The German Shepherd Dog- Difference Between German Lines and American Lines

On my last post I wrote about two very different lines within the German Shepherd dog breed; American lines and German lines. I explained how one breed grew apart to become two “different breeds” and I mentioned that in future posts I would be attempting to dig a little deeper into the differences between this two “types” of German Shepherd. So, that’s what this post is about.

When the first registry was created in 1899, Captain Max von Stephanitz who was the president of the SV (a society committed to the improvement of the breed) wrote the first breed standard for the German Shepherd dog, in which he made emphasis on the utility and the intelligence of the breed. His goal, as well as that of the SV, was to develop a dog with a uniform structure and working ability; a high performance dog.

The German Shepherd dog originated as a herding dog. Herding dogs must be able to trot on and off, for long periods of time. They must have great endurance, agility and strength.

Another key factor within the German Shepherd dog breed is its temperament. According to the German Shepherd dog standard, a German Shepherd must posses sound nerves, self-confidence, alertness, watchfulness, trainability, loyalty and incorruptibility; as well as courage, fighting drive and hardness. These characteristics make it suitable to be a superior working dog, a guard dog, a protection dog, a companion and a herding dog.

In Germany there is a governing body that controls its breeding and has specific requirements that must be followed. You can actually study the hip ratings and the show and working titles on these dogs for generations. In America, the AKC has no real control and does not have a strict standard.

There are many differences in structure and temperament between the German Shepherd dog of German lines and that of American lines. I will mention a few so you can understand what I’m talking about.

At first sight there are a few differences anybody may notice. The first one is size. German Shepherd dogs of German lines tend to be a bit larger than German Shepherd dogs of American lines. Coloring is another difference. German bred German Shepherds tend to be darker in color than American bred German Shepherds.

The most important and most obvious of these differences is stance. German Shepherds of German lines have a somewhat straight back, while the American style German Shepherd’s back has a downward angle starting at the head and ending at the base of the tail. They also have sharply angled hip joints. These characteristics make the dog look longer and look totally different from anything you might see in Germany. These features also allow for the “flowing gait” so praised in the American show ring. Although for some people this might look good, this is not a matter of taste; it’s a matter of health. This is not natural in the GSD and it increases the chances of developing hip dysplasia. German lines are less likely to have hip problems, mainly due to the breeding requirements by the SV.

Temperament is very important in the German Shepherd dog. These dogs are great overall dogs, they have good temperament, they are great family dogs and they are very social and protective. American show breeders have been breeding for extreme angulation and as a result German Shepherds of American lines have lost their working ability, their drive and have weak temperament and nerves.

In many cases, extreme beauty wins dog shows. Selection for beauty and extremes has made this dog what it is nowadays. German Shepherds of American lines are not being bred for their original purpose, which was to be working dogs, but to win dog shows. In my opinion it’s absurd to breed a dog only for showing him on a conformation ring. The German Shepherd dog is one of the most versatile dog breeds that has ever existed, but in order to maintain that, it has to be bred for its original purpose.

German Shepherd Dog of German Lines

German Shepherd Dog of German Lines
German Shepherd Dog of German Lines

German Shepherd Dog of American Lines

German Shepherd Dog of American Lines
German Shepherd Dog of American Lines

4 comments:

  1. Hawthorne Creek KennelOctober 6, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    Very Good article

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks this is very helpful! I'm looking to get a puppy (or up to 3 y/o) for my family, which consists of 3 kids (5 7 & 9), a 10 year old GSD, & myself.

    ReplyDelete

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