While purebred dogs still certainly have their appeal, more and more dog owners are seeking out mixed breeds.
These dogs have hybrid vigor, are often less expensive than purebreds, and have the potential to combine characteristics of multiple desirable dog breeds.
And if you want a loyal mixed breed with a good temperament, a Carolina Dog/German Shepherd mix might be what you’re looking for.
Before delving into the characteristics of a Carolina Dog/German Shepherd mix, we’ll need to look into the characteristics of each individual breed.
What is a Carolina Dog?
The Carolina Dog is a dog of many names. While the official AKC breed name is the Carolina Dog, you may have heard this breed described as the Dixie Dingo or the American Dingo. It’s even been called by colloquial names like “yaller dog.”
The breed got its name because it developed as a feral dog in the southeastern United States, including the Carolinas.
Especially considering their wild roots, these dogs have an appealing aesthetic to many. They have dainty feet, pointed ears, and expressive eyes, and their tails curl up over their backs while they’re excited.
They come in many colors, but most are some shade of light golden brown–this likely contributed to their being known as “yaller dogs” in some areas.
While their feral origins may give potential owners some pause, these dogs have the potential to be great pets.
According to the American Kennel Club, these dogs are reserved around strangers and have a strong pack mentality, as it’s something they needed to survive in the wild.
Interestingly enough, Carolina Dogs look a lot like Australian Dingoes, as well as feral or “pariah” dogs in other areas of the world.
If you’re interested in seeing the resemblance, this video offers a detailed comparison of Carolina Dogs (American Dingoes) and Australian Dingoes.
However, once they’re used to their owners, they accept them as pack members and are very loyal.
As for compatibility with other pets and the family in general, the Carolina Dog is usually a good fit. According to Saving Carolina Dogs, a rescue and advocacy group, these dogs are sighthounds with a significant prey drive.
However, because they aren’t especially high-energy dogs, Carolina Dogs will usually adapt well to other animals, especially if they are introduced as puppies.
What Should You Know About the German Shepherd?
While not everyone is familiar with the Carolina Dog, most of us have heard of the German Shepherd. These intelligent and loyal dogs are often used as police dogs and service dogs, but they still make great pets.
According to the American Kennel Club, even pet German Shepherds have been known to display the heroism of their working-dog counterparts.
Even without training, some of these dogs have been known to save drowning children, take bullets for their owners, and run to get help if an owner is in distress.
According to Canine Journal, the German Shepherd’s history as a herding dog means that this breed is one that works hard and is trainable.
But before getting a German Shepherd, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re up for the task–these breeds need a calm yet confident person as a trainer.
Otherwise, the dog may assume s/he is the pack leader, which can cause significant obedience issues.
When a German Shepherd is well trained, this dog is loyal to its owners and generally good with children. However, these dogs do tend to shed a great deal.
The most common color is black and tan, but you may also find these dogs with all black or sable coats.
You may also see white German Shepherds, but these dogs are considered a different breed.
What Can You Expect from a Carolina Dog/German Shepherd Mix?
Knowing a little about both dog breeds can help you predict what a mixed breed puppy will be like. But as you likely know, genetics are complex.
One Carolina Dog/German Shepherd puppy might end up looking significantly different from another with the same parents.
In many cases, though, a mix of these two breeds will result in what looks like a scaled-down version of a German Shepherd.
Since Carolina Dogs aren’t a very well-known breed, some animal shelters errantly label them as German Shepherd mixes.
If you want a dog that looks like a German Shepherd but prefers a smaller dog, this breed cross might be good for you.
Carolina dogs are usually 30-50 pounds, while German Shepherds can get as big as 85 to 90 pounds. A mix is likely to be somewhere in the middle in terms of size.
Temperament in a mixed breed can be hard to predict. You might guess that a Carolina Dog/German Shepherd mix would have a temperament like that of a quieter German Shepherd. If you have a strong preference when it comes to temperament, there are a few ways to test it.
Usually, before you buy a puppy, most experts advise some form of temperament testing. Dog-training site Dog Training Secret advises owners that a temperament test gives some insight into a puppy’s personality, but that it doesn’t guarantee an adult temperament.
Where Can You Find a Carolina Dog/German Shepherd Mix?
You probably know that, for those looking for a purebred dog, there’s a host of breeders and breed-specific rescues across the country. But if you’re looking for this specific breed combination, you might need to get creative in your search.
Looking in a variety of spaces may help improve your chances of finding this unique and special dog. Here are some places to start your search:
Rescues–We mentioned breed-specific rescues earlier. These rescues also often take in mixed-breed dogs that are at least partially the rescue’s chosen breed. Try checking both Carolina Dog and German Shepherd rescues for puppies or adult dogs.
Animal shelters–Look at adoptable dogs at local shelters, but remember that Carolina Dogs are often mistakenly called German Shepherd mixes. You may not know your new dog’s exact genetic makeup, but looking for breed characteristics can help you find something close.
Classified ads–Looking at photos from local classified ads is another way you may be able to find a German Shepherd/Carolina Dog mix.
How Should You Train Your New Puppy or Dog?
What do you get when you cross an independent dog with feral origins and a headstrong working dog?
A Carolina Dog/German Shepherd mix has the potential to be a loyal pet. But because both breeds need the training to be at their best, make sure you plan to train yours.
If you’re a veteran dog trainer, this might be a non-issue. But many people, especially new dog owners, need a little help when it comes to training.
You don’t need to ship your new puppy off to boot camp, but knowing about available resources should help:
Online tutorials–Especially in the first few weeks, there are plenty of exercises you can do one-on-one with your puppy. This video is an example of some first-week puppy training basics.
Group training–Often, pet stores and even local dog clubs will have classes for new owners and their puppies (or older dogs). These classes are guided by a professional, but they let you work with your own dog.
Hiring a private trainer–This is an option for advanced training, but it may also be helpful if your dog has a difficult temperament. A professional can help you develop strategies for working with your dog.
What Else Do You Need to Do to Make Sure Your Carolina Dog/German Shepherd Mix Stays Happy?
As with any dog, you’ll want to make sure your Carolina Dog/German Shepherd mix receives a healthy, balanced diet. This can be either commercial dog food or dog food you prepare yourself.
But as you likely know, dog breeds differ in their need for activity. Both of these breeds are athletic dogs who thrive with plenty of physical activity. They also need attention from their pack–that’s you and any other members of your household.
According to the PDSA, which is the UK’s leading veterinary charity, a German Shepherd needs at least two hours of activity per day.
Since these dogs and Carolina dogs are both active and thrive on variety, it’s wise to mix up their exercise.
Walks on a leash are beneficial, but try incorporating off-lead exercise, too. You can teach your dog tricks, take them to the dog park, or even enlist your new friend as your running buddy.
This particular mix of breeds might be difficult to find, but it’s one worth searching for. With time and patience, you’re sure to find a special and loyal new dog. And by understanding this mix’s need for companionship and activity, you’ll be well-equipped to take great care of your next pet.