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German Shepherd dogs are immensely popular. They are loyal, intelligent, and trainable. You can see them everywhere – working with the police and army, herding, or just making great companions for families and kids. Though, you may not probably know that these dogs can differ by the length of fur. Due to this, they are divided into long haired vs short haired German Shepherd dogs.
Therefore, the coat can be of two lengths. If it is under 2 inches, the dog is short-coated. If the fur is 2+ inches, the animal is long-coated. There are several other varieties between these two. Long fur is regarded as a minor defect by the AKC (American Kennel Club), but they have recently started to recognize it.
If you want an excellent German Shepherd for your needs, consider what you would like to see. The fur length is among the most distinctive features. So, you have to decide what excellence means for you.
In this article, we have attempted to describe the main characteristics of these dogs according to their coat length, considering their key similarities and differences. We also want to share information about the suitability and acceptability of GSs with different lengths of fur. It will help you decide what the right choice is for you.
Long Hair vs Short Haired German Shepherd: Similarities
Let’s talk about the similarities when we speak about dogs with long hair vs short haired German Shepherd dogs in general and in detail once again. So, they are the following:
- both varieties are loyal, energetic, athletic, protective, and very smart;
- they need equal amounts of exercise (not fewer than two hours per day);
- both dogs are vulnerable to the same diseases – hip dysplasia and a poor heart condition;
- they are almost the same size, with males obviously larger than females;
- both varieties have equal lifespans if you buy these puppies from a responsible and reputable breeder – 9-13 years;
- both types of GSs can suffer from separation anxiety;
- the nature of both types is equally possessive and protective – they are quite caring to their owner’s family;
Long Haired German Shepherd vs Short Haired One: Differences
Now, it’s high time to distinctly highlight the key differences between these two varieties. We are happy to provide you with details.
The coat type is the most essential difference between these two variations. A short-haired type is the most common. Such dogs’ fur is about one inch long. It is straight and dense, though it may be a bit wavy.
These animals have an undercoat that helps insulation and is immensely weather-proof. Long haired GSDs do not have this layer. Their hair length is about two inches. The fur feels silky and soft. However, the absence of the undercoat is a disadvantage because such dogs cannot work outdoors if the weather is cold.
Standards of the Breed
The AKC does not consider long haired GSDs corresponding to the breed’s standards. That is why such dogs cannot participate in dog shows. Actually, long fur is believed to be faulty. Moreover, most of these dogs do not have an undercoat. Even if they do, they fall beyond the standards, anyway. Though, these German Shepherds are purebred and white long haired German Shepherds are especially appreciated as the rarest ones.
Grooming needs considerably vary between these two types. Double-coated short haired dogs experience shedding seasons that may last for 1 or 2 weeks. You will have to brush such a dog more often during this season. Long haired dogs can shed a lot throughout the whole year. They need brushing 3-4 times per week.
However, in general, long haired Shepherds shed less, but you can brush out more hair from them in one session. The need for regular brushing is caused by the fact that long hair can easily produce tangling.
It is believed that both varieties of GSs have an almost similar temperament. However, short-haired dogs slightly differ at this point from their long-haired counterparts. These animals work as police or guard dogs. They are intensively trained for this, so they seem more aloof and unfriendly. Long haired GSDs, who are not involved in any jobs, tend to be eager to please their owner and play more actively.
Nevertheless, these differences may not be caused by the type of engagement, so there is no evidence that the length of fur can influence temperament a lot. These varieties are just bred and trained differently.
Short haired German Shepherds are costlier because they fully correspond to the breed standards, according to the AKC. The price can be $800-$2,000 or even reach $4,000 depending on the breeder’s reputation. The representatives of the long-haired type cost cheaper – $500-$1,500, or up to $2,000-$2,500 if a puppy is obtained from a well-known breeder. The pedigree can also influence the price.
You can as well adopt a dog from a shelter for free if the purity of pedigree is not your concern, or purchase an adult dog for $250-$400.
Which Dog Is Better for Your Needs?
