a few times every year.

Popularity

German shepherd dogs were introduced in the United States by soldiers returning home from World War I. The breed caught the public eye because of movie stars Rin Tin Tin. (See: Top Movies Featuring German Shepherds [Comedies, Dramas, Wars, Actions and More])

By World War II German Shepherds were the military breed of choice. The first guide dogs were also German Shepherds. Today, they are one of the most popular dogs in America. In 1999, German shepherd dogs were third on the American Kennel Club’s list of the Top 50 Breeds.

Related: Why Are German Shepherds Used as Police Dogs?

Ranked as the 12th most popular breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC), Huskies are trending as new family members across the country. TV shows like “Game of Thrones” put the breed in the spotlight, and their impressive-looking features are attracting dog lovers and hopeful pet owners.

Final Thoughts: German Shpeherd vs Husky – which breed is right for you?

If you are interested in working with an intelligent and highly trainable dog, who is eager to please and can help out around the house, then the German Shepherd is for you. GSDs are in general very friendly with children and can be trained to get along with small animals like cats in the house. Most importantly, a GSD will make the perfect guard dog by instinct. Yet they can sometimes be too vocal and they love to make noises.

And if you’re an active family with young children, the Husky might be more suitable. It is because they always love to be in company and thrive in a pack. This breed can run for long-distance so they can be your perfect marathon training companion. But you must supervise the interaction between the Huskies and cats because they might have a strong prey drive to chase your cats like a game.

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