White Sheepadoodle tilting his head on a profile treatment background with an illustrated hill and clouds

Shepadoodle

A German shepherd and poodle mix, the shepadoodle is an intelligent, athletic dog. He needs an active family and time spent outside to be happy and healthy.
Shepadoodle
Breed Group
Dog Size
Other Traits
Temperament
Shepadoodle
height
  • 22–28 inches
weight
  • 60–90 pounds
life span
  • 10–14 years
breed size
  • large (61-100 lbs.)
good with
  • families
  • dogs
temperament
  • friendly
  • willful
  • outgoing
  • playful
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • infrequent
exercise needs
  • high
energy level
  • active
barking level
  • frequent
drool amount
  • low
breed group
  • none
coat length/texture
  • medium
  • curly
colors
  • black
  • gray
  • white
  • cream
  • brown / chocolate / liver
patterns
  • bicolor
other traits
  • easy to train
  • requires lots of grooming
  • prone to health issues
  • high prey drive
  • loves water
  • strong loyalty tendencies
  • good hiking companion

There is no such thing as a typical shepadoodle. Like other mixed breed dogs, the German shepherd and standard poodle cross inherits traits from both parent breeds, which means the dogs can range in size, weight, appearance, and temperament. These dogs can have the coarse, dense, black and tan coats that German shepherds are known for, or sport curlier, low-shedding coats that are the hallmark of their poodle parent. 

Both German shepherds and poodles are known for being active, intelligent breeds and the shepadoodle remains true to his roots. He's a dog that needs a lot of exercise, consistent training, and (because shepadoodles descend from two working dog breeds) he'll be happiest with a job to do.

Appearance

Just like German shepherds and standard poodles, shepadoodles are large dogs. Full-grown shepadoodles stand 22–28 inches tall and weigh between 60–90 pounds, but that's where the mixed breed's consistency ends. These pups can look totally different from one another, depending on which parent they take after more. 

shepadoodle on leash
Many shepadoodles are black, but you can also find this mixed breed in other colors including cream, fawn, and white.
| Credit: Courtesy of teddy.and.monty / Instagram

Many shepadoodles have German shepherd-like coats: coarse, dense, and black and tan. But it's certainly possible to see the poodle influence in their coats, too, says Sally Hammond, director of Doodle Dandy Rescue in Texas. 

"You do see some shepadoodles with curly coats," she says. "A shepadoodle is almost never a 'hypoallergenic' dog, but the more poodle [in their lineage] the less the dog will shed."

Though black shepadoodles are common, you can also find ones with different-colored coats, including white, cream, and fawn. 

Temperament

Though German shepherds and poodles differ in appearance, these distinct breeds do share some personality traits. Hammond says both were developed as working dogs and are prized for their intelligence, athleticism, trainability, and need for mental stimulation. As a German shepherd and poodle mix, shepadoodles embody all of these characteristics.

Hammond says a well-exercised (and well-trained!) shepadoodle is an excellent companion for experienced dog owners. He needs an owner who can keep him busy and engaged so his sharp mind doesn't become bored.

white shepadoodle sitting in an aqua background
black shepadoodle wearing a bowtie
Left: Depending on the traits they inherit from their parents, shepadoodles can look like black and tan German shepherds or curly-haired poodles. | Credit: Courtesy of walter_white_the_shepadoodle / Instagram
Right: If your shepadoodle inherits the coarse German shepherd coat, you'll probably be able to take care of grooming at home. But you should make regular groomer appointments for curly-haired shepadoodles. | Credit: Courtesy of teddy.and.monty / Instagram

Both poodles and German shepherds develop strong bonds with their families and thrive on companionship, playtime, and affection. A shepadoodle is no different—these are not dogs that like to spend a lot of time alone, and their families should be prepared to meet their social needs.

"They need to have your participation in their lives," Hammond says.

Living Needs

When it comes to the best environment for the shepadoodle, Hammond says the more space, more interaction, more exercise, and more training, the better. "They need to be able to run and play and get a lot of exercise," she says.

white shepadoodle lying with a tennis ball in his mouth
Shepadoodles need lots of playtime, and don't expect these pups to keep themselves entertained. They want their favorite humans to be in on the action.
| Credit: Courtesy of walter_white_the_shepadoodle / Instagram

Access to a fenced-in yard to run and play in is a must, but that isn't the only reason Hammond cautions against raising a shepadoodle puppy in an apartment. Poodles are known as champion barkers, she says, and German shepherds will sound the alarm when there are deliveries or noise from neighbors. So if you don't want passive aggressive glances from neighbors in the hallway, think twice before bringing a shepadoodle into your unit (or commit to training them not to bark at passersby). 

