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Long Haired German Shepherd Vs Short Haired: Which Is Better?

Long Haired German Shepherd Vs Short Haired: Which Is Better?

Everyone knows of the German Shepherd, but did you know that two different types existed long and short haired ones. Many people ask the question of which is better in the long haired German Shepherd vs short haired.

In the long haired German Shepherd Vs Short Haired German Shepherd debate, most people boil the difference down to their coat length, but there’s a few factors in there that can tip the scales one way or another.

One primary thing to keep track of is the grooming aspect. Dogs with longer coats often take longer to get done with brushing, bath time and the like.

The other can be usefulness and price, where one is more useful in the field as the trademark herding dog while the other was built more toward a social lifestyle.

That’s not to say that both of them can’t be extremely social, but one’s more predisposed than the other.

To find out a little bit more about each of them in detail, their similarities and their unique traits as well as find out answers to some of the more common questions regarding this topic, read on so you can come to your own conclusion.

Long Haired German Shepherd Vs Short Haired German Shepherd: A Brief History

Long Haired German Shepherd and Short Haired

When one thinks of a working dog, the first breed that comes to mind will often be the German Shepherd Dog.

Aside from their role as herding dogs, they’re often seen as police dogs, watchdogs and guard dogs in general, being one of the most popular dogs in these categories if not the most popular one.

And that comes with plenty of good reasons.

These dogs were bred to be the champions of this role with toned, lean muscles, an incredibly strong protective instinct, undying loyalty and fearlessness.

Their smooth features offer them better speed and agility.

Even with the lack of a more sharp visage, they still offer an intimidating appearance, another reason why they’re so preferred in law enforcement, the army and several other places.

This may be why people find them intimidating in the first place..

They’re efficient, always wary of strangers, and will protect their owner with their own lives at times.

And the German Shepherd breed is a large one with about 26 inches of height in the shoulders.

The breed is also incredibly easy to train for a variety of different jobs which in and of itself is favorable for things like police or army training.

However, they also make for ideal family pets for all the reasons listed above too, a stalwart protector ready to defend his home and his family at all costs from strangers and would-be attackers.

As for the hair, the breed standard, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), is that they’re normally born with a short coat.

Meanwhile, the long coated German Shepherds are a product of an autosomal recessive gene and normally aren’t favored by GSD breeders.

Long Haired German Shepherd Vs Short Haired GSD: The Rundown

Long Haired German Shepherd and Short Haired sitting on grass

Now that we’ve gotten a little bit better acquainted with the breed, it’s time to see what makes the individual types of coats so unique for GSDs, and if it’s just the coats that are different.

The Short-Haired GSD

The first of the two types of German Shepherd in terms of coat length, the breed standard in the world and one that the standard dog owner tends to prefer given its popularity.

These are the dogs described in that brief breed history write-up above for the most part and made into what they are today by a man called Max Von Stephanitz.

You’ll find that the short haired GSD is an incredibly loyal pooch to his owner and his family, or his work partner if he’s acting as a service dog for the police, army, or similar.

They’re full of energy and eager to engage in physical activities with you to both bond and to get their daily workout in through play, walkies or anything of the sort.

They’re incredibly social with their owner, but do take some training and proper socialization to be more comfortable around strangers, otherwise your friends may find themselves getting growled at often if they make any sudden moves.

What’s So Special About The Fur?

Social features aside, the short-haired GSD is also built for colder climates with their double coat that helps keep the cold at bay, with the outer coat acting as a buffer while the inner coat is there as the base.

Do be aware that, even though they’re considered short haired, these types of German Shepherds still need frequent brushing as they shed an awful lot.

Expect to do a brushing session every couple of days or so, around 2 to 3 thanks to the overcoat that sheds like crazy.

Even though they’re short haired, the undercoat of the GSD makes them look quite similar to their lupine ancestors too.

How Big Do They Get?

As for their size, the average GSD tends to weigh around 60 to 90 pounds, give or take a few depending on circumstances, and can grow up to 26 inches in height as mentioned before.

They can come in a variety of different coat colors too like sable, gray, black, black and tan or even red ones.

There are some other colors like white which aren’t the breed standard, but rather an anomaly that can happen every now and then.

How Well Behaved Are They?

As for their diligence, the short-haired German shepherd is the poster boy for a hard working dog, eager to take on any task within their capabilities and completing it in due time as long as you treat them well.

They possess extreme loyalty, especially to their owner and then to his family members second and he’ll always try to get on your good side, no matter what.

Training them is really easy and will take a lot less time and effort than it would some other dog breeds, making them even better for households than before. And they love treats which makes training even easier.

However, their great love for their owner can be a hindrance too, especially if you’re not around for most of the day which can lead to separation anxiety in the short haired German Shepherd quite easily.

