5 German Shepherd Breed Types: Which is Right for You?

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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…

Choose from These 5 German Shepherd Breed Types

German Shepherd Show Lines

American Show Lines

German Shepherd Type: American Show Line

American Show Line

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

German Shepherd Breed Types: West German Working Line

West German Working Line

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

German Shepherd Breed Types: Czech Working Lines

Czech GSD Working Line

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…

  1. What do I want from a German Shepherd dog?
  2. 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.

Check out this article to learn how to find a reputable breeder.

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.

Bring a fun twist to playing fetch with your dog.  Check out these cool tennis ball launchers.

Wondering where to find GSD Breeders? Check out my article on how to find reputable breeders.

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About the author: Gabriella is a certified professional dog trainer with the Victoria Stilwell Academy. She has a special passion for teaching GSD guardians to train their dogs with kindness and clarity using positive reinforcement methods without force, pain, or fear. Join “Dog Speak” for free dog training tips and advice from a professional dog trainer.

  • Braden Bills

    I want to get a German Shepherd, so I’m doing some research. It’s good to know that there are different types of German Shepherds! A show line German Shepherd seems like it would be a great choice for me, since I’m looking for a family dog.

  • Chris Leman

    I am interested in the West German line of working dog. What would you think about how raising one in a household of German Shorthairs. We’ve had a few Dobermans before. Whatever we get I want it to be good with two 70 yr olds. I have trained our bird dogs. Our best Dobermans we’re naturally protective. While a Dob gets a person’s attention the big husky Shepherd probably a bit more. Please respond.
    Chris Leman

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your question. I don’t see a reason why your German shorthairs and a GSD can’t live together in harmony. I believe any dog no matter their size can be good with humans of any age, as long as there is mutual respect, clear training using positive reinforcement methods and boundaries set from a place of kindness.

      Please check out this post by Lane, who is a working line Shepherd breeder with several decades of experience. I believe this post will help to shed more light on the answers you’re seeking.

  • Nikki

    I’m researching GSD heavily. I suffer from anxiety and depression. I’m looking for a watchdog as well as a protector for walking. I always suffered from anxiety but my fears intensified during covid and due to an increase in home intrusions as well as street crime (i also don’t want to buy a gun) and i live alone as a woman I sadly live my life looking over my shoulder. Long story short..It somehow came to my awareness that a dog would make me feel safe but not just any dog. I started to get fears of being carjacked (it’s occurring more and more in my city) and wanted to know if a gsd is your suggestion which I hope because I can’t think of anyother dog id want
    🙁 no kids/i live alone but have 2 cats i love very much! Which
    Breed would you recommend and how do you feel about Amish breeders? Are they backyard breeders or are some actually legit?

    Lastly, I live in a condo but only on the second floor easy access to downstairs/outside.
    Thank you!!

    • Hi Nikki!

      These are great questions, thanks for asking them!

      I totally understand your situation and your desire to open your heart and home to a dog who is able to provide support as well as protection.

      I’m going to answer your last question first because it plays an important role in how the rest plays out should you choose to get a GSD to fulfill companionship and protection roles.

      Anyone can be a backyard breeder or a puppy mill breeder. And just because they are part of a religious community, sadly doesn’t mean that they care about breeding programs, temperament, and preservation of the breed. I’ve done a little research on Amish puppy mills and it would seem as though there’s a “breeding for profit” element. No judgment from my side on their community or religion, I judge all puppy mills and backyard breeders equally harshly.

      Since you’re aiming to find a companion as well as a protector, you really need a dog with a sound temperament. And backyard breeders and puppy mill dogs rarely have sound temperaments and strong nerves. You may have already read this article on how to find reputable GSD breeders, but if not, please check it out.

      I understand your need for having a protector, but it’s vital to realize that a dog who is not trained in protection and bite work, will only protect up to a point after which they are likely to back off. So my recommendation is to enroll in a bite work class.

      Shepherds are natural protectors and are considered “tending dogs” in the herding group. This means they keep sheep grazing where they should while protecting valuable crops by keeping the sheep off of them.

      I’m not sure what state you’re in but I know an excellent breeder in TX. She breeds working line Shepherds with good, sound temperaments. She’s been in her field for over 3 decades and she’s written a lovely article about the working line Shepherd for my blog.

      You’ll find a link to her website at the bottom of that article above. She says “choose your breeder first, then let your breeder guide you to your puppy.” I love this advice because it’s sound and speaks to her commitment to the breed. A rare quality indeed. And in my opinion, even traveling a distance to get a puppy from a breeder like her is totally worth it. she could potentially refer you to a breeder that’s closer to where you are.

      Condo living can be tricky because Sheps can be vocal dogs. But if you start teaching them from a young age to bark when appropriate and in addition not allow the rehearsal of excessive barking it shouldn’t be an issue. And of course, you’d need to offer plenty of daily outside time for walks, enrichment, and exploration.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any follow up questions.

  • Allie

    What is a good bloodline for a family looking for protection (from intruding humans) on a farm (with horses and chickens) and with a baby on the way? Are these safe around children and babies? I’m a vet tech with dog experience and have owned dogs before, but have never owned a GSD and really need a protection dog for the state we live in.

    • Hi Allie,

      Thank you for your question!

      Any dog can be safe around children, babies, and small animals if they are properly trained. And all breeds will have some drive to protect or at least alert their humans to intruders. However, very few dogs are able to provide “protection” in the sense that I think you mean without training for it. Something like bite work which can be done at most GSD clubs is a good start.

      In terms of which line of Shepherd will be best suited to all your needs, I think both the West German show lines or the West German working lines will make a great family pet and with the correct training in bite work will make for a good protector.

  • Kevin

    Hey there from Canada & thanks for all the information. I felt like I was reading a book, a best seller for sure.
    I’m a 62 year old male who lost his ability to do work, after a 2018 motor vehicle left me unable to further our Quarter Horse breeding operation that we built up over years of careful breeding.
    Now I’m finding a huge empty hole in my life, so we purchased another love of my life, a German Shepherd male from a very reputable breeder in Czechoslovakia, which we hope will fill a void in my life as did the horses.
    As with the horses, I held my stock in very high esteem and refused to prostitute any of my mares or studs and I’m sure this same sense of responsibility will follow us into another endeavour.
    As I’ve already stated, we started with a stud of impeccable bloodlines with grand champions both up and down on his papers, & my question goes something like this …. , which of the German show dogs are best suited to cross on our stud, and the pluses and minuses in such a cross?
    Any advice will be appreciated.


    • Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for reaching out here with your question. I’m pleased you’ve enjoyed this article.

      I’m sorry to hear about your unfortunate vehicle accident, although it’s great to hear that you’re looking into a new passion!

      I always recommend that anyone looking to get into breeding work alongside a reputable breeder for at least a couple of years to learn the ropes of setting up a breeding program and everything that goes along with producing the best puppies and preserving the breed.

      You’re already in a good place by acquiring a pup from a good line and a reputable breeder. And I’m sure much of your knowledge gained from your Quarter Horse Breeding program will serve you well in your new venture.

      I’m going to direct you to two people that may be able to point you in the right direction and answer some of your questions. Lane has worked with and bred working lines most of her life – you can get an idea of her experience in this article she wrote on the Working Line German Shepherd.

      Cindy has been involved in breeding show line Shepherds for over 30 years. And she wrote a wonderful article for this site on German Shepherd Breeding and Bloodlines.

      I believe reaching out to these two highly experienced breeders will set you on the right path to developing your new passion while preserving this breed for the future.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to reach out anytime, I’m always around and happy to help. 🙂

  • Othieno Fred

    am from Uganda and i don’t know which best breed of gsd i should get bat i want one tht is friendly,loving,caring,bat good to different between danger and claim situation

    • Hi Othieno,

      Thank you for your comment.

      What you’re describing is firstly down to temperament and from there it’s a matter of proper training with positive reinforcement and the avoidance of any punishment-based training.

      To find a puppy with a good temperament you’ll first need to find a reputable and ethical breeder. Purchasing a puppy from a puppy mill or a back yard breeder will in most cases end with a puppy that has a nervous temperament and you’ll likely not reach the goals you have.

      So check out this article on finding a reputable GSD breeder to guide you on your journey to find a puppy that has a solid temperament and a clean bill of health.

      I hope this helps. 🙂

  • Oliver Stan

    Hello there I need some help with a lot of thing since this is going to be my first ever pup!!! (I am very excited) and to show my mum I can show responsibility and commitment I would need i little help
    I want a pup who can be my protector, my best mate, a shoulder to cry on and a workout buddy (P.S I don’t workout very much and I would often need a little encouragement)

    I hope I’ve well written this. if you need anymore information I would be happy to answer.

    And I would 10/10 recommend to a friend/family/random people on the street.

    • Hi Stan,

      Have you made up your mind on a GSD as your choice of pup?

      If so, and based on the short description you’ve given, I think a well-bred showline GSD will fit well. If you’re not going to be physically active everyday, a working line dog might not get their physical needs met. Not that showline types are lazy (not by a long shot) but they are more “open” to having a “couch day” than a working line dog might.

      If you can, seek out a breeder that has a solid breeding program and in my opinion preferably with dogs from German descent.

      And then just a note on working out with a puppy. I don’t recommend that at all. No long-distance running or walking or jumping off things until they’re are at least 12 months old, preferably 18 months. You need to give your pup’s growth plates time to set before doing anything like this. You can encourage free play, short running distances to play fetch but not at top speed.

      Feel free to ask any questions as you go through your research, I’m happy to help.

  • Deborah Wolfe

    FYI…In this article there is a link to “Training a German Shepherd”; however, when I clicked on the link it said “Page Not Found”.

    • Thanks for bringing this to my attention Deborah. I’ve updated the link. 🙂

  • Taylor Bishop

    Thanks for helping me learn more about German Shepherd breeds. It’s interesting to learn that the DDR working lines will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. Maybe it could be good to learn what other owners have done to really ensure that this breed of German Shepherd remains happy.

  • Jennifer

    Hello, I just happened to come across your article and thought it was very educational. I have a 6 month old Czech GSD. I’ve had him for 3 months and I’ll say that he’s exactly what I wanted in a dog. He’s very energetic, highly food driven, highly prey driven, and loves his family, and his handler, which is me. I wanted a protection dog and we work with a trainer that says he’s going to be a nice boy when he’s grown.

    I will say the Czech and DDR’s are not for everyone. You have to be willing to work with them and be a strong handler that wants to give your dog a job to do. These dogs will not idly sit in the house all day while you watch Dr Phil. It takes dedication on your part. They are strong willed and will push you to see how far their limits can go.
    With that said I’d have a couple more if I didn’t have other dogs already.

