Gerberian Shepsky Health Problems

Gerberian Shepsky Health Issues

If you are looking for a fun-loving family dog who is playful, energetic, and loves children, look no further than the mysterious Gerberian shepsky.

I say mysterious because this dog is a blending of two beloved, intelligent breeds, the German shepherd and the Siberian husky rolled into one gorgeous animal.

The Gerberian shepsky is a cocktail of the best traits of these two breeds melding to create a “hybrid,” being loyal, affectionate, active, happy-go-lucky, yet gentle.

The mystery area of this breed is in their outward appearance can resemble a German shepherd, a Siberian husky, or a combo of both with beautiful coat hues and eyes, giving these breeds exotically stunning looks, that have people asking, “what kind of dog is that?” There is no way to predict exactly what puppies will look like.

Known as the German husky or the Siberian shepherd, the Gerberian husky inherits traits, temperament, personality, and looks from both original breeds, but unfortunately, they can also inherit health problems.

Often these “designer” or hybrids do sidestep health issues passed down from the original breeds and parents, but it is best to be aware of common health problems that can plague the breed.

In this post I will give you some information on Gerberian shepsky common health problems and what to look out for as well as answer the question, “how long do Gerberian shepskies live?”

Gerberian Shepsky Health Problems
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Common Gerberian Shepsky Health Problems

When considering adding a Gerberian shepsky to your family you need to seek out a reputable breeder and also consider the health of your future puppy’s parents.

Again, hybrid breeds generally have fewer health issues than totally purebred dogs, but parents can still pass along congenital diseases if they aren’t properly screened.

Listed below are some Gerberian shepsky common health problems. These may never affect your shepsky but it’s good to be informed of signs and symptoms.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

German shepherds have a very high risk of developing hip and elbow dysplasia, while the Siberian husky has a relatively low risk.

Ask your breeder to provide certification from the Orthopedic Foundation of America. Proper breeding is the only way to ensure that these two types of dysplasia don’t become an issue.

Causes for hip and elbow dysplasia besides being linked genetically are that it is more common in large breed dogs, dogs that grow rapidly, plus more common in dogs that have a diet too rich in calcium, fats, and high calories. These are other factors that exacerbate these conditions.

Both hip and elbow dysplasia causes joints to abnormally develop and symptoms can begin at five to eighteen months, causing pain and leading to arthritis which can be debilitating. These are two of the Gerberian shepsky common health problems.

To check your shepherds’ health status or their DNA checks, please visit the Embark vet website for all the help you may need.

 Gerberian Shepsky Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
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Symptoms of hip dysplasia are:

  • Stiffness
  • Reluctance from exercise and jumping
  • Lameness or limping in hind legs
  • Hopping
  • Painful hips when touched
  • Avoidance or difficulty with stairs
Symptoms of elbow dysplasia are:
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness or limping in front legs
  • Difficulty with stairs
  • No interest in walks or play
  • Elbow joints are swollen

If hip or elbow dysplasia is suspected, your veterinarian will perform a complete examination.

take x-rays and may even do blood tests to check for any underlying conditions that may mimic dysplasia. Dogs with hip or elbow dysplasia should never be bred.

Treatment options can be one or more of the following:

  • Weight loss (if overweight)
  • Anti-inflammatories for pain relief
  • Exercise, physical therapy, or physiotherapy
  • Supplements to help joints (glucosamine/chondroitin)
  • A comfortable, supportive bed
  • Surgery (there are many new orthopedic surgical techniques)

skin issues and allergies

Skin issues and allergies can be dealt with through diet change, avoidance, and various medications.

Siberian huskies suffer from more skin allergy problems than German shepherds however, any dog, including shepskies can suffer from serious skin problems if they should become infested with fleas.

The saliva in fleas can cause allergic reactions, leading to itching, scratching, and rashes, and can lead to skin infections called pyoderma.

Allergies from food or the environment can also trigger itching and scratching, and again pyoderma can develop.

Common allergens are pollen, fleas, and foods, most notably grains and wheat. Food allergies can also cause gastrointestinal issues like stomach upset and diarrhea.