Even if your doggo has been properly socialized and trained, it’ll still be an issue regardless, one that can thankfully be mitigated through the use of various stress relief toys, cuddle buddies, chewables or by having others around him when you’re not.

If not, you can expect him to bark loudly and bark often, especially at any strangers that may be passing by, and you can even expect to come back home to ruined shoes, slippers or even furniture.

That’s why toys and training are recommended to nip this in the bud and teach him some less destructive behavior.

How Long Do They Live?

Most standard German Shepherds live shorter lives than the standard 15 years dogs are known to reach, only clocking in around 10 years, 13 with proper health and nutrition, but GSDs are notorious for their rampant health issues.

Some of the more prominent ones revolve around the heart in his senior years, his eyes getting progressively worse, having to deal with hip dysplasia or worn bones and joints in general from being a large dog breed.

Among all the health problems, bloat will rear its ugly head too, also known as Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV).

Uncertain as to why it happens, but the stomach ends up twisting from getting filled up with gasses, food or similar which then causes a number of problems for your dog. It can be treated, but it’s not pretty.

How Much Does A Short Haired German Shepherd Dog Cost?

Price-wise, short-haired purebred short haired German Shepherds are more sought after compared to their long haired brethren, with their price ranging anywhere from 850-ish dollars all the way up to $4000 with $2000-$2500 being somewhat of a middleground.

It honestly depends on where you get him. Rescues will have a GSD for a lot less than a reputable breeder would, costing you a fraction of the standard price, ranging around $300-$400, give or take a few bucks.

I’d highly recommend getting a rescue one if you can, purely to help a poor guy out as I’m sure he’ll be twice as loyal as any other GSD you can buy simply for getting him back out into the world.

Though, reputable breeders should always be the go to since they’ll guarantee quality pups.

Avoid puppy mills and any other shady breeders even if their prices seem like a steal. They breed pups through severely unethical means and shouldn’t be supported in any way, shape or form.

The Long Haired German Shepherd

Long Haired German Shepherd sitting on grass

But what about the long haired GSD? Well, you’ll find that they share a lot of the traits of their short haired counterparts like size, behavioral patterns to a degree and a similar lifespan.

However, they do have their differences too, with the main difference being the obviously longer hair.

Long haired GSDs also lack an undercoat, but they’ll still require frequent brushing.

A long haired GSD’s fur will also be more prone to matting given its smoother, silkier texture so make sure you get him equipped with some proper brushes and shampoos to help deal with that.

Compared to the short haired counterpart, you’ll need to brush this one a bit more often, around 3 times a week, maybe more during shedding seasons even though it doesn’t make much of a difference for them.

It’s mandatory if you want his fur looking nice, clean and shiny and one would assume you went for the long-haired option with the aesthetics being one of the main reasons.

Brushing often helps remove the clumps of fur and matting that will occur regardless of what you do.

Regardless of their hair length, German Shepherd shedding is as notorious as ever.

How Big Do They Get?

As mentioned earlier there’s very little difference in height between the two GSD variants, both reaching around 24-26 inches, though the long haired German Shepherd may seem bigger given his fur length, but that’s only visual.

Their weight also comes up at around a similar range with the long haired GSD starting off at around 65 to 69 pounds, give or take a few depending on dietary choices and various health problems and going up to 90 pounds.

The one thing that you will be giving up on when going for a long-haired German Shepherd is participating in any AKC registered dog shows for purebred German Shepherds as they’re not considered up to breed standard.

This isn’t due to their fur length, but the fur’s texture being a lot smoother than that of the standard short-hair.

Is it a silly rule? Yes, but it’s a rule you have to play by if you want your dog to compete in AKC approved dog shows.

The lack of an undercoat also makes long-haired GSDs more prone to colder weather and other hazardous weather conditions hence why breeders tend to practically give them away as they value the short-hairs more.

They share the same coat colors too of black and tan, pure black, sable, gray and red.

What About Their Temperament And Overall Behavior?

While again, mostly similar in their behavior patterns, the long haired German Shepherd is a bit more social than their short haired counterpart.

This is because they weren’t made to be working dogs given the lack of an undercoat and were bred for aesthetic reasons.

This allowed them to garner more attention and, in time, made them more relaxed and friendly around humans, even strangers that they’d be eager to meet which makes them great family dogs.

This act also helped make the long haired GSD even more loyal to their owner than a short haired one would be, but both are still rather impressive.

Of course, this increased desire to please his owner also means that their separation anxiety is even stronger when neither you or any members of the family are around.

Leaving him alone is never a good idea, much like any dog, but you can curb their separation anxiety as well as any potential destructive behavior by finding them something to occupy their time with.

