Are you thinking of getting a new furry, four-legged friend? While you may not have considered getting either a German Shepherd or a Siberian Husky, we’re here to tell you that both are highly intelligent, fiercely loyal, and super friendly.
Now, the question is: which one is better suited for you and your lifestyle?
To help you make that ultimate decision, we rounded up common similarities and differences between these two breeds in this German Shepherd vs. Husky rundown.
This way, you can know what to expect from each breed and finally decide which one will be sharing your home.
Let’s get started!
German Shepherd vs. Husky: A Brief Overview
Here’s a quick look into each dog’s history.
German Shepherd dogs, or GSDs for short, are a fairly young canine breed. They first appeared at the end of the 1800s when a retired German cavalry officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, started breeding GSDs to help him herd sheep.
Then, as the need for herding dogs began to diminish, he was able to convince the German government to use GSDs for military and police work. Then came WWI where they were used as Red Cross dogs for their ability to handle harsh conditions.
After the war ended, an American soldier took home a GSD puppy who quickly grew up and became known as Rin Tin Tin. He starred in over 26 movies, launching the breed into instant fame and popularity.
They were recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1908 and classified as members of the Herding Group. Soon after, they were ranked as the third most intelligent breed and the second most popular dog in the country.
By comparison, Siberian Huskies are quite old. In fact, they’re one of the oldest dog breeds.
Originating from the Chukchi tribe in Siberia in the Arctic tundra, these fluffy, pale-colored dogs were heavily relied on for transporting people and goods.
At the beginning of the 1900s, they were exported to Alaska to help out with some rescue work. Then, pretty soon they were recognized for their sheer strength and endurance, which is how they became used as sled and race dogs during the gold rush.
Huskies were recognized by the AKC in 1930. After remaining for decades in 25th place, they managed to jump to 12th place in the 2000s.
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Size
Both the German Shepherd and Siberian Husky are quite similar in height. The former measures an average height of 22 to 26 inches. On the other hand, the Husky is slightly shorter, measuring anywhere from 20 to 23 inches tall.
However, it’s their weight that definitely sets them apart. German Shepherds are generally a hefty, bulky breed of dogs that weigh between 50 and 90 pounds. We have to note that one reason for this added weight is the extra muscles typically found in German Shepherds.
While Huskies are still pretty powerful dogs, they’re recognized more for their lean physique. Thus, they weigh less than the German Shepherd, coming in at a range of anywhere between 35 and 65 pounds.
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Appearance
Even though the German Shepherd is the taller breed of the two, it’s his impressive length that gives him his powerful and sleek appearance.
The Siberian Husky is more proportional lengthwise and has a more compact shape overall.
Both these dogs have large, pointy ears and dark muzzles. They also have similar-looking tails. However, Huskies tend to curl their tails against their backs when they’re alert.
As for eye color, Huskies are known to have those bright, piercing blue eyes. Some even have different-colored eyes, which is a condition known as heterochromia.
Alternatively, German Shepherds almost always have dark-colored eyes.
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Coat Color
Their coat colors are another obvious difference between the two breeds. While both breeds have a super fluffy double coat that keeps them warm in harsh weather, each dog has different color variations.
German Shepherds have the traditional black and tan color. Although, there are 10 other recognized colors, such as all-black, sable, white, and grey.
While not as colorful, the Husky does have his own set of coat colors, which are believed to be nine in all, including silver-grey, sable and white, and black and tan. Yet, the traditional white and grey coat color is the most popular.
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Shedding Patterns
Both breeds are notorious for their year-round hair blow-outs. Yet, each species has a different shedding season where their hair loss becomes excessive.
For example, Huskies shed more in the spring and fall. They also shed during the summer as a way of cooling off, while they shed much less in cooler weather.
In contrast, German Shepherds are such heavy year-round shedders that their hair literally ‘blows’ off. Their notorious shedding patterns are how they got the nickname ‘German Shedders.’
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Grooming
Despite being heavy shedders, these breeds are quite clean. They don’t give off any nefarious odors because they’re basically self-cleaning. They only need a bath every 8–12 months, or any time it’s especially muddy outside.
They do, however, need to be brushed once or twice all year long. Yet, keep in mind that during their shedding seasons, they require daily brushing to prevent a build-up of loose hairs, knots, and debris.
Regular brushing may seem like a tiresome chore, but it helps keep their coats clean and it reduces the amount of hair on your furniture, carpets, and clothes.
You’ll also want to trim their nails and clean their teeth and ears once or twice a month to help keep infections at bay.
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Behavior
Highly intelligent and quick learners are just a couple of ways to describe these two dog breeds. They’re also fiercely independent, affectionate, and low-maintenance compared to other breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels or Jack Russell Terriers.
Even though both breeds love being with their families for most of the day, the Husky doesn’t enjoy bonding sessions as much as the German Shepherd. He’d prefer to show off his goofy antics and be everyone’s center of attention than follow any type of strict training rules.
