Long Haired GSD vs. Short Hair

When looking for a great German Shepherd, you should familiarize yourself with the various coat types to determine what “great” means. An individual’s look is always a significant factor when seeking a puppy. Intruders are frightened away or children are pleased when they see a dog that looks nice. This starts with the length of German Shepherd hair.

A long-haired German Shepherd has a topcoat with hair that is longer than 2 inches. But a short-haired German Shepherd has hair that is shorter than 1 inch. The long-haired puppies are less suitable for dog competitions than the short-haired ones due to the fact that they lack an undercoat. Besides, short-haired dogs are more popular among the public.


  • Physical attributes


  • Acceptability


  • Temperament


  • Cost


  • Grooming needs


I have a section devoted on Long Haired Dog vs. Short Haired Dog: Is There a Difference? But, let’s begin by defining the distinctions.

Long Haired GSD vs. Short Hair:
Long Haired GSD vs. Short Hair: What’s the Difference?

Length and Appearance of Hair


The top coat of a short-haired German Shepherd is less than 1 inch of fur.  The long-haired variety has hair that is over 2 inches long. This contrast in appearance is clear. The short-haired German Shepherd’s outer coat is coarse and straight, yet the long-haired types’ coats are finer and have more feathering on the ears and legs, making them form-fitting. The hair on the neck is shiny, lengthy, and thicker, creating a mane. Long-haired versions appear more wolf-like, as well as smoother and without an undercoat. The outside coat and lack of an undercoat may make them look more fox-like.


In contrast, a short-haired German Shepherd has the classic appearance of the breed because shorter coats are the standard for the breed. There is a greater-than-90-percent probability that you’ve seen the short-haired German Shepherd if you’ve watched a movie featuring the breed. So, your perception of the breed corresponds to the short coat.


The fur’s main function is neither aesthetic enhancement nor color variety expansion. It regulates your dog’s temperature and protects him from cold and heat, there is no difference in temperature tolerance between the two kinds based on coat length.


Coat Form


Long-coat German Shepherds are more like their wolf forebears fur length than short-haired dogs are. Long-haired German Shepherds, rather than short-haired ones, are more similar in coat quantity. Wolves and German Shepherds with short hair have double coats. Although long-haired German Shepherds lack an undercoat, they maintain a high temperature because they have an ‘open coat.’


While the quantity of a coat has little effect on temperature regulation, it affects human judgment. Working line German Shepherds must be agile and compact. Long, trailing fur with no undercoat is not what the majority of working line breeders seek.


Even more severe is the audience’s evaluation. The lack of an undercoat disqualifies long-haired German Shepherds from most dog events, and the American Kennel Club classifies their entire category as flawed.


German Shepherds with longer hair are not larger than those with shorter hair. Although their long, silky fur and heavy mane may make them appear larger than other species, they are the same size as the others. Males measure 24-26 inches in height and weigh 66-88 pounds, while girls measure 22-24 inches and weigh 49-71 pounds.


Both long-haired and short-haired German Shepherds lose their hair faster than Facebook alters its algorithm. But does one species shed more than others?


Long-haired German Shepherds do not shed more than short-haired kinds, although the shedding rate of short-haired GSDs changes throughout the year. This is because their undercoat is a major source of shedding, and it sheds more in the spring and autumn.


Long-coated dogs have only the topcoat, which sheds throughout the year. If a long-haired German Shepherd has a double coat (very uncommon), his shedding rate will also fluctuate throughout the year.


Acceptability of Work


Both long- and short-coated German Shepherds make excellent family pets. But, all long-haired types are excluded when it comes to accepting puppies as potential canine workers.


Those who rely on dogs for serious work get working line dogs, and among working line breeders, a German Shepherd with long hair is considered unmarketable.


This does not imply that long-haired kinds cannot perform any job; rather, those who desire working dogs do not buy them.


However, they are rather inconvenient to use for labor because their fur can get in the way and is more difficult to clean, and their working desire is diminished owing to the breeding scheme.


Show Ring Acceptability


If you think working line conditions are tough, wait till you see how long-haired German Shepherds are treated in the show ring. Different people find both forms visually pleasing, but beauty is subjective.


If beauty is genuinely in the eye of the beholder, then the judges in the show ring are completely blind to the beauty of long-haired German Shepherds.


Besides being deemed defective due to the absence of an undercoat, which disqualifies them from the show ring, even double-coated long-haired dogs are evaluated negatively upon entering the ring.


However, this has a positive side effect. The lack of show ring acceptability assures those who buy long-haired German Shepherds do so out of love and not for show circuit glory or rewards.




Short-haired and long-haired German Shepherds have nearly identical temperaments. Some suggest that “coaties” are marginally more affable, placid, and subdued.


So, what is the conclusion?


Long-haired German Shepherds are neither more nor less aggressive than their short-haired counterparts. There is no distinction between them. As most working lines are short-haired, they are believed to have a gentler disposition because they lack a strong working drive.


Regarding aggression, it is a common myth that German Shepherds are aggressive because of their appearance and likeness to wolves. However, they are a loving and lovable breed with proper socialization and training.




Short-haired German Shepherds cost more than their long-haired counterparts because they are more adaptable and popular. Most show-line German Shepherds are bred with short hair in mind because they have a higher possibility of qualifying for the competition. Additionally, they serve as working lines.


If a long-haired German Shepherd is born into a show line, he becomes “useless” to the show circuit, and because he was not bred for work, he will not be accepted as a working dog. However, he will thrive as a companion animal.


Such a dog is sold at a discount. A German Shepherd with long hair will cost between $800 and $2,000 (high-end) with papers. Such a deal would be preposterous for someone with short hair. Depending on heredity and working drive, the typical cost of a short-haired puppy is $2,000, with costs reaching as high as $4,000.


Stud Value


If one dog gives you a higher chance of an $800 puppy and one gives you better odds of getting a $2,000 puppy, who would you rather have? For most breeders, the answer is a short-haired GSD.


Gene variants govern coat variation. Long hair is a recessive trait, meaning both alleles (gene halves) must correlate with long hair to have a long-haired puppy.


A short-haired German Shepherd might carry one long hair gene half, and it will not show, but if the same dog mates with another who also has a dormant half gene of long hair, the two dormant genes might pair and form a full long hair gene which would make the puppy long-haired.


And guess what happens when a short-haired stud produces a long-haired puppy? The short-haired parent is often removed from the stud pool.


If breeders remove short-haired studs with a 25% chance of producing a long-haired pup, it isn’t surprising that no mainstream breeder is interested in keeping a long-haired dog as a stud.


Because a long-haired German Shepherd has both gene halves representing the long hair trait, his odds of producing a long-haired puppy are 50%. Having such a stud in a market where 50% of your puppies would get a 50% price cut isn’t a wise business move.


If you have a greater probability of getting an $800 puppy from one dog and a $2,000 puppy from another, which dog would you choose? The answer for most breeders is a GSD with short hair.


Gene variations determine coat variation. Long hair is a recessive feature; thus, both alleles (gene halves) must correspond with long hair for a puppy to have long hair.


If a short-haired German Shepherd mates with a dog that also carries a dormant long hair gene half, the two dormant genes may combine to become a full long hair gene, resulting in a long-haired puppy.


And what is the result when a short-haired male produces a long-haired female? The father with short hair is frequently eliminated from the stud pool.


If breeders remove short-haired studs with a 25% chance of delivering a long-haired pup, it’s not unexpected that no mainstream breeder would want to keep a long-haired dog as a stud.


Given that a long-haired German Shepherd possesses both genes half for the long hair characteristic, he has a 50 percent chance of siring a long-haired puppy. Having such a stud in a market where fifty percent of your puppies would receive a fifty percent price reduction is a poor business decision.


Which is Better for You – Long Coat or Short Coat German Shepherd?


Let’s check which type of German Shepherd is best for you now that you know the differences between long-haired and short-haired German Shepherds. To do this, I’ll discuss the types of dog owners who enjoy having a long-haired GSD and those who prefer a shorter hairstyle.


Better for Dog Shows: Short Hair German Shepherd


It is commonly believed that German Shepherds do not have long coats. This is not true, as there are breeds of German Shepherd that have different types of coats (i.e., double-coated). If you intend on entering your dog in a show, you should get a short-haired German Shepherd. Even so, you’ll need to ensure that the dog is from a show line and has the right color.


Better for Upscale Suburbs: Long-Haired German Shepherd


A fluffier dog may be the best choice if you live in an upscale neighborhood and want to avoid problems with your pet. Since upscale is a subjective term, here’s a better indicator: If purse dogs are trendy in your neighborhood, your big dog better is a long-haired German Shepherd. The dog is also considered exotic because of its rareness and distinct looks. This has social currency, not in dog show circles but upscale suburbia.


Better for Civilian Guard Duties: Long-Haired German Shepherd


Most organizations that use German Shepherds must comply with AKC standards, so most K9 units rely on short-haired dogs. However, the long-haired ones are equally trainable and competent and ironically have a better look for the job.

Color plays an important role: The long-haired white German Shepherd looks cuddly and  non-threatening. In contrast, a darker long-haired doggo looks intimidating. If you have a house you want to guard, you’re better off getting a “coatie.”


Better for Institutional Service: Short-Haired German Shepherd


German Shepherd Dogs are popular for their versatility, as they can be trained for many different uses. Having more than one dog in your team or squad is possible if you have a specific purpose in mind. For instance, having one dog serve as an official guard dog while other team members act as backup or service dogs. If you want one dog that can work with other dogs but also needs to be versatile enough to handle other duties, get a German Shepherd Dog bred for those purposes.


Better for Saving Money: Long-Haired German Shepherd


Long-haired German Shepherds are cheaper than short-haired ones, so there is an incentive to get one with a long coat. Additionally, the long-haired variety is as suitable to own as a short-haired dog in any element of raising a family dog. Despite saving money on a one-time sale, you shouldn’t get a dog with an unknown medical history.

Unless you get one from a breeder that provides you with health checks on both parents and offspring. Even if you get a long-haired German Shepherd, you should still get one from a breeder who provides you with health checks.


Final Thoughts


There is no difference between short- and long-haired German Shepherd dogs. Both have long coats with an undercoat. But, as we know from our experience, there are many differences in how people perceive this coat type.


A short-haired German Shepherd will have a longer topcoat than a long-haired one. It’s also possible that some people think the coat is too thin or insufficient to keep them warm in cold weather.


The other difference between these two types is that you can’t tell how much an individual dog has grown up until he starts shedding his coat.  Short-haired German Shepherds shed more often than their long-haired counterparts. Since they have shorter hair and need to keep their skin healthy.


If you’re interested in the long-haired German Shepherd, here are some tips for choosing the right dog for you:


  1. Ask your vet if your dog is right for you before committing to any particular breed. Most vets can tell whether your dog will be healthy and happy in his new home.


  1. If you plan on showing or working with your German Shepherd, make sure it has a good temperament. Short-haired German Shepherds tend to be more dominant than their long-haired counterparts. This can cause problems when paired with other dogs or people who aren’t as assertive.


  1. It’s a smart idea to get an all-white German Shepherd.

If you want your puppy to breed or if your children will play with him in the yard, get an all-white littermate. That way everyone will know where they belong once he becomes an adult.

Dr Bryan Goodchild,” has spent his life working toward better health for pets and the people who love them. He is the founder of Likeablepets.com , which works to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.

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