Undoubtedly because of its handsome, wolf-like appearance, the Siberian Husky is quickly gaining popularity both as a working dog and a household pet. Even so, it hasn’t quite yet to reach the same popularity level as the German Shepherd breed. If you’re looking for an athletic and loyal companion, however, these two breeds are excellent options.
This article will explain the key difference between the German Shepherd vs Husky so you can decide which breed is the best for you and your family.
Why Compare German Shepherds and Huskies
When you’re looking for an active companion or working dog, the German Shepherd and Siberian Husky are likely going to be among your top choices.
Although both are energetic and eager to please, they differ in so many ways. If you’re choosing between the two, it’s important for you to consider those differences in order to make the right decision.
German Shepherd vs Husky: Points of Comparison
It’s easy to tell the Siberian Husky and the German Shepherd apart because of their vastly different appearance. But those differences don’t just affect the way they look, but also the way they need to be cared for.
Additionally, the personalities and physical abilities between the two breeds differ in many different ways. When you’re choosing between a Husky and a German Shepherd, consider the following points of comparison:
German Shepherd vs Husky Size
Huskies and German Shepherds are commonly referred to as large dogs. In reality, only the GSD is a “Large” breed while the Husky is technically only a “Medium” dog.
Huskies often seem larger than they are because of their thick coats. Although they grow almost as tall as GSDs, they’re not as solidly built and so they weigh much less.
|German Shepherd||24 – 26 in.||22 – 24 in.||65 – 90 lbs.||50 – 70 lbs.|
|Siberian Husky||21 – 23.5 in.||20 – 22 in.||45 – 60 lbs.||35 – 50 lbs.|
German Shepherd vs Husky Appearance
The most obvious difference between the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky is their coats.
German Shepherds are most commonly black & tan but also come in solid black, while, blue, gray, and liver as well as sable and a combination of black and cream, red, or silver. On the other hand, Huskies are mostly agouti (multi-colored banded hair), gray, black, red, sable, and white.
Apart from color, their coats are also different in terms of texture. Both have dense undercoats, but the Husky’s outer hair tends to be fluffier, while the GSD’s is more coarse and fuzzy.
In terms of similarities, both have the same noble stature and confident gait. They both also have distinctly erect ears and bushy tails.
German Shepherd vs Husky Strength
Both German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies are incredibly strong dogs. Because of their protection roles and police work, GSDs are recognized for their bite strength.
However, Huskies actually have a bite force of 320 psi, which is considerably stronger than the GSD’s 238 psi. But unless you’re looking to get a dog for personal protection, that probably isn’t going to matter much.
What’s essential to note about these dogs’ strength is that GSDs were bred for herding while Huskies were bred mainly for sledding. With the right equipment, Huskies can pull heavy loads and show incredible endurance.
Although GSDs are also remarkably strong and agile, they work best using their intelligence, drive, and natural tracking abilities.
German Shepherd vs Husky Speed
Considering their heritage as herding dogs, it’s no surprise that German Shepherds can run pretty fast, reaching top speeds of about 30 miles per hour. As carting and sledding dogs, you’d think that Siberian Huskies would run much faster, but they actually run a little more slowly at 28 miles per hour.
Where Huskies excel over GSDs is their unbelievable endurance. In fact, a Husky sledding team running at an average speed of 10 miles per hour can cover up to 150 miles in a single day.
German Shepherd vs Husky Health
Because of their larger frames, both the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky are at higher risk of bone and joint conditions like elbow and hip dysplasia.
To maintain a good quality breed stock, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA) requires elbow and hip evaluations by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). The Siberian Husky Dog Club of America (SCHA) requires the same OFA evaluation or an equivalent OVC or PennHIP evaluation.
Other than bone and joint issues, Huskies are generally more prone to poor eye health. To combat the prevalence of corneal dystrophy, juvenile cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy in the breed, the SCHA requires annual eye examinations for all adults to be used as breeding stock.
The results of these examinations must be registered with the Companion Animal Eye Registry through OFA (CAER) and the Siberian Husky Ophthalmic Registry (SHOR).
Although eye health is not a common concern for GSDs, these dogs are more prone to digestive issues. Mild to severe bloating is common to this breed, as well as several other gastric problems. Their sensitive stomachs can lead to frequent runny stools, gas, and vomiting.
GSD vs Husky Lifespan
According to the American Kennel Club, the German Shepherd has an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years, while the Siberian Husky’s is about 12 to 14 years. However, individual dogs commonly surpass these numbers and live way beyond their breed’s life expectancy. Among the most critical factors that contribute to a long life are diet, regular exercise, general health and well-being, and genetics.
Sometimes, resilience is the only factor needed for a long life. Just check out Shada the Husky who lived way past 17 years old despite being unwanted by her first owner. Thankfully, she was adopted into a new home and lived a much better life in her golden days.
GSD vs Husky Temperament
Huskies have shown that they are just as loyal and affectionate as GSDs. They’re both confident and outgoing, and are both very vocal breeds. Between the two, Huskies are more prone to mischief, while GSDs are more likely to be aloof.
Both the GSD and Husky dislike irregularity. They thrive on daily routines and dislike frequent guests. GSDs, however, are better with strangers than Huskies. In terms of sharing their home, GSDs are better with children and cats while Huskies are better with other dogs.
Nevertheless, most Huskies would prefer being the only pet at home. Despite these predispositions, however, both do very well in practically all situations as long as they’re socialized properly and at an early age.