But even with a yard, you shouldn't expect your shepadoodle to entertain himself. Shepadoodles are high-energy dogs that love running, hiking, and swimming. This is not a dog that will be satisfied with a quick walk around the block; expect to devote a few hours a day to helping your shepadoodle burn off his energy.

shepadoodle puppy looking at camera
Shepadoodles are total brainiacs and can pick up on new training cues and tricks quickly.
| Credit: Holly Michele / Adobe Stock

Shepadoodles can get along well with other big dogs and happily play with older children, but they might see small dogs and cats as something to chase after. And because they're so energetic, big shepadoodles might be a little much for a family with small children. 

Care

To keep a shepadoodle mix happy, he needs plenty of exercise—both for his muscles and his brain. The breed excels in agility, obedience, and flyball. Hammond also suggests nose work for these dogs, in either a formal or informal setting: "Take them outside on a leash and let them smell things," she says.

Training is essential. Not only are shepadoodles highly intelligent and eager to learn new things, but without adequate mental stimulation the breed will get bored and exhibit some unwelcome behaviors like chewing or barking.

sheepadoodles sitting on a picnic table near water
Poodles were bred to retrieve birds for hunters, often from water. Your shepadoodle might inherit this love for swimming.
| Credit: Courtesy of Rollothevikingnotthecandy / Instagram

"This is a very smart dog that requires strong leadership and training," Hammond says. "I can't emphasize enough how important training is with these dogs. Get a trainer and keep up the training."

Hammond says training also creates a critical bond between shepadoodles and their pup parents. As with all dogs, always use positive reinforcement methods and reward your shepadoodle's good behavior.

Another constant of shepadoodle care is grooming. Whether he inherits the German shepherd's flat, coarse coat or the curly poodle locks, he'll need to be brushed several times throughout the week. If you have a curly-coated shepadoodle, you'll need to schedule regular appointments with a professional groomer, too. 

Remember keeping up with nail trims, routine dental care, and monthly preventives to protect against fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease are also an essential part of caring for your shepadoodle. Check and clean his ears, too, especially if he spends a lot of time swimming.

Health

Shepadoodles are fairly healthy dogs with an average lifespan of 10–14 years. But they are susceptible to some health issues inherited from their parents. 

Poodles are prone to progressive retinal atrophy, a group of eye diseases that cause the retinal cells to degenerate, leading to blindness. The diseases can be diagnosed in puppies and older dogs and, while it causes no pain, there is also no treatment. Your vet may recommend antioxidant supplements to delay cataracts and prolong vision.

shepadoodle lying on sofa
A well-trained and well-exercised shepadoodle can make a great companion for a family of experienced dog owners.
| Credit: Holly Michele / Shutterstock

A separate eye disease, degenerative myelopathy, is common in German shepherds. It's a progressive disease that targets the spinal cord and causes hind limb weakness and paralysis; lack of balance and dragging hind feet are the earliest symptoms. There is no treatment or cure for degenerative myelopathy.

Hip dysplasia is also commonly diagnosed in German shepherds. It's a condition that causes the joints in the hip to grind because the joint and socket do not fit together. Common treatments include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and surgery.

Perhaps the biggest shepadoodle health condition to be aware of is gastric dilatation volvulus, or bloat. This is a life-threatening condition when gas stretches the stomach, causing it to twist and cut off blood to the stomach. Both poodles and German shepherds (plus other breeds with deep chests and thin waists) are prone to bloat. Gastropexy, a preventive procedure that involves stitching the stomach to the side of the body, is sometimes recommended for bloat-prone breeds.

History

After the first documented "doodle" dog (a Labradoodle) was bred in the 1980s, demand for the designer breed took off. This led to interest in crossing poodles with other breeds, such as—you guessed it—German shepherds.

Shepadoodle, furry with German markings
Shepadoodle puppies need lots of socialization and training to grow into polite dogs.
| Credit: Courtesy of Our Traveling Tails / Instagram

The American Kennel Club doesn't recognize the shepadoodle mix as an official breed, so there are no official guidelines for the appearance or temperament of these dogs. And, without formal breed registration, little is known about how the breed originated.

But the shepadoodle's parent breeds both have rich histories. Poodles originated as hunting dogs in Germany and are the national dog of France. German shepherds are another German breed and have a long resume as working dogs for militaries and police departments around the world.

Fun Facts