German Shepherd Types

East German DDR Dogs

The East German dog was a GSD bred specifically to work. Very high drive, heavier boned and shorter in stature with a straight backed appearance, this dog MUST have a job. Colors are typically sable, solid black and black and tan. They are the dog of choice for most police forces given their intense nature, and smaller stature makes them perfect for apprehending criminals and doing the difficult and exhausting tracking and scent work required.

They thrive on activity.

Their high prey drive and activity level make this a dog best suited to a very experienced handler or someone who has the time and resources to channel the boundless energy into productive activities. This is not a dog suited for the average pet owner and in the wrong hands can be a very destructive and even dangerous canine. We do not breed for this level of drive, but we do incorporate genetics from some of the best east German lines to preserve the extraordinary working ability of these lines.

West German lines

The West German dogs are divided into two categories, working and show.

In the show lines, emphasis was placed on the dogs looks more than its working ability and there developed a dog that was taller, leaner, with a roached backed appearance.

In the West German working lines, the dog was expected to maintain a high level of drive and ability similar to what was seen in the East German DDR lines.

These dogs are typically black and red, black and tan, and can be solid black and sable.

American show lines

The American show lines have been bred for one purpose only, and that is to look beautiful.

They have a heavily angulated rear, sloped back, and their gait is highly exaggerated.

Although they may look stunning trotting around the ring at a dog show, the effects of this body style are detrimental to the breed.

Old fashioned American lines

The Old fashioned, or farm style GSD was a movement created by breeders in the U.S. who desired a large calmer Shepherd suitable for living on the farms and in the homes of families. The Old fashioned style of GSD is often larger than the standard, has a straight back, calm enough to be with other pets and livestock without undue excitement, and gentle enough to be a great home and family companion. Colors can range from traditional black/tans, black/reds to solid blacks, solid whites, sables, and the more exotic blues, fawns and livers.

GSD Coat Length

The German Shepherd should have a thick double coat. The double coat is important in a working dog to ensure protection from the elements. The outer coat may be short, plush, or long. A short or tight coat is very short, laying close to the body. A plush coat is the desired coat type for conformation events, being fuller and thicker than a short coat. The long coat is much fuller than a plush, and is characterized by long tufts of fur around the dog’s ears, “trousers” on the hind legs, a very full tail, and longer hair over the entire body. The long coat is not allowed in AKC conformation events, but recently has started being permissible in Germany after decades of this coat style being disallowed. It is thought the long coats are important to help maintain the proper coat texture and fullness in the GSD breed.

Whatever your preference, all of these coat types must have present the soft downy undercoat, characteristic of a true double coated breed. Dogs without this undercoat have a serious breed fault and should not be used in breeding programs.



Coat Patterns

The GSD can exhibit several coat patterns which include saddle, bi-color, solid, and sable.

The saddle pattern is the most widely recognized and dominant color pattern. Here the dog has a darker saddle over the back, and usually black markings on the legs and tail.

The Bi-color has the darker color, all over the body so it appears almost completely black except for lighter color under the tail, on the toes, and facial markings.

The sable pattern is a type of pattern with darker and lighter hairs mixing to create a distinct wolf-like color all over the body.

The GSD can also be solid color, most commonly solid white or solid black.

White markings– It is common for the GSD to exhibit some white markings on the body, on the chest and toes usually, but never on the back or sides.



Colors of the GSD

The German Shepherd can surprisingly come in many different colors other than the classic Black/Tan most people are familiar with.

Black/Tan is the most common seen color in the GSD and the body is a shade of tan or light brown and the saddle or cape is black.

Black/Red– same as the black/tan but the tan is reddish or rust hued and darker.

Solid black or solid white, just as the name implies.

Sable– the dog can be a gray sable, red sable, tan sable, or black sable depending on the degree.



Degree and hue of color in the coat.

Exotic colors

The following colors are not common in the breed, but are cropping up more and more as their popularity grows with GSD enthusiasts and breeders.


Also called cremes, tans and even red sables, this coat color is basically a sable dog without the black pigment except on the face/muzzle. Commonly seen in the Great Dane and Belgian Malinois breeds and rare to find in the GSD breed.


A recessive dilution gene, this causes the ordinarily dark parts of the GSD body, i.e., the saddle, mask, cape, etc., to take on a dusty , faded appearance. can range from barely noticeable light dusting to pronounced grey/powder blue hues. Usually the eye color is also affected and is very blue for a long time gradually fading to amber or paler than the normal brown GSD eye.


This color also recessive, causes the black in the GSD coat to turn brown. Also affects eye color and nose leather.


This is a rare coat color caused when a liver dog inherits a second dilution gene, and the liver or chocolate color in the coat is turned to blue.


Coat/Colors Visual Display

All photos are of dogs owned or bred by Von Shap Haus.