The Different Types of German Shepherd Dogs

There are several types of German Shepherd Dogs. The goal of this article is to help you decide if a GSD is right for you and help make a decision of which shepherd is best suited for you. Please treat this article as our personal opinion and do your own due diligence. Once you know which shepherd suits you best, visit our article on selecting a breeder.

West German Show LinesShow Line German Shepherd
The German Show Line dogs are large, beautiful dogs. Most have deep, rich pigment. They have an excellent temperament, strong nerves, and are instinctively protective. Females should be in the 22-32Kg weight range (about 48-71lbs), and males should weigh in at 30-40Kg (66-88lbs). They are meant to be not just a companion but a family member, guardian to their pack, may be used as working, and are very energetic. Socialization and exercise are mandatory. They are bred according the German Shepherd Breed Standard.

It is important to note that most people getting these dogs have absolutely no desire to show them, which is fine. They do not need to be shown, and this is an extremely time consuming hobby. While Aura has been in a conformation show we do not actively show dogs. Also, Aura is a large female. When fit, she weighs in at 72lbs. The male we use is 90lbs. These are big dogs.

Every time we have left the house with Aura people are just amazed at her beauty. Strangers, veterinarians, and others have repeatedly informed us that Aura is the most beautiful shepherd they’ve ever seen. We then thank them and if they are curious we explain that she is a German Show Line dog, and they’re likely comparing her to an American Line Dog, which is a different breed that varies greatly from a German German Shepherd.

Also, as an example of nerves: It was a strange situation but one day a child came bolting across a field and wrapped her arms around Aura’s neck, hugging her into a headlock and Aura just sat their looking at us like “where is this kid’s parents?”. It is important to not put any dog in a situation where an unknown human suddenly charges it and headlocks it, and this was probably a first and a last, but I think it speaks volumes about temperament and properly socialized GSDs. They are great judge of situations- once at night we had a lost pizza delivery man unexpectedly approach the house- he was lost and not sure of himself. He was greeted by Aura in the window with her back hair standing straight up, barking and growling which sent him running back to his vehicle. (She stopped on command and we went out and gave the nice guy directions.)

Any dog can be a wonderful companion, even a good old lab from the local rescue; however it is our opinion that the German Show Line German Shepherds are extraordinary. They are the most expensive up front, but should have an outstanding pedigree and are generally very healthy family members.

If you think this type of German Shepherd would suit you best take a look at our German Shepherd puppies page and don’t hesitate to contact us at any time, even if we are out of dogs there are multiple breeders we do recommend as well.

The dog in the picture is VA1 Ober von Bad-Boll SCHH3, Kkl 1

Working GSDGerman Working Bloodlines
This GSD is primarily bred to be a working dog. SAR (search and rescue), law enforcement, etc are great positions for these dogs. Many people also use them as family companions; however an experienced handler is a prerequisite. Physical appearance may be diverse and they come in a variety of colors. They should have a high drive and intensity. Decent breeders typically deliver healthy puppies.

They deserve more than what we just wrote, but for all intents and purposes, this website is dedicated to the German Show Line GSDs. The above blurb will probably help you rule them in or out as an option in your search for a German Shepherd Dog. There are many good breeders of the working line here in North Carolina and all over the US. We are not calling one better than the other, but some dogs are better suited for different tasks.

The dog pictured is SG Nancy vom Hainpark SCHH 1 Kkl 1

American GSDAmerican Bloodlines
The American line dog is what you see most commonly here in the US, or a variation of it. Also referred to as the Canadian Shepherd, they have a common ancestor in the original shepherd, however they are really a breed of their own and are much different than shepherds found in the rest of the world. Typically they are large, heavy, have more angulation, thinner bones and significantly smaller heads. They do not have the required temperament to be a working dog, and most are not capable of protection work. Health issues such as hip issues and skin allergies are a concern which may result in a very expensive total cost of ownership or untimely death.

We’re not out to pick on these dogs, these are just the things that differentiate an American/Canadian GSD from a German GSD that meets the breed standard. Many people have had absolutely wonderful American GSDs that were completely healthy and would not trade them for the world.  They can be a great companion. If you do opt to take on an American line dog, the pedigree should have at least 5 or 6 generations of certified hips and temperament of both parents should be verified by you personally since there are no good standards to judge temperament in this breed.

Other lines
There are several European lines similar to the German Working Line, but there are differences. To be honest we just don’t know enough about all of them to say anything here, and if you are aware of these types you probably wouldn’t be reading this little article in the first place. Most of these are not very common here in the United States.

Other types of shepherds include the East German Line, Czech or Slovak Lines, British Lines, Swiss Shepherd, Panda Shepherd, Shiloh Shepherd, Deutsche Schaferhund, King Shepherd, Kunming Dog, Byelorussion Ovcharka, Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, Sarloos Wolfhound, Utonagan (a GSD/Malamute/Siberian), American Tundra Shepherd, Alsation Shepalute, Bohemian Shepherd, etc- the list keeps on going. You can google these for more information if you’re curious!

If we’ve helped you, left you confused, happy or upset, or if you have suggestions for the article please do not hesitate to email us. I love all dogs, from the American GSDs, to the German GSDs, labs, retrievers and schnauzers, and encourage people to make educated decisions when taking on a new “pet”. Some “pets” are family members, and I’m not being a fanatic here- a show line GSD is absolutely a family member that needs lots of exercise.

Thank you!
Hektor Haus

Len and Aura, Easter 2012, shortly before all of her longer puppy fur had fallen off.

Mixed Breed Shepherds: