Owning a dog is therapeutic but it takes a lot of research, as not all breeds are for everyone. There are different classes for dogs as well, and the working breed is one that many families find to be good dogs for loyalty and companionship.
The Siberian Husky and the German Shepherd are two of the dogs in this class, but the backgrounds vary greatly.
Before you purchase or adopt one of these two dogs, you will want to know the history, care, and health of each breed to decide which one is better for you.
German Shepherd History
As stated above, the Shepherd is in the working class. It was originally bred to help ranchers with herding. However, now the breed can be seen in the police force and military units. They are ideal for service animals and even search and rescue.
In addition to loving to do work, they are extremely loyal and protective of their owners. This did not happen overnight; it took over three decades to perfect this breed.
Siberian Husky History
Unlike the German shepherds, the Siberian husky breed was bred to withstand the cold temperatures of Siberia and pull sleds loaded down. They have a strong work ethic and are the reason their owners were able to survive in the frigid environment.
Huskies are now known for their racing abilities, which began after a town in Alaska was suffering from diphtheria in 1925 and a team of huskies ran just over 650 miles in less than a week to bring medicine.
Both the Siberian husky and the German Shepherd have a thick undercoat that makes them both look like balls of fluff.
The German shepherd is a tad larger than the husky and average weight is roughly 75-80 pounds for a grown adult. The husky is often only a few inches shorter than the German shepherd, but rarely weighs over 50 pounds for a healthy adult.
Unlike the Siberian husky, the German shepherd has a very lean build and has a very muscular appearance. They can be found in black, sable, grey, black and tan, black and red, or black and silver.
The husky, however, has a compact build and hair stand out more. They have over a dozen different color variations as well.
They include all white, sable, brown, piebald (irregular patches of color), copper, red, black and tan, all black, black and white, grey, silver, agouti (more of a wolf-like appearance), and splash (generally white in color with a blanket over their back with a different color). The all-white is the rarest.
As far as overall appearance, both dogs have a handsome appearance. The Siberian husky has almond eyes, while most German shepherds have more of round eye shape. They both have beautiful erect ears and a saber style tail.
While these dogs were originally bred for the working environment, they still make great family dogs. They can be great with other animals in the house and with children, but many times become extremely protective.
If you are looking at a German Shepherd, you will need to make sure you train them early in life and socialize them with other dogs and people. What you need to watch for is the extreme sensitivity this breed has.
Due to their extreme willingness to learn and help their owners, they must be given jobs to always feel important. Some examples include bringing in the newspaper, answering the door, etcetera.
For huskies, they are extremely smart, but they are also mischievous. According to Prestige Animal Hospital, they bond to their family and often struggle with separation anxiety if left alone for too long.
It is ideal to have more than one pet if you are wanting a Siberian husky, and you need an active lifestyle that they can accompany you with. The one thing to watch for with the husky is their extreme ability to escape enclosures.
Siberian huskies and German shepherds are both highly trainable dogs, as they are both intelligent, eager to please, and love their owners.
While shepherds love learning and enjoy being given jobs, Michele Welton, a professional dog trainer, warns the husky tends to only do things that benefit him.
The Siberian husky can be trained, but you will need to give him an incentive to learn what you want him to.
This can lead to frustrations and a desire to let the dogs do as they want. However, just like intelligent children, if you let your dog become bored, you will face problems.
It does not matter whether you have a Husky or a Shepherd, a bored dog will leave your house or yard in ruins.
It is best to simply start training your pup at a young age, keep with positive reinforcement, and constantly change up their toys or activities. They will adjust and be happy with your family or any living environment.
As mentioned above, both of these breeds need a lot of activity. Huskies are the more energetic breed and love to run.
That is what they were designed to do and what they long for. Shepherds also need exercise to stay mentally healthy and fit but they can survive with short doses. If you own either breed, you will want to look at two times a day.
Huskies will need a good long run or a couple of hours in a fully secured dog park, because of their escaping ability a yard is rarely enough.
German shepherds, on the other hand, are happy with a couple of 30-minute walks or some playtime in a yard. They are also a breed that loves to play fetch with their own.
No breed of dog is without common health problems, and they are worse with poor breeding. If you are looking for a pure-bred dog, you need to know the family line to understand what health problems you may be facing.
However, if you are adopting, the problems may come without knowledge. Huskies are more prone to eye complications with cataracts being the most common. They may also suffer from progressive retinal atrophy or corneal dystrophy.
