Different types of German Shepherds - GSD Colony

Different Types of German Shepherds (Full List+Photos)

Did you notice that there are different types of German Shepherds, but you don’t know exactly how many types of this dog breed even exist? Perhaps you didn’t know that there are different types of German Shepherds, and you were surprised when you find out that there are more types of this dog.

If you have been in this situation, don’t worry! We know how confusing it is at the beginning… German Shepherds are amazing dogs, and one of the most popular and smartest dogs on the planet!

The first-ever German Shepherd (Horand von Grafrath) was developed in the late 1800s by Max von Stephanitz, and since then, this dog breed has evolved into different German Shepherd types.

Horan Von Grafrath, First German Shepherd dog

In this article, you will discover all different types of German Shepherds (accepted and non-accepted German Shepherds), and we’ll also talk about different types of German Shepherd color coats.

Let’s not waste any second, and jump right into the topic!

Different types of German Shepherd dog

There are two main categories (bloodlines) for German Shepherds: working line and show line, and each category has its sub-categories. The working line is more often used for different jobs in the military, police, and other Special Forces, while the show line is a more “friendly” dog which is a perfect choice as a family dog.

These are 5 types of German Shepherds:

  • East German Working Line 
  • West German Working Line
  • Czech German Shepherd
  • American/Canadian Show Line
  • West German Show Line (European Showline)

Working line vs show line German Shepherd

Working line German Shepherds we can organize in three different groups (types):

  • East German Working Line 
  • West German Working Line
  • Czech German Shepherd

Show line German Shepherds we can organize in three different groups (types)

  • American/Canadian Show Line
  • West German Show Line (European Show line)

Now when we know which types of German Shepherds exist, let’s compare them and see which one is right for you!

Working line vs Show line German Shepherd

Even if this is the same dog breed (German Shepherd) there is some difference between these types in their behavior, health, and power.

German Shepherd, as a dog breed, was developed to work, to be a herding dog, with an extremely high level of loyalty. Over time, they prove their power and loyalty and easily become military dogs in World War I and World War II.

After the war ended, and after the dogs were replaced by “robot guards”, the German Shepherd dog started working as a police dog or service dog.

Schutzhund training with German Shepherd dog

These aren’t the only two jobs that this dog breed has. Many people start organizing sports events for dog dogs, like Schutzhund Championships, tracking competitions, agility competitions, dog shop championships, etc.

Each German Shepherd type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The working line German Shepherd dog

The working line is a stronger German Shepherd type, which loves and enjoys hard work. They can work all day, without getting too much tired. 

The owners of working line German Shepherd dogs usually work with their dogs every day, for at least 2-4 hours. They are highly driven energy dogs, and you need to invest a lot of time, and money, in that German Shepherd type.

Working line German Shepherd dog in the water - GSD Colony

If you want a German Shepherd dog, and you will be a first-time German Shepherd owner, we highly recommend you skip this German Shepherd type, and buy (or adopt) a show line.

If you don’t invest a decent amount of time in your working line GSD, and he doesn’t have proper treatment, their behavior can become destructive, and trust us, you don’t want to be in that position.

Besides that, the working line German Shepherd is a healthier type of German Shepherd, which is less prone to diseases like hip and elbow dysplasia.

Show line German Shepherd dog

The show line is a more friendly German Shepherd type and less energy-driven dog. First-time dog owners and families who want to get a German Shepherd dog usually choose this type of German Shepherd for several different reasons:

  • They are a more friendly dog
  • You don’t need to invest much time as for working line
  • They are less expensive
  • Great companion dogs

Show line German Shepherds can also do the same jobs as working line, but usually, the working line will always be more dominant in these jobs.

But this doesn’t mean that the working line is better than the show line, everyone has their purpose. For example, in most cases, the show line is almost always a better family dog than the working line, because of its temperament. 

Playful German Shepherd dog

As we mentioned before if you will become a first-time dog owner or German Shepherd owner, get a show line. Over time, you'll realize that you make the right decision.

