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I second the comment about Goldens. I haven’t researched Labs, but I looked at Goldens and they have a very high instance of health problems and early deaths. Our friends just lost an otherwise healthy 7 year old Golden who was a swimmer and got a lot of exercise. It sounded like hemangio. There is a reason why the Davis studies began with Goldens.
 

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I'd say that with the right dog, you will be fine. Here's 11 week old Valor with my 9 month old grandson. Yes, I have holes all over from playing rough with him, but he's very gentle with kids and elderly dogs.



That being said, a good Lab is hard to beat as a family dog.

Edited to change links to YouTube.
Was he licking his head? Now that was too cute!
 

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My first GSD was a female rescue 2yr. old and was like a Golden in a Shepherd body. Sweet, polite, trustworthy and the
most aggressive thing she ever did was tree 2 adolescent bears. But with humans and kids and horses and other dogs and cats, she was a gem. show her something one time and she got it. So the great GSD brain was there. Several people near me suggested she looked like the dogs from a well known breeder in my area who bred for police dogs.
If true ,she was a washout. Not a mean bone in her body. So the mild mannered, softer temperaments are out there.

I was warned by an experienced shepherd person to only get a female, as they believed they were easier to work with.

I'm on my second female rescue. Why a GSD? Because to me their brain is so superior in thinking skills to many other dog breeds. they're like MENSA dogs. Very high IQ. If that appeals to you then a softer GSD would be your best choice. But let me warn you, there's many, many GSDs being bred today that do not have good stable temperaments.
I've met so many out and about and at dog parks and at the shelter. the breeding has gone to pot with so many Backyard Breeders.

So do your homework. Talk to lots of people. And if you decide on a GSD, be very careful on the breeder and temperament of their lines.
 

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A Lab has different requirements but they still need training, and a lot more exercise than GSD. Labs are going to be friendlier to visiting children.
 

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A Lab has different requirements but they still need training, and a lot more exercise than GSD. Labs are going to be friendlier to visiting children.
Eh... A field bred lab is a ballistic missile, but a bench bred lab is a fairly easy keeper. They are almost different breeds IMO.
 

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My vote would be an english lab. Some of the field labs just aren't right. Some field labs are way too much energy for an average family. My English lab has no trouble keeping up with a busy day but he can also just easily chill.

I know a couple of field labs that settle really well and don't seem to have the screw loose like the others, but both of them have fear issues.

I think the most important thing is to really really get a good dog from a good breeder. I know a lady who is a judge in a couple of sports I do who has labs. So I reached out to her to ask if she could recommend a good breeder, particularly for a service dog. I found out she is very involved with our region's breed club for labradors and she knows ALL the good breeders. That was how I found my breeder and my dog and he is a dog that I feel so strongly no family could possibly go wrong or screw it up with a dog like this. This lady knew that this breeder had produced a lot of working service dogs.

I know some other english labs that are pretty bull headed and can be pushy and rude, but if you have enough personality to demand manners of a dog like that then you'd be fine. My lab is not like that at all.

I think there are a thousand sub par breeders for every really good breeder of either breed. And you've got to go to the best breeder.
 

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I've researched a good bit on this but still not quite sure.

  • We have a fairly private yard on half an acre
  • Family of 5, three girls, youngest is 8. Youngest and middle girls are not at all scared of dogs, the eldest is to a degree (nipped as a kid), but the entire family really wants a dog and I'm sure the eldest will adjust fine
  • Wife and I have not had dogs as adults
  • I have the temperament to train a dog and I do not anticipate having a problem being assertive with a dog.
  • At least one person is expected to be home for a long time after we get this before going back to work.
Why a GSD?
  • I want an exceptionally trainable dog. No intention of teaching a smart animal to sit and come and leave it at that.
Why a lab?
  • Seems a lot harder to inadvertently mess up a lab with incorrect training, or get one that is prone to behavioral issues. I've seen a poorly behaved lab but aggressive ones seem comparatively rare
  • Notoriously snuggly. Just a big teddy bear.
I do have the time to give to a GSD. I understand at least for a while I would want to socialize it weekly and undergo a training regimen early on--not just at home, but through a club.

