Long Haired German Shepherd: The Graceful Canine You’ll Love

Categorized as German Shepherd Types and Mixes
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The Long Haired German Shepherd is an elegant, rare variety of the classic German Shepherd Dog. With their trademark black and tan coats transformed into a flowing mane of fur, these dogs turn heads wherever they go.

But they’re more than just good looks. Long Haired German Shepherds have all the intelligence, trainability and fun-loving energy that makes the German Shepherd such a popular breed. This is still an energetic working dog at heart – albeit one in a very glamorous coat!

In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this rare and beautiful breed. Whether you’re looking to add one of these fabulous dogs to your home or just want to learn more, read on to have all your questions answered!

Here is a helpful table summarizing some of the key points about the Long Haired German Shepherd:

History– Originated from recessive long hair gene in early GSD litters
– Culled from breeding program by Max Stephanitz
– Later selectively bred as show dogs
Appearance– Same build and size as short haired GSD
– Long, feathered coat on neck, legs, tail
– All coat colors of GSD possible
Temperament– Intelligent and people oriented
– Energetic working dog
– Protective; needs socialization
Exercise & Training– 60+ minutes exercise daily
– Mental stimulation like training
– Positive reinforcement training
– Early socialization
Grooming– Daily brushing to prevent matting
– Bathe every 6-8 weeks
– Trim nails every 2-3 weeks
– Clean ears weekly
Health– Prone to hip/elbow dysplasia
– Higher risk of degenerative myelopathy
– Can suffer from bloat and allergies

History and Origins of the Long Haired German Shepherd

The Long Haired German Shepherd shares the same origins as the classic German Shepherd Dog. The breed was created in Germany in 1899 by Captain Max von Stephanitz, who wanted to develop the ideal herding dog.

Von Stephanitz started with a dog named Hektor Linksrhein, who became the first registered German Shepherd Dog. By mixing Hektor with various other herding dogs, von Stephanitz established the breed we know today.

The Recessive Long Hair Gene

The Long Haired German Shepherd originated from the occasional long haired puppies born in early German Shepherd litters. These long coats occurred because of a recessive gene, meaning both parents had to carry the gene to produce Long Haired offspring.

Von Stephanitz actively culled long haired puppies from the breed because he considered long fur impractical for herding work. However, the gene persisted hidden in the breed. Once the German Shepherd became popular as a companion and show dog, Long Haired dogs were selectively bred.

Recognition as a Separate Variety

In the 1960s, enthusiasts in Canada and the USA worked to establish Long Haired German Shepherds as a separate variety. In 1989, the Long Haired German Shepherd was officially recognized by major kennel clubs.

Today’s Long Haired German Shepherds descend from those early litters where two dogs carrying the recessive long hair gene were bred together. Their stunning coats shine a spotlight on this beautiful but rare variety.

Appearance, Coat and Colors

The Long Haired German Shepherd has the same athletic physique and overall proportions as the classic short-haired breed. The difference is in their plush, luxurious coats.


Males and females have the same height and weight ranges as their short-haired counterparts:

Male24 – 26 inches65 – 90 pounds
Female22 – 24 inches50 – 70 pounds

Coat and Colors

The coat of the Long Haired German Shepherd is medium to long in length. It’s thicker around the neck, giving a mane-like ruff, and feathers along the back of the legs and tail.

Long Haired Shepherds can come in any color found in the standard German Shepherd Dog. The most common are:

  • Black and cream
  • Black and tan
  • Black and red
  • Sable
  • Pure black
  • Pure white

Less common colors include blues, grays, liver, and panda (white with black spots).

Temperament: Sweet, Smart and Active

Don’t let the glamorous coat fool you – Long Haired German Shepherds have all the intelligence, trainability and fun-loving attitude of their short-haired cousins.

Intelligent and People-Oriented

These are clever, versatile dogs bred to work closely with people. Like all German Shepherds, they form a close bond with their family. With proper socialization and training they are wonderful companions for kids.

Energetic Working Dogs

Long Haired German Shepherds thrive when given a job to do. They need vigorous daily exercise along with mental stimulation from training. A bored Long Haired Shepherd will find his own “work” – like destructive chewing!

Confident Protectors

True to their guarding heritage, Long Haired Shepherds make vigilant watch dogs. They are naturally protective of their home and family. Early socialization is key to prevent over-protectiveness.

With their family, Long Haired German Shepherds are sweet, goofy and affectionate. But strangers will be met with reserve until the dog knows they’re safe.