    Now about the backyard American line. These breeders should be stopped! My son wanted a GSD badly, and we were uneducated about the breed at the time, so we forked out $600 bucks for a sweet girl from some idiots breeding a dog that was positive for the Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. We had no clue that our son’s puppy would end up by 2 years old having to have special enzymes sprinkled on her food at every meal, which consists of boiled chicken thighs with the skin, scrambled eggs, beef fat, regular dog food and chicken broth. She also is partially blind. It’s pitiful! She’s finally up to 46 pounds.

    Do your research, know what you want in a dog and know what you’re capable of handling. Also beware of the backyard breeders so that you don’t end up with a dog that has to have a special diet with medicine twice a day which the dog may or may not eat, and your dog is so skinny that people will look at you as if you don’t feed your dog.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for your excellent comment. You had me nodding my head all the way through.

      I’m sorry to hear about the troubles with your son’s dog. Nursing a dog that suffers from problems caused by terrible breeding is so hard. Brokenhearted for the suffering of this wonderful being and frustrated that some folks who should not be allowed anywhere near dogs, are free to breed dogs indiscriminately.

      The best thing that could have happened to her, is that she has her life with you and your family. Clearly she’s in the best possible hands and up to 46 pounds! Well done!


  • Jill C Budny

    Hello, I like this dip into the variant characteristics of the lines.

    I’ve been searching for better detail on the Czech type as I bought (hate saying that) a Christmas baby and would like some foresight on what to expect.

    She will be trained as my service dog for my “invisible” disabilities. Do you have any words on this application for the breed?

    Her dam is a Czech import, sire is Czech bred. She’s big for 3 months. I raised and trained a German bred bitch in the 90’s.. sire an import, dam German bred.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Jill,

      Congrats on the new puppy!

      It sounds like she has a good heritage and that’s super important when it comes to temperament. Especially since she’s going to be your service dog. I think the Czech line can make fantastic service dogs. This breed is particularly strong in terms of temperament and personality since their main job is in military applications. Some folks advocate correction type training with dogs who are strong in this way. But I’m a firm believer that so much more can be achieved with positive reinforcement training and there’s no need for correction or punishment training. And positive reinforcement training supports a deep bond between owner and dog.

      Are you working with trainers through the Invisible Disabilities Association? If you’re looking for training programs for service dogs where you can train your own dog as opposed to one being provided for you, there are 2 great facilities in your state. Let me know and I’ll be happy to pass the details on to you.

      I hope this helps. 🙂


  • sarah

    Working west german shepherd line*

  • sarah

    I have done so much research and have checked my families lifestyle and i know we definitely need an active dog with high drive. We are at the park with the kids soccer games, very fit, athletic family and a west german shepherd is the best for our family situation since we have lots of time and space. I was wondering if you know any good breeders that have reasonable prices for west german gsd? I have looked everywhere and they have dogs for 2 thousand and up and none of them are from 1000-2000 and I feel really stuck because I don’t feel like an american show is a good investment for out family. We had a friend who has owned many gsd of all types and they told us that americans lines are a little more laid back and “lazy” compared to working lines which have a higher drive. I was wondering if you know any quality breeders that have reasonably priced puppies? I think 2000 dollars and up is a good investment for a gsd however my family disagrees in the value of the dog in that way so, ya, thank you.

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you’re researching for pups online, you’re likely to find the highest price tags. Mainly because these breeders target international clients. And many of the dogs are already trained which pushes up the price.

      Although, it’s worth mentioning that reputable breeders who breed ethically and for the health and development of the breed do charge higher prices overall. One of your best bets is to get in touch with GSD clubs in your area and inquire about breeders. There are a lot of breeders that don’t advertise so finding breeders through a club will open up more options for you and possibly help you find a pup at a price your family feel is more reasonable.

      In all honesty, I attach little value to the opinions of the American Kennel Club, so if I were you, I’d go straight to the German Shepherd Clubs. They ‘get their orders’ so to speak, directly from the SV, which is the original club in Germany. And it’s where the breed registry is maintained. The clubs worldwide fall under the WUSV which was brought to life by the SV to bring all the clubs under one ‘umbrella’.

      In the States you have the United Shutzhund Clubs of America and The German Shepherd Dog Club of America. These organizations are involved in AKC shows but ultimately they fall under the SV.

      If you haven’t done this already, you could sit your family down and chat about the benefits of buying a puppy at a higher price from a reputable breeder. In the long run it makes sense. A pup from a breeder like this is likely to have little to no health issues. And the thing with health issues is they cause a lot of heartache and high vet bills in the long run. And since there are so many bad breeders in the German Shepherd world, working with a reputable breeder is essential.

      In the next couple of days I’ll be sharing an article on how to find reputable breeders and how to spot those puppy mills that only breed for money. I’ll drop the link here so you can check it out.

      I hope this helps. 🙂

    • Hi Sarah,

      I’ve just completed the article I mentioned on how to find reputable German Shepherd breeders. Check out the article if you need more information. And drop any questions in the comments section for me.


  • Lila Andersen

    I have a gs but how do i know which breed he is. My daughters have gs also and we are told they are European gs. Any idea how we can tell or find out?

    • Hi Lila!

      Thanks for your question.

      The first thing you can do is to ask the breeder. If they have strict breeding protocols and keep record, that’s where you’ll get the most accurate answer.

      If you’re in the states or Canada, it’s most likely that your GSD is an American or Canadian line. But a lot of breeders there will also bring in West German showlines into their breeding programs. And there are those that also include the working lines into their programs.

