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In Europe during the 1850s, attempts were being made to standardise breeds. The dogs were bred to preserve traits that assisted in their job of herding sheep and protecting flocks from predators. In Germany this was practiced within local communities, where shepherds selected and bred dogs that they believed had the skills necessary for herding sheep, such as intelligence, speed, strength, and keen senses of smell. The results were dogs that were able to do such things, but that differed significantly, both in appearance and ability, from one locality to another.

To combat these differences, the Phylax Society was formed in 1891 with the intention of creating standardised dog breeds in Germany. The society disbanded after only three years due to ongoing internal conflicts regarding the traits in dogs that the society should promote; some members believed dogs should be bred solely for working purposes, while others believed dogs should be bred also for appearance. While unsuccessful in their goal, the Phylax Society had inspired people to pursue standardising dog breeds independently.

Max von Stephanitz, an ex-cavalry captain and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College, was one such ex-member. He believed strongly that dogs should be bred for working.

In 1899, Von Stephanitz was attending a dog show when he was shown a dog named Hektor Linksrhein. Hektor was the product of few generations of selective breeding and completely fulfilled what Von Stephanitz believed a working dog should be. He was pleased with the strength of the dog and was so taken by the animal’s intelligence, loyalty, and beauty, that he purchased him immediately. After purchasing the dog he changed his name to Horand von Grafrath and Von Stephanitz founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society for the German Shepherd Dog). Horand was declared to be the first German Shepherd Dog and was the first dog added to the society’s breed register.

Horand became the centre-point of the breeding programs and was bred with dogs belonging to other society members that displayed desirable traits. Although fathering many pups, Horand’s most successful was Hektor von Schwaben. Hektor was inbred with another of Horand’s offspring and produced Beowulf, who later fathered a total of eighty-four pups, mostly through being inbred with Hektor’s other offspring. In the original German Shepherd studbook, Zuchtbuch für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SZ), within the two pages of entries from SZ No. 41 to SZ No. 76, there are four Wolf Crosses. Beowulf’s progeny also were inbred and it is from these pups that all German Shepherds draw a genetic link. It is believed the society accomplished its goal mostly due to Von Stephanitz’s strong, uncompromising leadership and he is therefore credited with being the creator of the German Shepherd Dog.

Other names for the German Shepherd Dog

Berger Allemand
Deutscher Schäferhund





The dog above is a excellent representative of the breed "type"

This line of German Shepherd has a reputation for being handsome!  They have the kind of look that requires a second take! These dogs are also very stable and clear headed with nerves of steel.

Although bred for their beauty and clear headeadness, this German Shepherd type is not just a pretty face.

SV (Germany) rules govern this breed. In Europe, This requires a working title and health clearance for hips and elbows before Breeding. Although they require a working title, they still do not have the intensity as a working line GSD. The German Showline are easy to live with, trainable, stable, and calm, yet possessing enough drive to work and protect. These dogs are normally very clear headed and stable to do it all. For these reasons they make great family homes with children, family home protectors and sport. They have it all. 

Physically closer to the German working line standard, they have less hind end angulation than the American/Canadian Sowlines and like the Canadian/American showline, they are typically larger than the working line dogs.

They come in traditional black/red or black/tan saddle back or occasionally sable.



Halo CH.jpg


The dog above is a excellent representative of the breed "type"

This line is bred for showing although many owners of this type have had success in agility, herding and obedience work.  Popularized in the early ’70s, side gait and conformation is the focus of breeding here.

This type of German Shepherd has a narrower head and more rear angulation. These showlines are typically larger than working line dogs.

Unlike the European dogs that are registered by the SV, A hip certification is not required in the United States or by Canada for registration. Although REPUTABLE breeders will still do health clearnaces for hips and elbows. 

If well-bred, you’ll find this type of German Shepherd to have a laid-back character.  They're less physically demanding than the working line Shepherd making it a great companion and family pet.

