Labrador Vs German Shepherd: Which Breed Is Best For You?

Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds can make great family pets, but they have some key differences. Labradors are larger, more easygoing, and better suited for households with young children. Their shorter coats also require less grooming. German Shepherds are extremely loyal and protective, making them better guard dogs, but need more training and vigorous exercise.

Their longer coats require more frequent brushing. Consider your lifestyle and needs when choosing between these two popular breeds. Labs may be better for novice owners, while German Shepherds suit more active households.

Breed Overview

Here are a few things to consider when deciding between a German Shepherd puppy vs labrador puppy.

  • Nature: Both are intelligent, obedient, strong, and excellent watchdogs. German shepherds are more stubborn than labradors by nature.
  • Temperament: German shepherds are known for how easily trainable they are. They’re eager to learn, so training is easier. Labradors for their friendly personalities and easy-going, happy nature.
  • Family Life: Both breeds can handle active family lifestyles. However, that would depend on the individual dog’s temperament and personality. Both breeds can be aggressive if not socialized and trained well enough.
labrador vs german shepherd
german shepherd vs labrador


The Labrador retriever is a gun dog descended from the Newfoundland dog, bred in Newfoundland, Canada, to help fishermen haul in nets and fish out. Labs are agile and athletic and are great for water activities such as swimming and fishing.

The German shepherd was bred in Germany in the 1800s for herding cattle and protecting flocks of sheep. It’s powerful and intelligent, making them proficient working dogs. This breed can be aggressive if not properly socialized. Labs were essentially bred to help their humans, while German shepherds were bred to protect themselves from predators. This vastly impacts the nature of the dog, even over the years.

Physical Characteristics

When choosing a dog, it’s important to consider their physical characteristics. The Labrador Retriever, for example, is a muscular medium-sized breed with a short and dense coat.

Labs usually weigh between 55-80 pounds and stand at a height of 21.5-24.5 inches at the shoulder. They can come in black, yellow, or chocolate colors. Contrarily, German Shepherds are bigger and have a more striking outward appearance. They possess a well-built physique with a double coat that may vary in length.

Usually, they weigh between 50-90 pounds and stand at a shoulder height of 22-26 inches. German Shepherds exhibit diverse color combinations such as black, black, tan, and sable.

lab vs german shepherd
german shepherd vs labrador which is best

Personality Traits

The Labrador and German Shepherd breeds have distinct personality traits. Labs are friendly and outgoing, making them ideal for families. They are sociable with people and other dogs and are playful and energetic, making them a good fit for families with kids.

On the other hand, German Shepherds are known for their loyalty, courage, and protective instincts. They are often employed as police and military dogs because of their intelligence, trainability, and ability to safeguard their handlers.

German Shepherds can be cautious of strangers and tend to be aloof with unfamiliar people. They are active dogs and require ample exercise and mental stimulation to keep them content.

Nature & Temperament

The choice between a labrador retriever and a German shepherd boils down to small characteristics. Take your lifestyle into consideration when selecting between these two breeds.

A labrador retriever is perfect if you’re looking for a happy companion. They are affectionate and social. Labs make excellent service dogs, therapy dogs and even police dogs. Labrador temperament is one of the best among other family pets.

On the other hand, a German Shepherd is the right choice if you are looking for a dog that can help protect your home and family. Being less social by nature, German shepherds are protective, alert, attentive, and eager to please their owners. German shepherds are less trusting of other people and dogs than labradors.

  • Both breeds are intelligent and easy to train.
  • Both can learn commands easily and are eager to please their owners.
  • Both breeds are large dogs and are good companions to small children.


  • The Labrador retriever is the 2nd most popular dog breed in the United States, with the German shepherd falling to a close third as of 2023 according to the American kennel club.
  • The Labrador retriever is the most popular dog breed in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The German shepherd is Australia’s second most popular dog breed and the most popular in almost every other country.

Labrador retrievers are generally calmer and gentler than German shepherds, better known for their agility and versatility. A lab as a family pet is a delight. You would fall in love with this family member immediately.

German shepherds are great for protection, hunting, and guarding. Police forces have used the German shepherd in their K9 division worldwide for decades. A labrador retriever has a slightly easier temperament than a German shepherd.

Guarding tendencies

The guarding tendencies of German Shepherds are well-known among dog lovers. These dogs are known for their high energy levels and intelligence. They are often used as bomb sniffers, drug sniffers, etc., for military and police services.

