The long haired German Shepherd is a popular herding dog hailing from Germany. A working breed at heart, this dog has made a name for himself as a beautiful and popular family companion.
And while many of us adore the long haired German Shepherd for his stunning beauty and impeccable temperament, there is so much many of us don’t know about this dynamic dog.
Are you curious to learn more about the long haired German Shepherd and what sets him apart from his classic, short-haired counterpart? Then this is the article for you.
Meet The Long Haired German Shepherd
The long haired German Shepherd is not an official coat type of the GSD breed.
Height: 22 to 26 Inches
Weight: 50 to 90 Pounds
Coat Colors: Black, Red and Black, White, Black and Tan, Sable, Black and Silver, Grey
Coat Type: Long, Single Layered Coat, Shedding
Temperament: Loyal, Intelligent, Affectionate, People-Oriented, Athletic
Best Suited For: Experienced Dog Owners
Lifespan: 10 to 13 Years
Health Issues: Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Epilepsy, Bloat, Hemophilia, Cataracts, Diabetes,Degenerative Disc Disease, Cancer, Urinary Tract Infections, Dental Disease, Bladder Stones, Thyroid Problems, Allergies, Panosteitis, Allergies, Pancreatitis and Nose Infections
Clubs That Recognize The Long Haired German Shepherd: None
Overview of the Long Haired German Shepherd:
The classic German Shepherd, also known as the GSD (German Shepherd Dog), is considered one of the most popular purebred dogs in the United States. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, German Shepherds are the second most popular dog in America, sitting just behind the ever famous Labrador Retriever.
Beloved for their intelligence, eager-to-please nature, and stunning beauty, German Shepherds serve not only as incredible family companion dogs, but also perform a variety of service work including military work, police work, therapy dogs and more.
But what about the long haired German Shepherd makes him so unique? While most of his characteristics, temperamental traits and health issues align with the classic, short haired German Shepherd, the long haired German Shepherd does have a few differences you should be aware of.
With that noted, let’s take this time to cover 12 things you should know about the long-haired German Shepherd.
1. Long Haired German Shepherds Are Not Recognized By Most Major Breed Clubs
Though beautiful and popular, the long haired German Shepherd coat is considered a genetic defect.
The long haired German Shepherd’s luscious locks may be beautiful, but this characteristic is actually considered a breed defect, which makes the long haired German Shepherd ineligible for show or competition.
While long haired German Shepherds can be born into a litter with short haired German Shepherd siblings, the long haired pup will be considered a defective coat type, oftentimes leading him to be sold for cheaper.
This is because the long haired German Shepherd is not considered an official type of German Shepherd, and is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, nor is the coat considered part of the breed standard.
Still, this hasn’t stopped the long haired German Shepherd from growing in popularity and making a name for himself amongst families, dog lovers and even working professionals alike. In spite of his longer “defective” coat, the long haired German Shepherd is still one of America’s most popular dogs.
He is a top choice for families and works proudly as a service dog, military dog, police dog, and therapy dog for those in need.
Furthermore, there are hardly many differences between the long haired German Shepherd and the classic German Shepherd, outside of coat type. This means that temperament, exercise, health issues, and lifespan are all relatively identical.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. Let’s learn more.
2. Long Haired German Shepherds Do Not Have Double Coats, Though They Do Shed Heavily
These dogs shed heavily year-round and may not be ideal for allergy sufferers.
Perhaps one of the more interesting facts about the long haired German Shepherd, and the most prominent trait that sets this dog apart from the classic German Shepherd dog, is that the long haired GSD does not have a double coat.
The classic short haired German Shepherd, on the other hand, has a dense double coat with a wooly undercoat and a rough outer coat that is designed to help protect him from the elements.
Contrairly, the long haired German Shepherd has a silky coat that grows in one layer. This coat can grow to be over two inches long, and can shed heavily. This shedding means that the long haired German Shepherd may not be the ideal dog for those who suffer from allergies. He may also not be the best option for anyone that isn’t too fond of having lots of dog hair on clothing or furniture.
3. A Long Haired German Shepherd Puppy Can Be Born To Two Short Haired German Shepherd Parents
The long hair gene is a recessive gene, which means both parent dogs must carry it in order to pass it on to a puppy.
As we mentioned above, the long haired German Shepherd can often be born into a litter with short haired litter mates. In fact, this is a common occurrence. The long haired gene in German Shepherds is a recessive gene and any dog can carry it, even short haired GSDs.
