This pretty shepherd dog variant with the bushy hair and the faithful, friendly nature is extremely popular and in great demand as a family and companion dog. In general, the term long-haired or long haired German Shepherd Dog depicts a variant of the German Shepherd Dog that can also be seen as a separate breed.
With regard to the long-haired shepherd dog, you will also come across the term Old German Shepherd Dog. This is actually the correct translation of the German term “Altdeutscher Schäferhund” whereas the long-haired German Shepherd is a description of the appearance of such dog.
Long Haired German Shepherd vs. German Shepherd
Why is the long-haired German Shepherd distinguished from the German Shepherd, when the latter is actually only the long-haired variant of the German Shepherd? To understand this question, it is worth taking a look at the genesis of the shepherd dog, whose ancestors already lived in Germany in the 7th century.
The main task of these reliable and resilient dogs, which were both long-haired and short-haired, originally consisted of herding sheep. Due to their self-confident and watchful nature, the intelligent quadrupeds soon made a name for themselves as guard dogs.
Optically the long-coated German Shepherd is very similar to the classic German Shepherd. He shares with him the typically upright ears, the elongated, narrow snout, the attentive and watchful gaze, and the bushy, hanging tail. The different colors black-brown, black or wolf-grey as well as the medium to large height at withers between 60 to 65 cm for males and 55 to 60 cm for females are also identical. Obviously, the long-haired German Shepherd Dog differs only by its clearly longer hair from the normal GSD. Particularly bushy is the soft and not tight-fitting hair on legs, ears, and tail, where it forms long flags. Also the strong hair growth at the neck, the so-called “mane”, is a common characteristic.
Due to the long topcoat and the dense, very soft undercoat, the long-haired German Shepherd generally looks somewhat stronger than its close relative, the German Shepherd Dog. The actual weight is comparable with 28 to 32 kg for females and 33 to 40 kg for males.
Faithful, nervous and vigilant: The nature of the Old German Shepherd Dog is similar to that of the German Shepherd Dog. His reliability, his safe instincts, and high resilience make him just as suitable for use as a guard, protection and service dog as his famous brother. At the same time, he has a friendly and balanced character, which makes him very popular as a companion and family dog.
The long-haired Shepherd Dog shows its best side towards children. His good-natured temperament and alert nature make him a loving companion and reliable protector. In comparison to the GSD, the long-haired German Shepherds are generally considered a little calmer with an even higher stimulus threshold.
Nevertheless, shepherd dogs have pronounced instinctive behavior. Even if they are only slightly irritable and only intervene when the situation actually requires it, small children should not remain unattended with them – which, incidentally, applies to almost all larger dogs. In order for his good-natured, balanced character and his reliable and attentive manner to fully develop, the Old German Shepherd needs early socialization, consistent upbringing, and sufficient exercise and activity.
If you are interested in the Old German Shepherd as a family dog, you should bring along experience and know-how in the area of dog education, also much joy in movement, because the dogs are enthusiastic sportsmen. Common hikes, bicycle tours and regular participation in dog sports are ideal for the four-legged athlete and his family.
High Breeding vs. Performance Breeding
As with the short coated German Shepherd, two lines have also developed in the breeding of the long-haired German Shepherd: the show line (high breeding) and the performance line. They differ not only in their appearance but also in their nature. Dogs from high or beauty breeding (show line) usually have a comparatively more massive physique with a sloping back (“hatchback”). They are also considered calm, balanced and easy to handle – if you are looking for an adaptable family dog, a dog from this line is the best choice.
Anyone who plans to use his dogs as service and protection dogs should rather fall back on a puppy from the performance breeding. The usually somewhat lighter dogs have a pronounced waking, protective and herding instinct, are very resilient, extremely self-confident and willing to work. They belong only in the hands of experienced dog handlers, who socialize them with a lot of expertise and experience and train them according to their place of work, for example with police, customs or military.
Purchase of an Old German Shepherd Dog
The impressive appearance, paired with the awe-inspiring reputation of the shepherd, makes the friendly and compliant Old German Shepherd extremely popular with many dog lovers. Who is interested in such a companion and family dog, should be aware, however, that Old German Shepherd dogs are from their origin utility dogs. Even if you buy a puppy from a so-called beauty breed, it will still have a lot of activity and willingness to learn. With short walks around the block, a “real” long-haired German Shepherd will not be satisfied at all. Only when you are aware of this and can ensure that you and your family meet the husbandry requirements should you start looking for a suitable breeder.
