The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is the second most popular breed of dog in America. You’ve almost certainly seen them in dog parks, films or as working dogs.
What you may not have realized is that their coat comes in several different lengths.
Short Haired German Shepherds are the classic GSD. These are the dogs you see working with the army, the police or herding. Long Haired German Shepherds are somewhat rarer. Their coat is seen as a ‘defect’ by the American Kennel Club and so they’re not recognized by the association.
These differences, and 6 other key differences, will be discussed in this article to help you pick the perfect dog for you.
Contents and Quick Navigation
- Long Haired German Shepherd vs Short Haired Comparison
- Long Haired German Shepherd vs Short Haired Differences
- Short Haired German Shepherd Breed Info
- Long Haired German Shepherd Breed Info
- Frequently Asked Questions
Long Haired German Shepherd vs Short Haired Comparison
|Long Haired GSD||Short Haired GSD|
|Size:||22-26 inches tall||22-26 inches tall|
|Coat:||Single layered, long, silky||Double layered, woolly undercoat and dense outer coat|
|Color:||Black and tan, black, red and black, sable, black and silver, and grey||Black and tan, black, red and black, sable, black and silver, and grey|
|Lifespan:||10-13 Years||10-13 Years|
|Temperament:||Loyal, athletic and confident||Loyal, athletic, confident and a good worker|
|Intelligence:||Very intelligent||Very intelligent|
|Socialization:||Good with other dogs but needs socialization||Good with other dogs but needs socialization|
|Destructive Behavior:||Prone to jumping, barking and chewing||Prone to jumping, barking and chewing|
|People Skills:||Great with family||Great with family but may be aloof with strangers|
|Initial Purpose:||Companion animal||A working dog bred initially to herd sheep|
|Energy Levels:||Highly energetic||Highly energetic|
Long Haired German Shepherd vs Short Haired Differences
- These dogs are both loyal, protective, energetic, intelligent and athletic.
- They will grow to similar sizes with the males from both varieties being larger than the females.
- Both dogs will require the same amount of exercise (around two hours a day).
- Separation anxiety is an issue that is prevalent in both types of GS.
- They both have the protective and possessive nature – this will be particularly apparent when looking after their family.
- Both are susceptible to the same health conditions: hip dysplasia and heart disease.
- As long as you buy both from responsible breeders who use healthy dogs to breed, they should have similar lifespans.
- Short Haired’s coat are only around an inch but the Long Haired German Shepherd’s coat can reach two inches or more in length.
- The Short Haired German Shepherd has a double coat that consists of an outer coat and an undercoat. Whereas the Long Haired has only a single layer to their coat.
- Thanks to their double coat that protects them from cold and is waterproof, the Short Haired German Shepherd is more suited to working outside and to work in general.
- Due to their aptitude for working, the Short Haired German Shepherd is more likely to behave in an aloof manner to strangers.
- The Long Haired German Shepherd is not recognized by the AKC because their coat is considered a fault by the breed standard.
Short Haired German Shepherd Breed Info
The German Shepherd was originally bred to herd sheep in Germany, unsurprisingly! The breed was refined by Captain Max Von Stephanitz to be the breed we know and love today.
They are well known for their movie roles such as Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart. It was appearances like this that helped to bring the breed back into favor after the First World War.
These dogs are loyal until the end. They form extremely strong bonds with their family members and would protect them with their life. This devotion sometimes leads to an aloof nature with strangers. They aren’t quick to make new friends, however with plenty of socialization, this behavior trait can be reduced.
They are highly energetic dogs and need at least two hours of exercise every day.
This pup loves joining you on walks, hikes, runs, bike rides, swims and any activity really. You name it and a GSD has probably done it. As their coat has that double layer, the Short Haired German Shepherd is much more suited to being out in colder, wetter weather.
Grooming a Short Haired German Shepherd is important. Their double coat sheds all year round.
Brushing them two to three times a week should help remove some of the loose hair but you are still going to find fur everywhere. During shedding season. (spring and fall), they will have a big blowout and lose a ton of fur. During this time of the year, you need to brush them every day.
Appearance and Size
This is an athletically built dog. They should stand between 22 to 26 inches tall at the withers and weigh between 50 to 90 lbs. Males are generally larger than females and have a distinct masculine look. They have a long muzzle and ears that face forward and stand erect.
Their back should be straight, the slope that we have seen develop over the past years is incredibly bad for the health of the dog.
They have a double coat. The outer layer should be dense and close to the body. It is preferred to be straight but a slight wave is allowed in the breed standard. The undercoat should be thick and woolly – its the undercoat that provides the weather protection.
The coat colors are generally black, black and tan, red and black, sable and grey. Breeders prefer the darker, richer colors and many light colorations are not accepted by the breed standard.