This means that two short haired German Shepherd parents can produce a litter of puppies with both short and long coats, and even breeders who are careful to select a specific pedigree of parent dogs to breed can wind up with long-coated German Shepherd puppies.
However, because the long haired gene is a recessive gene, it means that both parent breeds must carry the long haired gene in order to pass it on to some of their pups.
Although the long haired gene in German Shepherds has been deemed a genetic defect, it luckily has no implication on a German Shepherd’s health, temperament, or lifespan. All it really means for you, as the owner, is that you won’t be able to show your dog in the future.
For many people looking for a companion dog, this is of no importance. However, if you are looking for a German Shepherd to register and show through the American Kennel Club, you will want to forgo a long haired German Shepherd and stick with a classic short haired German Shepherd bred with qualifying features.
4. Long Haired German Shepherds Require Lots of Training and Socialization
Like all dogs, long haired German Shepherds should be socialized and trained at an early age.
Just like the classic German Shepherd dog, the long haired German Shepherd is an intelligent, athletic, and work-oriented purebred. He hails from ancestors who were once used as intelligent and independent herding dogs, which means that the long haired German Shepherd is quite driven.
That said, and like all dogs, the long haired German Shepherd requires plenty of training and socialization. Without training and socialization, the long haired German Shepherd can become anxious, destructive, and even develop serious behavioral issues.
Because the long haired German Shepherd is so intelligent, he requires a hands-on owner that understands the history of working breeds. Long haired German Shepherds do best with positive reinforcement training techniques like treats and praise, which will not only help him better retain information, but also help strengthen the bond between him and his owner.
Training can begrim from the moment you bring your dog home and should continue on throughout his life. Just like with routine and proper training, your long haired German Shepherd should also be socialized at an early age.
This is especially true if you plan on having him around company, other dogs, children or strangers. Without proper socialization, a German Shepherd in general can become wary of strangers and be prone to behavioral issues that can lead to fear-based aggression.
Be sure to socialize your long haired German Shepherd as early as possible to help him build confidence in the world around him. Get him used to being handled and played with by strangers and children, and introduce him to other dogs.
5. The Long Haired German Shepherd Makes A Great Family Dog and Gets Along Well With Other Dogs When Raised Properly
When properly trained and socialized, German Shepherds in general make wonderful family companions.
As we just discussed, a long haired German Shepherd can make an incredible family dog, so long as he is properly raised and trained.
German Shepherds are known to get along well with children. They are playful, affectionate and protective of their families, which makes them excellent additions to homes of anyone looking for a guard dog or a dog that looks out for their family members.
Of course, it’s imperative that you not only train and socialize your German Shepherd at a young age to prepare him for proper behavior around youngsters, but it’s also important to teach children how to respectfully interact with the family dog.
Refrain from leaving young children alone with your German Shepherd, and work with age-appropriate children on how to understand basic canine body language.
6. A Long Haired German Shepherd Requires Plenty Of Exercise – So Be Prepared
As a breed, German Shepherds are energetic and athletic.
Just like classic German Shepherd dogs, the long haired German Shepherd is an energetic, athletic and intelligent purebred. He does best in homes with backyards where he can run and play freely, and an active owner who is able and willing to take him on long walks, hikes and adventures each and every day.
The best exercise for a long haired German Shepherd is going to be any exercise that is at least an hour or two a day. It can include swimming, jogging, hiking, long walks, or free play at a dog park.
Even though the long haired German Shepherd is not eligible to compete professionally based on his breed standard, he will still enjoy learning to play sports and partaking in agility courses and other activities that not only test his physical abilities but also challenge his mind.
Without the proper exercise, a long haired German Shepherd can become bored, depressed, anxious and destructive. So don’t slack on this essential routine each and every day.
7. Long Haired German Shepherds Can Be More Susceptible To Severe Weather Conditions Than Their Short-Coated Counterparts
Cold and heat can impact your long haired GSD differently, so keep an eye on him and know his needs.
For the most part, there is very little difference between the long haired German Shepherd and the short coated German Shepherd outside of physical appearance. However, one of the biggest differences due to their different coat types is their ability to withstand certain elements.
The short coated German Shepherd, with his wooly undercoat, is better equipped for outdoor play in both hot and cold weather conditions. Double coated dog breeds have a built-in insulation that keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
The long haired German Shepherd, on the other hand, has only a one layered coat. His fur is long and silky, and he doesn’t have that extra wooly undercoat to help protect him from the elements.