Training helps a little, but it doesn’t get rid of the problem given the dog’s perception of time being different to ours.

However, a simple toy can help abate the anxiety for a while, especially a puzzle toy that can keep your dog occupied for hours on end.

Aside from that, a good chew toy always helps as does their favorite cuddly friend, if they have a toy like that.

It’s always good to give them a lot of options to choose from so they don’t get bored, though do try to not leave him alone for long too often, dogs need a lot of love too after all.

It’s better to wait until you have a more clear schedule or have someone who’ll be around when you’re not so he doesn’t get too lonely.

They are, however, pretty easy to train because of their openness to others and make for some of the best family pets out there.

They still possess the standard characteristics of a German Shepherd aside from their loyalty like their bravery and confidence on top of being a smart, limber and powerful doggo.

What About The Long Haired German Shepherd’s Endurance?

Long Haired German Shepherd sitting outside

In terms of stamina, the long haired German Shepherd is on par with the short haired version as long as he’s not put in cold weather given the lack of the undercoat, as mentioned earlier.

These good boys are more suited for warmer, temperate climates where there isn’t a lot of low temperatures, snow or rain.

They’ll need lots of active time doing physical activities on the daily. About 2 hours or so is considered the average, give or take a few minutes depending on the dog’s weight, so make sure you have that amount of free time to devote to your canine companion.

Otherwise, if paired up with long absences, I’m not sure that a dog is the right choice for you just yet given how big of a responsibility they are.

If you can, then all the better as it’ll help you get some of your daily exercise in too and keep you in tip top shape.

They love physical games most of all, be it playing fetch or tug of war, they’ll enjoy it as long as they can enjoy it together with company.

How Long Do They Live?

Like many large dogs, long haired GSDs don’t normally get the full 15 years and instead can live anywhere up to 9 to 13 depending on their health.

Similar to their short haired counterparts, albeit a bit shorter on average.

Once again, this is due to the many health problems which are common in a GSD, heart disease being one of the major ones.

While I don’t have my German Shepherd to share experiences about, a lot of the ones I knew of that belonged to friends have mostly succumbed to some heart problem.

Aside from those, deteriorating eye health is a common concern as is hip and elbow dysplasia, skin issues like eczema and bloat, too name a few.

While some are genetic and can’t be influenced by you, some can so be sure to visit the vet whenever you feel like something is off with your furry friend.

Of course, one inevitable problem is going to be their deteriorating bone and joint health, an issue that every large dog breed faces when they reach their senior years, doubly so the heavier they are.

How Much Does A Long Haired German Shepherd Dog Cost?

The one benefit of not being approved for dog shows by the AKC is that long haired GSDs are a lot cheaper than their short haired counterparts, coming in at anywhere from $500 to $2500 dollars depending on where you buy them from.

Reputable breeders will charge in the upper spectrum of that range while some of the more standard ones will only go up to around $1400 to $1600.

However, as I had mentioned prior, reputable breeders will usually be raising short haired GSDs as they bring them more profit and raising a long haired one ends up being a net loss if they have to take care of him.

That’s why they commonly place them in shelters where you can get them at a bargain compared to the others, ranging from $200 to $440-$460 depending on the shelter.

Some may even give them out for free because not many people often want them.

Long Haired German Shepherd Vs Short Haired German Shepherd Dogs: The Comparison

Now that we’ve gone through both German Shepherd variants, it’s time to compare them head to head in the various categories to see how well they square up against one another.

Behavior : The Long Haired Variant Wins

While controversial to a degree, the long haired GSDs are friendlier to others than their short haired counterparts which makes them less likely to attack someone innocent.

While the odds of that are already unlikely, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

They’re also somewhat easier to train than the short-haired variant, but all of these things are within a hair’s length of one another. Both are still good, but there has to be a winner.

Endurance: The Short Haired Variant Wins

This one has a clearer winner than the behavior category as the short haired GSD has an undercoat which makes him more resistant to the elements compared to its long haired counterpart who lacks said undercoat.

That’s why they make for better working dogs in professional fields.

Size: A Tie

Not much to be said here really, both variants can grow up to be about equal size with the long haired option being deceptively bigger only due to the length of its fur.

The only size difference you’ll find is between the male GSDs and the females, but that isn’t reliant on the recessive gene that affects fur length.

Required Attention: A Tie

Both dogs love being around people and enjoy physical exercise to an equal degree, so this one is a clear tie.

Lifespan: A Tie

While the long haired GSD has a slightly lower estimated lifespan, they can still live up to the same age and suffer from the exact same health issues as the short haired ones do, so this part is a tie as well.

The only thing that influences this is really just tied to their overall health and whether or not they were raised by a reputable breeder or a shadier source.