We did go to a breeder yesterday and look at their adult german shepherds. The breeder is pretty involved locally and based on what little I know about this stuff had a great impression of her and her support/breeding, etc. They are very imposing animals, but I really picked up on the abilities of their 90lb male and played with it for a while. If we did not have kids the decision would be clear and we'd get a GSD for sure. My only real worry with the kids is that the thing is going to be so nippy (I understand more so than many other breeds), that my kids may struggle to bond with it. Is that a realistic concern? This is a trainable issue, but it's not like a 10 week puppy can be trained in 15 minutes never to nip again. Also a slightly niggling fear that if it gets out of the yard some day it might make our next door neighbor's westie a snack (btw I'm under no illusion that an invisible fence or 6' conventional will keep one of these dogs at bay).
Labs are exceptionally trainable. And a GSD is definitely more likely to be a danger to a small dog than a lab. Not necessarily, but statistically speaking.

Also, I have a working line GSD who boards here who is a very nice dog, stable, good dog. But very willful and pushy. He will grudgingly mind the dad of the family, I say grudgingly because the dad basically barks orders at him and there's not really anything in it for the dog. However, he completely walks all over the mom and kids. By the sounds of it the mom has just totally had it with this dog. So don't think just because YOUR personality is strong enough for a strong dog that everything will be peachy. The whole family has to live with it.

I moved in with my husband and his two kids when they were 9 and 12. The 12 y/o was in love with my GSD- it was mutual, so they wanted to play. I had not instilled enough impulse control in the dog nor taught proper play mechanics to the girl. She tried to tease the tug away at the last minute and the dog missed and bit her bare leg. It was an honest accident, and I can tell just how hard the dog tried to restrain herself and stop the bite when she realized what she had done by the fact that it resulted in only two very superficial scrapes- no puncture or bruising. We are all lucky- the kid was brave and understood it was an accident. My husband understood it was an accident. And it was a really good dog who tried really hard to stop that bite at the last second when she got leg and not toy.

I made some rookie mistakes that allowed that to happen. You'll probably make rookie mistakes too.

On the other hand, english labs can turn into alligators when food is involved, so you're not safe from chomped fingers with that breed either I can guarantee
 

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Our shepherd/husky mix has more of a shepherd temperament...
some things that make him less of the easy family dog:

- Velcro one-person dog. He likes the kids and husband, but truly loves only one person. He will leave the room if I do, and refuses to go on wallks without me. I think more possible that GSD can be like selective one-man dogs...which could be disappointing for other family members.

- We do not relax with visitors in the house. He has growled at a few people who act overly familiar and try to pet him. He is not a dog that enjoys attention from strangers and he would prefer to be left alone by them. We warn people a lot about this, because many people assume that all dogs love being gazed at and petted. If you have a social family, three kids who have friends over a lot, it would be a drag to have a dog that dislikes visitors.

That said, the way he is devoted, loyal and does not fawn over strangers, his pride and dignity, make me think he is the best dog in the world 😊 so I won’t tell you what to pick.
 

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What others said makes sense. They are both great and two different breeds. I love German shepherds. a good gsd to me can’t be matched because of the two I have now I would always recommend a gsd but it’s important to get what you want from a breeder that is reputable. My dogs enjoy family parties there is one person my older nephew that I put the dogs away they have some preconceived notion of the gsd and is best. They are friendly to friends new and old and All family members who I invite into the house. Outside of the house the dogs are more aloof and max is more watchful of strangers does not like other dogs it was never a priority and not an issue. My kids were 8 and 10 when we brought max home. To me is a good age. Max a asl was very mouthy as a pup and he was very expressive -it was just him. He needed to have a toy in his mouth. Structured outings and all was good on long lead rope. When not supervised crated. Any rough housing would escalate so no rough housing or getting amped up and no chasing kids. I can tell you now though present time after all the puppy madness everyone wants to walk this dog and he adds a lot of fun to this house. My kids lives will always revolve around animals so I’m glad I could share this with them. It was one of the iciest winters so to keep him busy learned sledding and some agility work with the kids. Luna a wgsl was not a Mouthy pup at all but again she had max to play with so that made a big difference. She is not pushy but super sweet. What we were looking for in a new addition to the family and why we went the route we did. They make a nice combo. Max has a bit more prey drive then Luna so - not sure if that made a difference when puppies. In regards to mouth ness. They are both more focused on me but they still enjoy the kids it’s what I like. Lab are great to and I agree they are the sugar without the spice. The owner at the barn has a showline lab from a reputable breeder we know and is really the greatest barn dog. She is really cute compact and solid and greets everyone that pulls into the barn. Her favorite toy is a curry brushes or all kinds of horse brushes she will steal from the clients. She is focused and hanged with her owner while she trains horses and really by her side all day she really is a great dog. Labs are no couch potatoes and most dogs that I know enjoy keeping busy and having a job to do. I know someone who had a lab pup with little kids and was not happy and returned the pup. So pups in general need a lot of time invested. Visit the breeders dogs and pups it’s really how you will decide.
Video of Max pulling the sled it’s very light and be had a harness. He did not care what was attached to him either and just wanted to run with my boy. When he became older he actually gave sled rides.