      If you are not able to get this information from the breeder, it might help to have a DNA test done. These tests are pretty accurate although if your dog does have European blood lines I’m doubtful that this will show up. But it’s worth a try.

      There are a bunch of different tests you can choose. And I’ve reviewed the best DNA tests in this article.

      I hope this helps. 🙂

  • Simon

    Hai.. I have been going through online to know about GSD. You have provided very much useful details regarding the breed types. I would be happy to know how to check the puppy if is from a particular breed and if it is healthy and not a puppy form backyard breeder.. Thank u.

    • Hi Simon,

      I’ve shared some advice with another reader here. I’ll refer to my answer to their question which is similar to theirs.

      I detail the characteristics of a ethical and reputable breeder as well as those of a byb or puppy mill breeder.

      If you have other questions, let me know.

      Chat soon,

  • Monika Hornbostel

    Thank you so much for this site!!! You have completely educated me and helped me realize Czech is not for us 🙂 that said I’d LOVE your opinion for our situation.
    I have two children age 11 & 13. The 11 yo really needs a stable dog and a quasi service dog for emotional support for his anxiety. I work from home so will be with the dog almost always. But I love trail running here in the mountains of Colorado off leash with my dog. A couple of questions –
    What GSD type breed might you suggest?
    Are there any excellent breeders in Colorado, or do you suggest I fly to California (which would be fine too)?
    Are their puppy temperament traits I should look for so I can trail run off leash in the mountains with him?
    Thank you!!!!

    • Hi Monika,

      Thanks for your comment and I’m pleased this article helped you.

      If I were in your shoes I’d go for a West German Showline. Here’s why…

      They have a decent amount of drive so trail running will be something right up their ally. But they also have a soft temperament when it comes to their human family. And especially children. I’ll share an example with you…

      My 4 year old male is massive, you can see pics of him all over my site. He’s never really been exposed to very young children. But a few months ago we had friends stay over for the weekend who have a 3 year old boy and a baby girl who was 6 weeks old at the time.

      My boy was amazing with their son! Gentle playing, lying on his back and side a lot so as not to scare the little boy. But it was what he did with their baby girl that astounded me…

      Whenever I looked for him he was standing at her stroller licking her little feet and popping his nose in their every so often to make sure she’s okay. It was so amazing to see!

      So West German lines have the drive you want and the temperament.

      The American/Canadian lines are also very soft but they have much, much less drive overall. Also, they have a bad rep when it comes to hips because they are bred with such angulated hips, specifically for showing.

      One thing essential to look at is the hip health of a puppy. Not just because you want a pup with clean hips, but if you’re going trail running you want a solid dog. The West German lines can also have bad hips if the breeding program is not set up correctly. And there are some unscrupulous breeders out there.

      You can’t check the hip health of a pup until 12 months by x-ray. But you can ask for black and white proof that the parents have clean hips. This information should be on the parents lineage papers and it should also be on the puppy’s lineage papers. And the papers should go back a number of generations, so you can see the hip health of grandparents, great-grandparents etc. And you should be able to verify that with the WUSV.

      Of course the health and temperament of the previous generations plays a direct role in the same of the offspring.

      I recommend finding a breeder who’s breeding pairs come directly from Germany. Also, I recommend picking a breeder that’s part of a club that’s directly affiliated with the SV. They have strict rules, the most accurate lineage and require DNA tests now. They are also disciplinarians when it comes to any form of cheating.

      I place no value on AKC registration or any national canine registry body, but that’s just my personal opinion. I do place value on registration with a federation or club directly associated with the SV this will be through the WUSV. For example, my dogs are registered with the German Shepherd Federation of South Africa, a body which is directly affiliated with the SV through the WUSV. And I can’t (and won’t) register them with KUSA (our national registry body).

      As for a breeder, you need to do your homework very well. In the US get in touch with the GSDCA (German Shepherd Dog Club of America). And/or USCA (United Shutzhund Club of America). They will point you int the right direction of reputable breeders. But I advise to still do due diligence. A good breeder will give you contact details of people who have bought pups from them. Ask for that and call those people, they have nothing to lose by being honest with you. Personally, I found my breeder through my vet via referral, that’s a good way to go as well. And you want to see both parents. Even if that means taking a trip to another breeder to see the father. And BOTH parents must be registered.

      In terms of traits, you’ll pick up a lot from the parents. Each pup is an individual but you want one that’s energetic and busy if you’re after one for trail running.

      I hope this helps you. All the best on your quest for a new best friend. I believe you will have great success!

  • Andrew w

    What type of shepherd do the police use? I personally think those are the most beautiful breed of shepherds!!

    • Hi Andrew,

      Law enforcement use either East or West German lines. And they are also starting to use the Belgian Malinois.

      All of which are stunning dogs!


  • Shell

    Hi, was wondering if there was anywhere you could get a DNA test to find out which line you have, as I have been interested for a while, however I hitting road blocks when ever I try and found out.
    If anyone can give any info on this would be amazing.
    Thank you
    Fellow gsd lover

    • Hi Shell,

      I know of 3 DNA testing kits.

      The first is the Embark Dog DNA test. Personally this one seems the most accurate because they partner with the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine as well as OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals).

      And Embark also test for ancestry back to great-grandparents. So you might just be able to find out what line your pooch is from.

