German shepherds are one of the most consistent dog breeds to make the American Kennel Club’s annual list of the most popular dogs. The breed first became popular after the World War II ended performing well in show ring and conformation shows.
Unlike other popular dog breeds, pure bred German shepherds come in a variety of body type, personality and coloration. This is due to a change in pattern and preferences in the American and German dog breeding circles. Thus, various breeds within the German shepherd breed category emerged with each one boasting different characteristics that will appeal to different types of dog owners.
Here are the different breeds of German shepherds and their respective characteristics.
American show lines
Also known as the AKC lines, this first type of German shepherd is specifically bred for the purposes of show and conformation where they are judged by their size, movement and color among other qualities. They are usually taller and longer than their European counterparts. Other distinguishing traits that AKC lines have are their lighter coat of hair which include light tan and silver colors.
They are also described to be great family pets given their laid-back nature and obedience.
West German show lines
Similar to the AKC lines, the West German show line breed is bred for show and conformation. But unlike the former breed, these German shepherds are suitable for both roles as family pets and working dogs. Although handsome looking, West German show line shepherd dogs are strong and active. They are also required to have working titles and clearance attesting their good health in order for them to pass for breeding. This ensures that only the strongest of the breed get to pass on their genes.
West German working lines
This next type of German shepherd is bred to be stunning dogs which also excel at different sports as well as guarding and protecting tasks. They are also widely believed to be the closest to the original German shepherd dogs first bred by Max von Stephanitz, the person who is credited for developing the breed in the first place.
They are known for their stable temperament and strength which makes them perfect for being working dogs in search and rescue and sporting dogs as well.
East German DDR working lines
The East German DDR working line was developed due the separation of East and West Germany after the second world war. They were originally bred as military dogs by the government. Physical strength is the most desired quality that East German DDR working line dogs have which they pass on through a highly selective breeding process.
This type of German shepherd may not be suitable as pets due to their aloof and defensive qualities developed from years of military training and selective breeding. However, they are still admired for their endurance even of extreme weather conditions and athleticism.
Czech working lines
The Czech working line breed of German shepherds are said to originate from the East German working lines. They were originally bred in the communist Czechoslovakia to work as patrol dogs guarding the former country’s borders. Thus, German shepherds of this line are famous for their impressive working drives. They are also described to be relatively more agile and intense than other German shepherd lines. Dark coats of hair distinguish the Czech working lines from its American and West German counterparts.
German shepherds have a colorful history as show dogs and military dogs resulting in the present day branches of the breed each with its own distinguishing characteristics and intended purposes.