Different types of Working Line German Shepherd dog

There are three different types of working line German Shepherd dogs: West German Working line German Shepherds; East German Working Line German Shepherds (also known as Deutsches Demokratische Republik - DDR); Czech German Shepherds.

West German Working Line German Shepherd

The West German Working line German Shepherd was created by diving one country into two countries; East Germany and West Germany. In 1961, during the Cold War, the German Democratic Republic was build this wall to prevent its population from escaping Soviet-controlled East Berlin to West Berlin.

Berlin Wall old photo

With the division of German, there was also a division of breeders of the most popular breed at that time, the German Shepherd dog. 

That is how the East German Shepherd and West German Shepherd were born.

The West German Working line German Shepherd is considered the closest ancestor of the first German Shepherd dog, which is developed by Max Vom Stephanitz.

If you plan to have, or you have already, West Working German Shepherd, have in mind that these are working, high-energy driven dogs, and you need to exercise a lot with them.

West Working Line German Shepherd dog

Photo source: Lunaurum

During the division of German and German Shepherd breeders to West and East, there is a bigger chance of West German Working line German Shepherds being more prone to hip dysplasia. If you plan to buy West Working GSD, make sure to read and learn what supplements and dog food is the best for this German Shepherd type.

East German Working Line German Shepherd

This German Shepherd type arose from the division of one state into two parts. The East German Working Like German Shepherd is also known as Deutsches Demokratische Republik (DDR), and over the last few years and decades, their popularity has massively grown.

Their name is derived from the official name of Germany at the time, Deutsche Demokratische Republik, which translates to the Federal Republic of Germany.

The East German shepherd breeding program was developed to keep up with the country's changing security needs.


 East Working Line German Shepherd dog (DDR)

Photo source: DAK's Dog Ranch

Unfortunately, this type of German Shepherd was also popular during World War II. Everyone who knows German Shepherds knows how they are strong, fast, and incredibly smart, and that’s why they were a perfect “war tool” at that time.

Today, East German Working Line German Shepherd usually works as service or working dog with police, military, and other Special Forces. This GSD type is also popular belong true lovers of German Shepherd dogs, who love to enjoy their beauty, and dog sports.

Most owners who decide to get this type of German Shepherd, work with them every day. They’re a huge responsibility, and to own one of these dogs, you need to have the knowledge, time to work with them, and money, because they know to be expensive.

And the bite power of East German Working Line German Shepherd can go up to 230 psi (pounds of pressure). This bite power can sometimes cause serious damage and in some cases, a bite of this GSD can be life-threatening.

But you should not forget their loyalty. This dog breed is one of the most loyal dog breeds on the planet, and everyone who respects them will be remembered.

Dogs can remember actions and things, according to Current Biology, and if you treat them right, your family will be in safe paws.

East German Working Line German Shepherd is more energy driven than West German Working Line German Shepherd, and you will need to exercise more with them. The recommendation is at least 1 hour per day (not including walk time).

Czech German Shepherd Dog

The Czech Working Line German Shepherd, also known as the Czechoslovakian shepherd, is a breed of sheep that originated in the totalitarian (communist) Czech Republic.

Czech German Shepherd is known as a highly driven dog. This German Shepherd, like other working-line German Shepherds, has a straighter back and a more athletic frame that allows them to perform physically demanding tasks.

The breeding of Czech Working German Shepherd dogs started in 1955, at a kennel run by the Czechoslovakian Army's Pohranicni Straze (Border Control) division. After the reunification of Germany, this breed became also popular as a great family dog.

Czech Working Line German Shepherd dog

Photo source: thewrathof_hades

They were predominantly bred from DDR German Shepherds, therefore they have a lot in common in terms of looks and temperament. They are both admired for their hard work ethic, courage, and capacity to learn new things.

But when you compare these two German Shepherd types, Czech German Shepherds is more driven than West or East Working Line German Shepherd dog.

Czechoslovakian German Shepherd is a great working dog, but it can also be a great family dog. There are no secrets that this dog loves to work, and as for the other two working lines, you’ll need to exercise with this dog also at least 1 hour per day.