German Shepherd vs Husky Trainability
Both the Siberian Husky and the German Shepherd are generally regarded as smart breeds. However, a study on the intelligence of dogs shows that GSDs are significantly more intelligent than Huskies.
GSDs rank 3rd overall and belong to the top tier of working dogs, along with breeds like the Border Collie and the Poodle. This means they can learn a new command within five seconds and will obey that same command at least 95% of the time.
On the other hand, the Siberian Husky ranks 78th overall and belongs to the fourth tier of working dogs. They share this tier with other popular workers like the Australian Shepherd and the Irish Wolfhound. Dogs in this tier generally need 25 to 40 repetitions before learning a new command, which they will obey at least 50% of the time.
Type of Work
Based on the AKC dog breed classifications, the German Shepherd forms part of the Herding Group while the Siberian Husky falls under the Working Group.
Although both are workers, herders like the German Shepherd are generally better able to do specialized work. They are trainable to a very high level and are able to make independent decisions.
Additionally, they have tons of energy and are able to work closely as well as collaboratively with humans. Generally, they’re better than Huskies at being service dogs and therapy dogs. They’re also better at detection and search & rescue.
On the other hand, workers like the Siberian Husky aren’t as suited for specialized work. They’re often used for their incredible stamina and endurance, as well as their imposing stature. They are trained to assist humans in activities like pulling carts and sleds as well as protecting flocks.
Grooming differences: Huskies and German Shepherds
Grooming requirements are generally the same between the two breeds in terms of bathing, ear cleaning, nail cutting, and toothbrushing. Where they differ significantly is in coat maintenance. Although they are both known for shedding, their shedding patterns are different.
Both the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky have dense undercoats and thick top hairs. They both will blow their undercoats twice a year. During this time, they will shed so heavily that they will require daily brushing with a de-shedder tool.
If you want to see what that might be like, check out this shedding GSD getting a good brushing:
If you thought that was a lot of fur, check out this shedding Husky:
Although the two breeds shed similarly when they blow their coats in the fall and spring, they shed differently throughout the year.
Huskies don’t really shed much hair outside of their shedding seasons. It’s generally enough to brush them once a week. On the other hand, German Shepherds shed throughout the year. They will benefit from more frequent brushing of twice or even three times a week.
Living Conditions Required
Both the Husky and the GSD are highly adaptable breeds. Both thrive in cooler climates but can live happily in warmer areas as well. Because of their Siberian ancestry, it’s no surprise that Huskies can withstand much colder temperatures than the GSD.
In fact, they can tolerate temperatures as low as -60°F (-51°C) while, just like most dogs, temperatures of 40°F (4.44°C) might already be too cold for German Shepherds. On the other hand, GSDs can tolerate warmer temperatures than Huskies.
Note that just because their breeds are known to tolerate harsh climates, it doesn’t mean that every dog will thrive in those conditions. Your dog will need time to acclimatize when they’re subjected to temperatures they’re not used to.
In terms of living space, both breeds will benefit from large spaces where they can run freely. Nevertheless, they could still thrive as apartment dogs as long as they get plenty of opportunities to go outside and use up all their energy.
GSD vs Husky Exercise Requirement
German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies are both incredibly energetic. Without plenty of opportunities to use up their energy, they easily become bored and more likely to develop some unwanted behaviors. Remember that these are working breeds, so they’re happiest when they’re performing a function.
You’ll really need to observe your own dog and determine how much and what type of exercise they need on a daily basis. In addition, both breeds, but most especially the GSD, need the additional mental stimulation because of their intelligent nature.
Both the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky are recognized by the American Kennel Club. In fact, they are among the most popular breeds that compete in their shows and sporting competitions.
However, the GSD is much more popular at #2 out of 196 breeds, ranking just below the Labrador and above the Golden Retriever. The Husky ranks at #15 below Boxers and above Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Although the Husky isn’t reputed for aggression, US dog bite statistics show that it makes up 3% of all fatal dog attacks between 2005 and 2017. That’s enough for the breed to be included in restrictions set by local laws and even private rules by property owners and insurance companies.
Nevertheless, the German Shepherd appears on more breed restriction lists than the Siberian Husky. It’s important that you check with your city, community, landlord, and insurance provider before you take in any of these two breeds.
German Shepherd vs Husky Costs
The cost of German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies can vary greatly and is typically determined by several factors. These include the bloodline, breeder’s reputation, conformity to AKC breed standards, and special colors or markings.
The first year of dog ownership is typically the most expensive, especially if you get your dog as a puppy. Veterinary expenses, training costs, and supplies in the first year will cost approximately $3,815 for a GSD and about $3,575 for a Husky.
To keep your dog happy and healthy, you’ll spend about $147 per month on a GSD and about $125 per month on a Husky. The slight difference in monthly costs is driven mostly by the difference in food consumption.
Which Breed is Best for You?
The even temperament and affectionate nature of both the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky make them each a delight to own. However, the more superior intelligence of the GSD makes them better suited for a number of working roles. They’re also immensely fulfilling to train and engage in various activities with.
On the other hand, Huskies are less expensive to own. They’re also much better companions if you often engage in outdoor activities in colder areas. Their longer life expectancy could mean that you will likely enjoy their company for longer.
The reality is either dog can be a great choice as long as you are willing to put time into training, socialization and developing a bond with your new furry friend.
The physical characteristics, general temperament, and maintenance requirements of each breed will help you determine which one is better suited to your personality and lifestyle.
However, keep in mind that each dog will have its own unique quirks and personalities. Ultimately, what matters is how well you’re able to socialize and bond with the dog you choose.