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Although there aren’t a lot of German Shepherd Mastiff mix dogs right now, they are dearly beloved by owners who had the lucky chance to get such a dog. Coming from two large dogs, it would be easy to say that a Shepherd Mastiff is huge – but they are among the most gentle dogs you’ll ever find.
Here’s a complete guide on this hybrid mix and to know whether a Shepherd Mastiff dog is the best choice for your family.
German Shepherd Mastiff Mix Key Characteristics
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- German Shepherd Mastiff mix breeds aren’t as mainstream as other hybrid dogs. However, both the German Shepherd and Mastiff breeds are rather popular.
- This hybrid mix is a large dog. They can range from the smallest female German Shepherd to the largest male Mastiff.
- Mastiff dogs aren’t really recognized until the 19th century. However, there are proofs from Egyptian drawings and accounts of Julius Caesar that they have been around for thousands of years already.
- German Shepherd dogs were originally bred in Germany to become herding dogs for sheep. They guide a flock with their silent and stealthy movements instead of noise.
- Since both parents have a short and straight coat, pups acquire the same coat. However, some have fluffier undercoats and longer hair around the neck much like the German Shepherd.
- They can be trained but can be stubborn given that the Mastiff isn’t the smartest of breeds. However, training them as pups could solve unruly behavior as adults.
- Training them to be social is essential especially since they can have aggressive tendencies. You can let them meet other dogs and people as pups so they can get used to strangers.
- The Shepherd Mastiff dogs are very gentle and loyal to their family, especially towards the children. However, they can get aggressive when protecting their owners.
- Hybrid dogs could acquire the diseases of their parents. Among these are hip and elbow dysplasia, cherry eye, and bloat.
- Larger dogs don’t live that long so you can expect your German Shepherd and Mastiff mix to have between 9 to 13 years only.
- Make sure that your dog gets the daily exercise they need, especially as adults. They can get extra weight easily so they need to burn it off to avoid challenges later on.
- Pups are lazier than ordinary pups and would rather sleep more. They are also bigger than normal pups.
- Giving them the right kind of dog food with the right balance of nutrients help support their growth and immunity. They can be fed twice to thrice a day.
- They can be bought from around $350 to $1000, depending on the breeder.
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As we’ve frequently said, hybrid dogs could have different looks from litter to litter or even within the same litter. Pups tend to get several features from both their German Shepherd side and their Mastiff side. This could range from their facial features to their fur and coat.
Size and weight
Mastiff dogs are large, while a German Shepherd can range from medium to large. That means their offspring will likely be in the same range. Shepherd Mastiff hybrid dogs often have a wide range of sizes and weight, usually from the smallest female German Shepherd to the largest male Mastiff.
To put that into numbers, the average height and weight of a female German Shepherd is 22 to 24 inches with a weight of 50 pounds to 70. Meanwhile, a male German Shepherd often has a size of 24 inches to 26 inches and weighs 75 pounds to 90 pounds.
For the Mastiff, both the male and the female dogs can reach the same height. They are often between 28 inches to 36 inches. Female dogs, however, are lighter at 119 to 170 pounds. Male Mastiff dogs are heavy at a weight of 161 pounds to 220 pounds.
An adult German Shepherd Mastiff mix could be anywhere between the lowest number to the highest. Since Mastiffs can be heavy, be careful about their weight since your pooch could easily become overweight or obese which, in turn, could risk their health.
Fur and Coat
When it comes to their coats, the German Shepherd and Mastiff breeds are almost the same. They have short, straight, and dense outer coat with a softer undercoat. However, a German Shepherd tends to have thicker and longer coat around its neck.
Pups could acquire the same fluffy look that German Shepherds have. However, most puppies tend to have short, straight, and dense coat all throughout its body.
When it comes to fur color, the choices are rather limited to fawn, apricot, black and tan. Some litters will have different fur colors ranging from solid fawn or solid black colors. They often have black areas around their faces which are common for both of their parent breeds.
For the overall appearance, a lot of German Shepherd Mastiff mix dogs look more like Mastiff dogs, but with a longer facial feature that is much like a German Shepherd. Mastiff breeds have these shorter snouts with lots of wrinkly skin, a lot like bulldogs and boxers.
German Shepherd Mastiff Mix History
As a mixed breed, a German Shepherd Mastiff mix dog doesn’t really have much history. There aren’t any definitive dates as to when they were first bred as well, nor who and where it happened.
However, we can look into the history of its parents: the German Shepherd and the Mastiff.
The German Shepherd was originally bred in Germany during the 1800s to help herd large flocks of sheep. They were bred from native dogs that were local in central and northern Germany. They were trained to keep the flock together and lead usher them back to their fold. But they had to do it with stealthy movements instead of barking which would only aggravate the sheep and cause mayhem.
