All 5 of the German Shepherd breed types are sought after across the globe – depending on the needs of future owners.
It's essential to research each breed type thoroughly before making your final choice.
It wasn’t by chance that the German Shepherd has become one of the most sought after breeds in the world.
But tracing its roots back to 1899 how is it possible that such a young breed – dating back just over 100 years – has become the second most popular breed worldwide?
The answer to this lies in the versatility of the breed. Highly intelligent, devoted, dependable, and a work ethic second to none.
These are just some of the traits that have catapulted this breed to virtual stardom.
Their loyalty, guardian instinct, sound nerves, and easy-going nature make German Shepherds great companions.
Over the years distinct types of German Shepherds have developed.
Each with their own unique traits, each suitable for its specific purpose and each one a German Shepherd in its own right.
Meet the 5 German Shepherd Breed Types…
German Shepherd Show Lines
American Show Lines
This line is bred for showing although many owners of this type have had success in agility and obedience work.
Popularized in the early ’70s, side gait and conformation is the focus of breeding here.
This type of German Shepherd has a narrower head and exaggerated rear angulation.
Breeding does not always conform to the German Shepherd Breeding Standard. And hip certification is not required in the United States.
If well-bred, you’ll find this type of German Shepherd to have a laid-back and intelligent character.
He is also less physically demanding making it a great companion and family pet.
West German Show Lines
This line of German Shepherd has a reputation for being handsome! They have the kind of look that requires a second take!
Although also bred for their beauty, this German Shepherd type is not just a pretty face.
SV rules govern this breed. This requires a working title and health clearance for hips and elbows before passing on their genes.
They make outstanding protectors and family pets. And they are by no means lazy, they need plenty of exercise, training, and socialization.
Learn from an expert breeder about German Shepherd show lines, bloodlines, and breeding.
German Shepherd Working Lines
West German Working lines
This German Shepherd type is the closest representation of the dogs produced by Max von Stephanitz.
Their main focus is on strong working drives, stable temperament, and excellent working ability.
They will excel at a variety of different sports and also real working jobs like search and rescue, guarding, or protecting.
Although this type has a strong work drive, it knows how to settle down when needed and will make a fantastic pet for an active family.
East German DDR Working lines
This type of German Shepherd has continued to be developed and maintained after the end of WWII.
The establishment of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik meant strict government-controlled pedigree registration.
And 40 years of closed breeding.
From this developed a distinctive looking dog. With dark pigment, a big head, deep chest, athletic body, supreme intellect, and stamina to boot.
This type of German Shepherd has a sound temperament and a high work drive (although this does vary).
They must have plenty of mental and physical stimulation and an experienced handler.
Check out this infographic and learn some fun facts about the German Shepherd Breed!
Czech Working Lines
The development and maintaining of this line of German Shepherd were isolated to one kennel.
Founded in 1955 and owned by Czechoslovakian Army’s border patrol or Pohranicni Straze.
The sole purpose was to breed and train dogs for military border patrol.
The majority of these dogs were remnants from former East Germany. But, dogs from the Czech Socialist Republic were also used in this strict breeding program.
Like the working lines of East Germany, this type of German Shepherd is agile with a powerful build and dark pigment.
With a strong work structure and high work drive, this line will excel in obedience, agility, and protection sports.
They can be intense and need plenty of mental and physical stimulation.
Follow this deep-dive into types of working line German shepherds, written by a specialty working line breeder.
Which Type of German Shepherd is Right for You?
Ask yourself this…
- What do I want from a German Shepherd dog?
- What can I offer in terms of time, effort, training, and stimulation?
Your answer lies where the two needs meet…
Next, you need to find a breeder that understands their lines and breeding programs.
You don't want someone who breeds for the sake of breeding.
All lines have some issues, and that’s true for any other breed of dog too.
But if you know exactly what you want, go to the right breeder and let them know, you will get the right German Shepherd breed type for your family.
Are you just starting out with training your German Shepherd? Check out this awesome section on training!
Protect your pocket and your pooch with pet insurance. Check out this article to find the best cover for your pooch.
Wondering where to find GSD Breeders? Check out my article on how to find reputable breeders.