The German Shepherd is one of the most widely recognised dogs in the world. Thanks to a rich history and a large cultural impact in various global societies, they are one of the most respected dog breeds. This is partly due to their intelligence, compatibility with humans and usefulness as a working dog. There are only two officially recognised German Shepherd dog breeds, but there are many ways you can differentiate the breed. Here we look into the different types of German Shepherd dog to see what breed variations exist, some of which may become officially recognized in the future.
Characteristics of the German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd Dog ( or GSD) is the current officially recognised name for this breed, previously known as 'Alsation' or 'Alsation Wolf Dog'.
The two distinct types are defined by the length of their coat; either medium or long. Both types have a double layered coat, a softer and thicker undercoat and a coarser outer layer of guard hair.
As their name suggests, the German Shepherd was first produced in Germany. While there were different progenitor breeds, the first officially recognised German Shepherd Dog was called Horand von Grafrath. In 1899, von Grafrath's owner started the breed as the epitome of what a working dog should be and it is from this one dog that all modern German Shepherd dogs originate. There has been some discussion over the years that this dog may have been part wolf.
The working origins of the breed are very important as the standardisation was established to promote the dog's ability. This was something which was becoming lost as industry and urbanisation began to reduce the need for working dogs. Thus, the German Shepherd was created to ensure these traits were maintained. While many GSDs are now kept as companion animals, they are still one of the most widely used working dogs in many different areas. Shepherding is not as common a practice as when the breed was established, but use in law enforcement, security and rescue operations is still widespread.
It wasn't just physical ability which made the German Shepherd breed so popular. Their incredible loyalty and desire for engagement means they are relatively easy to train. For the same reasons, they need to be well-socialised and given sufficient physical and mental stimulation. Without these practices, they can develop serious behavioral problems.
How many classes of German Shepherd are there?
While the medium and longhair varieties are the only recognised length of coat for German Shepherds, the color of said coat can be varied. Not all are allowed in competitions, with some color variations being considered to be faults and will affect their scoring. In terms of coat color, there are the following different types of German Shepherd:
Saddle coat (black & tan), Sable, Panda, White, Blue, Black, Liver
It should be noted however that not all varieties of German Shepherd are accepted by all breed associations such as the FCI (known as the World Canine Organization in English). Similarly, there are dogs which look very similar to the German Shepherd, but are not considered part of the breed, Such as Belgian Malinois, Dutch Herder and Czech Wolf Dog.
Saddle Back German Shepherd Dog
This type of German Shepherd is the most common variety. While they are usually of two color, it is the distinctiveness of their markings which gives them this name. The saddle part refers to a patch of black fur which lays over their back, resembling the shape of a saddle on a horse. Some people refer to this as a ‘blanket’ pattern, interpreting the shape as of a blanket were laid over their back.
The other color of Saddle Back German Shepherds are usually either tan or red. In many dogs shows and competitions, the more vibrant the color, the better the scoring. Liver color is not welcomed and may be used to deduct points. They usually also have a black muzzle which covers their snout and parts of their face, with some other areas such as their tail exhibiting black coloration.
Solid Color German Shepherd Dog
The solid color German Shepherd dog is less common than the Saddle Back, but they shouldn't have any other differentiating characteristics. Their health status and temperament should not be informed by color. It is possible to have powder blue colors in the dog's coat, but it is unlikely this will be solid. While a GSD may be accepted in competition, they will likely be marked down for this color or liver. However, for solid colors, you tend to only get solid black , white or blue German Shepherds. Solid black German Shepherds are accepted in competition. However, solid white German Shepherds are one of the few color variations which tend to be immediately disqualified. While black GSDs are due to a recessive gene, white GSDs are thanks to a dominant gene which exists in some litters. It should not be confused with albinism. Neither should it be confused with the Berger Blanc Suisse, also known as a White Swiss Shepherd. Perhaps partly due to their disqualification from competition, solid white Germans Shepherds are not very common.
Panda German Shepherd Dog
Another type of German Shepherd which is not very common is the Panda German Shepherd. They have a curious and striking appearance which is often confused with other dog breeds. Due to a genetic mutation, but they are a full German Shepherd and are not a mixed breed. The mutation occurred in a litter from the USA. This type of German Shepherd exhibits a white coat on the abdomen and legs, but has black or tan on other parts, giving them a sort of panda like appearance.
Like other German Shepherd Dogs, they are agile, strong and ideal family pets. However, they arouse controversy over some breeders as white markings are considered a fault. However, the main controversy appears to be the belief that the dog is from inferior stock, but so far their health seems to be average when compared to other GSDs.
Sable German Shepherd
The technical term for Sable German Shepherds is ‘agouti’. The sable pattern does not manifest in patches like the saddle back. Instead they have various multicolored hair over their bodies which gives a variegated all-over appearance. This color tends to develop as they get older and some may be stronger than others. The color may be a combination of tan, grey, black, or gold. However, all Sable GSDs start off as tan and then develop darker colors as they age. The variations among Sable GSDs are wide, but they are due to a dominant gene. They are believed to be dominiant over German Shepherd colors and variations.
German Shepherds - Working and Show Lines
In addition to the length of their coat and its coloring, the German Shepherd is also sometimes categorised by its body type. This body can be more or less stylised, tending to be more or less muscular. The more muscular they are, the dogs are considered to be working lines and the less muscular are show lines. They are not officially different types of German Shepherd dogs, but they do exhibit small differences.
Focusing on working dog lines, they tend to have larger muscle mass and a more structured body. This means they are more commonly used by police or security forces. However, there is sometimes noticeable difference in temperament, working lines tend to become easily bored if not worked and exercised often enough both mentally and physically and show dog lines tend to be less stressy and are wonderful companion animals. They can have long or short hair, but more often than not working line German Shepherds most commonly appear in shorter sable coat patterns.
In contrast, all German Shepherds are lovable and loyal. However their appearance, temperament, energy levels, and activity can vary greatly. Sometimes the breed lines cross making it difficult to distinguish working and show lines, and true temperaments may only show at a later age. Researching the breed and looking into each side and their differences can affect your choice when looking for a German Shepherd.
We currently (at the time of writing) have 7 German Shepherds, 1 Czech Working Line (VUX), 1 Solid Black (KENSI), 1 Mid Coat Solid Blue (SKYLAR), 1 Mid Coat Show Line Black & Gold (RILEY), 2 Black & Tan short coat (ABBIE & ZEVA) and 1 Black & Tan long coat oversize (LEON) not one of them is the same as the other. Their energy levels and temperament vary dramatically.
If you wish to meet any of them just ask! You will straight away see the differences between the lines and colours.
Hopefully this little insight to German Shepherds has opened your eyes to just how versatile and vast the 'breed' really is and hopefully also shows how we are able to help our potential adopters when looking for their potential new companion. We dont just know about the breed we actually have vast experience of the breed, breed lines and classes.
ABOUT THE BREED
HOW WE ADOPT
Appointments are required to meet our dogs at our rescue centre and are by prior arrangement only.
Due to our site layout and the stress caused to the dogs when visitors walk past, our kennels are not open to the public for general viewing. An online Adoption Interest Form should be completed in the first instance. Our unique adoption process at LUOSKO German Shepherd Dog Rescue ensures that the right dog is matched to the right home.
All rescue centres have their own adoption protocols and procedures and we are no different, however we regularly hear that potentially good homes have been rejected by other rescues for some reason or another. Here at LUOSKO, we use the guidelines of Common Sense. Each home is assessed on its own merits and all potential adopters are considered regardless of young children or circumstances. Each dog will have its own specific requirements for a new home and this will be detailed in their adoption information or at your meeting with us.
Our main aim is and always will be to find the “perfect” home for one of the dogs in our care, our dogs are important to us and we want to ensure that we make the best decisions on their behalf.
We try to match our dogs to their potential homes, ok so this means you don’t get to choose your new dog; however after spending time with our dogs we know them best! and trust us, our team do some fantastic matches - just ask to see some of our past adoptions, at this point It’s down to you to tell us what your life entails so we can make an informed decision to which of our dogs will fit in better and match your lifestyle. We have a rather unique 7point adoption process which helps our dogs and families bond before adoption, which gives us an even better insight to the right matches. This has proven to be a very successful way of running our adoptions with very little failure rate.
If your after a quick adoption then our rescue is not for you, however if you believe that ensuring your home, lifestyle and your potential new best friend should be a perfect match, no matter how long it takes then read on!
How do I apply to adopt a dog?
Firstly take a look at the dogs we have available here. Each dog has its own record, with photos and information on the type of home they are looking for; please ensure that you read this information carefully before submitting an application. Most of the dogs will be at the rescue centre, but some will be in foster homes or commercial boarding kennels. Once you have completed an online application form a member of our welfare and adoption team will ring you for a chat. If we think you are a good match for one of our rescue dogs, we will make an appointment for you to come and meet the suitable matched dogs at our rescue centre in Cheadle, Staffordshire.
Are the dogs neutered and vaccinated?
All of our dogs are neutered (if over 2years), vaccinated, flea treated, wormed and microchipped prior to adoption. If the dog is under 2 years old, the adopter will be asked to sign a neutering contract and a subsidised neutering voucher can be provided in some cases. Our dogs also go home with four weeks' free insurance.
Do you have a minimum age requirement for children?
We do not have age restrictions for dogs being adopted where there are children in the family. Each dog will have its own requirements for the ages of children.
My existing dog is not neutered, is this a problem?
We do not allow our dogs to go to homes with existing dogs that are not neutered unless this is for medical or behavioural reasons - if in doubt please enquire first. All LUOSKO German Shepherd Dog Rescue dogs are neutered if over 2 years old. We believe neutering is a key aspect of responsible dog ownership. We are also mindful that having an entire dog in the house could mean settling a new dog in and building their own canine relationships can be more difficult.
Can I adopt a dog if I work?
We will allow certain dogs to be adopted by full-time workers where specified in their adoption information. However, you must make arrangements for someone to visit during the day, e.g a dog walker/sitter. If the dog has been in a foster home it means that we do have an idea how each dog reacts to being left for certain periods of time. Please let us know what your "typical" day is like so we can try and match the right dog with your needs.
Do you allow dogs to be adopted for working purposes?
We do allow some of our our dogs to be adopted into working homes. We have official contacts with organisations such as Police and HMP services. If you are looking for a security patrol dog please speak with us to discuss as we only use one trusted outlet for NASDU qualifications and handlers.
How much is your adoption fee?
We ask for a minimum adoption fee of £350 per dog. This is an important contribution towards our general running costs and in some cases, may not even cover the cost of care that the dog has received from us.
Do I need to take my adopted dog to training classes?
We strongly encourage our adopters to treat our dogs as puppies no matter how old, so yes we recommend attending positive and reward-based training classes, especially for younger dogs.
We can assist with any appropriate training if required, however you are free to use alternative trainers.
OUR 7 POINT ADOPTION PROCESS
Once you have applied to adopt one of our beautiful dogs, you will be invited to have an initial meeting with us, during the meeting we will run through your application and in turn discuss what dogs suit your home and lifestyle. If you live in rented premises your application cannot move forward unless we have a letter giving permission from your landlord to have a dog in your home.
At your initial meeting you will get to meet our personal dogs so that we can assess your suitability and discuss with you what we feel would be the best variant, hopefully you will also get to meet some of the rescues that would be good matches or potential dogs for you to consider, you will be able to take them for a walk or play in our secure area with a member of our team to give you an insite to how they behave around you and your family, if we find you have multiple matches this will be your chance to choose the best one for you.
If we manage to find you a match with one of our dogs on site, we will get you started with our 7 point adoption process, if we do not have a match we shall endeavour to keep looking for you and get back in touch when we think we have the perfect candidate.
