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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 free of hip dysplasia and have Schutzhund titles.
History of the Western and Eastern Shepherd
Western German Shepherd
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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. Being a communist state under the influence of the USSR, the DDR 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 the Czech were bred to have a high pain tolerance to endure the hardships of protection work and border patrol. They are primarily black and tan, all black and sometimes sable in color.
- Breeders focus mainly on good movement and look.
- These shepherds are more prominent, 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 dog’s working ability was most important, and then came the distinctive looks.
The West German show lines are the most popular worldwide. These dogs are primarily black and red and exhibit a fluid, ground-eating trot.
The Czech lines were initially bred in Communist Czech as state working dogs.
- Large blocky head with large 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 bloodlines.
The bloodlines in West Germany were split between working line dogs and show line dogs.
It is essential 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 proper 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 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.
Show lines 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 the physical ability to move quickly and turns in the blink of an eye.
Many breeders have attempted to combine the East and West or American shepherds to lower hip dysplasia and achieve a strong work instinct and more refined show lines.
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