German Shepherds have been one of the most-loved dog breeds around the world for many years. Their loyalty and protective nature makes them well sought after, as does their loveable kindness.
While most people know of the typical light-brown and black short-haired German Shepherd, there’s another beautiful variation of the breed. Known as the long haired German Shepherd, you’ll find that they come with plenty of more hair than the typical pup.
You might be thinking that they’re going to require loads of extra cleanup, but that’s not always the case. Oftentimes, if you groom them properly, you’ll find that they don’t shed much more than any other type of dog.
Along with grooming, you’ll want to make sure that they have a proper diet. Much like us, long haired German Shepherds have a strong correlation between the food they eat and the way their hair grows. If you feed them ‘human food’, or food that they shouldn’t eat too much, they will have dandruff and shedding issues.
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Don’t worry though, because it’s very easy to maintain these dogs. They’re incredibly loveable and very social, despite the negative stigma that stands against them with some people. Just like any other breed, the way you treat the dog will directly impact their attitude as they grow up.
How Big Do They Get?
Male long haired German Shepherds can grow to be quite a bit larger than the females. In fact, they usually end up growing to be about 24 to 26 inches tall from paw to shoulder. This makes them a little bit bigger than a medium-sized dog.
Female long haired German Shepherds tend to be about 22 to 24 inches in height. Although they’re smaller than their male counterparts, the females are still a bit larger than the average medium-sized dog as well.
The overall weight of male and female Shepherds varies as well. While the males usually weight in around 66 to 88 pounds, the females typically weight about 51 to 73 pounds. Multiple different factors influence the dog’s overall weight, including diet, exercise, and genetics.
These dogs also sometimes have issues with becoming overweight, so if you happen to notice a sudden onset bulkiness or weight increase, see your local vet for advice.
Usually, the best action to take is rather simple; Feed them a better diet and walk them more than you already do. They love to play, so try to throw the ball around a
Another factor that can determine the height of a long-haired German Shepherd is how big their parents are. If the mother and father are larger than most, you’ll see those results reflected in your dog. The same goes if the parents are smaller than normal. Make sure you figure out the lineage of the puppy you adopt if you’re going through a breeder.
What Do They Look Like?
The obvious difference in appearance lies within the hair length of these dogs. It’s usually only a few inches longer than a typical German Shepherd, but that’s more than enough to change a whole lot about how you take care of the dog. Don’t assume that it’s the same as a short-haired Shepherd, because you’ll quickly catch on to the fact that they have completely different needs.
Interestingly enough, long haired German Shepherds have less defense against the environment than their short-haired counterparts. This is because they don’t have an undercoat, which means they can’t stay dry or warm as long as dogs with short hair can. Not only that, but their long hair actually soaks rather quickly, which makes it very hard to clean them up after a shower or a rainstorm.
Since their fur is more like hair than actual fur, you’ll notice that their hair cleaning and grooming needs are similar to that of a human. Shampoos and even sometimes conditioners are needed much more often due to the bacteria and dirt that can build up rather quickly.
The good news is that they’re absolutely beautiful when their long hair is clean. It shines unlike most other dog breeds, and it’s also very soft. Some owners like to have their dog’s hair trimmed, which keeps it from overgrowing. It’s up to you, as both methods have their pros and cons.
As far as color goes, long haired German Shepherds typically turn out to be black, brown, light-brown, grey, brindle, or a combination of multiple of the colors listed. The color is determined through genetics, but sometimes it can stretch to their grandparents which means you’ll have to study up on their family tree if you really want to know before buying one.
Long Haired German Shepherd Temperament
German Shepherds have had an interesting stigma around them for decades. People have always remained cautious around these dogs, due to their mean bark and growl. They’re strong and muscular in appearance, which further attributes to the overall negative thought process about these beautiful and kind dogs.
The truth is, when they’re raised in a proper and loving environment, German Shepherds can be the sweetest family dogs around. They usually mimic the behavior of their owners, which is why they can also end up skittish, anxious, angry, happy, loving, and so on. They truly have some of the most malleable attitudes out of any type of dog.
While it might be scary to think that they have the capability of being mean, anxious, or aggressive, it’s all on how you raise them. Show them compassion and respect, and they will love you and protect you like there’s no tomorrow!
A quick piece of advice: Make sure you introduce them to the public as soon as possible. Bring your friends and family over, walk them to the park, take them to grocery stores (where they allow it), and so on. The more they interact with people, the more they learn that they don’t have to protect you and bark at everything that walks by.
Who Should Get a Long Haired German Shepherd?
As sad as it is to admit, long-haired German Shepherds aren’t for everyone. While most people would definitely prefer them over other dogs, this breed has very specific needs that make it less likely to do well in certain environments.
They’re naturally hunting dogs, which means they have all kinds of pent up energy that needs to be expelled. Especially when they’re puppies, it’s wise to allow these dogs plenty of room to run around. If you have a large backyard or a swimming pool, you’re in luck! They love to swim if you teach them correctly, and they obvious love to play all day long.
Unfortunately, they’re not the best apartment dogs. Being held up in a small building all day isn’t quite exactly what they need. Unless you’re willing to take your pup on walks multiple times a day, you’d be better off with a different breed, like teacup pug or shih tzu, if you live in an apartment. There’s a common misconception that all barking is due to lack of training. The truth is that most excessive barking is due to pent up energy, so go play with them when you can!
If you’re able to play a lot, run around, or swim with your dog, then the long-haired German Shepherd should definitely be on your list! They’re amazing dogs with more energy than most, but if you can handle it then you’re in for a treat. Truthfully, German Shepherds in general are some of the most loyal creatures on this planet. Their sole purpose is to make you happy!
Some people obviously don’t have the time to play with their dog all day, so getting a second one as a friend is a great idea if you can handle twice the hair! They learn to cope with being alone (well, without you) way quicker if they have a friend to share the time with. Dogs also know when another pup is their sibling, so getting them straight from the litter is ideal.
Long Haired German Shepherd Health & Wellness
Much like other large dog breeds, long-haired German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia and joint pain. Eventually, it can lead to arthritis which causes severe pain upon every step. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to make sure your dog doesn’t jump in or out of high places as much as possible. A common error that owners make is allowing their dog to jump out of the car, especially if the car is high up off the ground. The impact can cause injuries at a young age.
Another issue with this breed is digestive problems. They have very sensitive stomachs and even a small alteration of their diet can send them into a world of pain and discomfort for hours on end. Try to keep your dog’s diet as predictable as possible, especially if they’re prone to digestive health issues.
A good tip is to feed them small bits of food if you’re trying to change their meal plan. If they start to burp, or if they have unusual problems with their bowel movements, then you know to avoid that food.
Victoria Nelson is a lifelong animal lover. She grew up in a small farm with a wide variety of pets that included dogs, cats, cows, fish etc. A published author since 18, she loves writing, and nothing makes her happier than writing about animals and sharing useful animal care tips.