In this guide, we’ll break down the full differences and similarities between the Siberian Husky vs German Shepherd so you can get a better idea of both breeds and which might potentially be more suited for you.
Both of these breeds require a lot of work, and you can find a quick overview of the comparison between the two in the infographic below:
Keep reading to take a deep dive into everything there is to know about these two dogs.
- Siberian Husky Overview
- German Shepherd Overview
- Other Differences Between The Siberian Husky Vs German Shepherd
- In Summary
Siberian Husky Overview
Originating in Siberia, the Siberian Husky was originally domesticated for use as a sled dog by the Chukchi tribe, capable of pulling light loads over many miles at a time.
Thanks to this, huskies have a fierce pack mentality as they were trained to pull sleds with other sled dogs. Huskies were eventually brought to Alaska during the gold rush, where they continued to work over rugged terrain, and today, they are more commonly kept as pets across the world.
Huskies are a super friendly breed with a high-energy drive, but they can also be notoriously stubborn and independent as well.
They make great family companions for those who have the time to care for them properly, and they require a lot of maintenance with their thick coats, which are designed for the harshest of weather.
German Shepherd Overview
German Shepherds originated from Germany, where Max von Stephanitz originally bred them as herding dogs capable of protecting livestock and herding sheep.
It didn’t take long for this incredibly intelligent breed to be used in other areas, such as disability assistance and police work, to name a few.
German Shepherds are still used in several different working capacities to this day, but they are also one of the most popular dog breeds to keep as a pet as well.
Fiercely protective, German Shepherds are very intelligent and make great companion dogs. They, too, require a lot of exercise each day, and they are not for the faint-hearted.
Difference In Appearance
Before we get into all of the similarities and differences between these two breeds, let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first.
Huskies and German Shepherds have very different appearances. Huskies have many Spitz-type features, like pointed ears, long curly tails, and fluffy coats, whereas German Shepherds have more muscular physiques, straight tails, and longer ears.
Huskies are typically white and black, whereas German Shepherds commonly have tan and brown colors in their coats, with mainly black masks and small markings.
Other Differences Between The Siberian Husky Vs German Shepherd
There are many more differences between these breeds than you might expect.
Let’s take a look at them.
One of the most noticeable differences between German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies is their guarding instincts.
German Shepherds are naturally suspicious and have a strong guarding instinct to protect themselves and their families.
On the other hand, Huskies have very little guarding instinct and are likelier to befriend a stranger than be wary of them.
There is a reason why German Shepherds are used for personal protection dogs, while huskies are not.
Most of this comes from their backgrounds – huskies were used as sled dogs, whereas German Shepherds were a herding breed that protected livestock, so it’s only natural for German Shepherds to have an inherent guarding instinct.
At first glance, you might think that huskies and German Shepherds are similar in size, but German Shepherds are actually quite a bit larger:
- Huskies reach 35 to 60 lbs in weight and 20 to 23.5 inches in height, depending on gender
- German Shepherds reach 50 to 90 lbs in weight and 22 to 26 inches in height, depending on gender.
These are average values taken from the AKC’s breed standard for each, and there are obviously outliers to these numbers. But on average, German Shepherds are significantly larger than huskies.
Coat Lengths & Type
Huskies always have medium to long, thick double coats to keep them warm in the Arctic climates where they originate from.
On the other hand, German Shepherds can have double or single coats that vary in length from long to short. Short coats are favored in working environments as they are less likely to pick up debris or get dirty.
Another big difference between the Siberian Husky vs German Shepherd is how difficult they are to train.
German Shepherds are the complete opposite. They love to please their owners and can learn new tricks and follow commands.
German Shepherds have a pretty intimidating bark, which is their main communication form.
Huskies, however, will bark, howl, scream, and even ‘talk’ to communicate. They are one of the most vocal breeds you can find, and often, it’s hard to know why they are making these noises in the first place and to figure out how to get them to quiet down.
As well as being a lot more vocal, huskies are also a lot more ‘weird’ in nature.
This might sound a bit unfair, but there’s no denying how odd huskies can sometimes behave, and most of this comes from their independent and stubborn nature.
German Shepherds are a lot more like normal dogs; nothing is wrong with that, of course!
Now that the differences are out of the way let’s look at what makes these two breeds similar.
Coat Color Variations
Although huskies are most often associated with a black and white coat, and German Shepherds with a black and tan coat, each breed can have many different color combinations in their coats.
Huskies can range from red to agouti to various combinations of white and black, with just about everything in between (although only certain combinations are listed on the breed standard, there are many more variations).
German Shepherds are similar and can have agouti coats, blue coats, full black or white, and many more different combinations. Again, the breed standard doesn’t allow for as much variation, but this doesn’t matter to most owners.
One of the main similarities between these two breeds is the amount of exercise that they need.
Both breeds need at least 2 hours of exercise daily, which can be difficult for many families to provide. It’s one of the main reasons people should research before they dive into owning one of these breeds, and unfortunately, why so many end up in shelters or rescues.
Mental Stimulation Requirements
Alongside exercise, huskies and German Shepherds need other mental stimulation, too.
Obedience training is the ideal way to provide this for German Shepherds, as they naturally love to learn new tricks, and you should see great progress with it.
For huskies, it’s still worthwhile to spend some time training (although results may vary), but they also enjoy playing games or spending some time with a puzzle toy.
Although some German Shepherds can have single coats, they still require a lot of regular grooming, just like the Siberian Husky.
Both breeds should ideally be brushed daily, with more intense grooming sessions done once or twice weekly when you have the time.
During the coat-blowing season, daily grooming is a must to keep up with the sheer loss of fur. This is when they transition from their winter coats to their summer coats, which happens with double-coated German Shepherds only, as well as all Huskies.
If there’s one thing you can count on with both breeds, it’s loyalty.
Huskies have a very strong pack mentality thanks to their background as working dogs and make great, loyal family members.
German Shepherds are also incredibly loyal, partly due to their protective nature and working background. Both breeds tend to become closest to the person who spends the most time with them through exercise, feeding, and training.
I briefly touched on this before, but German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies have a working background.
Huskies were used to pull light sled loads over miles at a time, and German Shepherds were used for herding and guarding livestock. Both breeds are still used for these functions today in certain places, while German Shepherds have quickly been used in various other applications like personal protection and police work.
Working breeds tend to be much more work than your normal dog, as they are higher in intelligence and energy levels, so they will need more exercise and mental stimulation.
The last similarity to mention is that both breeds have high prey drive.
This means they are prone to chasing after small animals without thinking about it. This means that keeping them on a leash is going to be a necessary part of exercising, and it’s something that all owners should be aware of.
Huskies and German Shepherds are both a lot of work, and the main difference is likely the temperaments; huskies can be very stubborn and hard to train, whereas German Shepherds are easy to train and eager to please.
Huskies tend to be much more friendly than German Shepherds, though, and both breeds have many advantages, depending on which you choose.
Why not get both? Check out our recent article here if you want to learn how huskies and German Shepherds get along.