Types of German Shepherd

Should you understand bloodlines in your next puppy purchase?


I hope to give some concise information about the German sheep-dog and the training of these dogs to be competent and reliable police dogs. A German shepherd is a working dog. It is a sheepdog that can be used for other tasks. For guarding yard and home, to protect the family, as a reliable surveillance dog to guard public safety and as a sleuth to search for missing persons, objects (explosives) and materials (drugs). Because of their high train ability and intelligence, they can also be trained to guide the blind and be very good service dogs. In order to perform in these various roles, dogs must have right nerves and right genetics. That comes from good breeding. So what gene pools are available in this breed?


East German Shepherd

Deutshe Demokratishe Republik deutscher Schäferhund

 With the fall of the former Soviet Union, (1991) East Germany followed soon after, with the Berlin Wall coming down in 1992. Because East and West Germany were separate for such a long time, the East German and West German Shepherd effectively became almost two separate breeds, since gene pools never mixed. East German shepherd dogs, also called D.D.R German shepherds (Deutshe Demokratishe Republik), tend to have dark pigmentation, a large, blocky head, big bone structure and a lean build. Their backs do not slope like the international show lines of German shepherds, but have a straight appearance. East German shepherds were bred more for their working abilities and have few problems with medical issues such as hip dysplasia. They have high energy levels and need sufficient activity (work) to keep them healthy.  They are heavier boned and usually have large blocky heads. As you probably know, Slovakia and Czechk Republic are now separate countries, (but were one country since World War I, in 1918) but we still refer to the gene pool as the old name, because genetically, these dogs are the same bloodline, and we still refer to them as the Czechoslovakian German Shepherd, not as Czech or Slovak.  We feel that although there are some slight differences, the East German Shepherd to be essentially the same bloodline, as well, as both were bred in government run kennels, to be border patrol dogs or police dogs. The average East German, Hungarian and Rumanian also had dogs from these basic bloodlines, as they were not only in government kennels.  Because the bloodlines crossed, between Czechoslovakian and East Germany, both behind the Iron Curtain, these were not isolated gene pools from each other, as is the case with West German versus East German Dogs. There are differences also in rate of maturity and physical development in D.D.R dogs versus West German dogs, but this can easily be researched by avid GSD enthusiasts. Many will find the word “Pohranicni Straze” and their breed warden, Jiri Novotny as the steward of this line of dogs. These lines normally have very good scenting ability. In today’s times, in the pedigree, it is very hard to find pure D.D.R bloodlines anymore, as these existed 25+ years ago. We feel the East German Shepherd is more defensive drive and less prey drive than the West German Shepherd working line. Many of the East German dogs have been mixed into the West German Working lines as well, but nevertheless, this line, or sub-gene pool, still exists and is very distinguishable in many cases, and there are breeders who specifically focus on these lines exclusively. The masculinity and femininity of the sexes is very distinguishable.  


Typical East German (D.D.R) German Shepherd

Typical East German (D.D.R) German Shepherd

West German Show-line Shepherd

(The International line,sometimes called West German High Lines)

 West German Shepherds have a clear division between show and working lines. Show lines have been bred primarily for their physical appearance and do not have the courage and strong work instincts of their working counterparts.  These dogs are representatives of the lines Quanto Wienerau, Canto Wienerau, Mutz Pelztierfarm, experts can still remember the name Marko Cellerland. The main purpose of these dogs is to participate in exhibitions, in the breeding the biggest role is played not by the working qualities of the dog, but by its anatomical structure. They do require an I.P.O title before being bred so working ability is present but to a lesser degree somewhat than the working lines. The show lines have the most representation outside of Germany, and high popularity within Germany. The Black and Red dogs you see are probably what you’re thinking of and that’s the West German Showlines. The long coats, one of which is shown below, also falls into this category. For many, the title west German shepherd refers to German show lines, while east German shepherd refers to working lines. The west German shepherds have a more sloped body than the east German shepherd, but not as much slope as American German shepherds. They retain a high energy level, so require lots of exercise. So the West German Shepherd working line, as opposed to showline, is what is we strive for, although occasionally we also produce a cross of West German Working line and showline if the dogs involved exhibits enough drive to do work. . The masculinity and femininity of the sexes is very distinguishable.
 So in sum: there are two West German lines: working and show. The West German showline is not to be confused the the dog mentioned below, the American Showline.

Typical Black and Red with a traditional saddle West German Showline

Typical Black and Red with a traditional saddle West German Showline

West German Working Line Shepherd

Westdeutsche Arbeitslinie Deutscher Schäferhund

 This dog is also from West Germany, but the West German Shepherd Working lines but is bred for success in the IPO world, and not in the show ring. The masculinity and femininity of the sexes is very distinguishable. The structure is built for work, and ability to do jumps and searching for the decoy in the blind and jumps with a dumbbell in its mouth.  This dog is higher energy and higher prey drive than the West German Showlines. These dogs can be either pure black, sable, and black and tan. The black and red is not typically found in these lines.  The high prey drive, sometimes called "high ball drive" can be leveraged for I.P.O as well as obedience training, giving the dog an incentive to work for his toy, or prey object.  We feel the ratio f prey to defensive drive is higher prey than defensive drive compared to the D.D.R dog, or East German Working lines . The structure of this breed is what leads the dog to do his work, because a dog that doesn't have the proper construction can't work for long hours tending sheep, or doing some of the work the I.P.O trial requires. The dogs are bred with an eye toward working ability first, and looks second, but certainly these are handsome dogs. We feel this line truly represents what the breed was meant to be, a dog that is willing to work and retains working ability as a working breed.


American Showline (A.S.L)

American Showline 1970's

Typical American Showline in the 1970's.

 These dogs are more than 80 years separated from their ancestors, and were German only from the time of World War II, when they were still from Germany.  These are a separate breed essentially.

American Showline Today


 These lines tend to have most of the sloping backs and over angulation we see. Many of these dogs, it's hard to tell females apart from males in the development of secondary sex characteristics. 

Typical American Showline



Look at the dogs below? Do you see the feminization of these male dogs? Working ability is almost non-existent. Working ability has to be present in order for a dog to be considered a German Shepherd in our opinion and in the opinion of the breed founder. Dogs with “frog legs” were recent winners in Crufts this year, 2018. I don’t think this is what the founder of the breeder intended. We do not breed American Showline dogs.

Working line German Shepherds explained

The German Shepherd working line explained

Dog Nutrition

New Dog Nutrition Research

The IAMS Company has reported on a study showing that when puppies are  nourished with enhanced (high) levels of dietary docosahexaenoic acid  (DHA) these pups test out smarter and more trainable than other pups not  nourished with supplements of DHA. In the IAMS study, the puppies  receiving enhanced levels of DHA significantly outperformed puppies not nourished with the nutrient. In a shape-recognition food-reward test, the  success rate of the puppies receiving enhanced DHA was twice as good (50%)  as those receiving typical (normal) levels of DHA in their diets. The  researchers reported using Eukanuba Puppy Foods that contain enhanced  levels of DHA.  The abstract will be published in early 2005.   For a free  copy, call their customer service number at (800) 452-0605 and ask for the  DHA study…From: “Carmen Battaglia”

Having a dog is a lifetime commitment

Having a dog is a lifetime commitment