A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article in which I explained that there are many types within the German Shepherd dog breed and that these types can be divided into two categories; dogs which have physical qualities that reveal their intended purpose and dogs who by their physical particularities show their place of origin. In this post I will talk about the first scenario, which are the differences between Show Lines (or High Lines) and Working Lines.

There are quite a few differences between these two types of German Shepherds, but the most prominent one is their physical type. The physical conformation of GSD’s from Show Bloodlines is much closer to the ideal described in the breed standard, while German Shepherds of Working Bloodlines are bred with focus in their aptitude for the job, rather than in their physical conformation.

German Shepherds from Show Bloodlines recognized by the FCI are very consistent in type. A good GSD from Show Bloodlines is a strikingly beautiful dog. Show line German Shepherds are inclined to be larger, more angulated and brighter in color than Working Line dogs. They are predominantly black and red and demonstrate a fluid trot and sound temperament which is usually softer than that of Working Bloodline German Shepherds.

A mayor misconception among enthusiasts and even some breeders and trainers is that GSD’s of Show Lines are only bred for conformation and are unable to work as efficiently as GSD’s of Working Lines. This is not totally true.

Let’s clarify this. The German Shepherd Show Line is the most popular breed type in Germany. It’s true that they are bred for competition in the show ring, but they must also have working titles. They compete world wide under the German SV system, which requires working titles of show and breeding dogs. Germans take great pride in their breed, thus they make sure that the dogs they breed are the best and they have very rigorous rules when it comes to breeding. All breeding stock is required to pass a hip certification and previous to breeding each dog must have at least a Schutzhund I title and pass an endurance test; and a courage test at each national show where they compete.

Representatives of this line can be effective show dogs, but they can also perform as herding dogs, service dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs and sport dogs, and they make exceptional family companions and protectors. However, many show line dogs lack the energy and the nerves required of true protection dogs. Their energy and their nerves are what separate them from the working line dogs.

Working Bloodlines on the other hand are bred generally for their working traits rather than their appearance, thus the appearance of these dogs varies a lot. Although powerful and athletic, they are less likely to show the refined conformation typical of show lines; still, many due show exceptional structure. They are oftentimes sable, but also come in a series of different colors. They can be black and tans, saddle backs, bi colors, solid blacks and pretty much every other color except white.

Working Lines also have more drive than the average Show Lines. They are usually more energetic than Show Line German Shepherds and have a stable though stronger temperament, solid nerves and great disposition. They are also generally healthier. These dogs also make incredible family companions, although some show more drive and aggression than would be wanted in a family or guide dog.

Crosses between these two types are as good or as bad as the animals utilized to make the cross. Generally, they do not show the extremes of either parent’s type.

Both dogs make loving, caring, warm hearted friends and are great at a wide range of jobs. As I have described in previous posts, one of the main things that separates the German Shepherd dog breed from other breeds is the fact that although there are breeds which are better at specific tasks, no other breed has mastered such a large spectrum of skills.