The modern German Shepherd was introduced to the world during an exhibit show in Hanover, Germany in 1882. And then in 1899, a German group for the breed was found. It was named the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany (Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde).
Around the 1900s, the breed’s popularity rose. There were even around 40,000 enlisted German Shepherd dogs during World War I. They also became assistants to the Army and Royal Air Force during World War II.
Today, this breed remains to be one of the top choices for guard dogs and police dogs because of their courage and protectiveness. They are also easily trained and smart dogs so they are used for search and rescue operations.
But they have also grown to be a popular household pet. Despite their strong looks and traits, they are gentle and friendly towards their family.
A “Mastiff” is really a name for a group of large dogs and not just one single breed. However, they almost have the same features, although different origins. Nonetheless, the ancestors of today’s Mastiff breeds apparently came from Asia and existed more than a thousand years ago.
Although unreliable, there were seemingly Mastiff-like dogs that appeared in Egyptian drawings that dated back from 3000 B.C. There were also earlier Chinese references to these big dogs that dated back from 1121 B.C. Julius Caesar also referred to Mastiffs as part of invading Britain in 55 B.C. They were said to have gallantly fought with their owners.
One of the most common Mastiff breeds, the Old English Mastiff, was a favorite herding and guard dog in England back in the day. They were bred not just to herd the sheep but also to keep wolves at bay and protect their flock. These dogs were often owned by the poor and the peasants.
But soon enough, the Mastiff became a favored home companion because of their gentleness and loving traits. They were also great guards and protectors, especially for their families.
Sadly, Mastiff breeds were also used for fighting, which was banned and became an illegal sport in England in 1835. Soon, their numbers dwindled. Proofs were the number of Mastiff that entered an English dog show in 1871, with only 63 Mastiff dogs only showing up. By 1908, only 35 Mastiff dogs were registered with the English Kennel Club. In 1945, there was only 8 Mastiff that was of breeding age in Great Britain.
These amazing dogs also almost became extinct during World War II. Luckily, their numbers have significantly grown today and are known as home companions and pets.
Trainability is a little complex for German Shepherd Mastiff mix dogs. While German Shepherd breeds are really smart and easy to train, Mastiff dogs are rather stubborn and it can be tricky to train them, especially as adults.
But dogs, in general, are actually smart creatures and can be trained even when they aren’t the smartest breed in the canine world. Shepherd Mastiff hybrids have a mix of a smarter dog in their genes, they can be trained. The problem is it’ll be hard to train them at times when their Mastiff habits kick in.
The best you can do is to start training them as early as possible. You can hire a professional dog trainer to do that when it proves to be too hard for you.
But if you do want to train your dog, you shouldn’t be timid. These types of hybrid mixes need more coaxing and sometimes, a little more authority when you’re training them. They can be stubborn so you need to show them that you are the boss around the house. You might need to go through both negative and positive approaches (just don’t be too negative or it will backfire).
There’s also a reward system where if they do your command, they get treats. Praising them is also a good thing. But don’t be afraid to scold them when they do something bad. While dogs can only bark, they can sense the change in your voice and demeanor and they’ll know they did something wrong.
Don’t be afraid to be their boss as well as their friend. Draw that line when you are training them.
Social training is also essential for any dog. German Shepherd dogs can be pretty protective and so they can be aggressive towards strangers who approach their family. This is a trait that might kick in with your Shepherd Mastiff.
That’s why you should make them feel more familiar with other people and dogs. This is to guarantee they don’t become unruly dogs in the end.
German Shepherd Mastiff Mix Temperament
A German Shepherd and Mastiff mix breed can be aggressive when they are protecting their family and owner. However, that doesn’t make them a dangerous or bad breed. You only need to train them at a young age so they won’t get aggressive with anyone, unless necessary. This might have come from Mastiff breeds who were used in fighting for a long time.
They are also brave and courageous dogs. They won’t hesitate to go through extremes just to protect and save their family. Some owners even say that they aren’t afraid of fire and would even eat ashes when you don’t keep it away from them. This trait definitely makes them good guard dogs.
But despite all that, these dogs are really gentle, sweet, and loyal, especially towards children. They are very patient when it comes to their little humans. Even if they wanted to play so bad, they would patiently wait for the kids and make sure they aren’t rough with them.
Mastiff dogs are also known for having a gentle mouth. That means they can hold kittens, pups, and even delicate objects safely in their mouth without any damages.
As a large dog, a German Shepherd Mastiff mix breed will need a good source of animal protein to produce lean muscle mass. An adult dog will require 10% of calories from protein. They’d also need a minimum of 5.5% fats and up to 50% carbohydrates.
Commercial dog foods often cater to their needs. When choosing one, be cautious and read the ingredients and nutritional value so you can assure they get the nutrients they need. It’s also best to find a dog food that guarantees real meat as the number one ingredient. Real meat is their best source of protein.
