Differences Between German & American German Shepherd Dogs

The American and German-bred Shepherd differ in structure and temperament.
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The German Shepherd, widely known for it’s courage, loyalty and ability to be trained, is one of the most well-known breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. Modern-day German Shepherds descend from early herding and farm dogs of Germany. The popularity of the German Shepherd spread rapidly from about 1914 onward to many parts of the world, including America. Although the American and German-bred Shepherd are similar, there are physical and temperament differences between the two lines.

Physical Differences

The most obvious difference between the German-bred Shepherd and the American concerns the dog’s stance. While German Shepherds of German lines have a straight back, the American German Shepherd’s back has a downward slope and sharply angled hip joints. These traits make the American dog look longer and allow for the “flowing gait” that is often praised in the American show ring. They differ in color and size as well, with German-bred Shepherds tending to be larger and darker than the American lines.

Temperament Differences

Overall, both American and German-bred Shepherds have good temperament, and depending upon their obedience training, can be great family dogs. The German-bred Shepherds, bred more as a working dog, may appear less social and are sometimes wary of strangers. Its American counterpart-bred are more often used as show dogs.

Breed Registration

In order for a German Shepherd to be registered in Germany, it must pass specific breed criteria as defined by a governing board. These evaluations include herding and endurance performance, as well as physical structure evaluations. In America, the American Kennel Club registry requires only that the dog's parents be registered with the AKC.