The Coat: Subjective Opinion

There’s no real advantage between coat types aside from the lack of undercoat which short haired GSDs have over their long haired counterparts.

If you take that out of the equation it mostly boils down to personal preference.

Grooming Needs: The Short Haired Variant Wins

While similar in grooming needs to a degree, the short haired variant only really needs attention around him during shedding seasons while the long haired one takes the same, if not greater amount of dedication year-round.

Longer haired German Shepherds also need slightly more frequent brushing with 2-3 times a week being the norm, not to mention having to fight longer hairs.

While this will give you more bonding time with your pooch, it’s ultimately more time-consuming.

The Breed Standard: The Short Haired Variant Wins

Given how long haired German Shepherd dogs aren’t approved by the AKC for entry into dog shows as they’re not considered the breed standard, it goes to the short haired variant by default.

If this is something you’re not really interested in anyway, then you don’t really have to consider this when you make your decision between the two.

Pricing: The Long Haired Variant Wins

The final measure is always the price tag and the long haired German Shepherd dog vastly beats the short haired one in this category specifically because it loses out in the previous one regarding breed standard.

You’ll find that the long haired GSDs are a lot cheaper than the short hairs and are a great budget option too for a little bit of extra work.

Long Haired German Shepherd Vs Short Haired German Shepherd Dogs: Who Wins?

Long Haired German Shepherd and Short Haired side by side

Sadly, there’s no clear winner. I know how much this sucks to see after such a long article, but ultimately, the two German Shepherd variants offer good things in different fields.

If we’re looking by categories alone, the short haired one wins by a mile as it’s better in a lot of aspects than the longer haired variant.

However, a lot of these wins are tied to specific niches like participating in dog shows which not every dog owner wants to do and using them as working dogs which, again, not every dog owner’s going to do.

That said, if you’re going to use them professionally, as police dogs, army dogs, rescue dogs, guard dogs in security and herding dogs, then they’re definitely better.

But, long haired varieties are a lot better for different reasons, price being one of the main ones as getting a long haired German Shepherd dog is going to cost you a lot less on average, around $1000 less if not more.

Being the ‘runt of the litter’, so to speak, without really having anything overly worse than the standard short hair variety, makes them undesirable for the show dog world, but any dog owner’s going to love them regardless.

And they’ll make for great household guard dogs who don’t really need to be out in harsh weather or other hazardous conditions.

So you can see why there’s this big disparity.

This is why I urge you to look through their characteristics and decide for yourself which one you think fits you and your household the best and choose accordingly.


Long Haired German Shepherd sitting in park

Do Long Haired German Shepherd Dogs Shed More Than The Short Haired Variety?

German Shepherd shedding takes up a lot of time, regardless of which variety you own, but it’s true that longer haired ones shed more often than the shorter haired variants.

The latter only sheds in different shedding seasons while the former sheds all year long and requires regular brushing.

This is why longer haired variants also make a bigger mess around the house as loose hair is often trapped within the fur and then gets stuck to furniture and carpets as they pass over them.

Do Both Variants Eat The Same Type Of Dog Food?

They do, which makes it a lot simpler in case you own one of each, but it’s also one less thing to worry about when thinking about their diets when you have to make a decision between the two.

Where Can I Get Dog Food For A German Shepherd?

The usual places of Amazon and Chewy should have plenty of options to choose from at respectable prices, so either go for one of them or go to your local supermarket to see if they have anything on hand.

Where Does One Get A German Shepherd Puppy?

Well, if you’re looking for a purebred GSD, your best bet would be various reputable German Shepherd breeders.

They’ll be more expensive than the alternatives, but are also ethical and do their job well.

The other option would be various rescues and pet adoption centers.

There you’ll be more likely to find long haired German Shepherd puppies than the short haired ones, but they’re good places to look regardless.

They’re also going to cost you a fraction of the price that a breeder would charge.

However, under no circumstances should you support puppy mills or any other unethical breeding programs as they don’t care about the pup’s health or the health of their mom, they just worry about making a profit.

In Conclusion

Long Haired German Shepherd and Short Haired photos

In the long haired German Shepherd vs short haired German Shepherd dog debate, there weren’t really that many differences that would make one variant superior to the other.

There were a few key differences like overall coat length and lack of an undercoat as well as pricing and dog show legibility, but none of them are really that impactful.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, whether or not you’re looking to get a service dog for a profession or a household family dog to protect you and your family members.

Even then, it’s really mostly up to aesthetic reasons and whether or not you prefer the look of a short haired variety as opposed to a long haired one.

Whatever the case, I’m sure you’ll be able to make the right decision and find your ideal canine companion. Until next time.


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