For this reason, a long haired German Shepherd can be more susceptible to certain health issues like heat stroke and hypothermia. When outside during more extreme weather, be sure that your long haired German Shepherd is equipped with the tools he needs, including access to fresh, cool water, a place to get out of the sun or cold, and clothing like dog sweaters or jackets when appropriate.
8. Grooming A Long Haired German Shepherd Requires More Work Than Grooming A Classic German Shepherd Dog
Grooming a long haired German Shepherd may take longer than grooming a short haired German Shepherd.
Since long haired German Shepherds don’t have a woolly undercoat, this leads many people to assume they shed less, produce less doggy dander and collect fewer debris in their coats, and are thus easier to groom.
The opposite is actually true. Long haired German Shepherd dogs actually shed a bit more, and experts point out that owners will likely notice much more hair coming out of their coats when brushing them.
Furthermore, long haired German Shepherds’ coats can grow to be longer than two inches and have a more silky texture than short coated German Shepherds, which makes them more prone to matting.
This means they should be brushed two to three times a week as opposed to the one time a week for their shorter coated counterparts.
You can help reduce shedding by ensuring your long haired German Shepherd is on a quality diet, as well as keeping up with routine grooming, brushing and bathing.
Using the right products is also going to be important in maintaining your long haired German Shepherd’s coat health.
Refrain from bathing your long haired German Shepherd more than once every few weeks. When you do bathe him, be sure to use a quality dog shampoo free of dyes, parabens, or chemicals that could strip his skin of the natural oils it produces.
Oatmeal Pet Wash
Because long haired German Shepherds can be so prone to skin and coat issues, we recommend an organic dog shampoo like the above Oatmeal Pet Wash. This dog shampoo is free of any additives, chemicals or ingredients that might exacerbate allergies.
It is also hydrating and helps soothe itchy skin and coats while alleviating allergies in your German Shepherd. Just remember to use this product as directed in order to get the best results.
Along with using the correct shampoo, brushing your German Shepherd regularly, and ensuring you keep up with a healthy bathing routine, experts also suggest that you brush the German Shepherd’s teeth once a day with a dog safe toothpaste and toothbrush.
It’s important to trim his nails regularly as well to keep them from cracking and splitting, and pay attention to his ears. Keep them clean and dry to keep build up or debris from leading to ear infections or odor.
9. The Long Haired German Shepherd Can Be Susceptible To Many Of The Same Health Issues As The Classic GSD
The long haired GSD is susceptible to the same health issues as his short coated counterpart.
Although the long haired German Shepherd’s coat is considered to be a genetic defect, the truth is that the health and lifespan of the long haired GSD is no different than that of the short haired German Shepherd dog, especially when you go through reputable sources when obtaining your dog in the first place.
On average, the long haired German Shepherd lives to be between 10 and 13 years. He can be susceptible to a number of health issues you should be aware of, including but not limited to:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Dental Disease
- Bladder Stones
- Thyroid Problems
- And Nose Infections
You can help combat potential health issues in your long haired German Shepherd by ensuring you not only keep him on a quality dog food specified for his age, weight and activity level, but that you keep up with a proper grooming schedule and ensure he visits his vet regularly for routine check ups.
Most veterinarians recommend that large breed dogs under the age of seven be seen at least once a year for a wellness exam. Dogs over the age of seven should be seen by their vet at least twice a year.
The long haired German Shepherd will also do well on joint supplements as he ages to help reduce potential bone and joint issues down the road. Some experts might also recommend that you have your dog health screened at an early age to give you a better idea of other health issues he may be susceptible to down the road.
10. Diet Plays An Important Role In Your Long Haired German Shepherd’s Health
You can help maintain your German Shepherd’s health by ensuring he’s on a quality diet.
As we’ve mentioned a few times now, diet plays an important role in a dog’s health and happiness. You are what you eat, afterall, and this rule applies to every creature. The long haired German Shepherd can be susceptible to any and all of the same health concerns as his short haired counterpart, which includes a few diet-related health issues like Bloat and allergies.
For this reason, we would recommend a limited ingredient diet dog food for your long haired German Shepherd that is specified for his age, weight and activity level. Look for a dog food that is free of any additives like corn, soy, wheat, gluton, animal byproducts, or other ingredients that could trigger allergies.
