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Medium-Haired (Plush Coat) German Shepherd: 5 Cool Facts

Last Updated: January 29, 2024

If you want a German Shepherd and need to decide on coat length, getting a medium-haired German Shepherd is the best option if you love plush, pettable fur.

Their fairly long topcoat hair is usually shorter than 2 inches, and their undercoat props up the topcoat to give the dog a fuller look.

Here are some more interesting facts about medium-haired German Shepherds:

  • Medium-haired German Shepherds are some of the most admired at dog shows. 
  • “Plush coat” is not a globally recognized official term but one invented by the breed’s admirers.
  • Medium-haired German Shepherds can be more expensive than other varieties.
  • Plush coat GSDs shed a lot in the fall and spring seasons.
  • Medium-haired German Shepherds have a great social experience because of their cuteness.

Discover the essentials of owning a medium-haired German Shepherd, covering its temperament, care needs, health concerns, and cost.

While I might be slightly biased, as a plush-coat German Shepherd owner, this guide offers valuable insights for anyone considering this breed.

Let’s get started!

What is a Plush Coat German Shepherd?

A plush coat German Shepherd is one with a medium-length coat, fluffier than short-haired German Shepherds and fuller than the long-haired variety.

The lengthwise edge they have over short coats makes them look better, and their undercoats improve their fullness compared to long coats.

However, since “plush coat” is not an official term, it is used more loosely and can also describe long-haired German Shepherds with a double coat.

That said, despite its lack of strict usage conventions, you’ll never hear the term being used for the short-haired variety.

Even though the term has no gatekeepers, it is mostly used for German Shepherds that meet the following breed standards.

  • Have a top coat and an undercoat. 
  • The coat is fluffier without salon work.
  • The topcoat hair is between one to two inches long.

To better inform you what a medium-haired German Shepherd is like, I will elaborate on the five facts mentioned above. But first, here’s a glance at the breed:

Medium Haired German ShepherdBreed Characteristics
AKC GroupHerding
TypeCompanion / Showing / Working
Breed SizeMedium-large
Height24-26 inches (Males)
22-24 inches (Females)
Weight66-88 pounds (Males)
49-71 pounds (Females)
TemperamentIntelligent, Independent, Faithful, High-energy, Courageous, Protective, Strong, Confident, Aloof, Devoted, Versatile, Territorial, Watchful, Curious
AppearanceAgile, Cuddly, Bushy Tail, Pointy Ears, Well-balanced
Lifespan10-13 years
Health IssuesBloat (GDV), Hip Dysplasia, Degenerative Myelopathy, Osteoarthritis
Coat ColorsBlack & Tan, Black & Red, Black, Bi-color, White (rare), Sable
Coat TypeMedium (Plush), Double-coated
Easy to TrainYes
Exercise NeedsMedium-high
Child FriendlyYes
Pet FriendlyYes
Good for new ownersYes

1. Medium-Haired GSDs Can Cost More Than Other Types

This is the case only if the cost of two German Shepherds of the same color and different coat lengths are compared. That is because a dog with a medium coat would still be disqualified from the show ring if his color is considered a fault.

German Shepherd color, therefore, interferes with the price, so a short-haired type might command a higher price for being a rarer, more valuable color.

But if the colors are the same, you’ll almost always pay more for the plushier coat. On average, a medium-haired German Shepherd will be more than $2000 from a reputable breeder.

Plush Coat GSD.

2. Plush Coats Shed More

This is compared to other German Shepherds because short-haired dogs shed less fur, whereas most long-haired dogs don’t have an undercoat, hence less shedding.

Because medium coats have the best of both worlds in terms of fur length and undercoat, they also shed the most of both kinds. However, this doesn’t affect grooming requirements.

You can read about shedding here: German Shepherd Shedding: Guide to a Fur-Free Home

Check Out Our Video on Various German Shepherd Coat Lengths…

3. Medium-Haired German Shepherds are Friendlier

This is a nature vs. nurture effect. In nature, medium-coat German Shepherds have the same social temperament as other varieties, but they get treated more positively because they are cuter to the masses.

This reinforces friendliness and keeps them from seeing every human as a threat.

Of course, social experience is a prerequisite for this, and poorly socialized or untrained medium-coat dogs do not develop this trait.

4. Medium Coats Are Admired by the Show Crowd

The dog show crowd is quite different in that it admires dogs not for their mass appeal but for specific traits. Often, dogs loved by the public for their beautiful colors are dismissed by the show circuit because of an arbitrary breed standard.

The plushness of the medium-haired German Shepherd is one of the rare traits admired by the public at large and the dog show niche.

German Shepherd Lying in Long Grass
My dog is a medium-coated variety.

5. Plush Coat is Not the Actual Name of This Breed

The show crowd has a lot of pull and is responsible for the sloping back of show line German Shepherds. A trait admired by these circles gets intentionally bred into the working line in a matter of years.

They so fiercely admire the plushness of medium-haired German Shepherds that they have not just come up with a name for it but have made that name stick.

Almost all German Shepherds with fur between 1-2 inches are called “plush coats,” provided they have an undercoat. However, that isn’t an official name for the breed type.

You might wonder why there’s a cut-off at 2 inches even though some long-haired German Shepherds have been called plush-coated.

The reason is the looseness factor. After a point, the length of hair becomes a liability for the coat’s fluffiness. That’s why most long coats do not qualify as plush coats.