This is not to say that labrador retrievers can’t become guard dogs. Many police services use labs in their K9 units, too. It’s a matter of training, is all. German shepherds are considered easier to train to be guard dogs because they are naturally inclined to protect their master (you, the owner).

With the right training, labrador retrievers can grow up to protect and guard you, too. Training them to do so is generally more vigorous and controlled.

Weekly Grooming Requirements

Labradors typically have short fur that is easy to maintain. A bath every three to four weeks should keep them clean and healthy.

On the other hand, German Shepherd grooming takes time. They have thicker coats that require more attention. They need regular brushing and combing for ticks, among other things.Grooming them every six weeks is recommended.

Alternatively, some owners give their German Shepherds a buzz cut to ward off ticks and fleas. Both dogs have a double coat, and they both shed.

german shepherd vs labrador retriever
labrador retriever vs german shepherd

Health Problems

Labradors and German Shepherds are prone to various issues, such as hip and elbow dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy. Medical issues in a German shepherd vs. labrador retriever also slightly differ. Labs are more prone to gastrointestinal problems, hypothyroidism, and obesity, owing to their dwarf genes. 

German shepherds face elbow and hip dysplasia and bloating because of their heavy chests. These problems, however, are avoidable with good care. Another component to consider is which breed’s dietary requirements you can meet better – this will always affect how healthy you can keep your dog.


The black lab coat is known for its sleek and glossy appearance, which helps to keep them warm in varying weather conditions. It also has a high level of adaptability to different climates.

In contrast, the German shepherd coat is recognized for its classic black and brown coloring and distinctive curled tail. However, among reputable breeders, the black lab coat tends to be more favored and popular than the German shepherd coat.


Both Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds are highly trainable breeds. Labs are known for their eagerness to please their owners and their ability to learn quickly. They are often used as a service dog for their intelligence, trainability, and loyalty. Labs also excel in sports such as obedience and agility.

German Shepherds are also highly trainable but require a firm, consistent hand during training. They are known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities, making them great at tasks such as search and rescue and detection work. However, German Shepherds can be stubborn and require an experienced owner who can provide them with plenty of socialization and training.

german shepherd or labrador
german shepherd lab mix

Training Cost

You may train your lab or German shepherd at home or hire a professional trainer to teach your dog the ropes. Training a lab usually costs less than that for a German shepherd because of each breed’s differing inclinations toward interacting with people and other dogs.

Remember that obedience comes from training – it depends on the quality, duration, vigor, and level of training each dog has been through. If you aim to raise a dog to protect you, don’t resist shelling out on a good trainer. Without it, both dogs can become aggressive and disobedient.


German Shepherds are more expensive than Labradors. Labrador puppies cost around $800-$1500, while a trained German shepherd can cost you over $1,500-$5000. Training German shepherd puppies can be costly and time-consuming, as it takes several years to achieve the same level of socialization training as a Labrador retriever. However, German shepherds tend to excel in obedience training.

Exercise Requirements

Labs are well-known for their ability to swim, retrieve, and run. Being lively dogs, their high energy needs a release. Labrador retrievers require about an hour of exercise every day. This can be through walks, jogs, runs, or even playtime at home. 

On the other hand, being bigger, stronger dogs, German shepherds require at least two hours of exercise daily. They are extremely intelligent and can make a huge difference in agility courses. Having a yard for these dogs to run around and having the time, patience, and energy to match these exercise requirements is a huge part of owning a German shepherd.

labrador retriever and german shepherd
german shepherd vs lab

Which Breed Is Most Loyal? Which Is the Right Dog?

Labrador Retrievers are known for their loyalty and obedience. They are gentle with children and easy to train but can be high-strung. German Shepherds are also very loyal but may be a little more independent. They make excellent family guard dogs for active owners. 

If you are looking for a dog that will serve as a regular companion, the Labrador Retriever is better than the German Shepherd.

Both breeds have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s essential to carefully consider the characteristics best suited for you and your family before deciding on a breed.

Final Thoughts of these two dog breeds

Regarding nature and temperament, the two breeds are more alike than common misconceptions would lead us to believe. Both make excellent companions.

Your choice depends on the time and money you want to spend on your furry friend. German shepherd dogs require more of your resources than a labrador retriever, which is essentially the primary difference between the two.

  • Can you take your dog for long walks and play with him for extended periods? 
  • Or is your schedule rather hectic, and you can’t put in that much time? 
  • Can you and are you willing to shell out the big bucks on your dog – to buy and train him?

Ask yourself questions like this to understand which breed is better for you.

jarman safed dog vs labrador
labrador vs gsd

FAQ: German Shepherd vs labrador

which is better labrador or german shepherd?