Of course, avoid any harmful ingredients that contain chemicals and preservatives. Get a dog food with no fillers. If your dog has food allergies, it’s best to provide them with grain-free food which is free from allergens and work well with sensitive tummies.
Puppies, on the other hand, has different needs. They should be fed large breed puppy-specific foods to make sure they get the nutrients they need for growth.
Owners will want to feed their dogs with 5 to 6 cups of food a day, split into two to three times around the day. There really isn’t any better way to know whether your dog needs more or less food than by closely observing them. Underweight dogs will require more food while overweight pooches obviously need to go on a little diet.
Health and Care
On an average, a German Shepherd and Mastiff mix breed can live between 9 to 13 years. Their overall health and lifestyle could play a great factor in their lifespan. But large dogs don’t really live long compared to smaller breeds.
Like humans, dogs also have their own fair share of diseases. These can trigger their vision, joints, bones, and muscles. Viruses can attack their immune or nervous system and cause paralysis. They are also prone to parasites like ticks which could bring deadly diseases and infections.
But what should we be most worried about with a Shepherd Mastiff?
Normally, hybrid dogs have a better immune system than pure breeds. That means they are healthier. However, if one or both parents have certain diseases, they are likely to acquire it from birth. That’s why breeders should guarantee both parents are healthy.
But at times, hybrid dogs are bred accidentally. So what should be looking out for in terms of diseases?
Here are the most common health problems German Shepherd dogs face:
- Aortic Stenosis
- Cherry eye
- Degenerative Myelopathy
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Cushing’s disease
- Glycogen storage disease
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
- Footpad disorder
- Nasal cavity tumors
- Mitral dysplasia
- Persistent right aortic arch
- Pituitary dwarfism
- Myasthenia gravis
- Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia
Meanwhile, here are diseases that are common to Mastiff breeds:
- Elbow and hip dysplasia
- Corneal dystrophy
- Cherry eye
- Cystine urolithiasis
- Pulmonic stenosis
- Mitral dysplasia
- Persistent papillary membrane
- Progressive retinal atrophy
If you are unaware of the medical history of your pup’s parents, it is best that you bring them to the vet every once in a while to guarantee they don’t have any debilitating and life-threatening diseases.
A lot of these diseases can’t be diagnosed during puppyhood which makes it riskier and getting more chances of being neglected. Just be sure to observe your dog for anything wrong and immediately bring them to the vet if they started to show signs of health problems.
These dogs can get pudgy in no time, especially as adults. To avoid that, feed them properly and let them run around or walk them every day for their exercise. Bigger dogs need daily exercising to make sure their muscles and bones are strong and healthy and that they can support themselves.
Simply playing with them on your backyard or letting them run around a park will be a good way to keep them fit and healthy.
Prepare to have a one on one with the vacuum every now and then. These dogs tend to shed a lot and they continuously do so, unlike other breeds that shed seasonally.
If you have allergies, especially to fur, then we don’t recommend you get this kind of dog.
Bathing them bi-weekly is good. You can also clip their nails if you have the proper tools. However, you can bring them to a professional grooming service for deep cleaning and making sure they have clean ears and nails. Since they have short coats, they don’t really need a lot of trimming.
Brushing their teeth twice a day with vet-recommended products is also beneficial and help them avoid cavities and teeth problems.
German Shepherd Mastiff mix puppies can be lazy and can sleep longer than puppies. But that’s understandable since they need to grow more in the same period of time as other pups. They aren’t also very energetic, even as adults so you can guess you’d find them sleeping more than playing.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t play. They actually loved playing as much as any puppies do.
Since they are from larger breeds of dogs, you can expect Shepherd Mastiff pups to be bigger than the usual puppies. They’d have bigger paws which is a tell-tale sign of their size.
The price can vary from breeder to breeder. More reputable ones tend to have higher prizes. However, you can expect a German Shepherd Mastiff mix dogs to cost around $350 to $1000 from puppies to seniors. You can expect this wide range of pricing since Mastiff dogs can be sold as much as $1500.
But more than the dogs themselves, you’ll be spending a lot on taking care of them. On an average, you’ll shell out $1000 to $1500 a year for every Shepherd Mastiff you have. This will include accessories, medical services, food, and dog products.
If you’re into spoiling your pup, you’ll likely be spending more.
As they are hybrids, they are not recognized by the American Kennel Club (although both parents are). However, they are acknowledged by the Dog Registry of America, Inc.
Should You Get a German Shepherd Mastiff Mix?
A German Shepherd Mastiff mix isn’t the best choice for everyone, especially those who are timid and have fur allergies. However, for those who think they are the best fit as parents to these furballs, it’s definitely rewarding to see them grow into big adults. But despite their intimidating looks, they’re big softies and gentle creatures.