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Imagine proudly owning your very own long haired German Shepherd.
How fun and exciting would your life be with a beautiful, bond, and brainy companion by your side?
But, is this lion-maned German Shepherd the right match for you? Find out if the long-coated breed is your next best friend.
History of the Long Haired German Shepherd
The GSD has a long history of mixing the best in breeds to produce the most intelligent companions. Desired qualities from different breeds help develop the original breed standard.
But the original breeders of the GSD didn’t intend to breed a longer coated variety.
Many dogs during the early stages of breeding history provided diverse coat combinations. The single coated, long hair wasn’t desirable by the original breeders of the GSD. But through genetic diversity, the long-coated variety exists.
The long-haired German Shepherd sports a gorgeous coat that resembles a proud lion’s mane.
Since the long-hair gene is recessive, the long-coat variety is rare.
Considered a fault, this coat is the production of recessive genes. Rare in
the German Shepherd breed, the long hair German Shepherd is a picture of hair
Single or Double Coat
The long hair GSD’s coat comes in both a double or a rarer single layer, depending upon the genetic history. While some people insist only the single coated long hair makes this dog a “true” long hair dog.
The United Kingdom Kennel Club and German Kennel Club recognize the longer coat. However, their coat length falls out of show specifications. The American Kennel Club also states that the longer coat is out of breed specifications.
Breed standard by the American Kennel Club prefers a double coat of medium length fur. But most clubs still consider the long coat a pure breed.
Single Coat and Cold Weather
A single-coated dog, like the long hair variety, may not tolerate colder weather.
The dense undercoat on the double-coated GSD helps to repel water and insulate the body. The longer-haired variety lacks this double coat. Take responsible care in cold weather.
The long-coated variety doesn’t suit working outdoors if there is no undercoat. If they are lacking an undercoat, they will need to be kept indoors during cooler weather.
Dogs without a dense undercoat will not be as weatherproof. Especially if the hair is so lengthy it falls and part of the dog’s back exposing the skin.
A Coat of Many Colors
The long hair German Shepherd’s coat comes in a variety of colors, all to an
owner’s delight and preference.
Their coats come in all the same colors as the short-coated GSD. But since the longer coated version is rarer, availability needs consideration.
Most commonly, long-coated GSDs are red-black or tan-black.
Is Their Temperament Different?
Temperament isn’t proven for the long-haired German Shepherd.
But some believe they have a more pleasing disposition because the long coat wasn’t selected for herding and guarding. Thus, it’s believed long hair GSDs are less independent and gentler in nature.
They may enjoy indoor home life more because of their lack of drive. They’re keen to delight their owners. They’re playful and energetic. All GSDs need a loving and nurturing environment from their families.
Long Haired German Shepherd Life Expectancy
According to the Royal Veterinary College London, the German Shepherd has a life expectancy of 9 to 13 years. Median longevity is 10.95 years. Expect to have your long-coated GSD for over a decade!
Genetics plays a large part in how large they grow. A breeder should have photos of the parents or the parents themselves on the property for size comparison. But this is no guarantee of what size they will grow to in adulthood.
Long coated German Shepherd adult males grow on average to a height of 24 to
26 inches (61 to 66 cm). They can weigh 66 to 88 pounds (30 to 40 kg).
An adult female’s average height is 22 to 24 inches tall (56 to 66 cm). Their weight is 51 to 73 pounds (23 to 33 kg).
Besides the long hair, other traits are the same as the standard GSD. The facial features, pointed ears, and body shape and size aren’t different. However, the long hair variety has a shinier and more delicate hair that requires special grooming.
They are an active breed that does well in a family that enjoys activities and outdoors with their dog.
The long-haired GSD needs plenty of training and mental stimulation to stay happy.
They crave the family company and enjoy their owners immensely. If you are someone who stays busy with work outside the home all day, then this dog won’t suit your lifestyle.
Regular walking is part of owning any German Shepherd. Aim for 60 minutes of daily walking. Although, 2 hours of exercise is more beneficial.
Colder weather decreases a long-coated GSD’s ability for lengthy outdoor activities. But they still need a consistent daily exercise schedule. It’s not unusual for a working breed to walk for miles a day. Be sure to work up to an acceptable level for your dog’s energy and age.
If you enjoy cycling or jogging, the long-coated GSD will make a great match!
They love running along with you to explore off-beaten paths and hidden adventures.
Another great way to exercise your dog is to play outdoor games. Tug-o-war and fetch are favorites of my GSD. Coupled with obedience training, you’ll help burn energy and keep your dog healthy and happy.
Try out different toys and games with your dog to see what excites them and keeps them moving. Not every day will be perfect weather. Have some indoor activities that will keep your dog occupied.
Longer coated German Shepherds are just as smart as their short hair versions.
They need not only exercise (physical stimulation), but mental stimulation too.
A bored dog is a dog that becomes destructive, anxious, or even aggressive. Don’t neglect the mental needs of your GSD. Physical exercise is paramount, but so is their mental activity. Mental games keep your dog stimulated and more stable.
Free Obedience Training
You’ll find all the basics in this training guide along with the top obedience commands you need to train your GSD. There’s also a supply list of helpful training tools. No more guessing what you need to buy. It’s all in a free guide for you!
Long hair German Shepherds have the same health issues as short hair GSDs.
The breed is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, eczema, and digestive problems.
Best breeding practices concentrate on eliminating undesirable genetic
traits. Genetic medical conditions are at the top of this list. But a non-scientific
approach is taken to breed GSDs by some breeders. This can put the health of
the dog at risk.
If you buy from a breeder, ensure they are reputable and have the health and safety of their breed in mind over profit. A breeder should be happy to show you a vet and DNA report of your dog’s parents.
A Healthy Diet for a Long Haired German Shepherd
Feed your long hair GSD a healthy, high quality, well-balanced diet to keep not only their health in prime condition but their long hair in top shape.
Long hair still sheds but clumps when falling out.
So, it might seem as the long coat GSD sheds less since there are fewer individual hairs on the furniture or floors. The GSD’s coat sheds to maintain the healthiness of the skin.
This shedding also keeps your Shepherd’s coat in better shape to handle the elements of outdoor work.
A longer coated German Shepherd requires routine brushing.
Your specific dog determines the amount and frequency of brushing.
Hair left unbrushed will turn into knots and tangles. This leaves you and your dog in the position of an expensive groom or worse – a complete shave.
Use the following tips:
Brush three times a week for 10 minutes each to decrease visible hairs on the furniture and floors.
Routine brushing removes loose hairs and dirt. It also distributes skin oils and ensures a healthier coat.
Brush with gentle strokes.
If you brush too abrasive, you’ll end up scraping or bruising the delicate skin.
A brushing routine gives you the opportunity to inspect your dog for any health changes. While you are brushing, it’s a good idea to look for any abnormalities in your dog from nose to tail. Check the skin for any lumps or bumps.
Early detection of any skin bumps or irregularities can prevent later health
issues. Contact your vet for skin or body issues.
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
You need German Shepherd training to get the best behavior from your dog and enjoy a happy life with them. Read these posts to find out what type of German Shepherd training works the best for your breed.
Your German Shepherd’s health, as well as your dog’s specific breed history, contributes to their overall life span. These posts will help you become aware of your dog’s health problems and how to help solve or improve them.