      The other 2 are:

      Wisdom Panel and DNA MY Dog. Although with these 2 I’m not convinced you’d actually be able to find out which line your dog is from. It’s more likely you’ll find out your pooch had GSD genes but you already know that. Also, they don’t partner with any official institutions like Embark does.

      So in my opinion, your best bet to find out what you want to know is Embark.

      Let me know if you have any other questions about this.

      Chat soon,

  • Byron Murry


    Me and my wife have been looking into a German Shepherd. We’re having trouble to determine what bloodline we want. She likes a dog that’s more laid back with less drive. But I like to play fetch and games outside with a dog but knows when to had the off switch when we’re inside. The GSD that we whatever choose to have will be an inside dog but will be outside when we’re home. Just in your opinion, what line would be more for us to meet in between?

    • Hi Byron,

      Thanks for your question.

      From what you’ve described, I’d suggest a West German Show Line. I have 2, Charley and Zèzè. I’m like you and like to play fetch, tug and love a dog that likes to swim. The line has drive but also knows when to chill.

      As long as they get enough mental and physical stimulation, they are calm and relaxed. Of course just like any dog they can become depressed and destructive if they are not stimulated, but it sounds like you’ll make sure they get what they need. Your wife will love their lovable nature.

      All 3 my dogs are inside and outside dogs and are happy either way. So you shouldn’t have a problem there.

      So my suggestion is definitely the West German Show Line. Just make sure you get one from a reputable breeder. I’ve shared some characteristics of what to look for and what to avoid in another comment. Here’s a link to it. https://germanshepherdcorner.com/gsd-training/#comment-2307

      It’s really important to get a pup from a reputable breeder because pups from puppy mills will not have the temperament you are looking for or expecting. In most cases they end up with a lot of health problems and other issues.

      If you have questions about anything else, feel free to drop your comments here, I’m always around to help.

      Chat soon,

  • Pavol

    Hey there,

    I have a question on how I would be able to find a breeder of the Czech Working Line Shepherd?
    Only reason for this is because when I was younger and living in Europe my dad had one that I remember to this day. Honestly, he looked like your standard German Shepherd but always had the grey in his coat. Great dog, knew that when he was inside the yard he needed to protect and when he hopped over the fence to go to the farm he was the nicest dog. Guess my dads training had to do a lot with that since he got him when he was a pup from a military service dog. Have been in the talks of getting him another dog.

    Thank you, please let me know.

    Pavol J.

  • Jenny

    Hi, great article, comments and answers are helpful. Do you know of any reputable ASL breeders in TN? I’m close to Nashville/Clarksville. We also are wanting a laid back family pet, I have 3 children under age 11. I’ve had 3 previous, 2 ASL, and 1 working dog line.

    • Hi Jenny,

      Thanks, I’m pleased you enjoyed the article.

      I’m not aware of any ASL breeders in TN. Your best bet would be to get in touch with the AKC. They have a database of GSD breeders across the US. And if you let them know what you’re looking for and where you are they will most likely point you in the right direction.

      I hope you find the perfect pup! 🙂

  • Muhammad Musa

    Hello actually I want to know that are there any chances that a working dog can come in black and tan or red in long coat?

    • Hi Muhammad,

      Thanks for your question.

      In essence, the short coated German Shepherds are what we see most and what accepted as the breed standard. The long coated German Shepherd is not. The main reason being their diminished weatherproofing. The long coats usually don’t have a double coat or very little of it. But that’s not to say that the dog is not a thorough bred German Shepherd nor does it affect their working ability. The only thing it does affect is you can’t show with the dog. Unless it’s an independent show specifically for the long coats.

      Keep in mind though that what you might consider a long coat could actually be a short coat. As an example, my female Charley has a top coat that’s finer and slightly shorter than my male Zè. But they are both short coats and acceptable according to breed standard.

      The long coats have the signature feathers at the back of their ears. They usually have long hair on their back legs and even their bellies. My GSD mix Lexi has a similar coat.

      Black and tan or black and red like you’ve mentioned are both popular and acceptable coloring. But there are a bunch of other colors too. Here’s a great resource on the AKC website about all the different colors and their registration codes.

      Hope thishelps!


  • Chris Parnell

    I have a 5 month old registered with papers German Shepherd pup I need help he will sent when I asked him to he can have a treat and find it when I need help getting him to stay an set tell I call him name can u help with that please!

  • Mariah

    hello! I currently have a rescue shepherd that I love dearly, he’s absolutely wonderful, but I’m definitely considering going with a purebred shepherd who’s line I know next! I’m having a bit of trouble deciding which line to go with as I have quite a few requirements… but hey! The more specific the better right?
    My current shepherd is my working service dog – which means he is with me, eyes on me, living the life of a human, all day every day. This dog has seen it all – Disney land, Kanye west concerts, 4 day long business conference sessions, 10 hour road trips, airplanes, etc etc. So I definitely need a dog who can keep up, and keep his focus and stamina up! I need a dog who’s slightly wary of strangers, cannot be accepting food from others or seeking attention especially when on the dog. My dogs also do PPT work and tracking – however, some days we just lounge around the house! Overall I’m very active, camping, hiking, long walks, but because of my condition, some days I just have to take it really easy, and I need a dog who won’t lose his mind over that! Because I need a service dog, I need a dog I can train to be cordial / unreactive with cats, small animals, birds, and livestock – as I live with and encounter all of the above. Please let me know what your suggestion would be / where I can look to find more information! I’ve trained all of my own shepherds myself, and am rather experienced with the breed – so that is not an issue! Thanks so much! Keep spreading info about this wonderful breed!