photos of Luna as a pup and sledding with kids and young nephew.
 

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I think a good point was brought up. I think most of us here would recommend a German Shepherd. They are the best breed, but not for all families. It isn't the breed, it is about the wants and needs of the people.
 

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Hi there. I think you can and would make either breed work. I love both breeds, so its win-win for you!

I have a 5 month old working line shepherd pup. She is amazing, intelligent, easy to train, adapted to our life-style very well, loves children (+dogs +adults, we do a lot of socialising).

I think the only things you need to be aware of for the gsd is that aggression is a trait, they bark at any noise they think is suspicious, and you need to think whether having a shepherd will affect whether your kids friends can still come round to the shepherd house to play. Also my girls landsharking phase was off the walls. But at 5 months now she knows not to bite hands.

Wait for the right dog and enjoy the puppy! Your kids will love one.
 

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I’ve noticed lots of people have the lab/GSD combo if they have two dogs... probably for that reason 😂
I’d also go with the lab if you’re not quite sure. I think half the reason GSDs get rehomed is because people are inexperienced and don’t know what to expect. They’re not quite the instant, versatile “family pets“ that people are often hoping for... they can be with a lot of training and experience, but if you haven’t even had dogs as adults, and you’re rusty, I’d start with the lab, get the experience and then add a GSD if you still want one 😊
Also, I’d wait till your kids are old enough to take a puppy bite ;) I’m not really a fan of training GSDs to NEVER bite... in my opinion they need a lot of experience to know exactly how much they need to bite to get their point across. My last dog was amazing at just grabbing people’s arms and holding them until they backed off (when it’s a GSD that’s all it really takes actually... saves so much on law suits 😂)... so I’d start with a lab to see how much you like dog ownership
 

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That little dude would play 2 ball down a hill and into a pond for an hour straight, then do detection training, then OB, then more 2 ball.

Rinse and repeat again in the evening.
 

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That little dude would play 2 ball down a hill and into a pond for an hour straight, then do detection training, then OB, then more 2 ball.

Rinse and repeat again in the evening.
Fantastic picture of the two of you. I know you miss him.

Someone said that field Labs require more exercise than a working line GSD. Barring exceptions, and considering the purpose for which they are bred, I don't exactly see it that way. Your thoughts?
 
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Fantastic picture of the two of you. I know you miss him.

Someone said that field Labs require more exercise than a working line GSD. Barring exceptions, and considering the purpose for which they are bred, I don't exactly see it that way. Your thoughts?
It depends on the dog. They are all individuals.

I think labs are generally easier for a kid or a less than athletic adult to exercise. They are less reactive. Fetch is the world. They live to swim. It's easier to set them up to do most of the work.

A GSD generally requires some tug or other aggressive activity to really get satisfied IMO. That can be challenging for some.

As far as stamina and recharge, I'd say the labs typically win but not by much. It also depends on the activity and the work ethic of the individual dog.
 

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Fantastic picture of the two of you. I know you miss him.

Someone said that field Labs require more exercise than a working line GSD. Barring exceptions, and considering the purpose for which they are bred, I don't exactly see it that way. Your thoughts?
Generally speaking the WL GSDs are pretty sane with an off button once they get their exercise mental and physical. Most field bred labs I have met were plain crazy and always in action, driving their owners mad if solely kept as pets.
 

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Generally speaking the WL GSDs are pretty sane with an off button once they get their exercise mental and physical. Most field bred labs I have met were plain crazy and always in action, driving their owners mad if solely kept as pets.
But considering the purpose for which they were bred... the GSD as a living fence vs a Lab that is meant to spend most of his work day lying in a blind.
 
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