Treatment for food allergies would be changing your pup’s food. Skin issues can be dealt with by using topical steroid creams, oral steroids, oral or topical antibiotics, if infections occur, or medicated baths.

The medication will depend on the cause. Environmental allergies like pollen can be treated with allergy medication.

Huskies can suffer from canine discoid lupus, which can affect a shepsky. This condition affects the skin, typically the nose.

Early treatment is necessary or it can spread to the lips, gums, or sinuses and can’t be reversed once this happens.

This type of lupus is primarily linked to just the skin and is an autoimmune condition.

Treatment can be topical corticosteroids, oral prednisone, and sometimes antibiotics like tetracycline or doxycycline. Avoiding sunlight is also best as this worsens the condition.

Common Gerberian Shepsky Health Problems
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Eye conditions

Three ocular diseases that are Gerberian shepsky health problems are PRA, canine glaucoma, and juvenile cataracts.

These three conditions occur before the age of five and are inherited. If your pup reaches the milestone age of five with no signs, they are generally in the clear.

Because these diseases are hereditary, your reputable breeder should have certificates from the CERF or Canine Eye Registry Foundation for your pup’s pet parents. Listed below is information on these three eye diseases.

  • PRA – Progressive Retinal Atrophy is just that; the atrophy or dying away of the retina. Unfortunately, there is no treatment or cure, and blindness will occur over one to two years.
  • Canine Glaucoma – This is a broad term for several canine eye diseases that can lead to loss of vision and eventual blindness by affecting the optic nerve. This can be surgically treated if detected in the early stages.
  • Juvenile Cataracts – These cataracts are similar to senior cataracts, causing cloudy eyes and vision, although juvenile cataracts are found before your pup is one year old and most often leads to blindness. This is why it’s imperative for the breeder you choose to have good records for their breeding dogs. Eye drops can be used if they develop slowly and sometimes surgery is suggested.

Cushing’s disease

This disease occurs when the adrenal gland does not produce the necessary hormones. It is often caused by a tumor (non-cancerous) on the pituitary gland.

A few symptoms are lethargy, increased thirst and hunger, and weight gain. There is no cure for Cushing’s disease but it is manageable with medication and usually occurs in older dogs.


This disease is also caused by an underproduction of hormones and in this case, is due to a lack of thyroid hormones.

This causes lethargy, fatigue, dry dull brittle fur, sometimes loss of fur, and weight gain. Again, there is no cure, but replacing thyroid hormones with the drug levothyroxine relieves symptoms.


Epilepsy, which causes seizures, is also found in some Gerberian sheepskins as it is evident in Siberian huskies and German shepherds.

This can be frustrating because it can sometimes be hard to identify the exact cause. Siberian huskies do not absorb zinc properly and this can lead to a zinc deficiency.

This type of deficiency has been linked to neurological issues and can lead to seizures. If your pup begins to have seizures, your veterinarian can run bloodwork to check.

A zinc supplement may be needed or if the cause of seizures cannot be found, the medication phenobarbital is used to control epilepsy.


Bloat is a leading cause of death, especially in deep-chested breeds like the Gerberian shepsky.

The stomach becomes filled with air or fluid and dilates, often causing the stomach to flip resulting in a gastric torsion.

The air or fluid must be released and many times this is a cause for emergency surgery. To avoid this scary condition, veterinarians usually suggest feeding two or three smaller meals during the day and limiting water after a meal. Also, waiting an hour or more after or before a meal for exercise is advised.

How Long Does Gerberian Shepskies Live?

The life span of the Gerberian shepsky is on average 10 to 15 years. Just as in humans, they may live a shorter or longer life, and also as in people, genetics plays an important role in length and quality of life as do proper diet and nutrition, and exercise.

The first thing you must do if you have your heart set on the pretty awesome Gerberian shepsky is to find yourself an equally awesome breeder.

Ask a veterinarian, groomer, or trainer for recommendations. Visit breeding facilities, view parents and ask to see records and then carefully make your decision.

This is the biggest step in ensuring a happy, healthy, affectionate, and active Gerberian shepsky.