The veterinarians at the East Dallas Vet Clinic have noticed that German shepherds are more prone to joint issues, allergies, and stomach problems.
Hip and elbow dysplasia are common problems with this breed, and bloat is something you will need to watch for with how fast they like to eat.
Siberian huskies generally have a longer healthspan, often between 10-15 years. German shepherds are a bigger breed and as such, leads to a shorter lifespan but not by much. With proper care and ownership, a German shepherd can live healthy 10-12 years.
Their lifespan not only relies on the exercise you give them and watching for health problems but also what you feed them. Both breeds will require a high-quality diet that is very specific for their size.
These are breeds that thrive on a raw food diet that has real superior meat and is without soy, wheat, and corn.
Care and Grooming
Huskies and German shepherds both have thick undercoats and are notorious for shedding year-round. They need to be brushed at least twice a week, but daily brushing will help limit the amount of hair you find around your house.
It is ideal, with both breeds, to use an undercoat removal system such as the FURminator. Any de-shedding tools are necessary for the removal of dead hairs during the high shedding season. The rest of the year, it is more of a benefit to you than the dog.
These dogs will also need a weekly or bi-monthly bath, as they will sweat and get into the dirt as they play.
Thankfully, these are breeds that enjoy water so you can make bath time something fun and mentally stimulating.
According to AKC, you do not want to bathe the Shepherd breed too often, as they produce natural oils keeping their coat healthy. This is especially true for the husky because their coat is designed to keep them warm in frigid climates.
Finally, just as you would any breed, Siberian huskies and German shepherds will both need regular grooming appointments to trim their nails and clean their ears.
Talk to your veterinarian about teeth cleaning and diet to help with any breath or teeth issues.
Deciding on Which Breed
With the knowledge you now have, how do you decide which breed will make a better pet for your family?
According to Arctic Spirit Rescue, for a family that has young children or a very active lifestyle, a Siberian husky is a good breed.
They are extremely playful and children will help keep them mentally stimulated. They are also the more patient of the breeds with younger children.
If you are looking for a dog that will be more protective of your home, then a German shepherd is going to be the better of the two breeds. Huskies will only do what they feel like, while German shepherds live to protect their owners.
Shepherds are also a breed that is ideal for a family that wants only one dog because the Siberian husky is a pack animal.
Unfortunately, neither breed is ideal if you are wanting to adopt from a shelter. It is important to know the family health line of these breeds before you adopt them.
Their common health complications are costly to treat and without treatment, their quality of life declines. However, if you want to select adoption, just consider getting an adult dog that already has the health problems known.
German shepherds often have high anxiety around people. You will only want to choose this breed if you have the ability, time, and desire to socialize this dog young and often throughout the rest of his life.
They are very proud breeds but aggression is common. Most of the time, once they become an aggressive dog, they cannot be trusted around other dogs or kids.
You can still own them if you are prepared to have a muzzle when you take them out and have strong control over them.
Siberian huskies, on the other hand, have a tendency to suffer from anxiety problems if they are left alone for an elongated period.
This is a breed you will only want to consider if you want more than one dog in the house, have children to play with them, or have someone in the house most of the day. They thrive on companionship, unlike the German shepherd.
Whether you select a German Shepherd or a Siberian Husky, you will have your work cut out for you. They both come with great rewards for joy and love.
These working dogs have their own specific drives and knowledge of those drives will land you with a pet that wants nothing more than bringing you companionship for their span of life.
You will need to be prepared for the training required for either breed. In addition, both breeds will require a bit of money to keep their diet regulated, grooming done, and mind stimulated.
Neither breed will be a couch potato, and both may set you back $50-$100 a month. However, both breeds are extremely doting with owners, kids, other dogs, and highly trainable.
They are generally quiet dogs, with the Shepherd only being noisy when protecting their family. Huskies are known for singing to their owners, but it is quiet and enjoyable.
Finally, when selecting any dog, make sure you plan for an introductory period. If you have children or other pets, they will need time to get to know the new dog and find out if they are compatible. Whether you adopt a puppy or an adult dog, all family members have to get along for a happy living arrangement.
These are both breeds that are often put up for adoption because owners were not prepared for the work and money that go into them.
Hopefully, with this article, you have a good idea that they are both great pets and well worth the effort, but will require an owner that is prepared for having more than just a companion animal.
If you want to know everything about Gerberian Shepsky check our in-depth guide about German Shepherd Husky Mix.