The term “plush” is mainly used in show ring lingo.

If you have read my post about long-haired German Shepherds, you would know that most of them cannot participate in conformation events.

Since they are shunned by the same crowd that brought the term “plush” in vogue, they are omitted from the “plush” category.

Appearance and Size

Showline enthusiasts brought the term “plush” to prominence, at least about German Shepherds. The medium-coat dogs have breathtaking beauty, so the show crowd admires their “plushness” enough to make a virtual breed out of them.

They have a wolf-like appearance but with a hint of cuddliness. Upon looking at a medium-coated GSD, you cannot help but pet it.

Medium Haired German Shepherd.
My German Shepherd Willow (Medium Haired)

An average male medium-haired German Shepherd is 24 to 26 inches tall as an adult and weighs 66 to 88 lbs.

In contrast, female plush-coated dogs stand 22 to 24 inches tall and weigh 49 to 71 lbs. This figure isn’t too different from other types of German Shepherds.

Temperament of the Medium-Haired German Shepherd

The temperament of the medium-haired German Shepherd is the same as that of other varieties, regardless of coat type, color, or pattern.

They are affectionate and caring towards their owners and form an intense bond you can never break.

They are also friendly with the surrounding community because they grow up being admired by people. Their fluffiness ensures that they have positive social experiences with people, making them open to human interaction.

Still, these dogs’ friendliness doesn’t take away from their protective instincts. A medium-coat German Shepherd sees you as his parent and friend, so he extends his loyalty to your family.

They can be somewhat aloof with strangers until you introduce them and tell your dog the “stranger” is welcome.

Their social nature, alongside their curiosity, makes them great dogs, and their protective instincts and loyalty make them even better family members.

Shedding Patterns

Plush coat German Shepherds shed all year heavily and even more so twice per year in the spring and fall when they change or “blow” their undercoat in preparation for the new season ahead.

“However, their fur is replaced almost as soon as it is lost.” – World of Dogz

Generally, a long coat will shed less than a plush coat dog purely because of coat volume and having an open coat.

The short-haired German Shepherd has two coats, but because the guard coat is shorter, there is less trapped loose fur than with a plush coat.

You should brush them around twice a week, more during heavy shedding season. For tips on controlling shedding, check out this article: How To Reduce German Shepherd Shedding.

Health and Lifespan

Health is essential, and your medium coat friend is likely to stay healthy as long as you take care of his fitness, give him the proper diet, and visit the vet at least once a year.

That said, you must know the potential health complications your dog might have.

The following health issues have nothing to do with the coat itself, but here are the problems many German Shepherds face.

  • Hip dysplasia – To prevent this, ask the breeder if the dog’s parents have a joint health rating of normal grade or higher. 
  • Elbow dysplasia – Ask for confirmation of parental joint health as normal grade or above.
  • Degenerative myelopathy – Ask the breeder to show a SOD-1 gene-mutation test indicating both parents have normal genes.
  • Bloat (GDV) – To prevent this, avoid big meals and give small, more frequent meals.
  • Arthritis – To prevent this, manage your dog’s weight and ensure he takes enough Omega-3 supplements.

Provided you care for the above, your German Shepherd can live up to 12 years. However, once the dog is beyond seven years, his metabolism will slow down, and his appetite will not adjust to match it.

Consequently, there will be weight gain, which can affect the dog’s joints. Ensuring your dog stays active is the best way to ensure he lives a happy and healthy life.

German Shepherd Standing In Snow


What is the difference between a plush coat vs. a stock coat German Shepherd?

A short stock coat German Shepherd has a topcoat with hair no longer than one inch in length, whereas a plush coat has hair between 1 and 2 inches. The hair on the plush coat stands taller from the root but hangs a little towards the end, giving the coat a worthy look worth caressing.

A stock coat German Shepherd has fur that stands more erect, albeit shorter. The surface area of this fur is still significant. Among the things that plush and stock coats have in common is a chance at dog shows.

Most plush coats are admired by the show crowd, while stock coats can come from both the working line and the show line, with only the latter preferred by the dog pageant circuit.

What is the difference between a plush-coat German Shepherd vs. a long-coat?

A plush coat German Shepherd has topcoat hair between 1 to 2 inches, a length crossed by long coats that have over 2 inches of fur. However, plush coats have an undercoat, which is often missing from long coats.

The greatest consequence of this is that the extreme admiration received by plush coats is contrasted by the complete dismissal of long coats in the show circuit.

This difference in treatment is also reflected in the prices of the two dogs, with long-coat GSDs being among the lowest-priced dogs and plush coats commanding one of the highest dollar values for a German Shepherd.

Do German Shepherds Have Coarse Hair?

German Shepherds have a double coat that consists of a thick, soft undercoat and a coarser outer coat. The outer coat can vary in texture from dog to dog, but it is generally considered to be coarse.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherd is a term that encompasses dogs of various looks, which is why knowing as much as you can about their different coat types will help you articulate the kind of dog you actually want.

If the dog’s fluffy, pettable fur is what you admire the most, it is best to avoid short-stock coated varieties.

Moreover, you should know if you are okay with the drawbacks of a long-coat German Shepherd, mainly their irrelevance in the show ring. The best compromise is a medium-haired German Shepherd who can be a worker and show dog alike.

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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