German Shepherds and Labradors are popular breeds with distinct characteristics. German Shepherds are intelligent and loyal, preferred for law enforcement or search and rescue. Labradors have a friendly temperament and are used as therapy or guide dogs. The ideal breed for an individual depends on their unique needs and preferences.

Which is more intelligent, Labrador or German Shepherd?

German Shepherds and Labradors are intelligent breeds with different strengths. German Shepherds are highly trainable and used in law enforcement and military work, while Labradors excel in retrieving and guiding. It’s hard to determine which breed is more intelligent as both are highly capable in their respective areas of expertise.

Would a Labrador protect you?

Labradors are typically known for their amiable nature and are not typically trained for protection purposes.  German shepherd’s fierce instincts make them a better protection dog. Nonetheless, any dog has the potential to safeguard their owner when they perceive a threat. Proper training and socialization are vital in ensuring a dog can carry out protective duties safely and efficiently.

Are Labs more hyper than German Shepherds?

Both German Shepherds and Labradors must receive regular exercise and mental stimulation. Labradors tend to possess higher energy levels and can be more hyperactive than German Shepherds. To avoid behavioral issues, both breeds require adequate exercise and training.

What is a better dog than a German Shepherd?

Each dog breed has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s unfair to say that one breed is better. However, certain breeds may be more suitable for specific lifestyles or tasks. 

For instance, a Labrador with its friendly temperament may be a preferable choice for a family with young kids. At the same time, a Border Collie may be a better fit for someone who enjoys outdoor activities and agility training.

Do German Shepherds or Labs have more energy?

Labradors are commonly recognized for their elevated energy levels, which may surpass those of German Shepherds. Nevertheless, providing both breeds with regular exercise and mental stimulation is essential to avoid undesirable behavioral problems.

What dog is stronger than a German Shepherd?

Certain breeds, such as the Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, and Pit Bull Terrier, are recognized for their physical strength. However, it’s crucial to understand that strength alone should not be the primary consideration when selecting a breed. Adequate training and socialization are crucial for ensuring proper behavior in all dogs.

Is a German Shepherd the best all-around dog?

The ideal dog for a person varies according to their needs and preferences. German Shepherds are intelligent, loyal, and adaptable dogs that excel in law enforcement and search and rescue. Nevertheless, different breeds may be better suited for different tasks or lifestyles.

Which puppy is best for home?

When selecting a puppy, consider energy level, size, and temperament to find a breed suitable for your lifestyle and living situation. Recommended family pets include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, and Poodles. Research specific breed characteristics before deciding.

What is the difference between a Labrador and Labrador dog?

Labrador and Labrador Retriever both refer to the same breed of dog. The term “Labrador dog” is a more formal and specific way of referring to the breed, as the word “Labrador” can sometimes be confused with the region in Canada.

Is Labrador a good guard dog?

Labradors are not commonly used as guard dogs due to their friendly and social personality. They may lack the necessary aggression for protection work. However, any dog can learn to behave appropriately in various situations with training and socialization.

Are Labs the best family dogs?

Labradors are commonly suggested as ideal family pets because of their warm disposition and energetic nature. They usually get along well with kids and are faithful, loving companions. Nonetheless, it should be acknowledged that any breed can make a great family dog with proper training and socialization.

What are the three types of Labradors?

Labrador Retrievers come in three recognized colors: black, yellow, and chocolate. Despite the gene variations that determine these colors, there is only one type of breed. It’s worth noting that there are no significant differences in temperament or behavior between the different colors.

what dog breeds get along with german shepherds?

Labrador RetrieverFriendly, outgoing, playfulLarge
Golden RetrieverGentle, lovingLarge
BoxerPlayful, energetic,Medium-large
RottweilerLoyal, protectiveLarge
Doberman PinscherIntelligent, trainableLarge

Author Profile

Shradha Kabra
Shradha KabraLifetime dog Enthusiast
Shradha is a seasoned writer at, an authoritative resource for all things Labrador Retriever. Her experience as a pet owner and dog enthusiast drives her to create meticulously researched and fact-checked content, offering valuable insights on Labrador training, grooming, and health. Each article reflects Shradha's passion and dedication, enriched by personal experiences with her beloved Labradors, Tom, and Kurt. Whether exploring breed-specific training techniques or providing product reviews, Shradha ensures Labrador owners receive the most accurate, up-to-date, and trustworthy information, aimed at enhancing their companions' health and happiness