    • Hi Mariah!

      Thanks for your question.

      Wow! Sound like your boy has definitely been there and got the t-shirt to prove it!

      I think the choice you make in terms of the line depends largely on the temperament of the pup. Good breeders really focus on temperament as a trait to pass on from parents to pups. Although, the American/Canadian lines are the most relaxed of all the lines.

      The best advice I could give you in terms of this is to visit the litter a few times and get to know each pup. I have 2 West German Show Line dogs. And their temperaments are worlds apart. It’s difficult to make a call by only seeing the litter once. But of course that depends on where you’re getting the pup from. If it’s out of state that might make it a little harder or impossible.

      There are a few breeders that I know of in the States that breed for service dogs. And that might be a good option for you. Since their breeding program includes a focus on dogs with the right temperament. Some of these breeders provide dogs already trained for service and this might not be what you want since you train your own dogs. But you may be able to negotiate a pup before it’s trained.





      Also, check out this comment I gave to another reader looking for a GSD from a reputable breeder. He wasn’t looking for a potential service dog specifically but, these guidelines apply to anybody looking for a reputable breeder. https://germanshepherdcorner.com/gsd-training/#comment-2307

      I hope I’ve been able to help you here, if you have other questions just drop them in the comments.

      Chat soon.

  • Alex

    Hey, thanks for replying to all my messages, it truly shows you care about your supporters. I live in Australia and I was pretty overwhelmed by what you told me about getting a dog from a good breeder because there is a lot of information, and I very new to the breed, I read this article and it was awesome, I just don’t know what kind to get, I was wondering if you can tell me.
    1. I can walk the dog 2 times a day definitely to the park and play, sometimes 3
    2. He will live outside but he is always allowed inside.
    3. I will train them mentally as you said, for mental training all I know is the sniffing game, do you mind telling me a few others? Thanks
    I will buy the dog regardless of the price, I was just wondering what’s the average price for a GSD, I just don’t want to get ripped off.

    • Hey Alex,

      You’re always welcome! I feel honored that you’re allowing me to guide you through the process of researching. And I’m super impressed that you’re taking such great care to be informed and prepared for your new pup.

      I know Oz is a big country and I’m not sure where exactly you are located but there are some great resources where you can find reputable breeders. Although I want to note here that just because a breeder is featured or registered with a club, federation or association doesn’t necessarily make them reputable. So still do the checks I mentioned in our other discussion.

      I’ve found out that in Oz each registered GSD must be tattooed.

      I’ve also found this page with some clubs all over Oz which might make it easier for you to find a reputable breeder near you.

      But there’s nothing stopping you from purchasing a dog from a breeder out of your local area if the dogs are quality and the breeder comes highly recommended. If you know of a good vet, that might be a place to start.

      Here’s a breeder directory focused in Victoria just to give you an idea. But you could easily find a breed directory focused on your area by doing a Google search.

      In terms of the line you should go for, that’s so difficult for me to guide you to your final decision – that lies with you alone. But from what you’ve told me you can definitely provide for the physical, mental and emotional needs of a German Shepherd.

      What I can say is, because you’re new to the breed you might consider choosing a show line breed. Although they are show lines, they are agile, fast, intelligent and also hard working.

      My male Zè can chase down a ball fast as lightning. He’s like a rocket in the air when we’re playing frizbee, he’s an awesome canine gamer – figuring out puzzles in record time. Check out the video in this article to see him in gaming action. And his nose work is fantastic.

      Also, he’s not a big barker – if he barks, it because something’s up. And believe me, if someone comes near our gate or near me, every hair on his body stands on end and then his fierceness shines through.

      The DDR and Czech lines have extremely high drives and need a massive amount of stimulation to meet those needs. They need very experienced handlers. I’m not saying you won’t manage this but the show lines are more chilled out and make great as family pets.

      In terms of mental games I can direct you to a whole bunch of different resources. I have done a few reviews on training programs. And I make sure I see the inside of these programs to ensure they make the grade. If I won’t use it for my own dogs, I won’t tell other people to use it on theirs.

      I’ve written a review article of 4 programs, the word count is over 11 000 words. At some point you should read the entire article just to get an idea of what’s out there and what to be cautious about. The first program I do not recommend but here’s a link to one of the 3 I do recommend and use with my dogs. It’s focused specifically on brain training dogs. Check it out and let me know what you think.

      In terms of price, I’ve done some research and it seems the prices between what is charged here in South Africa where I live and in Oz are roughly the same. You’re looking at between 300 and 800 AUD. I paid 4000 ZAR for Zè. That equates to roughly 300 AUD. I got a 4000 ZAR discount because he had a retained testicle, so breeding with him was out of the question. But I didn’t care because I wasn’t planning on breeding him and I loved him at first site. If I paid the full price it would have equated to 800 AUD.

      Prices are affected by the lineage of a pup to a certain extent, so a pup with a pedigree from here to the moon will be closer to the 800 AUD mark. But if you find a pup from a reputable breeder and the price is not at the top end or the pedigree is not bordering on ‘royal’ don’t be put off.

      The most important things are reputable breeders with all the traits we spoke about earlier. Parents with clean hips are also very important. Of course there’s no guarantee that a pup who’s parents have clean hips won’t develop HD but there’s a fighting chance the pup won’t.

      If you want to learn more about Hip Dysplasia check out this article.

      I hope I haven’t overloaded this comment with information. I’m just really passionate about the breed and love creating awareness for the breed.

