Should a German Shepherd Have a Straight Back or a Sloped Back?

Canto von der Wienerau

Canto von der Wienerau

This is perhaps one of the most most debated topics of the German Shepherd breed. Should the shepherd have a straight back or a sloped back.

People all over the planet get very bent out of shape and emotional when trying to discuss the shepherd’s back. Some people say the straight back looks awful. Others call the sloped back a mutilation or deformity due to bad breeding. There is, however, one things nearly everyone discussing this has in common: complete ignorance.

Which is better? Straight or sloped?

To make a long story short, German Shepherds should have good angulation to their rear. However, that statement is about 1% of what you need to know.

There are two articles which separate fact from opinion and absolutely nail down everything you ever wanted to know about the back of the German Shepherd Dog. They are written by Louis Donald, SV Foreign List German Shepherd Dog Judge, Working Dog Judge & Breed Surveyor.

  • The Evolution of the back of the German Shepherd Dog – A very detailed article of the German Shepherd Dog’s back which discusses the anatomy of the back. By far, the most exhaustive article on the Internet. If you REALLY want to know about the back, thoracic vertebrae, lumbar vertebrae, withers, loins, rib cage, spinal chord, muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc, and understanding the back’s true function and how it has changed from 1900-2014, this is the article for you.
  • Problems in the German Shepherd Dog – This article goes into deep detail and has diagrams and images which explain, in detail, precisely how different types and styles of GSDs should be formed, the angle of the tibia, lumbar spine, distances for toes, stances, hocks, thigh distances, hind stability, plumb lines, knee heights, knee positions, pelvis angles, femur length, chest and foreleg ratio, hip positions, and much, much, much more.

The bottom line

There is a whole lot more to the German Shepherd’s back than a simple observation to the untrained eye. Just take a glance at those two articles. You can read and digest them for 2 – 3 hours and when you’re done you’ll know that neither you or I are fit to judge a dog’s back just by looking at it.

And you’ll also know now that well over 99% of people have absolutely no clue as to what they are talking about when they discuss a dog’s back. Heck, most people probably can’t identify the dog’s actual “true back”.


  2. i am handicapped and cannot run. I would love to have a GSD for protection and to love. Is that possible? to be good to the dog and give it the love and care it deserves?

  3. When thinking of a German Shepherd, one of the first things that comes to mind is the unique, signature appearance of the breed. But one of the most important considerations when picking your German Shepherd is the shape of its back: should it have a straight back or a sloped back?

    The first thing to understand is that a straight back or sloped back indicates the spinal alignment of the dog. A German Shepherd with a straight back will have an erect posture and a slightly forward tilt to the head. This breed tends to have a straight back more often than not and a lack of spinal curvature.

    On the other hand, a German Shepherd with a sloped back will have a more pronounced spinal curvature. This curvature will help to improve the ability of the dog to move and be active. Sloped-back German Shepherds are often more agile and have more agile gaits than those with a straight back.

    When trying to decide between a straight back and a sloped back in a German Shepherd, it’s important to keep in mind the intended purpose of the dog. If you plan to have a German Shepherd as an agility or working dog, a sloped back might be the best option if agility and maneuverability are a priority. This might also be the best option if your German Shepherd is going to be an upland or waterfowl hunting dog.

    On the other hand, if you plan on using your German Shepherd as a family pet, a straighter back might be the better option. This would ensure that the dog can sit, lay down, and stay without too much difficulty and comfort.

    Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to determining the type of back shape your German Shepherd will have. It’s important to take into consideration the individual needs of your pup. With this information in mind, you should be able to determine which type of back will best suit your pup and help him to be comfortable and successful in whatever tasks you have in mind.

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