Which Breeder Suits Me?
Since most breeders are specialized in either performance or beauty breeding and accordingly promote different characteristics in your breeding animals, you should first be clear for what purpose you want to purchase the shepherd dog. Find out in advance whether the breeder has a high breeding or a pure performance breeding and choose the breeder that best suits your ideas and requirements.
A pedigree certifying that the puppy is descended from healthy long-haired or Old German Shepherd dog parents as well as a certificate of recommended health tests and vaccinations should definitely be available.
How to Recognize a Serious Breeder
In addition to the “formalities” mentioned above, the personal relationship to the breeder should also be right. A good breeder should not only be a salesman, but also an expert and contact person in all questions concerning keeping, education, nutrition, and care. To make sure that you have found the right breeder, you should pay attention to the following points:
1. The breeder invites you to his home and willingly shows you the kennel and the maternal dog.
2. The breeder is a member of a dog club and is networked with other German Shepherd Dog breeders. He has a broad knowledge and a lot of experience with the breed.
3. The breeding animals were sufficiently examined before their employment (particularly on joint problems). The puppies have a pedigree.
4. Puppies are only delivered between the 8th and 10th week of life. The breeder has already had the first health checks and necessary vaccinations carried out before the delivery.
5. The breeder inquires exactly about your life circumstances in order to find out whether you are a suitable owner of a long haired German Shepherd Dog.
6. The breeder demands a reasonable price for his puppies (normally around 1000 Dollar, but it can vary).
Health, Care & Breed Typical Diseases
Whether long stick hair or old German shepherd dog, whether performance or beauty breeding – the focus of every breeder should be the health of his dogs. Particular attention should be paid to the following diseases and complaints, which are often associated with the breed of the German Shepherd Dog:
– Hip joint dysplasia (HD)
– Elbow Dysplasia (ED)
– degenerative “lumbosacral stenosis” (DLSS) or “cauda-equina syndrome” (signs of paralysis)
– eye diseases
What you should keep in mind when caring for your long haired German Shepherd dog
Serious breeding with comprehensive health examinations of the dogs used for breeding is enormously important for the exclusion of these dog diseases. In order for the Old German Shepherd to feel good all around for the rest of his life, he also needs appropriate care, a healthy diet, and appropriate keeping.
Naturally the care of the long hair is somewhat more complex than that of the short hair, however, you should not overdo it with the brushing since thereby important undercoat is pulled out. If your dog is not currently changing coat, it is also sufficient to go through the coat once or twice a week with a suitable comb. For a healthy coat structure, you should also avoid bathing too often and pay attention to a balanced diet.
The care of your four-legged friend also includes regular cleaning and checking of ears, eyes, and paws as well as shortening of the claws.
How do I Feed my Shepherd?
Old German shepherd dogs tend to have joint problems just like the regular GSD. These are usually hereditary and are additionally promoted by excessive strain and an incorrect diet during the growth phase. Avoid a diet that is too rich in energy and contains too much fat in the first few months. As a rule, your breeder will give you a precise feeding recommendation that you should follow.
We recommend a special puppy food that is optimally tailored to the needs of your young Old German Shepherd dog. You should also always have these needs in mind when feeding your adult dog. A healthy food, therefore, takes into account the size, weight, age, state of health and degree of activity of the respective dog.
Regardless of whether you prepare your pet’s feed yourself or use conventional dry or wet feed, you should ensure that the feed contains as much high-quality meat as possible and is supplemented with vegetables, fruit, rice or noodles and enriched with valuable fats. On the other hand, high grain content should be avoided due to the increased risk of allergies.
Dog Sports and Training
As the owner of an Old German Shepherd dog, not only the health of your dog is important to you, but also his satisfaction. In addition to proper care and nutrition, a species-appropriate keeping with sufficient physical and mental activity is an absolute prerequisite. Even if you keep your old German shepherd dog as a family dog, the former herding dog would like to be “used”. In addition to long walks and common bicycle tours, you should therefore also strive for a species-appropriate occupation of your dog, which is eager to move and earn.
Whether Agility, Dog Dance, Obedience, Mantrailing or track work – thanks to its versatility the Old German Shepherd is to be excited about almost all dog sports. Family dogs can also complete training as rescue dogs, guard dogs or in performance herding. This way, your dog will present himself calmer and more balanced at home. So you will be rewarded with an extremely friendly, adaptable and resilient family dog.