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German Shepherd

Types of German Shepherds

At A Glance

Learn about the similarities and differences of the types of German Shepherds. Here's a quick overview of the West German Working Line German Shepherds, East German Shepherd or DDR German Shepherd, American Show Line German Shepherd, European Show Line German Shepherds, and Czech German Shepherd.

Last Updated on: Jul 13, 2022

German Shepherds are well-loved family companions. They are great working dogs in many industries. You can also depend on them to protect you.

They are clever, hard-working, and easily trained. Many families, even first-time pet owners, consider this breed when they want to bring a pet home. When you think of a German Shepherd, a certain picture may come to mind. A dog with a brown and black coat, ears standing straight, and a body always alert.

You are right but unknown to many, there are types of German Shepherds. And it’s time for you to get to know the five different kinds of this wonderful breed.

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The West German Working Line German Shepherds

This line is also often called the European Show Line German Shepherd.

It sports a much richer color than its counterparts. The West GSDs have red and black fur, with the red close to a deep tan color. Between the reds and the blacks of the coat, you will notice some spots of light brown. The saddleback pattern is also visible on this German Shepherd.

Pegged as the most beautiful among all GSDs, it also has a somewhat arched lower back. The focus of this type is on temperament rather than looks. That is what Max Von Stephanitz who first developed this breed intended. This working line German Shepherd type is smaller than the show types. But without a doubt, they have higher pain tolerance and endurance for hard work. They live for a purpose—to assist their owners as much as they can.

This German Shepherd type is great as a family pet, but you have to commit to regular activities with them. These hard-working dogs thrive on responsibilities and being involved in many tasks. You need to engage them in agility runs and games that will stimulate their brain and body.

East German Shepherd or DDR German Shepherd

They share a strong resemblance and history. The East German Shepherd DDR working lines yearn to work. They also have great guarding skills. This type of German Shepherd comes from East Germany. You can identify the DDR GSDs with their cappuccino and tan hues. They are darker than their Western versions, thanks to a more generous black fur on their backs. This kind also doesn’t have a slope or arch on its back. This is because these dogs patrol and any asymmetry in their back and front limbs will give away their location easily.

DDR GSDs are more expensive because they are harder to find and have a longer life expectancy. The Deutsche Demokratische Republik was very meticulous in choosing the dogs to breed. The East German Line is a good fit for families who want a reliable and intelligent guard dog.

They are fearful enough to discourage any prowlers. At the same time, they can be devoted companions for the entire family.

The American Show Line German

The American Show Line German Shepherd or the Canadian Shepherds comes in caramel and tan colors with a black area around their back. At first glance, you will notice that it is an American GSD not just from its color but also because of its size.

As adults, males can grow to a maximum of 26-inches at their shoulders, while females can reach up to 24-inches.

They have a larger build. Their muzzles and heads are shorter. They have a more sloping gait. They have thicker chests and underbellies. The American German Shepherds are the most common among all types of German Shepherds. They are also the most altered mainly due to backyard breeding. This type comes in many combinations of bloodlines.

Also Read: Common Dog Training Mistakes

European show line German shepherd

The European Show Line German

The European Show Line German has a fierce and powerful look.

It comes in black and a vibrant rust color. Its back is straight and not sloping. Thanks to careful and selective breeding, this line has a good temperament as breeders put the overall greatness as a top priority.

Among all the types of German Shepherds, the European Show Line German Shepherds meet the original breed criteria.

Czech German Shepherd

Czech German Shepherd

The Czech German Shepherds came about in Czechoslovakia before it was divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The breeding of this kind of German Shepherd started in 1955.

This type’s coat is usually entirely black, sable (or agouti), or a combination of the two.
They are slightly leaner and more thimble and often mistaken for Czech sheepdogs. This is because they look similar and have similar personalities and maintenance demands.

As working dogs, they were highly valued for their courage, trainability, and work ethics.
Games, puzzles, and activities help stimulate these dogs. Once prey-driven, this GSD line is hard-wired for responsibilities and hard work. They now have a more relaxed temperament making them ideal for multi-pet households.

German shepherd dog with puppy

Why Are There Different Types of German Shepherds?

In 1961, during the Cold War, the German Democratic Republic split Germany into Eastern and Western sides. This is the main reason why the breeding of the German Shepherd went in different directions.

The German Shepherd came to the US in 1906. Due to irresponsible breeding practices, the original bloodlines were lost. New and not so desirable traits developed in the dogs.
Meanwhile, Czechoslovakia also wanted to develop its take on the breed. Until 1955, the country mainly used German Shepherds for labor. The division of Germany brought about line differences. The breed’s essence got lost. It was only found again when Germany officially reunited as a country.

Then on, the focus on traits and the breed’s looks became important.

German shepherd sitting in park

All smart and ideal as lifelong pets, you can’t go wrong with any of the types of German Shepherds. So no matter where your German Shepherd came from, this breed is worth adding to your family.

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