Short Haired German Shepherds are prized for their character and temperament. They are an allrounder that are able to complete almost any task you set them. This is why they have excelled as working dogs in many fields, including the police and the military.
This dog is fiercely loyal and protective – they will look out for their family and are always alert. They may be slightly too possessive at times and this can cause them to be aloof towards strangers.
Short Hair GSD tends to have a one track mind and this is why they are so effective as working dogs.
You should always use positive reinforcement methods when training a German Shepherd. These are incredibly intelligent dogs who want to please you. Rewarding them with treats and praise when they do what you ask will get better results than not rewarding them or punishment.
One thing that they struggle with is separation anxiety. Their excessive devotion can cause them to feel anxiety when you are not around. They will bark and chew up furniture. They also don’t do well being left because they become bored easily – these dogs need a job to do, even if it’s just a puzzle toy.
A Short Haired German Shepherds will cost between $500 and $1,500. The better the dog’s pedigree, the more expensive the puppy will be.
Unfortunately, many German Shepherds do end up in shelters. Adoption prices range from free to $250.
A healthy German Shepherd should live between 10 to 13 years. Health concerns you should be aware of are hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, heart conditions and eye conditions. A good breeder should have the full history of their dog’s health issues and clear eye tests and hip scores.
Long Haired German Shepherd Breed Info
As both of these dogs are German Shepherds, most of the breed information is going to be similar. One of the main differences you will find between the them is their grooming requirements.
Grooming for a Long Haired German Shepherd is slightly different than the Short Haired. They don’t have the undercoat, which would make you think they would shed less. What actually happens is they shed pretty much the same amount but because the fur is longer the shed hairs become caught.
When you brush your Long Haired German Shepherd, you will probably notice more fur comes out than with a Short Haired.
They still need to be brushed two to three times a week. Their fur can quickly become matted and tangled and this may be painful for your pup. They don’t go through shedding seasons. The amount they shed is pretty consistent all year round.
Appearance and Size
Both types of German Shepherd grow to the same size and physically appear similar.
The coat of the Long Haired German Shepherd is the most obvious difference from the Short Haired. Their fur reaches two or more inches in length. It only has one layer and this is a much softer, silkier texture.
If you are interested in showing your dog, you will need to have a Short Haired German Shepherd. The Long Haired variety disqualifies them from being registered with the AKC, so they are not allowed to compete in any dog shows.
Despite this, the Long Haired German Shepherd is still considered a purebred German Shepherd. It is like they are in the club but can’t take part in any activities!
As they don’t have a double coat, they aren’t as well suited to working outside or being in cold weather.
Their temperament is, for the most part, the same as the Short Haired variety. They are loyal, protective and also suffer from separation anxiety.
The main difference in their character is that the Long Haired version was not bred for its working capabilities. It was bred for that gorgeous coat. This means that character-wise, they are less suitable for working life.
It is generally accepted that they are much more eager to please their owner and are more friendly towards strangers.
The only other thing to consider is that these dogs are still as energetic as their Short Haired counterpart, but exercising them enough when it’s cold might be harder. They don’t do well when it’s freezing or if it’s raining. This may be something to consider if you live somewhere where the climate is often wet, cold, or both.
As these dogs cannot be registered with the AKC, they normally cost less than their Short Haired cousins. You should expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 for a Long Haired German Shepherd.
They have the same life span as the Short Haired German Shepherd (10 to 13 years) and suffer from the same health issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does The Long Haired German Shepherd Shed More?
Both the Long Haired and the Short Haired German Shepherd shed a lot.
The Short Haired German Shepherd will shed more during shedding season in spring and fall (because of their undercoat). The Long Haired German Shepherd will also shed during shedding season but not to the same extent
Short Haired ones leave more hair lying around on furniture, carpets and clothes. The Long Haired one keeps the shed fur trapped in its coat.
Which One Has The Best Temperament?
A German Shepherd’s temperament is one of the reasons for their popularity. There isn’t a particularly big difference between the temperament of the Long and Short Haired versions.
The biggest difference is that the Short Haired German Shepherd is more suited to working than the Long Haired.
This means they may be more aloof with strangers and have a more focused mind. This difference is mainly anecdotal as there’s no scientific difference between the breeds. It’s all to do with what characteristics a breeder has focused on bringing through their lines.
German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds in the world – they are loyal, intelligent and are capable of great things.
They make wonderful family pets and are brilliant working dogs. Choosing between a Long Haired and a Short Haired is a difficult decision!
Do you want a companion animal? Why not consider the Long Haired German Shepherd?
If you want a Class A working dog or you want to show your German Shepherd, it will have to be the Short Haired!
Either way, you will be welcoming an incredible dog into your life.
Let us know your favorite in the comments section below…