The German shepherd is one of the most recognized and popular dog breeds out there.
If you drop the name German Shepherd in any conversation,
Guaranteed 9 out 10 people will immediately know what you are talking about.
And by that, I mean not a shepherd in Germany
You can always find a German shepherd on a high rank on every dog popularity list. Also, German shepherds are the dogs of choice for many armies and police forces around the world.
They are loyal, intelligent, athletic, hard-working, courageous, and alert. Plus, They also got the looks, they are handsome, majestic and easy on the eyes.
It’s just a fact that People adore German Shepherds,
They seem to have it all.
If you are seeking a fluffy strong intelligent partner to join your life, a German shepherd seems like a perfectly obvious choice.
But wait a minute,
before you go ahead and take that leap,
you should know that there are many different Types of German shepherd dogs.
Most dog breeds seem to have a very homogeneous body style, coloration, and personality among their purebred set.
However, In our case here, purebred German shepherds come in many different sizes, colors, coloration patterns, and body styles.
That’s why it is important to research the breed beforehand. While all German shepherds are lovable and loyal, their appearance, temperament, energy levels, and activity vary.
In this article, we gonna talk everything German shepherd; the different types of German shepherd dogs, their qualities and traits for you to make your well-informed choice regarding your upcoming life long partner.
So without any further ado let’s start, Shall we?
Top 5 Types of German Shepherd Dogs
German Shepherd Show and Working Lines
The following breeds are all considered German shepherds,
Each in his own way is his own “line”.
These lines usually indicate the Heritage of The Dog, How these dogs Were Bred and for what Purpose these dogs were bred.
While there are technically seven different lines, there are only two general lines: show lines and working lines.
Show lines, from America, Canada, and West Germany (just Germany now), were mainly bred for their glorious body type, color, and coloration pattern over health and personality.
While working lines as the name indicates were bred to be workaholics focusing on personality, health, and stamina instead of to achieve a specific “look”.
Here are the most recognizable types of German shepherd dogs, their defining features, traits, and characteristics:
#1. American and Canadian Show Lines
These are the types of dogs who have diverged largely from their German origin, they are generally taller and longer than the European lines and also come in different colors, too, like:
- Black and tan saddle,
- Solid black,
- And solid white.
The American show line German Shepherd’s coat pigment is typically lighter than European GSD’s.
Silver, Cream, and light tan are more common than the tan and red coats of German show lines and working lines.
This massive diversion from its German shepherd ancestry happened mainly due to being bred just with other American dogs for at least the last fifty years.
Breeders have preferred to breed from North American stock, rather than importing dogs from overseas, to retain a consistent body style, coloration pattern, and coloring.
The American show lines are mainly bred for show and conformation, and are evaluated for their color, movement, built, angulation, size, and overall “GSD” look.
They are generally more relaxed with a lower drive and less energy than working lines.
If you are seeking a good family pet, The American show line German Shepherd is the one for you.
He is Eager to please, does well in tracking, obedience, agility, and herding.
When Compared to other working lines, the American show lines are active and have lesser strength. These traits don’t necessarily make them suitable for personal protection or law enforcement. But there are a few that do well in these fields.
#2. West German Show Lines
The Western German show line GSD’s are widely known for being astonishingly handsome. They look stunning but they’re not just bred for beauty or conformation to breed standards.
Just the same as American and Canadian show lines, these handsome dogs are bred to have a specific appearance and gate. They are, however, often required to prove that they are just as skilled at “working” as they are at being shown.
While there are many dogs that just barely pass the agility and obedience trials, There is usually a better attempt at breeding dogs that are both loyal, obedient, and smart than dogs that just have the right look.
The west German show lines GSD’s have very similar body styles to the American and Canadian German shepherd types, but it is preferable that this dog be red with a black saddle, rather than tan.
Each dog in this line is required to have a working title (like Schutzhund or German for “protection dog”) and health clearance for hips and elbows before he or she is allowed to pass on his or her genes.
On the contrary of the American show line, the Western German show line can serve great both as protectors and family pets.
Western German show lines are not lazy. In fact, they need a lot of exercise, training, and socialization.
#3. West German Working Lines
These dogs are considered to be the nearest Resemblance of the dogs bred when Max von Stephanitz, The Father of the German shepherd breed, was alive.
Stephanitz is the person credited for
The Development of the breed and the one who set the breed standard’s guidelines.
Stephanitz’s vision was to create the best dogs that would have the right personality and temperament first, and the right looks second.
This means that his dogs (and this line, by extension), are bred for their ability to work, learn, and listen, rather than for a specific coloring or color pattern.
The main focus of The West German Working line is on stable temperament, high and strong drives, and excellent working ability. In addition to the line’s working ability, The West German working line is also bred for their stunning looks.
