Known for the intelligence and protective nature, German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds around. They’re beautiful dogs that have the unique distinction of being a working-class breed. You can see these pups serving in the military or accompanying police officers on the job.
Of course, GSDs also to just fine being another member of the family.
When most people think of German Shepherds, they picture dogs with thick coats of short fur. However, long-haired pups exist, too! Long-haired German Shepherds have a unique coat of flowing hair that stands out.
But, are they any different than their short-haired counterparts? With this guide, we aim to answer that question and provide you with all the information you need to know about this unique variation of German Shepherd.
The History of the German Shepherd
GSDs are not a new breed by any means. The earliest records of these dogs date back to the 1800s. These pups played a crucial roll in the world of agriculture. They helped to herd sheep and protected cattle from natural predators.
By the 1850s, German breeders worked hard to standardize the breed. They selectively bred dogs to get rid of unwanted traits while improving good working characteristics. At the end of the century, the very first German Shepherd was declared. Max von Stephanitz, a former veterinary student, purchased what he thought was the perfect specimen at a dog show. He created the Society for German Shepherd Dogs and successfully bred 84 puppies from the single canine. As a result, the breed quickly spread.
In 1908, the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. The rest is history! These dogs continue to be very popular around the world.
About Long-Haired German Shepherds
Long-coat German Shepherds have been around just as long as their short-haired siblings. Technically speaking, there are no major differences between dogs with short hair and those with long hair. They are part of the same breed classification.
The only difference these dogs have with standard GSDs is their coat length.
Interestingly enough, the long hair is considered to be a genetic fault. It’s caused by a recessive gene that’s passed on by the parents. So, short-haired mothers can give birth to long-haired German Shepherd puppies.
Long-Haired German Shepherds Traits
Apart from the long fur, these dogs have no major differences from the breed standard. You might not be able to see it underneath all of that hair, but long-haired German Shepherds are quite athletic. They’re relatively big and muscular.
On average, adult males weigh somewhere between 66 and 88 pounds when they are fully grown. They’re classified as a large dog breed. They can stand between 24 and 26 inches tall at the shoulders.
Females long-haired GSDs are big, too. However, they tend to be noticeably smaller than the males. On the lower end of the size spectrum, they can be about 49 pounds and rise 22 inches tall. Bigger girls will tip the scales at roughly 73 pounds and stand 24 inches tall.
Once of the most iconic physical features of German Shepherds is their striking color. While solid-colored pups do exist, a vast majority of GSDs are black and tan. Some even have spots of white, resulting in a tri-colored appearance.
Typically, the underside and legs of the dog are tan while the upper portion and face are black. You may see spots of tan popping through the black fur as well.
As we mentioned, the only difference between long-haired GSDs and short-haired ones is their coat. Standard dogs feature a short double coat of fur. This double coat is meant to keep these canines warm in rougher environments. The undercoat acts as a thick layer of insulation. It’s quite dense and feels much softer to the touch than the outer layer.
Long-haired German Shepherds do not have a double coat. It’s an interesting quirk that defies all reason. Despite having a longer coat that flows in the wind, the absence of an undercoat actually makes long-haired dogs more vulnerable to changing temperatures.
Beyond their coat and build, German Shepherds have some distinct physical features. They have a somewhat wolf-like appearance. Their muzzles are big and strong. Black noses blend in with the surrounding fur, which grows away from the face for long-haired pups.
The ears are unmistakable as well. German Shepherds have large triangular ears that stand straight up. The ears get firmer as they get older. They’re usually floppy as a puppy before becoming fully erect.
German Shepherds have a lifespan of 9 to 13 years. Generally, larger dogs have a shorter life expectancy than smaller dogs. Unfortunately, these dogs are susceptible to a few health complications that could affect their lifespan.
Potential Health Issues
One of the most common health problems affecting German Shepherds is hip dysplasia. Have you ever seen a GSD that looked like they were squatting as they walked? This is a telltale sign that they are suffering from dysplasia.
It’s a genetic disease that causes the hip sockets to develop incorrectly. Usually, the sockets become so malformed that the joint isn’t able to move as it should. This leads to significant pain.
