All You Need to Know About the 5 Different Types of German Shepherds

By John Martin - April 21, 2023

They say dogs are the only beings that love you more than anyone, even more than you love yourself. This is why dogs make best friends with humans and are adored for their loyalty and support.

The German Shepherd is one of the most loved dog species. Pet owners love the German Shepherd and for the right reasons. This dog breed is known to be loyal, intelligent and courageous, qualities you would love to have in your pet.

What Are the 5 Types of German Shepherds?

This dog breed originated in Germany and was traditionally used for herding sheep and patrolling during times of war. With changing times, this versatile breed also known as the Alsatian Wolf Dog is commonly found in homes as loving pets.

All varieties of German Shepherds have a huge number of takers because of the wonderful qualities they are imbued with. But depending on your needs and preferences, you must choose one that works for you the best.

Here are 5 types of German Shepherds you must know about.

American Show Line German Shepherds

German Shepherd dog breed

One of the more popular breeds of German Shepherds, the American show line German Shepherd has diverged greatly from its German ancestor. This is probably because it is being bred with a number of American dogs regularly for over fifty years now.

Breeding with American species ensures consistency in the American show line German Shepherd as opposed to importing dogs from other places.

Some of the defining features of the American show line German Shepherd include:

  • As the name suggests, this is a beautiful breed of dog and people bring it home for aesthetic purposes
  • They are long and tall and come in beautiful shades such as black, saddle and tan
  • Agility is one of the strengths of this breed
  • The American show line German Shepherd is known to be obedient
  • This breed comes with a narrow head and an exaggerated rear angulation
  • This dog variety is known to be very relaxed and sharp
  • The show line American German Shepherds have relatively lesser energy than their working counterparts
  • Their obedience makes them an ideal option for adopting as a pet

West German Show Line German Shepherds

German Shepherd laying on floor

Probably the most gorgeous looking of all varieties of German Shepherds, this breed will certainly pique your interest.

It is said that this German Shepherd is bred for its beauty but it is not just that. This dog species will offer you much more and make great pets and protectors.

Some of the defining features of the West German show line German Shepherd include:

  • The West German show line shepherd is bestowed with a sober temperament which makes them ideal house pets
  • They usually come in deeper tones of the saddle and red but not dark such as black and tan
  • They don’t have perfectly chiseled and angled back as compared to the working line shepherds
  • They have a fuller face
  • They love socialization and will surely enjoy some training activities

Czech Working Line German Shepherds

Czech working line German Shepherd

The origin of this variety of dogs goes to their efficacy in military patrolling. They have retained their military nature and are considered to be fierce and wolfish.

They are also found less commonly as opposed to several other varieties of German Shepherds. You would find this variety more with police departments, forensics.

They also make a great part of rescue teams though some people also like to keep them in their homes.

Some of the defining features of the Czech working line German Shepherd include:

  • The Czech working line German Shepherd is high on energy and endurance
  • They are very athletic and agile
  • These dogs come in dark shades and have thick paws and a large head
  • They are prone to working hard and are extremely susceptible to their environs
  • They are characterized by more muscle and less fat which is why they are supremely agile
  • This is one species of a German Shepherd that is very keen on working hard and prefer it that way

West German Working Line German Shepherds

West German working line German Shepherd

Max von Stephanitz, the founder of the German Shepherd breed, would be proud of this breed because they come the closest to the dogs bred by him.

This breed is known for its incredible ability and agility for work, soft stable temperament and robust working drive.

They love to play the protector and would enjoy activities such as rescue and search and high-intensity sport.

Some of the defining features of the West German working line German Shepherd include:

  • The West German working line is blessed with the right temperament and personality which makes it a fantastic house pet.
  • They are strong, agile and excellent and listening and understanding.
  • They are uniformly black with brown legs, though sometimes you can see a variation, which tends to be very rare.
  • They have a sloppy back.
  • They are a very convenient breed to keep as pets as they are calm and relaxed.

East German Working Line German Shepherds

East German Working Line German Shepherd

The East German Shepherd traces back its origin to the 1940s and 1950s, during the period following World War II.

It is a result of controlled closed breeding which is why it has a very distinctive appearance. They are commonly used in military and rescue operations.

They are also considered to be the purest of all breeds of German Shepherds.

Some of the defining features of the East German working line German Shepherd include:

  • This dog breed is wolfish in nature because of its unparalleled strength.
  • They have a very stable temperament even bordering on the obedient if trained well.
  • They are dark colored and come in blacks and browns.
  • They have long back legs which is typical of working line dogs as opposed to their showing line counterparts.
  • They are sturdy, have a great working drive and like to be occupied.
  • If they are left for long periods without engaging in any activity, they may betray signs of boredom or even turn destructive in some cases.
  • They come with a big head and a very aesthetic-looking body.
  • They are definitely not going to complement first-time dog owners.

The Dwarf German Shepherd: Fact or Myth?

There is nothing called a dwarf German Shepherd in its pure form. There is however a condition that affects a few German Shepherds called pituitary dwarfism which can give the otherwise large dogs a distinct appearance.

This is a medical condition caused by a parasite called giardia.

While dwarf German Shepherds, or rangers as they are commonly called, are cute to look at, ultimately they are not completely healthy.

The parasite makes the dog prone to infections, hair loss and flaky skin.

Working or Show Line: Which One Should You Choose?

As the name suggests, working line German Shepherds are bred because of their functionality. Some of the most common places that have a German Shepherd include military and law enforcement agencies, forensics and rescue teams.

These have straight, thick bodies which aid them in their work. They are the more aggressive of the two and are known to use their mouth to attack.

The show line breed is more of a showy variety and is primarily concerned with how the dogs look. They are considered to make better house pets.

The show line German Shepherd has a leaner appearance and comes in richer colors such as tan, gray, black and red.

The show line German Shepherd is calmer and more house friendly.

Final Thoughts

The dog that you ultimately bring home must be a reflection of your needs. After having learned about the distinguishing features between working line and show line German Shepherds, you ought to make the right decision.

However, don’t make your decision in black and white. For instance, it is believed that the show line German Shepherd has a calm demeanor but if snubbed in the wrong way, they can also turn aggressive. Likewise, the working line German Shepherd if trained and handled well, can also make an excellent pet.

You can also take advice from experts who have been working with dogs for a long time and are well versed on each type and what they have to offer.

Here are some final tips that will help you make up your mind.

  • Make sure you have enough space before you consider getting a German Shepherd home. They like to move around and are not going to enjoy small, closeted spaces.
  • If you are a novice, you ought to be very careful while dealing with German Shepherds. If the play becomes rough, they may even bite.
  • You will have to train them against nipping right at the outset because they are naturally prone to nipping.
  • German Shepherds are pricey dogs so you may well want to consult about their price before making up your mind.
  • You will have to be okay with your dog shedding a lot of fur because German Shepherds tend to do that a lot.
  • You can’t possibly hope to not spend time with your German Shepherd. They love attention and feel unloved quite soon. You will have to spend regular hours exercising, walking and training them. It is a significant investment.
  • If not friends and family, always buy a German Shepherd from a breeder of repute. This is crucial.

Now that you know a great deal about German Shepherds, you can make a good decision and get a handsome and helpful dog home.