The Czech German Shepherd dog is also a great choice if you want to enjoy dog training and dog sports, such as Schutzhund, agility sports, tracking, and more.

The Czech German Shepherd is a very healthy and strong dog, but it can be susceptible to several congenital diseases that can be painful for them and costly for you.

Mild health problems

  • Cataracts
  • Skin allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Corneal dystrophy

Serious health problems

  • Bloat
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Osteochondrosis

    American/Canadian Show Line German Shepherd

    Show-line in the United States German Shepherds, often known as AKC lines, are dogs that were bred to compete in dog shows in the United States. The initial breed was popularized in the United States because of a Shepherd who won a dog competition in the early twentieth century.

    Many people were encouraged to start breeding Shepherds for both domestic and competitive purposes after seeing this new, striking dog breed win the competition.

    After World War I, the German Shepherd started to gain popularity very quickly across the whole globe. The first German Shepherd in the United States of America was the Queen of Switzerland, registered in the late 1920s.

    German Shepherd loves to work, no matter what type you have, but when you compare Show line vs Working line German Shepherd, the working line is far way more energy driven.

    American Show Line German Shepherd dog

    If you’re a first-time German Shepherd owner, this can be the perfect GSD type for you. You can invest every day 60-90min of training (not including regular walks), and your German Shepherd will be happy with that, whereas, for the working line, you need to train with them every day for around 2-4 hours.

    American German Shepherd is a healthy GSD type, but unfortunately, as with every GSD type, this dog was prone to some diseases, like Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, Degenerative Myelopathy, and Bloat (GDV).

    As for the price, we'll be completely honest with you. Being a German Shepherd owner isn’t cheap at all. You need to invest money in good food, supplements, high-quality equipment, and everything that will cost you a lot of money. 

    If you’re not financially stable at this point, please do not buy a German Shepherd puppy. If you’re wondering what is the price of that dog, you can read your blog How much Cost German Shepherd dog, and discover how much should you pay for a puppy.

    But this German Shepherd type is a perfect choice for new owners and for families who wants to buy a puppy. They are really good with kids, other pets, and dogs, and most importantly, they’re extremely loyal.

    Are you a huge fan of dog sports? Having a Show line instead of a working line doesn’t mean that your German Shepherd can’t compete in dog sports. The best events and dog sports for your German Shepherd show line are dog shows, agility competitions, obedience competitions, herding trials, tracking, and more.

    West German Show Line German Shepherd Dog

    The West German Shepherd is the opposite of the East German Shepherd and is said to be the most closely related breed line to Max von Stephanitz's original dog

    West German Shepherds are available in both show and working lines, but show lines are the most popular because their appearance is regarded as the breed standard. Their backs are more slanted than an East German Shepherd's, and they aren't as physically robust, yet they can still hold their own in comparison.

    European Show Line German Shepherd dog

    Photo source: Vom Ragnar

    If you compare a West German Show Line German Shepherd, to the American Show Line, you'll notice that the West German Line is not as "lazy" as their American peers. They are better house protectors, and they are more excited about training and hard work.

    Like American Show Line, the West German Show Line is also a great choice for first-time German Shepherd or dog owners. This GSD type is an excellent family dog. 

    They are loyal, very protective, and love to be always in good company. No matter how big and scary they look, they are friendly, especially with the children, but you should never leave alone your kids with your German Shepherd until they are big enough to understand what’s dog really is.

    The recommended activity time for a West German Shepherd is around 60 minutes per day (not including walking). If you don’t treat them properly, they can become “destroying machines” and depressed. Make sure that you every day tire your German Shepherd. A tired dog is a healthy and good dog.

    West German Show Line vs American Show Line German Shepherd

    The most noticeable distinction between a German-bred Shepherd and an American Shepherd is the dog's posture. The American German Shepherd's back has a downward slope and severely slanted hip joints, whereas German Shepherds of German lines have a straight back.

    These characteristics give the American dog a longer appearance and allow for the "flowing gait" that is highly commended in the show ring in the United States. They also differ in color and size, with German Shepherds being larger and darker than American Shepherds.

    Bloating, hip dysplasia (because of their slanting back), and allergies are among the health issues that American German Shepherds face.

    Due to their straighter and more balanced stance, German show lines are less likely to develop hip problems. They can also withstand more pain. They are more stable and healthier as a result of their standardized breeding and intensive training regimens.

    What is the largest breed of German Shepherd?

    The German Shepherd King is the largest shepherd class out there. On average, females are around 25 to 27 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh 75 to 110 pounds. Males are around 27 to 31 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh 90 to 150 pounds.

    Shelley Watts-Cross and David Turkheimer, two Americans, was created the King Shepherd dog breed in 1990. This breed is still in the early stages of development.

    King Shepherd is a devoted and hardworking companion dog. Their confidence and strength, as well as their enormous size, would serve as a significant deterrence to any would-be predator. King Shepherds are devoted to their family and are not aggressive dogs.

    King Shepherd Dog - GSD Colony

    King Shepherd is a versatile breed. This very intelligent dog can do a wide range of tasks, including sheep herding, child companionship, police work, rescue work, and guide dog work. They get along well with other dogs, but early socialization is crucial for creating a gregarious and friendly puppy.

    Currently, King Shepherd is recognized by:

    • American Rare Breed Association (ARBA)
    • American King Shepherd Club (AKSC)
    • American Pet Registry, Inc. (APRI)
    • Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA)
    • Eastern Rare Breed Dog Club (ERBDC)
    • States Kennel Club (SKC)
    • World Wide Kennel Club (WWKC)

      Different color types of German Shepherd coat

      According to the studies (done by AKC), you can find a German Shepherd dog in 11 different coat colors. The coat colors are black; black & cream; black & red; black & silver; black & tan; blue; gray; liver; sable; white; bi-color. 

      In our table, you can find all standard German Shepherd color types with their registration code.

      Description Color Standard color  Registration code
      Black Ok 007
      Black & Cream Ok 010
      Black & Red Fault 014
      Black & Silver Ok 016
      Black & Tan Fault 018
      Blue Ok 037
      Gray Fault 100
      Liver Fault 123
      Sable Fault 164
      White Ok 199
      Bi-Color DQ 454


      Source: AKC (American Kennel Club)

      According to American Kennel studies, strong and rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults, and the white dogs will be always disqualified.


      • Cropped or hanging ears
      • Dogs with noses not predominantly black
      • Undershot jaw
      • Blue eyes area fault
      • Docked tail
      • Any dog that attempts to bite the judge
      • Long-haired German Shepherds may also be disqualified
      • Don't have a black pigment around their eyes, mouth, or nose
      • Blue, Liver, White, and Panda are instant disqualifying faults
      • Pale, washed-out colors are disqualifying

      Some German Shepherds with faulty coat colors can later have some serious health issues during poor breeding. One of the biggest problems in this world is BYB (back-yard-breeders).

      When we say BYB, we mean breeders that breed dogs in the wrong way. German Shepherds with faulty colors shouldn't be bred, no matter how cute and adorable their look in this coat color.

      Frequently asked questions

      What dog is mistaken for a German Shepherd?

      The Belgian Malinois is commonly mistaken for a German Shepherd. This is because the two breeds share similar features and both have a medium-sized frame with an athletic build. However, there are distinct differences between them.

      The Belgian Malinois has a shorter coat than the German Shepherd, as well as a longer muzzle. Additionally, its ears are more erect and pointing forward whereas the German Shepherd's ears droop. The Belgian Malinois is also a bit smaller than the German Shepherd, weighing between 50–80 pounds compared to the German Shepherd's 80–100 pounds.

      Here are a few more similar dog breeds that's looking like a German Shepherd:

      • White Swiss Shepherd
      • Belgian Tervuren
      • Groenendael
      • Byelorussian Shepherd (East European Shepherd)
      • Shiloh Shepherd

      If you want to discover more dog breeds that look almost the same as a German Shepherd dog, we highly recommend you to read our blog on that topic!

      Suggestion: Top 10 similar dog breeds to German Shepherd dog

      How warm is a German Shepherd coat?

