The long-haired German Shepherd is a unique and somewhat rare variant of the standard German Shepherd breed. This beautiful dog is known for its thick, long, silky coat, and while it’s a nuisance to groom, it certainly stands out!
This breed is strangely seen as being a ‘defect’ rather than a purebred because the long coat is the result of a recessive gene (which is why long-haired German Shepherd puppies are so rare).
This dog is far from defective, though, and is known not only for its luscious fur but for its playful, happy, energetic outlook on life. In this article, we take an extensive and detailed look at this breed in detail, explaining the height, weight, and temperament you can expect from this dog.
The long-haired German Shepherd dog is a rare variety of German Shepherd to find. For this dog to be bred, it requires both a mother and a father with the right recessive gene for ‘long hair’ to mate in order to produce a long haired German Shepherd puppy.
It’s very similar to the standard German Shepherd, but there are some key differences that set this rare dog apart from its brothers and sisters. This isn’t a different breed, but there are distinctive physical characteristics and personality traits that are unique to the long-haired variety.
Compared to the standard short-haired German Shepherd, this dog has an exceptionally long coat, but uniquely, they have no undercoat. While it’s the same sort of size and shape as a short-haired German Shepherd, it’s the long, luscious coat that really sets this dog apart!
Let’s take a quick look at the stats for a German Shepherd with long hair:
This is a tall dog, and they can stand between 22 inches and 26 inches in height once fully grown.
This is also a heavy, muscular dog, and can weigh between 60 and 90 pounds.
Large dog, with a long, furry coat and a seriously bushy tail. No undercoat. Can be found in standard German Shepherd colors (black, brown, tan, white, etc.).
9 to 13 years if healthy and no underlying health conditions.
Known health problems:
Prone to hereditary diseases, as well as skin and heart conditions.
Intelligent, loyal, loving, sociable, and affectionate. Can be wary of strangers.
A brief history of the long-haired German Shepherd
The history of this dog is shared with that of the standard German Shepherd because these two types of German Shepherds are the same breed.
The German Shepherd (as the name might suggest!) originated in Germany, where the breed’s intelligence, stamina, work ethic, and muscle ensured that it was prized as a working dog. The German Shepherd was popular on farms and particularly as a herding dog.
In the 19th century, efforts were made to standardize breeds in Europe, and the German Shepherd began to be more selectively bred, with a focus on intelligence, as much as looks. By the end of the 19th century, the German dog breeder Max von Stephanitz had formed a German Shepherd kennel club and had established an ideal version of the breed.
This ideal version, however, was short-coated - long-haired dogs weren’t considered to be official German Shepherds. German Shepherd breeders, however, found that the long-haired version kept popping up on occasion due to the recessive nature of their genes.
While the Germans had little time for this long-haired variety, it became prized for its luscious coat in the US, when the dog made its way over after the First World War. Today, the German Shepherd is one of the most popular dogs in the US, but the American Kennel Club still defines this variant as ‘defective’, due to the recessive gene.
Because of their slightly different temperament, long-haired German Shepherds aren’t as suited to work as their short-haired cousins. A lack of undercoat also means that these dogs aren’t suited to working outdoors. Unfortunately, despite their long, beautiful coats, this dog can’t even compete in dog shows because they are officially classed as a genetic fault!
Long-haired German Shepherd temperament
Unlike their short-haired cousins, the long-haired breed isn’t often used as a working dog. That’s not only because of a lack of an undercoat to keep them warm outdoors, but because of their different temperament and personality.
While standard German Shepherds are trained to be police dogs, bomb disposal dogs, or attack dogs, long-haired German Shepherds are simply too wary of strangers to be good at this. Instead, they’re bred to be family dogs and companions.
They have all the intelligence of a German Shepherd and remain sociable (when comfortable!), but they prefer using a bed ramp for dogs to get on the sofa for a cuddle rather than herding sheep in the cold!
Long-haired German Shepherd care and grooming
Long-haired German Shepherds are often raised for their coats; after all, these are silky soft and beautifully colored sets of furs. Before you bring home tiny German Shepherd puppies, though, know that their coats grow long and thick and need regular care and grooming.
Long-haired German Shepherds need to be clipped and trimmed to hold back their manes, and they’ll need regular brushing and washing. Unfortunately, the lack of an undercoat can pose problems, too, as the skin has little protection. You’ll need to ensure that debris is removed and that there’s no chance for parasites such as mites, fleas, or ticks to breed in the fur.
In terms of colors, there are a wide variety of traditional German Shepherd colored coats to be found. There are black long-haired German Shepherd dogs, white long-haired German Shepherd dogs, and of course, the classic black and tan coat. While they aren’t technically allowed to compete in official dog shows, these dogs are perfect for grooming and styling. ANd there’s nothing quite as cute as black German Shepherd puppies!
Long-haired German Shepherd lifespan and health concerns
How long do German Shepherds live? Standard German Shepherd dogs actually have a slightly higher average lifespan than long-haired German Shepherds. This is down to genetics and the chance of congenital diseases in the long-haired variety of this breed.
Standard German Shepherds live between 10 and 14 years, but long-haired German Shepherds have a lifespan between 9 and 13 years. Long-haired varieties are susceptible to heart conditions, while without proper grooming, they pick up skin infections, too.
Owners need to ensure that they take their long-haired German Shepherd for regular checkups at the vets, as there are several more specific long-haired German Shepherd health issues to look out for - including digestive problems, epilepsy, and hip and elbow dysplasia.
Day to day, long-haired German Shepherd dogs require large amounts of food to stay well-fed and healthy (these are large dogs, and they need 3 meals a day). These dogs love to run, too, so ensure they have plenty of opportunities to enjoy lots of exercise. They need to be walked at least once a day, but ideally, twice.
Luckily for owners, these are intelligent dogs, and like all German Shepherds, the long-haired variety is a delight to train. You can begin training it as a puppy, and while they aren’t as good at being a working dog as their short-haired cousins, this doesn’t mean they can’t learn command and tricks at home.
The last bark
Long-haired German Shepherd dogs might officially be classed as a defective variant of the short-haired German Shepherd, but we think this is one of the most beautiful dogs in the world!
If you’re searching for a long-haired beauty, then this dog is wonderful for families. They have the same size and intelligence as a standard German Shepherd, but they are often much more affectionate, playful, and loving. These dogs are bred to be companions, not workers!
If you’re searching for a long-haired dog, then why not bookmark our guide to the long-haired German Shepherd for future reference?