German Shepherd vs Labrador: Differences, & Comparison


In the guide below, we compare the German Shepherd vs the Labrador dog breeds.

We outline what the main differences between them might be, and provide other important information on each breed.


(NOTE: the information in this guide is general information only. It is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. See a qualified vet or animal expert for an expert opinion in regards to your pet/s)


German Shepherd vs Labrador: Differences, & Breed Comparison


German Shepherd vs Labrador – Origin/History

German Shepherd

German Shepherds were first bred in Germany around 1899.

They were bred from different Shepherd breed dogs in Germany at the time (reportedly a sheep type dog, and also a service type dog), with the intention of having ideal working dog traits and working ability.

GSDs as a breed belong to the ‘herding dog’ category.

Today, GSD’s are used in a range of working fields, compete as show dogs, and are also pets & family dogs.



The Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland, reportedly sometime in the 1500’s or 1600’s.

They were bred and trained there to swim, and to retrieve and bring in fishing nets for fishermen.

In the 1800’s, they were brought to/introduced to Great Britain, and they were further bred and trained in the UK for sporting, hunting and various types of working activities.

They might be classified as a sporting, hunting, or companion breed.

Today, Labradors are a very versatile breed used across different areas of society, such as various working fields, as service and assistance dogs, as a show dog, and as a pet or family dog.


German Shepherd vs Labrador – Size 

German Shepherd

German Shepherds might be classified as a large breed of dog

Males might average 24-26 inches in height (60-65 cms), and 66-88 lbs in weight (30-40 kg)

Females might average 22-24 inches in height (55-60 cms), and 49-71 lbs in weight (22-32 kg)



Labradors might be classified as a medium to large size breed of dog

Males might average 22-22.5 inches in height (56-57 cms), and 65-80 lbs in weight (29-36 kg)

Females might average 21.5-22 inches in height (54-56 cms), and 55-70 lbs in weight (25-32 kg)


German Shepherd vs Labrador – Lifespan

German Shepherd

German Shepherds might have a lifespan of around 9-13 years on average

Although, some reports indicate some GSDs may even live up to 15 years of age



A Labrador might have an average lifespan of anywhere between 10-12 years.


German Shepherd vs Labrador – Popularity

Every year, the American Kennel Club publishes a list of the most popular dog breeds based on dog registration data.

The 2021 list shows:

– German Shepherds as the 4th most popular dog breed

– The Labrador ranks as the number 1 most popular dog breed


Of course though, this is only one rankings list, from one organisation, in one country.

Other lists in other locations may look different.


German Shepherd vs Labrador – Appearance, Features, & Colors

German Shepherd

German Shepherds might commonly be known for the following appearance and physical features:

– Black and tan, or sometimes black and red coat color and saddle pattern (although other colors exist too)

– Erect ears/ears that stand up

– An angulated back and dropped hips (although body shape differs between the individual lines of GSDs)

– Generally medium length hair/plush coat, with a double coat (although, short and long haired GSDs exist too)


Having said that though, different German Shepherds have different physical features and appearances.

You can read about the different variations in German Shepherds, such the different lines, colors, and coat lengths/types here.



Labradors might commonly be known for the following appearance and physical features:

– The main coat colors are black, yellow, and chocolate. Although, some Labradors also appear as a white-ish color

– Naturally floppy/drop ears 

– A well proportioned and somewhat thick body, with a broad tail, and broad head

– Generally a short, dense/thick, single coat


German Shepherd vs Labrador – Temperament

Ultimately, a dog’s personality or temperament might be influenced by a range of factors, with genetics and breeding being key factors

So, this is why the temperament and personality of individual dogs don’t always match the general temperament descriptions found online

However, a generalized description of the temperament of each dog breed, according to either parts of the standard for each breed, or, what they were originally bred to be, might be:


German Shepherd

Intelligent, obedient and easier to train, loyal, confident, protective, and may be slightly aloof (without being aggressive)

May have the general temperament of a working breed dog or herding dog

Read more about what temperament GSDs were originally bred for, and what some breed standards outline for temperament and personality in this guide



Friendly, playful, cheerful, energetic, affectionate, and loyal

Some Labradors also express a keen intrigue to learn and be engaged with different types of activities


German Shepherd vs Labrador – Intelligence

Intelligence testing for dogs can test for different things, and can also have limitations.

So, intelligence rankings for different breeds might be viewed as a guide only, and not definitive

One online ranking indicated that German Shepherds rank as the 3rd most intelligent dog breed

The same ranking report indicated that Labradors rank as the 7th most intelligent dog breed


German Shepherd vs Labrador – Bite Force

The bite force of different dog breeds might be a generalized measurement only, and not definitive or comprehensive.

We list some of the reasons for this in a separate guide.

However, when referencing one ‘strongest dog bite force’ list, where bite force is expressed in psi (pounds of force per square inch), the bite force of each of these two breeds might be:

– German Shepherds might have a bite force of 238 psi 

– A Labrador might have a bite force of 230 psi


German Shepherd vs Labrador – Cost/Price

The cost to buy a specific breed of dog depends on the country it’s bought from, along with a wide range of other factors.

Some general information on buying each breed though might include:


Buying From Breeders

According to different online information at the time of publishing this guide, the general cost to buy each of these breeds from breeders in the US might be:

– German Shepherd

Anywhere from $800 up to $10,000+ (for the highest quality dogs), with the average for a regular puppy potentially being around the $800 mark


– Labrador

Anywhere from $500 up to $5000+ (for the highest quality dogs), with the average for a regular puppy potentially being around the $800-1500 mark



Buying from a breeder may not be the only option to own each of these dog breeds.

Adopting or rescuing may be other options too.

The cost to adopt or rescue a dog can be significantly cheaper than buying from a breeder in some instances, although there’s usually still a basic cost to adopt/rescue a dog.



Buying a dog that is being re-homed might another option to buy a dog.

The cost for rehomed dogs can vary.


More Information On German Shepherds

It’s worth noting that some of the information in the guide above about German Shepherds comes from our ‘German Shepherd Breed Information Guide‘, which also has additional information about the German Shepherd breed.



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