Types of German Shepherd Dogs
What is "Stacking"?
As a versatile utility dog, the German Shepherd Dog breed has several different "types" that have their own origin, history and unique traits. These different types, although all of them are still German Shepherd dogs, can be better suited for different purposes and roles. Each type is valued and respected for what it brings to the breed.
As you consider getting a German Shepherd, really consider just what it is you are looking for in a dog. If you are looking for a family pet and you are not really active, you may not want to purchase a working line dog, as they are higher in energy and really need to be kept busy. Research each type, it will give you a better idea of just what you are really looking to have in a German Shepherd Dog and it will possibly save you some frustration and heartache in the future.
The Different Types:
American show lines
West German show lines
West German working lines
DDR / East German working lines
Czech working lines
All of these types of German Shepherd dogs within the breed are unique for a variety of reasons. Physical appearance, drives, temperament and purpose varies among the lines, but they are all still German Shepherd Dogs.
WEST GERMAN SHOW LINES
The most popular type of GSD in Germany, the West German show lines are bred to conform to the SV standard which also requires the dog to gain health clearances for hips and elbows and a working title (often herding or IPO) along with their show title prior to being bred. The "look" of this type is very specific and typically very uniform, with the most common coat being a deep red with a black saddle back. These dogs are suited to being both a wonderful family pet or a working dog. They are more laid back than the working lines, but are still well able to perform in many different arenas. And being a German Shepherd, they will protect their family if need be, don't let their calmer demeaner fool you! This is a photo of our stud Axl who is a West German Show Line bred dog.
AMERICAN / CANADIAN SHOW LINES
Popular in North America since the 1970's, the American and Canadian show lines dominate the national kennel clubs and are intended to conform strictly to the standards set by each of the governing kennel clubs. Conformation and the side gait is what this type is passionately bred for. These dogs are very well suited for being family pets, they, like the West German Showlines are more laid back than the working lines with very nice temperaments. But again, they can rise to the occasion of protection if they feel their family is being threatened. They also have lighter coat colors than the German Show line dogs, mainly black and tan instead of the deeper red. This photo is of our retired stud Adi who is an American/Canadian Show Line bred dog with some German show line influence as well.
WEST GERMAN WORKING LINES
The dogs of West German working blood are often said to be the closest of all types to the original dogs produced under Max von Stephanitz. Focus is given to correct working structure, solid temperament and especially to correct, strong working drives and ability. West German working line German Shepherds excel in many different sports, working jobs in many different avenues such as police and military jobs and they also work well as service dogs. Like every German Shepherd should, they make wonderful active family pets. Emphasis on the word "active" as these dogs need to be kept busy. This is a female we own but do not breed, Nika is very high drive with a high prey drive and wants to be active and busy though she settles well when she comes in the house.
DDR / EAST GERMAN WORKING LINES
Developed after World War 2 from the remaining war dogs, the DDR / East German dogs were maintained strictly by the government of East Germany. Rigid control of the original DDR bloodlines resulted in a very distinct look. Best known for their correct working structure, they have large heads, are large boned and have dark sable pigment. The DDR bloodlines are also known for being very sound dogs, though working drives can vary. Older DDR bloodlines are valued for their strong genetics and temperament. This photo was taken from the internet, we do not own or breed any DDR line dogs.
CZECH WORKING LINES
Originating in the country of communist Czechoslovakia and built upon a foundation of working dogs used mainly for border patrol work, the Czech bloodlines are mainly dogs who have a foundation of both border patrol and Czech military working dogs. Unique to this type, the original breeding of Czech dogs revolved around the Czechoslovakian Army’s Pohranicni Straze kennel. Some of the Czech bloodlines can tend to be intense as well as also being agile working dogs. This photo was also taken from the internet, we do not own or breed any Czech working lines.
What is "Stacking" a dog?
Along with these images of types, I've included images of stacking a dog. Which is just a term used in the dog show business of how you have your dog stand for photos and during a competition. I'm sure you've noticed that the dogs in the photos above are standing differently, giving each of them a very different look.
As you can see, how you place your dog's feet can make a tremendous change in how they look. All of these photos below are of the exact same dog, but with just a slight change in foot position it can make it look like a totally different animal.
So, the old adage, 'don't judge a book by its cover' can truly apply here. Just because a photo makes a dog look a certain way doesn't mean that the dog has issues, mainly in the back. There are those who were breeding for very roached, or "humped" backs which were not good and causing health issues in the dogs. Extremes in anything is usually not good, but as you look at these pictures, you can come to realize that you can't always trust your eye. Which is why judges in dog shows touch the dogs to feel the "real" dog under that hair.