American Vs European German Shepherds

One of the commonly asked questions is the difference between an American German Shepherd and a European German Shepherd. Both of the German Shepherds share the same ancestry. In fact, they are the same breed, , but with different backgrounds. Overtime, they have turned into two different breeds. European German Shepherds are usually brought over from the United States to be bred in Europe.

Captain Max Von Stephanitz, a German breeder, is the one who had developed the German shepherd dog. He desired to create a smart, courageous, strong, protective and adaptable herding dog that could do his job and return home to play with his own children. He was interested in the working ability of the breed so what he did was to preserve the characteristics and traits of the dog he had developed.

So, what are some of the glaring differences between these two apparently different breeds? Let’s take a closer look at them.

The European German Shepherd

Physically, this German Shepherd has a bigger head, a straighter line on the hind legs and a short, wide backline. It is a bit shorter and also has a heavier structure with very little slope at the back. It is smaller and has very little angulations. They are usually only KKL2 (are permitted to breed though not recommended to breed). These dogs are usually darker in color as compared to the American breed. The canines are used in military and police work, rescue and search, Schutzhund, protection and herding.

The European working lines usually have very high pain tolerance. It means they don’t respond so much to pain. The high pain tolerance helps the dog if for example; a drunken man tries to kick it. There is no possibility of it giving up the fight. It will pursue him to the end. This also means that the dog will not respond to the normal corrections so it requires a harder discipline to get it to obey you.

They are also very aggressive and have high prey drives. It reacts to anything moving in a faster speed thinking that it is a prey. This is why this shepherd is generally preferred for the police and military work. Their only shortcoming is that, living with them can be a little difficult and they cannot be trusted around your children. Normally, this working line shepherd has a crazy drive for both prey and ball. It can therefore be very destructive and should be under watch when around people.

The European bloodline is keenly monitored by the German Shepherd Club of Germany (SV). This organization ensures that this German Shepherd dog breed meets all the required standards. The SV strives to continue breeding the European German Shepherd with the original characteristics that were developed by Stephanitz.

The American German Shepherd

These dogs are bred for show purposes. Their breeders exclusively focus on looks and their movement. The sloped back gives the dog a “flying trot” which is the most desired movement in the show ring.  They are larger, heavier, softer and have lighter bone structure. The males have less masculine heads and bodies. Their angulations are quite extreme in the hindquarters and their bodies have more of an angle from the front to the back. Also, they are slightly taller and longer than their European counterparts. They are not suited for police or military work, search, rescue or Schutzhund. Their coat color can be black or white, bi-colors sable. They can also be black and have tan saddle pattern.

Apart from their different appearance, their major distinction lies on their temperament. This kind of dog is not a working one since it doesn’t have the required temperament to do any kind of work. This is because the American Shepherd is not required to go through any kind of temperament test or do Schutzhund to pass the endurance test. Besides, they are not required to be free of dysplasia. Their only registry is the AKC or the CKC, which doesn’t control the animal quality being bred.

These animals lack stability, courage and clear headedness to control their actions. They tend to have inappropriate aggressive tendencies since they are often fearful, nervous and stressed. They don’t have the courage for a true protection work. In fact, reason for them being aggressive is because they are afraid and tend to defend themselves. They will bite just to protect themselves and not their masters. The most important point is; you cannot depend on this kind of dog to defend and protect you in a dangerous circumstance.

The Final Word

It is crucial to know the difference between the two bloodlines because this will determine which one you decide to get. The American Shepherd will impress you in the show ring because that is why it is bred. European Shepherds will excel at a variety of jobs but will never catch the eye of a judge in an American show ring. Either ways, both bloodlines are bred to do a specific job. Before you have any of the German Shepherds in your family, you should know the difference between the two lines. Strive to have some knowledge about the breed before you buy and ensure that you deal with a breeder who is reputable.


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