Yet, they understand the mentality of the pack, which is why they need an owner who can be a confident and firm leader.
In contrast, GSDs are more obedient and easier to manage. This is one reason why they make good family pets. Yet, because of their large stature, they have the potential to inadvertently knock over small children or pets.
The only way to avoid this is to expose your German Shepherd to children and small animals from a young age. After that, it’s easy to integrate them into a household with other pets.
They also can be a great cross between a protective police officer and a caring babysitter
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Aggressiveness
Neither breed can be described as being overly aggressive.
Although, the German Shepherd is the more serious of the two. Even as a young pup, he’s always alert and on guard.
GSDs are incredibly affectionate and fiercely protective of their families. However, they’re more loyal and affectionate to their caregiver, which is how they’ve become known as a ‘one-man dog.
Yet, they tend to be aloof and extremely suspicious of anyone outside the family unit. Their loud, high-pitched barks will let you immediately know when they sense someone or something lurking nearby, which is why many consider them highly reliable guard dogs.
This is a bit different from Siberian Huskies who are more sociable with everyone, which is why they wouldn’t make good guard dogs. They’d just welcome anyone passing by with open arms.
Instead of guarding anyone, they’d much rather be part of the activity. Think of Huskies as the mischievous bunch who constantly love being the center of attention.
They also rarely bark, but prefer to chat it up with their friends and family. In fact, they’re known as big talkers
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Training
Both breeds need to be trained from as early as four weeks old. Consequently, they can grow up knowing full well how to respond to various commands and orders.
This can make a huge difference when training Siberian Huskies since they can be a bit difficult to train, especially for first-time dog owners.
They’re more stubborn and have an independent streak. They prefer just romping around doing whatever they like, which is why they need someone capable of giving firm commands and regain control.
It also makes a big difference when training German Shepherds. Despite having a reputation for being great police or rescue dogs, as well as helping people with disabilities, they still need a firm master.
No matter how firm and commanding you are, always remember that both GSDs and Huskies respond much better to positive reinforcement as opposed to punishment or negative responses. You’ll get much better results if you shower them with love, praise, and lots of cuddles.
They also need to learn ‘socializing’ skills from a young age.
Huskies are also overzealous by nature when they meet new people, which can come off as a bit intimidating and scary, particularly with young kids. So, besides the basic obedience training, Huskies especially need to be trained on how to greet other dogs, strangers, and guests you invite into your home.
As for GSDs, socializing can help them tone down their protective streak. The aim is to teach him when to be protective and when to stand down.
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Exercise Needs
Since both the Husky and the German Shepherd are work dogs, they look forward to their daily exercise sessions.
Siberian Huskies love almost all types of exercise, from the regular game of fetch to more strenuous activities, like hiking and jogging. They’re more high-energy, so they need at least 90 minutes a day of outdoor activities.
GSDs are pretty much the same in that they don’t mind hard work as long as they’re constantly praised. They’re not as high-energy as the Husky, so an hour of exercise a day is enough to keep them healthy, fit, and mentally engaged.
Another thing to keep in mind is that GSDs love routine. Whatever type of activity you have planned for your German Shepherd, always make sure you plan it out within his daily routine just as you would if he were in the Police Academy or the military.
It’s worth mentioning that both breeds suffer from separation anxiety and bouts of boredom if left alone for too long.
This usually leads to a bad case of cabin fever. Whenever this happens, their first reaction is to take all their frustration out on your belongings, wreaking havoc and destruction on your home.
Besides physical exercise, they both love to be mentally stimulated, especially during their training sessions. So, prepare to offer your pooch lots of puzzle toys and engage him in brain games, like fetch, hide-and-seek, and challenging obstacle courses.
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Health
Luckily, both dogs are relatively healthy compared to other breeds.
Yet, there are several health issues that German Shepherds are more prone to suffer from, like Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. This is a condition caused by the abnormal formation of these two joints and usually occurs later in a dog’s life. If left untreated, it can develop into a case of painful arthritis.
Another potential health issue for GSDs is Degenerative Myelopathy. This condition affects their balance and coordination and may even affect their spinal cord health later on.
So, the German Shepherd National Breed Club recommends testing for both these conditions early on.
Huskies are also prone to Hip Dysplasia as well as several eye conditions, such as cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Yet, overall, they have a longer lifespan of around 12 to 14 years.
German Shepherds, on the other hand, have a shorter lifespan, which can be anywhere between 7–10 years.
German Shepherd vs. Husky: Diet
Being high-energy dogs, the German Shepherd and Husky need the same amount of food each day, which is about 3 cups of top-quality, nutrient-rich kibble.
Which type of kibble to choose is pretty much up to you and your vet. Yet, it has to meet all the nutritional requirements based on your dog’s age range.
Another point to keep in mind is that if your dog suffers from any type of joint dysplasia, it’s better to offer a diet that’s low in calories. This will help prevent further joint issues as well as obesity.