When you are going to get a German Shepherd dog, think about why you need it. To decide on a long haired German Shepherd vs short haired dog, make your overall assumptions. For some people, a short-haired dog is the best option, while for others, a long-haired variety is perfect.
Short Haired GSDs Are Better for Shows
If you need a dog for shows, you’d better obtain a short haired Shepherd. It should come from a show bloodline and be of an adequate color. Black short haired German Shepherd dogs are highly appreciated. Dogs without an undercoat are disqualified.
Long Haired GSDs Feel Great in the Upscale Suburbs
If your residential area is quite prestigious, and you don’t want to make your neighbors nervous, a friendly fluffy dog is the best option. It does not feel aggressive or threatening.
Upscale suburbs usually prefer purse dogs, so a long-haired cud dog will fit the environment better. It looks rare and exotic, pleasing the sight of a refined public, especially if it is a white long haired German Shepherd that looks nice and friendly.
Long Haired Dogs Are Better for Civilian Guard Duties
German Shepherds should comply with the AKC standards for their institutional uses, so short-haired varieties are preferable. Nevertheless, long-haired dogs are perfectly trainable, too. A black long haired German Shepherd can be excellent for guarding your house. It looks bigger and more intimidating.
Short Haired Shepherds Are Great for Institutional Service
Short-haired dogs exactly correspond to all the criteria for institutional services. You can easily raise and train them, and they are interchangeable between different teams. If a long-haired animal does the same job, it may quickly get sidelined because a squad or institution can be disassembled, and no recruiter from another team will ever accept such a dog.
That is why, if you want your Shepherd dog to get trained for guarding a school, farmyard, or business, opt for a short-haired variety.
Long Haired Dogs Are Better for Saving Money
A long-haired variety is much cheaper, so you have a chance to save costs without any losses in quality. Long haired Shepherds have the same characteristics, and owning and raising them as family dogs will not take you more money, either.
However, you need to be sure that your long haired GSD comes from a responsible breeder, is free from genetic health issues, and is properly medically tested. You will save even more if you do not need to visit a veterinarian frequently.
Does a long haired GSD shed more?
Both varieties tend to shed. However, short-haired dogs shed intensively in spring and fall when there are shedding seasons. Long haired Shepherds shed equally all year round. The shed of long-haired animals is kept trapped in the long fur, so it does not make furniture, clothes, and other household items messy.
Do short haired or long haired GSDs have a better temperament?
In fact, there is not much difference between dogs’ temperaments depending on their fur’s length. The difference can be in short-haired dogs’ ability to work. Since they are widely used by the police, military, and institutional services, they are trained to be aloof and more focused.
Long haired Shepherds are not used for working purposes, so they are friendlier and less aggressive. They make up perfect family members and companions. There is no scientific evidence as well that the length of the coat can affect temperament.
Where can I obtain a long haired German Shepherd puppy?
Long-haired puppies cost less than their short-haired counterparts. Though, they are rarer. If you want to get a puppy from a reputable breeder, you will need to wait for it longer. Well-experienced breeders do not like to raise such offspring because these dogs are not suitable for work and shows. You need to do thorough research concerning breeders who can offer you long-haired puppies.
If you don’t mind adopting an adult dog, you do it at a lower price, getting your most well-trained and obedient companion from a special club or shelter.
How rare are short haired Shepherds?
Short haired GSDs are not rare at all. You can see these dogs almost everywhere. According to the AKC, German Shepherds are the third most popular breed, and its short-haired representatives make up most of the population. Short hair is a dominant gene, so the chance to get a long-haired puppy from its short-haired parents is quite minimal.
As you can see, there are no big differences between long haired vs short haired German Shepherd dogs. The main difference is in the types of a coat and ways of grooming them.
Choose a short haired German Shepherd if you want it for work or shows, need a standard GS, or plan to use your dog as a stud. Get a long-haired dog, if you have children, a dog-loving family, friends, or neighbors. You may also prefer this variety if you want an exotic wolf-like look in your dog, or need an intimidating beast to guard your house and keep unwanted visitors away.
Remember that, no matter all the debate, there is not much difference in GS’s intelligence, temperament, and trainability. You can freely opt for any of these two varieties.