Foods that contain poultry can also exasperate allergies in dogs, so choose a dog food with real meat protein like beef, fish, lamb or bison.
One of our favorite dog foods for the long-haired German Shepherd is listed below.
Wellness Core Adult Dog Food
We like Wellness Core Adult Dog Food for long haired German Shepherds because it’s a limited ingredient diet free of poultry and other additives that can exacerbate allergies and coat issues.
This dog food also supports a healthy skin and coat, as well as immune health. Just remember that the dog food you choose for your long haired German Shepherd is best when it is specified for his age and weight.
11. Long Haired German Shepherd Dogs Are Highly Intelligent And Require Lots of Mental Stimulation
Because these dogs are so energetic and intelligent, they do best with experienced dog owners.
Just as exercise is important for the long haired German Shepherd, so is mental stimulation. Because this breed is so intelligent and work oriented, he can be prone to serious anxiety, stress, depression and even aggressive tendencies if his mental needs are not routinely met.
You can reduce these issues of this by teaching your long haired German Shepherd new tricks and cues often, and even teaching him how to help out with chores around the house. In fact, many owners work with their long haired German Shepherds to help sort the laundry, bring in the mail, and even load the dishwasher!
You can also include mental stimulation into daily exercise routines with your long haired German Shepherd, as well as invest in puzzle toys or KONG toys to help keep him busy while you’re away.
If you’re concerned about your long haired German Shepherd when it comes to training and mental stimulation, it’s never a bad idea to speak with a positive reinforcement trainer and get even more ideas on how to keep your German Shepherd stay happy, healthy, and mentally sound.
12. It’s Important To Go Through Reputable Sources To Obtain A Long Haired German Shepherd Puppy or Rescue Dog
Take time when looking for a long haired GSD to ensure you get the healthiest puppy or rescue possible.
Although the long haired German Shepherd is more rare than the short haired German Shepherd, he actually costs less to obtain through a breeder. This is due to the fact that his coat is considered a genetic flaw, which makes him ineligible for show or competitions.
On average, a long haired German Shepherd puppy costs around $500 to $1,000 when going through a breeder. If you choose to go through a rescue to adopt your long haired German Shepherd, the fee will be between $250 to $500.
There are pros and cons of going through both a breeder and a rescue to obtain any dog, so the most important thing you can do as a responsible pet parent is your research and choose the most reputable source you can.
Avoid backyard breeders, online sellers, or those just giving dogs away for nothing. Also avoid sellers who do not have a history or understanding of responsible breeding practices, or those who are selling long haired German Shepherd puppies for an astronomical price.
When you go through irresponsible sources to obtain a dog, you are putting yourself at risk of winding up with a sick puppy or a puppy that will grow up with serious behavioral issues. To avoid these sometimes devastating and costly problems, it’s best to choose a breeder or shelter you trust.
When Going Through A Breeder:
Most reputable breeders of long haired German Shepherds will be able to provide you with different types of paperwork proving their puppy’s pedigree as well as health certificates proving your puppy has been screened and cleared of any serious health issues.
When going through a breeder to get your long haired German Shepherd, you may also be able to meet the parent dogs, which can give you a good idea as to how big your dog will get and what he or she will look like, which is always a plus.
Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions and ask for advice, resources, and tips from reputable breeders. Also remember that reputable breeders will not sell puppies that are under seven weeks of age.
When Going Through A Rescue:
The German Shepherd dog in general is a popular dog, but he is also a high energy breed and requires lots of time, commitment, training and socialization in order to be raised correctly. Sadly, German Shepherds can easily become overwhelming for novice dog owners, which is why there are many shelters that specialize in this breed of dog, as they are commonly turned over or given up.
One of the benefits of rescuing a long haired German Shepherd is that you will be offering a dog in need a good and loving home.
Rescuing a dog is also often less expensive than going through a breeder, and if you rescue an adult long haired German Shepherd, you may also be saving yourself time and money when it comes to training, spaying or neutering, and even microchipping.
Many reputable shelters will also be able to provide you with a free initial vet exam and some of their dogs will have undergone behavioral testing before being placed for adoption.
Remember, the route you choose to take when obtaining your long haired German Shepherd is up to you. The important thing is that you’re here doing your research, which means you’re already on the right track.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on the long haired German Shepherd and that you have a good idea as to whether or not this is the right dog for you!
Tell us what you think about the long haired German Shepherd in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.