The Canadian / American shepherd is not a working dog that you will see excel in Schutzhund work. Most of these dogs do not have the required temperament to do schutzhund/IPO, but do excellent at herding, agility or obedience.

This line of Shepherds CAN lack courage, stability and clear headedness. So it's extremely important to buy off a breeder who breeds to better the breed to what it was supposed to be. There are still many reputable breeders who breed for sound temperament along with confirmation and health. You just need to find them. 

They mostly come in Black/Tan but often in solid Blacks and some sables.




V FH2 IPO3 Tino vom Felsenschloß 

The dog above is a excellent representative of the breed "type"

                                                    THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WORKING LINES


This type of German Shepherd has continued to be developed and maintained after the end of WWII.  The establishment of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik meant strict government controlled pedigree registration.

And 40 years of closed breeding.

From this developed a distinctive looking dog.  With dark pigment, a big head, deep chest, athletic body, supreme intellect and stamina to boot.

This type of German Shepherd has a sound temperament and a high work drive (although this does vary).

They must have plenty of mental and physical stimulation and an experienced handler.


The development and maintaining of this line of German Shepherd was isolated to one kennel.  Founded in 1955 and owned by Czechoslovakian Army’s border patrol or Pohranicni Straze.

The sole purpose was to breed and train dogs for military border patrol.

The majority of these dogs were remnants from former East Germany.  But, dogs from the Czech Socialist Republic were also used in this strict breeding program.

Like the working lines of East Germany, this type of German Shepherd is agile with a powerful build and dark pigment.

With a strong work structure and high work drive, this line will excel in obedience, agility and protection sports.

They can be intense and need plenty of mental and physical stimulation.


This German Shepherd type is the closest representation of the dogs produced by Max von Stephanitz.  Their main focus is on strong working drives, stable temperament, and excellent working ability.

They will excel at a variety of different sports.

Although this type has a strong work drive, they still do make a good pet for experienced families.

All types of working line dogs may have a shorter and coarse coat than their showline counterparts. They're also smaller with less angulation than the American/Canadian and German Showline. Working lines GSD have alot more prey drive then the German/American/Canadian Showlines. This causes them to be more sensitive to fast moving objects or people. For this reason they do need a experienced handler and do not make as great of family companions. They were bred to work and they do excellent at sport.

Breeder's Thoughts

There is a certain "type" of Shepherd for everyone and I don't think any "type" is not good. I do appreciate a good Working dog, American Showline or a German Showline.

You can have a poorly bred Shepherd with any type. It's to find a reputable breeder that breeds correctly to what our breed standard is and to improve the breed. Many breeders do breed for the wrong reasons and that's why you, as the buyer need to do your homework and buy from a breeder who breeds to better the breed. 

The information above on the different types of Shepherds are what the the "types" are like in GENERAL. For example you can have a German Showline with less/more drive or a working dog with less/more drive. It all depends on the breeding and what the breeder is trying to achieve in their breeding program. Same as the American/Canadian showlines.... Many people are so scared of the angulation in the rear end but again you can get some with less angulation. I have seen some extremely agile and sturdy dogs with not as much angulation in the American/Canadian showline. Same goes for the workingline dog, some can have more drive and are crazy high strung and some less. Again, it depends on what the breeder is trying to achieve in their breeding program. A workinline dog with crazy drive is great for someone who is active and wants to work the dog in sport. As for my opinion the German Showline or American/Canadian showlines make much better family pets. 

We do believe according to SV standard that the German Shepherd should be a dog that can work but still be a family companion. Our goal in breeding is to produce the best temperaments suited for family companions and home guardians with a confirmation that is pretty but still functional. This is why we have chosen to breed German Showlines as we find they best match this criteria. The most important thing is that they have a very sound mind and I find it is so important to have. If you dont have sound temperament, you don't have nothing. 

I hope these articles will help you out in decided what dog is best suited for you and your needs. We do know of breeders of all type's and can refer you to a reputable breeder if we do not have what you are looking for. 

Sarah-Lynn Viau

Von Lousar Shepherds

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