These dogs are considered very high quality, with a drive to work and a desire to please their owners, Which makes them unparalleled working animals and family pets.
This line of GSD’s excels at different sports and jobs such as guarding, protection and search and rescue.
Despite West German working line GSD’s having a strong drive,
They know how and when to stay calm and settle down.
This particular trait makes them amazing Pets for an active family.
They usually have a uniform black body, with brown legs, though specific colors and patterns can vary wildly from dog to dog.
#4. East German Working Lines
This line has its origin in the 1940s and 1950s or The Post-WWII Era.
With The Berlin Wall separating East Germany and West Germany, the trade outside was ceased. This resulted in the preservation of the East German working lines’ lineage.
During that time, the government took control of this working line; protecting and isolating it from outside influence.
The East German Working line GSD’s were bred not for their appearance, but rather for their work-ability especially for military purposes.
In East Germany, breeding of these dogs was heavily regulated, to ensure that large, strong dogs were the result.
The focus on ensuring clean genetics and an obedient, loyal temperament created a very “pure” lines of dogs.
The East German working lines come usually with dark colors; black or sable mottled with brown, and have more wolfish features than dogs bred for show.
They also have longer back legs and a more stereotypical “dog” gait, instead of the flying trot so typical of show dogs.
Some of the physical traits of this line include really strong bones, large heads, and broad shoulders.
Strangely enough, Not all dogs in this line (not even the ones born with both East German working line parents) are allowed to breed. They can only breed if they were completely free of hip dyspepsia.
Each puppy of each litter is also inspected, tested, and examined for proper bone structure, coat quality, temperament, etc.
This line also undergoes physical tests including:
- Climbing a straight wall of 1.5 and 1.8 meters;
- Straight Walking on a balance beam
- Searching 10 blinds
- And accomplishing a series of tracking tests.
The East German Working line GSD’s are bred to endure terrible weather conditions and long working days. The main target of that was to patrol territory borders, but they also worked as tracking and attack dogs.
It is a must for them to have lasting endurance and athleticism. They also tend to be more aloof and defensive.
This is one of the German shepherd breed types that individuals looking for a sturdy working dog will usually turn to.
Though they can also make great family pets with the right training.
As they are bred for their working drive, It is usually best to make sure they have plenty of activities
They will become bored and potentially Destructive.
#5. Czech Working Lines
Czech German shepherds are definitely the most Wolfish among their cousins.
They are distinguished with their coloration and body style that varies drastically from the show lines of American, Canada, and Germany.
The Czech Working Line GSD’s were bred specifically to patrol the Czech border before the Iron Curtain fell.
One single kennel in Czechoslovakia was responsible for creating these dogs. The Pohranicni Straze kennel of the Czechoslovakian Army focused specifically on agility, working drive, and trainable temperament.
The Czech Working Line GSD’s are known for their phenomenal working drives. They tend to be more agile and intense than other lines.
Most of them were remnants from former East Germany. However, these dogs from the Czech Socialist Republic also went through their strict breeding program.
Despite being less common than the other German shepherd types, The Czech Working Line GSD’s still make excellent family pets and are an excellent choice for police departments, search and rescue teams, and other working dog occupations.
Now after you have learned everything to know about the different types of German shepherd dogs; both working and show lines, their personality traits, their physicality, and their temperament. It’s time for the most important question, shall we?
Which Line Should I Choose?
To answer that,
you should decide first What your German shepherd is going to be doing?
Adopting a champion or the child of a champion from a show line simply to have the title may not be the best option if the dog does not have the proper temperament for a family setting.
These dogs were bred to be show dogs so they may have issues with anxiety or fear, which are a sign of weak genetics in the dog breeding world.
However, if you are trying to find a dog to show, a German shepherd from the American, Canadian, or West German show lines from a reputable breeder is a great option.
On the other hand, if you want a strong tough workaholic German shepherd as a family pet or to train him some sort of job to do, It’s obviously a better decision to choose an animal from the working lines.
Since these dogs are bred specifically for their train-ability, loyalty, obedience, and intelligence, which are all important when it comes to having a German shepherd as a pet or to do a specific job.
It is, of course, possible to get a German shepherd from a show line that is just as intelligent, trainable, and healthy as from a working line.
If you source your dog from the right breeder (One that cares about a dog’s health, rather than just getting the right look), A well-bred German shepherd, of any type, will be caring, loving, protective, and intelligent. Those are the characteristics to look for, as well as looking for a certain coloration, pattern, or body style.
That was our Types of German shepherd dogs guide for you, I hope you have enjoyed it
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Good luck with your German Shepherd pick
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While on the subject of Types of German shepherd dogs, If you liked what you read here and want to read more check out my other articles on Top 10 Dog Breeds That Are Amazingly Like A German Shepherd or The Top 10 Easy to Train Dogs For You
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