      You know this already, but feel free to keep asking questions, I’m happy to help where I can.

    • Gaz

      I want a stable companion/family dog that lives indoors with me. Also has to be very intimidating and protective against strangers. Basicly a family guardian that will stop burglars in their tracks. what lines would you recommend.

    • Hi Gaz!

      In my opinion the best option for you based on what you want is a show line breed. They are much more chilled than the working lines. But no less protective. Working lines need A LOT of work. But it’s not that the show lines don’t, they also need stimulation. Working lines do make good family members, but they need experienced handlers.

      The GSD is intimidating whether they are show or working lines. But I think 100% a show line would suit your needs.

    • Bobby

      Can somebody help me please. My wife grew up with gsd’s and has been wanting one for awhile now. I almost made a huge mistake by purchasing one from craigslist until I accidentally came across this site which explains in detail the different types of breeds there are. I was so intrigued, I have been doing extensive research and reading a ton of articles to figure this all out. In the end I have found that several moronic people like to breed different bloodlines together which from my understanding will only give you a beautiful dog that is unpredictable. Based on my family’s lifestyle, we feel the best breed for us is the ASL. I do not want a high strung hyper dog that intimidates everyone. We simply want a beautiful laid back friendly and smart gsd. I can’t seem to find one anywhere unless it’s bred with a German line. Can anyone help?

    • Hi Bobby!

      Firstly, good on you for not buying a dog off Craig’s List! From what you’ve said about your specific needs you might have ended up with the kind of unpredictable situation you want to avoid.

      So I’ve had a look around for you and I’ve come up with one breeder who breeds mostly with ASL but also the occasional WGSL. There are others but on the face of it this one looks good. This breeders is an AKC breeder of merit and they seem to be focused on breeding ethics.

      It’s never good to just go on what a website says. And I don’t know much more about them than what’s on their website. So I do recommend you getting in touch with the AKC to ask more questions. You might also be able to find out from the AKC if there are ASL breeders who are also Breeder’s of Merit that are closer to where you live.

      As I’ve shared with other readers in these comments it’s essential to visit the breeder and see the parents and the surroundings. But I hope this information is a good place for you to start.

      Let me know if you need any other help.

      Chat soon.

    • sheryl

      I absolutely loved your article about using treats to get your dog to focus during stressful situations. The one where you put the treat to your eye level and get them to look in your eyes… I have a gsd from probably what would be considered a back yard breeder although they offered papers for a higher price, i have never taken an animal and wanted “papers” because when they come home they are family and not an animal to sell or make money from. She is beautiful, our second gsd so we knew what to expect. We lost our other on to a tragic incident when she was a year old so we were hesitant to risk another horrible heart break but have so much love for the animal we decided to give it another try… she is at the one year mark and the work my husband does allows him to be with her 90% of the day she is very smart and not quite as hard headed. i am going to use your treat to focus instructions to try to calm her when she is stressed, which is usually only if an “unknown” cat comes in the yard or a stranger especially after dark. you have some fabulous articles I signed up for your newsletter and look forward to more informative articles as well as ordering the bone treat game

    • Hi Sheryl!

      You’ve just made my day. I’m pleased that my site is helpful to you.

      It’s always difficult to say goodbye to a best friend, but it’s great that you’ve invited a new baby into your hearts and home.

      Your girl is lucky that you’re around with her so much and of course you’re super lucky too having her around to hang out with and try new things! Both Charley and Zè have papers. But I’m like you, it was never my intention to breed with them so they’ve both been spayed/neutered. And Lexi my GSD/Collie is the same.

      That Trixi puzzle is great, Zè just adores it! If your girl is a gamer and you want some more game ideas, I wrote a review on a Brain Training program for dogs. I also use the program and I’ve been working on scent work more and more. One of my favorites is asking them to clean up their toys, I giggle all the way though, watching them pick up their toys and put them away! I should actually make a video of it. But there area loads of other games too. Check out my review to see if it’s something you’d like to explore.

      Anyway, if you have any questions as you go along with training, give me a shout, I’m happy to help out.

      Chat soon,

  • I found your article about different types of gsd great for informing of the drasticly different genetic backgrounds and physical and tempermennt differences,
    Almost a little funny they are ALL CALLED GERMAN SHEPHERDS !!
    Ive been involved with and bred gsd for 40+ years,owning almost all of types you mentioned !!
    Back Yard bred gsd which is very common in US in every newspaper classified,No controlled breeding or goal concerning genetics/temperment/structure.
    Belgium working line gsd mostly drawn from west german working kennels but very carefully picked thru for WUSV,BSP &FCI.
    WORLD LEVEL IPO competition,
    Now I got my first DDR dog when wall first fell.
    They were very HARD
    CIVIL dogs w stronger amounts of defensive drives,Now most of the DDR dogs are PURPOSLY bred for much higher pray/ball/food drives.
    Ive owned quite a few of both !!
    Same goes for Czech dogs.
    Up until approx. 10 years ago the Czech dogs were drawn from the OLD DDR genetic backgrounds with very strong defensive drives &hard temperments .Now all the czech dogs are mixed w west working and belgium lines to drasticly jack up the pray/food drives

    • Hi Keith!

      Thank you for leaving your comment!

      Yes, backyard breeding is a big problem. So difficult to shut these places down. These mills thrive on 2 things. The lack of educated puppy buyers – most of the public are not aware of what puppy mills are and so in most cases they are not able to identify them. Also, many people want to buy a puppy for ‘cheap’. Just look online how many results there are for ‘cheap’ German Shepherds.