While it’s often associated with elderly dogs, hip dysplasia can actually affect younger dogs, too. Poor development as a puppy can make symptoms appear very early on. The good news about early hip dysplasia is that it’s often treatable. Surgery can be performed to improve the shape of the hip socket, which will ultimately improve mobility for your dog. Elbow dysplasia is pretty common, too. It’s similar to hip dysplasia but affects the upper half of your dog’s body.
Some other conditions these dogs can encounter include bloat and cancer. Bloat is a particularly serious issue that requires immediate care. It’s caused by your dog swallowing too much air when they eat. The stomach expands before turning in on itself. The position cuts off blood circulation and requires surgical intervention to address.
As for cancer, German Shepherds are known to suffer from lymphoma and osteosarcoma. The former is cancer that affects the endocrine system while the latter affects the bones.
German Shepherd Temperament
Both long-haired and short-haired German Shepherds are great when it comes to temperament and behavior. The German Shepherd breed has a pretty negative reputation among those who are unfamiliar with these dogs. They’re often labeled as aggressive and are deemed a liability by some insurance companies.
Truth is, these dogs have a better temperament than smaller innocent-looking breeds! They’re highly intelligent and very loving. Despite their somewhat intimidating looks, they love to play around and have fun. As such, these dogs are family pets. As long as they are properly socialized at a young age, they can get along with just about anyone.
They can be a bit wary of strangers, though. Owners will often see them studying strangers to determine if they’re a threat or not. This is actually a benefit for dog owners. They can use that energy to keep your home safe.
There’s a reason why German Shepherds are popular working dogs. This breed is an intelligent one that can be trained to do just about anything. They’re not just herding dogs. They’re also police dogs, military dogs, and service dogs.
Training can be a bit more challenging than some other breeds. Because they are so intelligent, they tend to be a bit defiant at first. Don’t let that discourage you! With positive reinforcement and patience, they will pick up commands relatively quickly. The key is to be positive at all times and avoid any forms of punishment or negative reinforcement. Those techniques will do more harm than good and may bring out aggressive tendencies.
Long-haired Shepherds have a healthy appetite. They need to be fed high-protein foods that can keep their muscles strong while maintaining their energy levels. According to the AKC and AAFCO, foods should have a minimum of 22.5 percent protein content. The more protein, the better! High-quality sources like chicken and beef provide a complex profile of amino acids to feed the muscles.
Don’t forget about vitamins, vegetables, and complex carbs! They all work together to keep your pup healthy.
German Shepherds should be fed two smaller meals every day. Depending on your dog’s activity levels, you should be providing about 30 calories per pound of body weight. Split this up into halves and feed your dog once in the morning and once at night. Doing so will prevent bloat and give your dog plenty of energy throughout the day.
In addition to a diet of nutrient-rich food, long-haired German Shepherds need plenty of exercise to stay healthy. An hour to an hour and a half of physical activity a day is recommended. This can be split up throughout the day. Have family members go on walks every few hours. Then, play some riveting games of frisbee in the back yard. As long as your dog is running around, they’ll be burning calories and building muscle.
With long hair comes extensive grooming requirements. Long-haired GSDs are big shedders. Be prepared to pick up hair from your furniture and clothes. The good news is that they don’t go through extreme shedding periods like short-haired pups. They don’t have an undercoat to get rid of when the weather conditions change.
You will need to brush your dog’s fur regularly. Long-haired German Shepherds are prone to getting tangles and mats. They can pull on the skin and cause a lot of discomfort. Daily brushings can keep those issues at bay.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do long-haired German Shepherds make good family dogs?
These pups make great family dogs. They get along great with young kids and are quite loyal to owners. We recommend that you never leave younger children alone with dogs. No matter how well-trained they are, aggressive behavior can come out. This is especially true if the child starts to pull the dog’s tail or get in their face.
Do long-haired German Shepherds have a double coat?
Unlike short-haired pups, long-haired GSDs only have a single coat.
Do long-haired German Shepherds get along with other dogs?
Most GSDs will not have a problem with other dogs if they are properly socialized at a young age. Be gentle when introducing the two dogs until they start getting along.
Are long-haired German Shepherds aggressive?
Like any dog, German Shepherds are a product of their environment. They’re capable of being aggressive. However, they will be gentle if they are raised right. Positive reinforcement and plenty of love if the key to avoiding aggression.
Long-haired German Shepherds are beautiful dogs with all the same personality traits as their short-haired siblings. While they do require a bit more grooming to keep their coats in good shape, the extra work is well worth it.