By Claudia Bensimoun

Eastern European Shepherd


Image Credit: Wiki

The Differences Between East and West German Shepherd Lines and The American German Shepherd Lines

You might be thinking: Is there any difference?Start thinking temperament, confirmation, coloring and movement. So you’re undecided on which line of pups is best for you and your family. Asking yourself first if you want a working dog, family or show dog. Temperaments differ greatly. Start by making a list of all the qualities you are looking for in your shepherd. Pink papered imported  puppies from Germany are free of hip dysplasia and come from generations of parents that are free of hip dysplasia and that have Schutzhund titles.

History of the Western and Eastern Shepherd

Western German Shepherd


Image Credit: Wiki

From 1949 until 1990, Germany was divided into the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) in the East, and the Federal Republic of Germany in the West. The DDR, being a communist state under influence from the USSR, was kept separate from West Germany. This separation is what caused the split in German shepherd bloodlines that persists to this day.

The working lines in Czech were bred to have a high pain tolerance so that they could endure the hardships of protection work and border patrol. They are mostly black and tan, all black and sometimes sable in color.

  • Breeders focus mainly on good movement and looks.
  • These shepherds are larger, heavier but have a lighter bone structure.
  • Temperament plays a huge factor here as shepherds from the US were not bred as working /herding dogs but for show.
  • In Germany both parents have working titles-Schutzhund and are hip certified before they are allowed to breed.
  • Schutzhund is about accountability, whereas in the US and Canada, breeders do not need any of these things except pedigree.
  • German shepherds in the US are primarily judged by their looks.

To German shepherd breeders , their dogs working ability was most important, and then came the outstanding looks.

The West German show lines are the most popular worldwide. These dogs are mostly black and red and exhibit a fluid, ground-eating trot.

The Czech lines were originally bred in Communist Czech as state working dogs.

  • Large blocky head with big bone structure and much leaner in build. These shepherds have straighter backs and fewer problems with
  •  However, they are high-energy dogs.

Czech line German Shepherds and East German DDR German Shepherds are essentially the same bloodline.

The bloodlines in West Germany were split between working line dogs and show line dogs.

It is important to recognize that the working line and show line German Shepherds from West Germany are vastly different.

Show line dogs are bred to be physically attractive, but lack the courage and strong nerves of a true protection dog.

Accepting that West German show line dogs are unfit for protection work, the true comparison is between the West German working line (often stated simply as German working line), and the DDR/Czech line. There has been much debate over which is superior, and this debate may continue for years to come.

Some people consider the West German lines to be superior, arguing that the DDR/Czech lines were developed before the split between working and show lines, and are not extraordinary in either discipline.

Both lines were recovered from the original German bloodlines after WWII, and both have been continuously built up and bred for working qualities over the past 60 years. The bottom line is that they are both working line dogs.

Showlines are a better choice for homes with children and working lines for protection work.

The American shepherds are calmer in temperament and have a lower energy drive. The North American shepherd relies on physical ability to move quickly and turns on the blink of an eye.

Many breeders have attempted to combine the East and West or American shepherds to achieve a lower incidence of hip dysplasia and achieve a strong work instinct and more refined show lines.


For tips on how to care for your Czech Shepherd:

How To Wash Your Dog?




Copyright© 2012 Claudia Bensimoun



  1. December 10, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Great article, very interesting. Having lost our shepherd cross last year, it’s nice to read about the breed’s history.

  2. December 31, 2012 at 4:54 am

    I know this does not apply to all breeders but I think we have done far more damage than good to this beautiful breed in our country.

  3. January 11, 2013 at 1:24 am

    My first pet and dog was an American Shepherd. His name was Snoopy. 🙂

  4. shoshanah
    June 18, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    We have an 18 month old K9 GSD of Cz line, he is the smartest and sweetest dog we have ever owned. Very lovable and loyal . He is also very protective of my Husband and myself!

  5. January 12, 2014 at 11:30 am


  6. March 17, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    beautiful dogs – like the Australian ones too

  7. Loren Bridges
    November 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Now I know why mine has the features he does. Gotta love me some Czech!

  8. RJ
    November 22, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    In general terms the article is accurate. However, there are a mumber of lines within the working shepherds that display various attributes. Also, during the mid late 60’s there was wholesale breeding of the American show lines to a specific dog that was weak nerved. This had a very negative result to this line of dogs. Finally, up to recently, German dogs were Often hip checked at one year vs 2 years, leading to certifying hips that couldn’t be certified at 2 years.

  9. scarlette wilde
    November 22, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I wish I would of read this BEFORE I purchased our two pups. They are american bred GS. I have wonderful dogs. Dont get me wrong. But I got sorely disappointed when I wanted a personal protection and she is not cutting the mustard for that. Raven is a great family and all around dog. She is a great watch dog will bark at strangers from home. But out in public she acts like a labrador and wants to lick everyone to death. She also has low drive. After twenty minutes of play with her brother she just is too pooped to go on. She has been heartworm tested and vet checked so I have thought maybe she is just lazy?

  10. December 31, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Great article. Well written and packed with the information that I need. I look forward to reading some of your ebooks.



  11. Thomas Starr
    August 4, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Great article with really good info.The best information and right to the point on explaining the different lines of german shepherds. My wife and I own a 7 year old female Sadie, more on the American line.We also own a year and a half old female Maggie that is a east,west working line pup and we now own a 2 month old female Jessie which is a czech (east) working line.All three of our girls are awesome dogs.This article is right on point about the drive,energy,looks and protection!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: