The Long Haired German Shepherd is a beautiful version of the traditional short-haired German Shepherd. Although extremely similar to the classic GSD, there are some slight differences that set them apart. Their long flowing hair can be seen as a positive or a negative depending on the situation. This article will take a look at subtleties between the original short coat and the less sought-after long coat version of the breed.
What Is A Long Haired German Shepherd?
The Long Haired German Shepherd is basically a fluffier version of the short haired GSD. Its hair is typically an inch or so longer than the short haired version.
Referred to as Long Coat German Shepherds, they are technically the same loving, loyal, and protective dog as the traditional GSD with a normal coat.
They have the same build and makeup that makes them so sought after in the dog world. Both versions have a thick, dense, double coat of fur. The undercoat consists of short fuzzy hair that serves as insulation against extreme weather conditions.
The top coat however, is longer than the short coat version. It is referred to as the “guard coat” and protects the dog from dirt and other elements. It is waterproof and helps repel water off of their body.
Both of these coats together work as a heating and cooling system to regulate the dog’s temperature in the extreme heat or cold.
Long Haired German Shepherd History:
The history of the Long Haired German Shepherd goes back to the 1800’s when the GSD was first developed.
Before the first German Shepherd was registered in 1899, three different coat types were fairly common. There was a short coat, stock coat, and long coat.
However, the creator, Max von Stephanitz wanted to create the perfect working dog breed. To accomplish this, the long haired GSD was not used for breeding. It was not included in the standard used by the Society For German Shepherd Dogs.
He, along with other breeders at the time, considered long hair an unwanted trait. Because their undercoat wasn’t quite as thick, he thought that it wouldn’t provide the same protection from the cold and other elements while working in the outdoors.
Long Haired German Shepherd Appearance:
The Long Coat German Shepherd has a beautiful look with a strong, muscular, and athletic build. Their body is longer than it is tall and extremely well balanced.
They have a strong, chiseled head that emotes a sense of nobleness. It is well proportioned to the body and there is a clear differentiation between the male and female.
The eyes are almond shaped and medium in size. The ears should be pointed and are erect when the dog is alert. The muzzle is wedge shaped and strong in definition. The nose is black and the jaw is strong with a scissor bite.
The neck is long, strong and muscular with no loose skin. It is usually held high in the air. The withers slope down into the back which is straight and well developed. The body is solid and the chest is extended down to the front legs.
The tail is bushy and hangs with a slight curve similar to a saber. The shoulders are angled and long with adequate muscles. The pasterns are strong as well. They have short feet with thick pads, short nails and dewclaws.
The hindquarters are broad, strong and muscular. They form a right angle.
Long Haired German Shepherd Temperament:
The Long Coat German Shepherd is just as smart and trainable as the short haired version. It is extremely intelligent and capable of learning numerous advanced training commands.
It is the third smartest dog breed in the world and its brain is on par with a 2.5-year-old child. They are athletic, calm, confident, devoted, easygoing, protective, loving, loyal, and smart.
The only difference between the two coat lengths is the Long Haired GSD is a bit more laid back and go with the flow than the Short Haired GSD.
Both coat lengths make great family pets and are wonderful around children when trained and socialized properly. They can be a bit aloof and aggressive towards strangers but that is mainly because of their protective instinct.
Long Haired German Shepherd Health:
German Shepherds are fairly healthy dogs with an average lifespan of 9-13 years. However, due to their large size, they can be prone to some health issues that may not affect smaller dogs as much.
Long Haired GSDs are high energy dogs and need plenty of exercise to stay healthy and lean. They should get a minimum of two hours exercise daily for mental acuity, physical well-being, and to decrease boredom.
Long Coat GSDs actually shed less than Short Coat GSDs because their top coat is longer making their undercoat shorter by default. This means less hair around the house.
However, they do still need regular maintenance on their coats with a good brushing at least once or twice a week. Long Coat GSDs should never be trimmed or shaved unless it is for medical purposes such as surgery.
Their coat acts as insulation against the hot and cold weather elements. In addition, once it is shaved, it never grows back quite the same.
- Bloat (Gastric-Dilatation-Volvulus) – This is common within the breed and considered a medical emergency. The stomach fills up with air, twists and then cuts off the blood flow from the abdomen and rear legs to the heart.
- Degenerative Myelopathy – This is a neurological disease that is inherited from the parents. It usually occurs later in the GSDs life. It starts out with weakness in the back legs and progressively gets worse until paralysis eventually occurs.
- Hip Dysplasia – This is a joint problem common in larger dog breeds. It happens when the ball and socket in the hip joint don’t form properly. This causes friction in the joint, wearing it down faster than normal.
- Megaesophagus – It is inherited genetically and happens when the GSD’s esophagus becomes enlarged and limp. This makes it difficult for food to make its way down the tube when the dog swallows.
- Osteoarthritis – Although sometimes associated with Hip Dysplasia, it’s not always the case. It can be the result of age or injuries. The most noticeable symptoms will include lameness or stiffness in the joints.
- Perianal Fistula – Painful disease that affects the anal region of a GSD. Open wounds or legions, that are infected, drain puss causing issues with defecation. The dog may strain trying to go to the bathroom, have bloody stool, and lick the affected area.
German Shepherds can have other health issues but these are the most common. Regular checkups with the vet can help prevent some of these conditions.
Long Coat GSDs should eat either a high-quality kibble or a raw diet consisting of lean meats, fruits and vegetables. It should be low in carbs and have around 18-22% of protein.
A lean diet has proven to increase lifespan in dogs, even adding on another one and a half to two years. Avoid toxic foods and too many fatty dog treats.
Lastly, a GSD should be getting the proper number of calories depending on their age and weight. Adults should get in the range of 1,740 and 2,100 daily.
Raw bones are an excellent way to keep their teeth clean which can help them avoid gum disease.
How Big Does The Long Haired German Shepherd Get?
They are a medium to large size size dog breed. The male stands 24-26 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs in the range of 65-90 pounds.
The stands 22-24 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs in the range of 50-70 pounds. The long coat gives the appearance that they are bigger than they really are.
How Rare Is The Long Haired German Shepherd?
The Long Haired German Shepherd is much rarer than the short or medium haired version. In fact, only 1 out of 10 GSDs will sport the long locks with 90% of them sporting the shorter more traditional coat.
The reason for this is because the long hair gene is recessive unlike the short hair gene which is dominant. Both parents must carry a cop of the recessive allele for the long coat to be present.
Another reason they are not as common is because they are considered a fault with the breed standard in the AKC and German Shepherd Dog Club of America.
This means they aren’t able to compete in the elite dog shows held in the U.S. Only the medium length coat GSD is able to compete in the Westminster Dog Show for example.
How Much Does A Long Haired German Shepherd Cost?
While Long Coat German Shepherds aren’t quite as revered as the more traditional Short Coat GSDs, they are more rare, and therefore harder to find.
This could make them a bit more expensive depending on the breeder and how many are available. You can expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $3000 for a new puppy.
Long Haired puppies will have the long coats from birth so beware of any breeder trying to sell you a Short Haired GSD and claiming that the hair will grow as they get older.
The Long Coat German Shepherd is fancier looking version of short coat with a bit more laid-back attitude. However, either coat length you choose will make an amazing companion dog. Just make sure you know exactly what to expect before getting a German Shepherd.
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