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With its striking good looks and easy trainability, the Long Haired German Shepherd is becoming an increasingly popular dog. How much do you know about this breed?
First, you should know that the Long Haired German Shepherd is just a different coat variety from a regular German Shepherd. It isn’t a separate breed. That means most of their characteristics are the same.
Let’s talk about German Shepherds, both the standard and long-haired varieties. Then you will be better prepared to decide if you should add one of these long-coated fluffy bundles of joy to your life.
What Is a Long Haired German Shepherd?
A Long Haired German Shepherd is a coat variation of the standard German Shepherd. This long-coat variation is caused by a recessive gene.
Just like Labs can have puppies of any color, litters of German Shepherds can have both standard and long-haired puppies.
In fact, two Short Haired German Shepherds can have Long Haired puppies in a litter if both parents carry the recessive gene. On the other hand, if one parent doesn’t carry the gene, no puppies in a litter will have a long coat. That’s why a Long Haired German Shepherd is rare and prized.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) considers the fur of a Long Haired German Shepherd to be a fault. That means the dogs aren’t allowed to be shown and shouldn’t be bred. As a result, the recessive gene that causes German Shepherds to have long hair isn’t very common.
By some estimates, only 10-15% of all German Shepherds are Long-Haired. That’s why some breeders may charge a premium price for Long Haired German Shepherds.
Long Haired German Shepherd Physical Appearance
The Long Haired German Shepherd stands up to 26” tall and weighs up to 90 pounds (or more). Their hair is at least 2” long all over. It’s longer on the butt, belly, tail, backs of the legs, and around the ears.
Long Haired Shepherds are longer than they are tall and have a pointy nose with erect ears. They have a long, straight, thick tail. As puppies, they have disproportionately large feet and ears, but they grow into them.
The Long Haired GSD’s fluffy coat comes in a variety of colors, including:
- Black and tan
- Black and red
- Black and cream
- Black and silver
How Big Do Long Haired German Shepherds Get?
Male Long Haired German Shepherds stand 24-26” tall and weigh 65 to 90 pounds. Female Long Haired German Shepherds stand 22-24” tall and weigh 50 to 70 pounds.
Some kennels that don’t follow AKC guidelines specifically breed German Shepherds that are even larger than this.
Long Haired German Shepherd vs Short Haired German Shepherd
The only difference between a long haired and short haired German Shepherd is the length of its fur. Both varieties have a double coat that sheds a little bit around the year and more during season changes.
The primary difference between the two coat varieties is that the Long Haired German Shepherd requires more brushing. Their long fur can become tangled and form mats. Severe mats are not safe to brush out. That means a groomer needs to shave them out, which will leave bald spots.
The longer fur also tends to pick up more dirt and debris, which is then deposited all over your home. Neat freaks should consider going with the short haired German Shepherd.
German Shepherd History
Long Haired German Shepherds share a history with the German Shepherd Dog (GSD).
At the end of the 19th century, German cavalry officer Captain Max von Stephanitz set out to create the best herding dog in Germany. As modern technology took the place of herding dogs, von Stephanitz marketed his dogs for military use. To this day, German Shepherds are commonly used in military and police work.
When World War I ended, Corporal Lee Duncan brought home a German Shepherd puppy to Los Angeles. That puppy would grow up to be the movie star Rin Tin Tin. Rin Tin Tin popularized the German Shepherd breed, and it’s been gaining popularity ever since.
After World War II, the breed was renamed the Alsatian in many places due to anti-German sentiment. Many Brits still refer to the breed as the Alsatian rather than German Shepherd.
As of 2021, the German Shepherd is the second-most-popular dog in the United States. Only the Labrador Retriever is a more common family pet.
Long Haired German Shepherd Temperament
Long Coat German Shepherds are intelligent and easy to train. They are devoted to their family but wary of strangers. If they’re socialized properly as puppies, Long Haired German Shepherds can even get along with cats.
German Shepherds can be guarded around human strangers and may be inclined to chase anything smaller than themselves. However, they are gentle with children and make great family pets.
Long Haired German Shepherd Lifespan and Health Issues
Unfortunately, the Long Haired German Shepherd is prone to a variety of health problems. Their lifespan is only 7-10 years. That’s a sadly short lifespan, even for a large breed dog.
Here are a few health problems your Long Haired GSD might need to deal with:
- Hip or elbow dysplasia – a painful condition where the joint doesn’t form properly
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (bloat) – a life-threatening condition where the dog’s stomach fills with air and may rotate on its axis, cutting off blood supply to the intestines
- Degenerative myelopathy – a progressive spinal cord condition that leads to paralysis
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency – a genetic problem where digestive enzymes are destroyed, and the dog can’t properly digest food
- Allergies – environmental or food allergies can cause a lot of skin and other problems
Not all German Shepherds will have any of these health problems. However, you should budget for potentially expensive surgeries to help your dog maintain their quality of life.
Long Haired German Shepherd Diet
Since German Shepherds are prone to joint problems and food allergies, finding the right food can be tricky.