      Poor breeding and lack of control just perpetuates health problems and poor genetic makeup.

      I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve sent you an email. I’d like to discuss working together.

      Let me know if you’re game for it.


    • Dan

      I have a friend who has a German Shepherd he’s breeding. His dog ( the female ) is from a show dog, and the sire is from Europe. Both dogs are very well behaved and very healthy. I took one look at his dog ( when a puppy ) and told him once he breeds her I want first dibs. The dogs here in America are very unhealthy because of inbreeding and lose of a good bloodline, imo. I’m thankful for your care and input about what’s really going on with the sell and miss handling of dogs here in America.

    • Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I totally agree with you on the problems with GSD breeding, especially with the American and Canadian lines. Although, I do believe there are good A and C breeders.

      I think overall the breed, no matter which line, has suffered to some extent with the poor breeding and the “give the public what the public wants” mentality with breeders. Of course, the DDR and Czech lines have not been affected as much.

      Finding good breeders is a difficult task. I’m pleased you’ve found a pair you like and a breeder you trust. Sounds like you’ve done your homework. Which is something most people don’t do, so they end up buying badly bred pups in some cases. And so the cycle continues.

      All the best with your pup!

      Send me an email with a pic once you have him – I’d love to see!


    • Ronald

      I bought a German Shepherd that came from the Chez Republic she is a very active dog & don’t want to let only me into her Inner Circle. And Her Parents came from the Chez Republic & has turned into a very Protective Dog. So what can be done about this?

    • Hi Ronald.

      Thanks for your question.

      Overall the GSD, not matter the line, is a protective breed. Although, I think the Czech and DDr lines are more so.

      The only way you’re going to get her comfortable with meeting new people is by slowly introducing them through socialization. Have you considered puppy socialization classes? This is the best way to introduce her to a ton of different shapes and sizes. And she’ll get a chance to meet other dogs too.

      I can’t stress how important socialization is to have a well balanced dog. If she’s older you can still take part in socialization classes. Although it’s much easier to socialize a young puppy. These classes are available for pups from the age of 6 weeks. And you should be able to find classes in your area since they are available in most towns and cities across the globe.

      Look for a trainer that works with positive reinforcement. And avoid anyone who calls themselves a balanced trainer or one who subscribes to the ‘alpha’ dog training theory.

      Hope this helps.

    • Shellie K Neal

      Just wanted to vent a bit regarding your convo.
      I have 3 GSDs and went through the obedience and protection training. I’m an avid and probably annoying fb dog pictures postings person.
      Starting mid October 2020 I started having weekly yes weekly requests from people I don’t even know wanting to know if they could breed theirs with my Boy Klaus. Now under the right circumstances I would take this as a compliment. Yet after doing a little bit of stalking their fb page and responding back to them that surely there’s some mistake and they haven’t already had 3 litters this year!!! Of course I would never get a message back afterwards. I now lay awake at night sickened and feeling helpless thinking about it. Covid and Christmas probably their mortgage and just plain disgusting heartless, cruel greed in this breed is on the rise and in a big way.
      Sorry my heart just literally hurts from it so much that I had to comment.
      Best of you both and keep doing what you’re doing for this amazingly special breed.
      GSD lover for life,
      Shellie Neal

    • Gabriella

      Hi Shellie,

      Thank you for your comment. I share your frustration and sadness around the way some people use their dogs as a commodity to generate profit.

      I recently heard a story recounted by a friend in the dog world, she told me about someone who had to close their business due to the global lockdown and then decided to breed their dog to make up for lost income. Yet another story from a friend in the dog world, where she came across a person at a dog show that was bragging about having 20 (yes 20!) breeding bitches. Both stories are heartwrenching and those people are despicable at best.

      Thank you for advocating for Klaus and for calling out those folks who think it’s acceptable to churn out litter after litter without a thought for the health and betterment of the breed.

    • Maggie

      You are so right about the greed I just lost my beautiful big boy in Dec there 2020 I’ve since been looking at breeders and puppies I currently am on a waiting list, parents all kc registered hip and elbow score etc her dogs are beautiful reasonably priced I’ve been shocked at the prices on like gum tree pets at home web page and private ads they are selling from £2,000 – £4, 000 and some are not full pedigree or health checked people are going crazy with prices for puppies I’m talking about gsd puppies..

    • Gabriella

      Hi Maggie,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your boy recently, the only downside to loving a dog is having to say goodbye when the time comes.

      I feel that the whole situation that happened globally last year has only intensified the problem of people with absolutely zero scruples breeding their dogs to substitute income lost. Together with this, I’ve seen prices skyrocket and so this means that people buying these pups have heartbreak waiting for them in the near future – and expensive heartbreak at that.

      I’m pleased to hear you’ve found an ethical breeder for your new pup. And I think the only way to put an end to the current situation is to keep educating people on how to find these ethical breeders. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing an article written by a breeder in the working line space as I have already shared an article written by a show line breeder. They are both in the US. So perhaps if the breeder you’re working with now would like to be featured on my site, please pass her details on to me here. this will help folks in the UK who are looking for ethical breeders.

      Chat soon,

  • Dawn Herman

    Wanting to learn about the west German bloodlines and breeders

    • Hi Dawn,

      Thanks for your request!

      I’ll see what I can put together for a more in-depth look at the bloodlines you’re interested in.

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