7 Point Adoption Process - Helping to create a true family bond
1. Home Check & Reservation: This stage can be requested at any time.
We now operate a less intrusive initial home check system, however we may still require a personal visit in some cases. To reserve your new friend and authorise your home check there is a £50 deposit. If for any reason you fail your home check or you decide not to continue with the adoption process your £50 will be converted into a donation to our general rescue fund. If everything goes ok and you continue to your final adoption £25 will be kept as a deposit towards the adoption fee and £25 will be charged as an admin fee, which goes to help with thinks like food and medical bills for the other dogs.
2. 1st Stage Meet & Greet
This is YOUR time. Come and play with your new friend in our secure area with little or no intervention from our team (as many times and whatever times you choose) this is to strengthen the bond between dog and potential family.
3. 2nd Stage Meet & Greet
By now you should feel some real chemistry! So it's time to get you out in public! Now is your chance to start going for walks, local or even a little further afield if you want to check out how your new friend is in the car.
However no home visits at this stage, even if we have home checks in place.
4. First Visit Home
Once you have a successful home check, and we are all happy that things are heading in the right direction we advise taking your new friend out for the day doing something fun and “popping” home initially for no more than an hour – Just go home, show your new friend the toilet areas and let them have a quick look around, while you have a cuppa! This is to reduce the anxiety that new places can cause, Go out for a walk to help lower their stress levels and return home and relax for the rest of the day.
5. Day outing
After the initial introduction to your home you can now go home for the day to see how you all get a long, you can repeat this stage several times if required or move on to a sleepover if we think everything is on target.
Now for the big one! Let’s see how everybody holds up with a full day and a night, this is normally the point of which we all know the answer before anyone says anything, sleepovers are a good time to set boundaries for both the new dog in question, children and adults alike. Don’t forget the team are at the end of the phone should you need any help during this time.
7. Suitability Meeting / Adoption
The day we have all been working towards! If you get this far then congratulations are in order, happy gotcha day to your new friend and welcome to the LUOSKO family. Once paperwork is signed, you will be issued with your adoption certificate, a quick photo or two, probably a few tears here and there but then it’s over to you as the new proud family!
Unless dogs come in to our rescue as a bonded pair we DO NOT rehome more than one dog to the same home unless we have done an assessment at least 12months after the first adoption. All our dogs leave us microchipped, vaccinated, flead & wormed and where possible neutered/spayed as well as 4 weeks free insurance and a welcome home pack.
If a dog has come in to us with no vaccination record it will be necessary to start the course from scratch. This involves an initial vaccination followed by a second vaccination 2-4 weeks later. This does mean you may need to return to our vets for the second vaccination if adoption occurs in the middle of the vaccination course.
We try to neuter all male dogs in our care as a matter of course providing they are at least 3yrs old (unless medically not viable) but with females it is not always possible as we may not know their season history (it is safest to spay a bitch mid way between seasons and preferably after 3yrs old), however all intact males and females leave with a strict spay/neutering agreement – failure to keep to this agreement shall render the adoption void and we will recover possession of the dog if you are unable to stick to the agreement and provide proof if required.
Please note that if a dog leaves with a spay/neuter agreement in place you may be responsible for any costs incurred.
READY TO START YOUR JOURNEY?
Ready to start your rehoming journey?
GREAT! firstly you will need to register on our site, once submitted it can take up to 7 days to be authorised, but once you get a message saying you have been accepted you can come back and complete the Pre-Adoption form.
Once your form has been submitted it can take up to 72hrs before one of our team gets the chance to look over it, before forwarding it to our rehoming coordinator who should be back in touch within 4 weeks.
Please note that we run entirely on volunteers and as such most of them have normal day to day jobs which means that sometimes it can take longer than average to get back to you, but rest assured that once your application has been submitted you will be contacted as soon as we can get around to you.
Please feel free to chase up your application by phone or email but please leave at least 4 weeks between any enquiries.