Exercise and Training for Long Haired Shepherds

These energetic working dogs demand a significant time commitment when it comes to exercise and training. A tired dog is a happy dog!

Exercise Needs

  • At least 60 minutes of exercise per day. Long Haired Shepherds thrive on vigorous activity like running, hiking, biking or intense games of fetch.
  • Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. Training, puzzle toys and nosework are great ways to tire out their active minds.
  • Off leash exercise in a fenced area is ideal to let these dogs really burn off their energy. A long line can allow some freedom if they don’t have perfect recall.
  • Yard access is a bonus, but does not replace daily walks and activity with their owner. Long Haired Shepherds like to be where their people are!

Training Requirements

  • Start training early. Long Haired Shepherd puppies are extremely intelligent and eager to learn. Obedience training and socialization should begin as soon as they come home.
  • Use positive reinforcement. This breed responds best to reward-based training that takes advantage of their desire to work with people.
  • Challenge their minds. These dogs thrive on mental stimulation, so do advanced obedience, trick training, scent work and agility.
  • Obedience is essential. Their protective nature makes obedience a must for handling and control. A well-trained Long Haired Shepherd is a great companion.
  • Socialize extensively. Expose your Shepherd to new people, animals, places and experiences starting in puppyhood to prevent skittishness or aggression.

A well-exercised and trained Long Haired German Shepherd is a wonderfully upbeat companion. Put in the time with this breed, and you’ll reap the rewards of a dog with enthusiasm for life!

Grooming Requirements for the Long Haired German Shepherd

That gorgeous long coat comes at a price: high maintenance grooming! Long Haired German Shepherds require significant time and effort to keep their coats in show condition.

  • Daily brushing is essential to prevent mats and tangles that can harm their skin and cause infections. Use an undercoat rake and slicker brush.
  • Bathe when needed, but no more than every 6-8 weeks. Their coats have natural oils that get stripped away with frequent shampooing.
  • Trim nails every 2-3 weeks. Walking on long nails is uncomfortable for dogs.
  • Clean ears weekly with a veterinarian approved cleaner to prevent infections in their floppy ears.
  • Regular brushing helps keep shedding under control, but heaviest shedding periods will still require daily grooming.

For owners who don’t want to devote hours per week to coat care, a short haired German Shepherd may be a better choice. But devoting time to grooming strengthens the bond with this lovely breed.

Health Issues Facing Long Haired German Shepherds

All German Shepherds are prone to certain health conditions. Buying from health tested parents can help avoid some issues.

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia – malformed joints. Can cause lameness and arthritis.
  • Degenerative myelopathy – a spinal cord disease leading to paralysis. More prevalent in Long Haired Shepherds.
  • Bloat – a life threatening twisting of the stomach. Feeding several small meals a day may help prevent bloat.
  • Allergies – both food and environmental allergies are common. Keeping coats free of mats reduces skin irritation.

With proper diet, exercise, vet care and genetic testing, many Long Haired German Shepherds enjoy excellent health well into their senior years.

Finding a Long Haired German Shepherd Puppy

Locating Long Haired German Shepherd puppies can present a challenge since this variety is still quite rare, especially outside of Germany. Here are some tips:

  • Search for breeders that specialize in Long Haired German Shepherds. Reach out to clubs for breeder referrals.
  • Ask reputable German Shepherd Dog breeders if they occasionally get Long Haired pups.
  • Check with German Shepherd Dog rescues, as they sometimes have Long Haired dogs in need of adoption.
  • Be extremely wary of any breeder who advertises “rare white” or “panda” German Shepherds. Many are disreputable.
  • Expect to be put on a wait list, as quality breeders rarely have puppies readily available.
  • Prepare to travel for the right breeder. The wait will be worthwhile!

Be sure to find a breeder who health tests their breeding dogs and follows responsible practices. Never buy from a retail pet store or puppy mill, as these poorly bred pups often have behavior and health issues.

With patience you can welcome one of these exceptional beauties into your life!

The Majestic Long Haired German Shepherd: A Rare Breed Indeed

For experienced German Shepherd owners who can fully commit to providing exercise, training and especially grooming, the Long Haired German Shepherd makes a gorgeous and captivating companion. They’re still relatively rare, but interest in this variety is growing.

These fabulous dogs exude old world elegance and dignity, but still love playing, learning new tricks and just hanging out with their favorite people. If you can find one of these rare beauties, you’ll have a head-turning dog who attracts admiration wherever you go.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.