German Shepherds are amazing dogs, but their characteristics and personalities differ according to their belonging to working lines or show lines. We want to review the main characteristics and peculiarities of American showline German Shepherds – a specific type of GSDs with distinctive features and corresponding to the most strict breed standards.
All German Shepherds originated from Horand von Grafrath, Captain Max von Stephanitz’s dog, who became the start of the breed. Showline Shepherds developed from this dog, too. However, breeders focused on developing aesthetics and calm temperament instead of working qualities and strength.
The developments led to a more loyal and obedient animal with a brighter coat and angulated hindquarters. Such dogs can be excellent family pets and do some working duties, too.
Nevertheless, consider the breeder first if you want to acquire a purebred American showline. So-called backyard breeding is highly irresponsible, and it leads to severe health issues and unpredictable behaviors. If you want to learn more about your possible pet, consider the individual temperament, health, habits, and requirements. You will find several tips in this article.
History of the Breed
German Shepherds – all working lines and show lines – originated from a single dog, Horand von Grafrath. Its owner, Captain Max von Stephanitz, was a great breeder whose contribution to the German Shepherd breed standardization is pretty valuable. The breed was registered in 1899 and was initially meant to herd sheep and protect them from predators.
The standards were changing, however, over the years, and many enthusiasts of these dogs began to develop the animals with perfect appearance without paying too much attention to their working drive or temperament. They started breeding dogs with deeper-colored coats and angulated hindquarters. That was the way how the American GSD appeared.
The name “Alsatians” is also common for this dog. It appeared in the times of WWII to distance the breed from its aggressive country of origin. So, the name Alsace-Lorraine, the German-French boarding area, was chosen for it. However, in 1977, breeders started campaigning to come back to the original name, and their claims were satisfied. Nowadays, we know this breed by the name of the German Shepherd, and it is divided into working and show lines. American showline Shepherds are a part of the latter.
American Showline German Shepherds and Their Difference from Working-Line Dogs
What jobs can these dogs do? It is clear from the name that they are marvelous show dogs. Their participation in conformation events makes their bloodlines prestigious and brings fame and recognition to their breeders.
However, they are multipurpose, so you can also use them as working dogs. Of course, these showline GS dogs do not have all the qualities for tactical deployment or cannot participate in criminal apprehension, but they are excellent at detection, searching, tracking, and rescuing.
The American showline GSD is a confident, willful, and very courageous animal with a calm nature that lets it become a perfect service dog, too.
The average cost of such a puppy is $400, but the prices can range from $450 to $ 1,900. Taking a doggy from a reputable breeder and show-winning bloodlines may cost you much more. The price may start at $2,000; some pedigree can range from $3,500 to $4,000 or even reach $5,000.
Such characteristics as health screenings, club registrations, or special build and color can substantially increase the price.
However, the main difference between the showline dogs and their working-line counterparts is achieving a perfect balance of intelligence and physical strength. Breeders have prioritized this balance in their work and created an animal with a calmer temperament and eye-catching appearance.
The most notable physical difference is the back line. Working-line dogs mostly have straight backs, compact lean bodies, and potent muscles, providing a lot of endurance and stamina. Showline Shepherds have sloped backs and angled hindquarters. If you deal with irresponsible breeders, these features can lead to hip issues. Though, professional and reputable breeders always scan litter for hip issues.
Showline Shepherds are also divided into three types – the American, the Canadian, and the West German ones.
The Main Characteristics of an American German Shepherd
Let’s consider the main characteristics of the German Shepherd American line representatives that distinguish them from all other types of GSDs.
Though all German Shepherds were created for working, they are strong and athletic. This breed belongs to medium-sized dogs. However, many German Shepherds nowadays are taller and broader in shoulders than a medium breed requires, so German shepherds now fall in the category of large breeds. According to the AKC’s standards, the American showline GSD male should weigh 60-90 pounds (27-41 kg), while the weight of a female can range between 50-75 pounds (23-34 kg).
The classic look of this type is a black saddle and a tan-and-red coat. The most prominent characteristic of this dog is its angulated top line, though its body and head are almost the same as in any other German Shepherd dog. The coat is longer and heavier than in the working-line dogs, so this doggy may shed a bit more intensively.
The American showline GSD has a calmer temperament than a working-line representative. These dogs are more friendly and amiable. Many potential dog owners believe that these animals are not too energetic, but it is wrong to think that. Yes, they have a lower prey drive, but their energy levels are also immensely high. They are less aggressive, too, and it makes them perfect family pets. Their protective instincts are very strong, so you can receive a loyal guard and companion. Your doggy may also be wary of strangers. However, it may depend on the individual personality and training. Some poor-quality breeders can offer nervous and anxious puppies prone to biting and snapping. However, if you take your pup from a reputable breeder, you will never encounter behavioral problems like that.
American Showline GSDs are playful and attention-seeking. They get bored if left alone for a long time, so never do that to your pup. You will get an affectionate friend and the best companion in the world.
Such a puppy costs around $800, but highly reputable breeders may charge much more for a doggy with a prominent bloodline.
Show lines are usually more prone to various health issues than working lines. Hip and elbow dysplasia can be a result of shorter hind legs and a sloped back.