You want a food that isn’t too high in protein, especially when your dog is a puppy. That’s because too much protein can cause puppies to grow too fast and develop joint problems.
Also, for maintaining healthy joints, you should find a joint health dog food that contains glucosamine and chondroitin.
If your Long Haired German Shepherd seems to be suffering from food allergies, look for a hypoallergenic dog food with a unique protein. Limited ingredient diets contain fewer ingredients that may trigger allergic reactions.
Common food allergies include:
For more about dog food for your Long Haired German Shepherd, check out 7 Best Foods for a German Shepherd Puppy or Best Dog Food for German Shepherds | Reviews and Ratings.
German Shepherds were bred to work all day, so they have plenty of energy to spare. A Long Coat German Shepherd is not a good fit for a couch potato. These dogs need at least 2 hours of exercise every day.
Arguably the best home for a Long Haired German Shepherd would be one with kids and a big yard. The kids and dog can chase each other, play fetch, and wear each other out.
A yard isn’t a requirement for a Long Coat German Shepherd, though. They can do quite well in an apartment if you’re looking for a jogging buddy or live near a dog park.
One thing is certain – a lack of exercise can cause undesirable behaviors like barking and chewing. If your Long-Haired German Shepherd is misbehaving, try giving them more exercise. It just might help.
RELATED: Are German Shepherds Good With Kids?
Training a Long Haired German Shepherd
German Shepherds are intelligent and easy to train with the consistent use of dog training commands. With positive reinforcement training, they can quickly learn whatever you teach them.
Don’t punish them for bad behavior, however. That often leads to aggression.
Speaking of training, Long Coat German Shepherds thrive when they have a job to do. Consider training them to be a therapy dog or to participate in a dog sport like agility or dock diving. Not only will your dog appreciate the extra exercise, but it’s an excellent bonding opportunity.
Ideal Living Conditions
Long-Haired German Shepherds do best living inside with their family. They get very attached to their humans and don’t do well left alone outside for long periods. If you do choose to leave your German Shepherd outdoors at night, make sure they have a warm, dry shelter.
Long Haired German Shepherd Grooming
The fluffy coat of a Long-Haired German Shepherd requires brushing several times a week. Their shedding tends to increase when the seasons change, and you may need to brush every day for a while.
The best brushes for a Long Haired German Shepherd are a slicker brush and a comb. You should use the slicker brush first. Then, use the comb to check for tangles and pull out the additional undercoat.
Long-Haired German Shepherds also need an occasional bath. You should brush them before the bath because water can make mats and undercoat tighter.
One thing you should NOT do with a Long Coat German Shepherd is to shave them. Not only is there a risk that the coat won’t grow back, but their fur keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Instead, opt for a deshedding service and a short feather trim.
For more about grooming a Long-Haired German Shepherd, check out 13 Best Dog Brushes for Shedding (Short, Long, and Thick Hair). This article has tool recommendations and brushing tips from a professional groomer.
Fault or Friend?
The AKC considers long coats to be a fault for German Shepherds and won’t allow them to be shown. However, there is no fault with the personality of a Long Coat German Shepherd. As long as they come from a reputable breeder, they are perfect family pets like the short-haired variety.
There is one caveat, though. Some breeders only focus on trying to produce Long Haired German Shepherds because there’s a market for them. When somebody breeds dogs for looks over personality, health and behavioral issues may be more common.
Run away from any breeder who advertises that they specialize in Long Haired German Shepherds. Instead, focus on a kennel that breeds Short Haired German Shepherds and has the occasional Long-Haired in a litter. You can also check shelters and breed rescues for Long Coat German Shepherds.
How Much Do Long Haired German Shepherd Puppies Cost?
The cost of Long Haired German Shepherds varies wildly. You may find one in a shelter or rescue for $250 or less. Or, you might find the most reputable breeder around and pay as much as $2000.
The biggest factor when searching for a Long Haired German Shepherd puppy is to avoid getting one from a pet store or puppy mill. Most pet stores get their animals from puppy mills.
What’s so bad about getting a dog from a puppy mill?
The conditions animals are kept in at puppy mills are horrific. The dogs are kept in small cages that rarely get cleaned. They may be kept inside a large barn where they never see the sun or touch grass. They never feel a human’s love. And they’re more likely to be sick from genetic or bacterial diseases.
You may think you’re saving a puppy mill dog from a horrible life. The truth is that you are putting money into the pockets of monsters and sentencing the puppy’s mother to a life of torture.
Unless you get a puppy from a reputable puppy mill rescue group, avoid buying animals from pet stores or websites like Craigslist.
Is a Long Haired German Shepherd Right for You?
If you’re looking for an energetic dog who is intelligent, lovable, and easy to train, the Long Haired German Shepherd may be the breed for you.
Plan on brushing your dog a lot and keeping lint rollers around. Also, know that the long coat will bring lots of dirt and debris into your home.
If you have the time and energy, a Long Coat German Shepherd might be the perfect addition to your family.