      Because of their double coat, most German Shepherds can withstand temperatures as low as 30°F (-1°C). Even chilly temperatures are not a problem for long-haired GSDs. However, age, health issues, activity level, and weight may all have an impact on their ability to withstand the cold.

      The typical normal human body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). According to some research, the "normal" body temperature can range from 97°F (36.1°C) to 99°F (37.2°C).

      German Shepherd outside winter recommended time and temperature - GSD Colony

      For German Shepherds, things are a little bit different. The usual body temperature of a German Shepherd is 101° to 102.5° Fahrenheit (38.3°C to 39.2°C), which is much higher than the 97.6° to 99.6° Fahrenheit of humans.

      German Shepherd fever is defined as a temperature of more than 103°F. When the temperature rises above 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41.1°C), significant and even fatal complications might arise.

      Are Sable German Shepherds rare?

      Sable-colored German Shepherds are exceptionally rare. They are enormous, powerful dogs with a lot of energy, making them ideal for heavy work. Despite being bred as herders, they are also highly intelligent and eager to please, making them excellent for training to accomplish difficult jobs such as military and police dog roles.

      Sable German Shepherd dog

      The German Shepherd's Sable coat is the result of a dominant gene, and it was the first of the German Shepherd species. It's also the only coat color that hasn't deviated from the German Shepherd's founder's breed ethic.

      The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes German Shepherds, and the sable color is recognized under the breed standard (Registration code 164).

      Are there 2 types of German Shepherds?

      Yes, there are 2 types (bloodlines) of a German Shepherd dogs. The first type is Working Line German Shepherd and the second is Show Line German Shepherd.

      As we mentioned before, Working Line German Shepherds are bred for working purposes such as search and rescue, police work, military service, personal protection, or any other high-energy job. They are usually larger and have a higher energy level than the Show Line German Shepherds.

      Show Line German Shepherds are bred for confirmation shows. This means that these dogs are bred to the breed standard, which includes size and color. Show Line German Shepherds are usually smaller than Working Lines, but they still follow the same standard. They have a moderate energy level and are better suited for pet or show purposes.

      Are German Shepherds different from other dogs?

      Yes, German Shepherds are different from other dogs in many ways. First and foremost, they are known for their intelligence. German Shepherds have been bred to be loyal, obedient, and highly trainable. This is why they often excel as service and working dogs, such as police K-9s and military dogs.

      They also have a double coat that provides protection from the elements. And, of course, they are recognizable by their iconic black and tan coloration. All these traits make German Shepherds a unique breed.

      Overall, German Shepherds are one of the most beloved breeds in the world because of their loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature.

      What is the rarest type of German Shepherd dog?

      The rarest type of German Shepherd dog is the East German Working Line German Shepherd (also known as Deutsches Demokratische Republik - DDR).

      On November 9th, 1989, when the Berlin wall has fallen, there was a crossbreeding of eastern and western German Shepherds.

      A few months after the border opened, roughly 50,000 guards were relieved of their duties, and the DDR dogs were either left to die, sold to other people who would employ them for similar tasks, or abandoned.

      Because of that, the number of pure-breed East German Shepherds has significantly decreased.

      There are still many breeders all over the world that are putting a lot of effort into maintaining the breed with a healthy bloodline.

      They are attempting to maintain the DDR line as nearly as possible to the original East German dog's specifications.

      Final words.

      One thing that is common to all German Shepherds types is that they have very similar personalities. They are a very loyal, intelligent dog breed, love to work, and love to enjoy good company. 

      Having a German Shepherd is a great thing, but also a big responsibility. Sometimes, they can be really expensive. Sometimes you will almost pass out trying to tire your German Shepherd, to keep him healthy. Sometimes things won’t be easy.

      Is the German Shepherd ideal for you then? Well, it depends. If you’re ready to sacrifice your time and invest that time in this dog, to work and train with him, then yes, German Shepherd is a great choice for you.

      And trust us on this one, working with your German Shepherd will make you a better person. Don’t be lazy. Get up, and make the impossible possible!

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