The typical lifespan of these dogs is 10-14 years. However, if the dogs are poorly bred, they may suffer from many hereditary and genetic issues that can shorten their life. Responsible breeders, on the contrary, care a lot about genetics and do health screening for all their puppies. It helps get a longer lifespan and healthier life.
You should also care about your dog’s physical and mental health. Provide it with high-quality and highly nutritional food. Mental stimulation is also important. Your doggy needs a lot of toys, enrichment games, and puzzles to solve to stay healthy and happy.
The high-quality diet of your showline American Shepherd should consist of 18-22% of protein. Adult dogs also need 5% of positive fat. The diet can be aimed at large-breed dogs because German Shepherds are very energetic, and if properly trained and exercised, they burn a lot of calories.
The GSDs are omnivores, so you can offer your showline pet some fruits and vegetables, but this part of nutrients can only be up to 10% of the entire diet. You may choose a dry-food diet or a mixed one, with dry kibble and wet food that complement each other.
All in all, your German Shepherd needs 2.5-5 cups of food per day. It depends on its lifestyle, size, and age.
Training and Care
If we say that these German Shepherds are calmer than working-line dogs, it does not mean that they are less energetic. You need to know how to handle this energy. If you are not experienced enough, you may want to ask a professional dog trainer to help you. It is better if you hire a master with experience in training working-line dogs. Don’t try to cope with all behavioral issues yourself, or your doggy may acquire bad manners or fear-based aggression.
On the other hand, these dogs are extremely smart and intelligent, so they are easy to teach and thrive on appropriate mental stimulation. So, training them is exciting and rewarding.
Apart from mental stimulation and training, these animals need proper socialization to develop confidence and learn how to interact with different environments.
Physical exercise is also very important. Playing with your doggy regularly will make it a healthy and happy pet.
The representatives of the German Shepherd American line need a lot of grooming. These animals shed a lot, so they require regular brushing, especially during high shedding seasons before summer and winter. You may also need to bathe your dog just once during this time.
You can have to meet all your pet’s energy-burning needs by doing tricks, playing with puzzle toys, and engaging in enrichment games. Canine sports, such as dock diving, canicross, or flyball, are also very good for it.
Are American German Shepherd Dogs Good Family Pets?
You can consider an American German Shepherd as a perfect family dog, but only if your family’s lifestyle is active and you are an energetic person. Such dogs are very popular in care services, guiding, search and rescue, and other jobs. However, doing the complicated jobs associated with dangers and risks, like drug-sniffing, explosives detection, police or military jobs, and others are not for this type of Shepherds.
If you are ready to invest your time and effort in your American Shepherd dog, it will thrive. This is an ideal pet for training and socializing, or you can engage it in fly ball and something more exotic, like dancing.
You can take your doggy hiking, walking, biking, and swimming with you. It is also very protective and watchful, so it can guard your household and family effectively.
The important difference between the American showline GSD from its working-line counterparts is that it does not bond to only one owner but gets on well with all the family members. It is easily trainable and can become a great companion for your kids. If it receives enough mental stimulation, it can also be a great guardian for a disabled person.
However, never leave your pup alone for rather a long time. It can become destructive, anxious, and even aggressive. Your doggy is eager to please you, so award-based training is the most suitable for it.
What’s the difference between German Shepherds and American German Shepherds?
German Shepherds arrived in the USA at the very beginning of the 20th century to participate in shows. Many American breeders liked them very much and started to develop their excellent appearance characteristics. It resulted in a sloped back and lower hindquarters that are common for this breed nowadays. These features distinguish American German Shepherds from their European counterparts.
What is the difference between the German showline and the American showline?
European or German showline dogs are shorter and bulkier than American ones. They are richer in coloring and have massive masculine heads. The most common color of German showline Shepherds is red-and-black. They can also be pure black and sable. German showline dogs have straighter back without as sharply-angled hips as American ones. So, American dogs look longer, and their coloring is lighter. They also look slimmer and even smaller than German showline Shepherds.
How big do American German Shepherds get?
A girl of American German Shepherd can grow up to 28 inches (71 cm) in height, while a boy can reach 30 inches (76.2 cm). According to the American Kennel Club, the weight standards are 60-90 pounds (27.2-40.8 kg) for males and 50-75 pounds (22.7-34 kg) for females.
How much exercise does a showline German Shepherd need?
The least walking time for an adult showline German Shepherd is about 90 minutes per day. You can divide this time between two sessions and mix it with playing and training. The minimum running time, if your dog is off-lead, can be about an hour. You can also take your dog swimming, biking, or hiking with you
Therefore, the American showline GSD is a great option if you want to have a home pet. However, get prepared for its immense energy and the constant need for physical and mental exercise and stimulation.
These dogs are extremely energetic dogs who need a lot of exercises. They are also very intelligent, so the requirement for mental stimulation is explainable. Your doggy should have a strong hand and a leader with proper socialization, a lot of exercises, and communication.
Therefore, you have to get to know your future pet’s needs before taking it home. You also need to understand how well you can meet these needs. If you are ready to spend a lot of time and effort providing the best conditions for your GS puppy, you will receive a wonderful lifelong friend.
The American GSD is very calm and gentle if you train and socialize it properly. However, you must be honest about your readiness to invest a lot of time and effort. If you know what to expect and do your best, you will get a highly intelligent, loyal, and dedicated companion.