German Shepherds – Two Bloodlines

I love all dogs, but German Shepherds hold a special place in my heart. I recently learned that there are two different bloodlines of German Shepherd Dogs, American and German.


Former German Cavalry Captain, Max von Stephanitz, was the developer of the German Shepherd Dog, by far one of the most versatile breeds in the world. In 1899, he created and became president of what has become the largest breed club anywhere. Von Stephanitz established the standards for the GSD, which are still followed in Europe.

Von Stephanitz wanted a working dog who could herd but also had to be highly intelligent, strong, brave, protective, capable of doing whatever was asked for and at the same time, be a family pet especially good with children. In order to create such a dog, he devised a herding test and Schutzhund, a test to determine which dogs should be used for breeding. Even today, German and European Shepherds must earn a title in one of these tests to qualify for breeding.

World War II brought many breedsR including the GSD to the brink of extinction, but thanks to many kind and caring people, they were saved. After the war, there was a split in GSD bloodlines. While Germany wanted to maintain the same GSD traits, Americans looked for show quality dogs.

The standard for American GSDs, set by the American Kennel Club (AKC)differ somewhat from German bred dogs. The body is a bit longer with a more prounced sloping back, taller and lighter boned although heavier weightwise. Coat color can be the usual black and tan or solid black, solid white, sable, bi-colored. American GSDs usually do not exhibit the working abilities of the German dogs. They are generally not used for police or military work, search and rescue and don’t compete in Schutzhund.

The German standard continues the original promise of von Stephanitz, breeding for working ability and temperament. Colors are also darker than the American dog. The body does not have the exaggerated slope and they are larger.

If you are interested in sharing your home with a German Shepherd Dog, do your research and decide which bloodline better suits the needs of your family.

Note: There are many unscrupulous breeders who are only interested in making fast money. Please make sure you buy only from a trusted breeder.

Recommended reading:

The Essential German Shepherd Dog by Roy and Clarissa Allan

German Shepherds by Charlotte Schwartz

How to Train Your German Shepherd by Liz Palika

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