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Short-Haired German Shepherds: 5 Reasons to Love This Breed

Whether you have a buzzcut, a combover, or a mane, you know that hair is an essential part of your appearance. That’s why it is no surprise that the first question a potential German Shepherd owner has to address upon getting interested in the breed is what type of coat to get. Here are the five reasons a short-haired German Shepherd is perfect.

  • Unanimous approval: short hair is one of the few traits that is admired by working line breeders and show rings alike. 
  • Intense bond: You’ll brush your short-haired German Shepherd to help him shed his fur. This creates a very strong bond of mutual appreciation.
  • Social intelligence: Because these dogs are produced by breeders who serve the working line or the show crowd, they are bred from the best genes. They are intelligent and easy pick up on social cues if trained properly.
  • Visually perfect: Since the 90s, most German Shepherds starring in movies have been the short-haired variety. This accidental propaganda has set their appearance as the go-to standard for GSD beauty.
  • Incredibly active: Short-haired German Shepherds are quite athletic and can keep their owners busy by demanding an active lifestyle.

If the above has sold you on getting a German Shepherd, and you cannot wait to head to your local breeder, I ask you to sit tight for just a few more minutes as I go over a few things you need to know before getting the short stock coat variety.

In this post, I’ll discuss the health and temperament essentials of owning a short-haired German Shepherd. But before that, let’s look at this breed’s origin.

Short Haired German Shepherd

Origin and History

What is a Short-Haired German Shepherd?

A short-haired German Shepherd is a standard German Shepherd with a double coat. It is also known as a short stock coat or a normal coat. This variety’s topcoat is usually less than 1 inch long, which gives it this nomenclature, used exclusively in contrast to the long-haired type.

Short-haired German Shepherds have a short, dense topcoat, with straight and coarse fur lying close to the body. They have slightly longer and thicker hair around the neck and longer fur on the rear of the forelegs and hind legs extending to the hock and pastern.

Any reference to a German Shepherd must be assumed to refer to a short-haired German Shepherd.

Even though the name derives from the dog’s topcoat length, it actually refers to its genetic ability to grow a guard coat no longer than 1 inch in hair length. In other words, one cannot trim a long-haired German Shepherd and call him a short stock coat shepherd. 

You cannot convert even the long-coated type with a double coat to short-haired German Shepherds cosmetically. This goes on to show that the name is gene-contingent and not appearance-based.

Since dogs are selectively bred to retain characteristics admired by humans, the subject of genes leads to a conversation about desirability.

Short-haired German Shepherds are “standard German Shepherds” because the trait is preferable. 

And somewhere in between, we have the medium-haired German Shepherd, often referred to as a plush coat. My German Shepherd is this type.

The American Kennel Club considers long hair a flaw because of the often missing undercoat, known as an open coat. Aside from hair length/type, the other difference between the breed within either of the prominent lines (show line and working line) is color. For color, the breed’s founder is quoted as saying, “no good dog is a bad color.”

However, the same founder, Max von Stephanitz, was quite vocal about the need for German Shepherds to have shorter hair. Today’s breed standards are often dictated by show rings, which is why some of the most majestic-looking German Shepherd colors are seen as faults. 

Von Stephanitz didn’t care as much about the looks, although he did set out to create the best-looking and best-working dog. Then why did he focus on breeding out the long hair trait of the shepherd dogs of his time? Because long hair interferes with a dog’s ability to work.

From a missing undercoat to the ease of getting dirty, long fur is a liability for a big working dog. Even today’s working line German Shepherds have to be athletic and agile. When long hair was just slightly more inconvenient than short hair, breeders producing dogs for work started pulling out the long-haired variety from the stud pool. 

It was then only a matter of the show crowd discovering that long-haired types had no show prospects, and in a few decades, short-haired German Shepherds rose from 50% of the breed-share to around 90%.

Given that I have written posts about standard GSDs, including how to train them and their growth schedule, I will make the rest of this post somewhat comparative to dogs with longer hair lengths.

But first, here’s the breed overview:

Short Haired German ShepherdBreed Characteristics
AKC GroupHerding
OriginGermany
TypeCompanion / Working / Showing
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
AppearanceShort, dense topcoat with straight, coarse fur lying close to the body. Longer and thicker hair on the neck, Slightly longer hair on the rear of the forelegs and hind legs to the hock and pastern. Read more about the differences between long-haired GSD vs short hair.
Lifespan10-13 years
Health IssuesBloat (GDV), Hip Dysplasia, Degenerative Myelopathy
Coat ColorsBlack & Tan, Black & Red, Black, White (rare), Sable
Coat TypeShort, Double-coated
SheddingHeavy
GroomingModerate
Easy to TrainYes
Exercise NeedsMedium-high
HypoallergenicNo
Child FriendlyYes
Pet FriendlyYes
Good for new ownersYes
Cost$2000 on average

How Big Do Short-Haired German Shepherds Get?

Short-haired German Shepherds grow 24-26 inches tall for males and weigh 66-88 lbs, whereas short-haired females grow 22-24 inches and weigh 49-71 lbs. Their height and weight are similar to the medium and long-coated varieties.

In this instance, fur length doesn’t seem to interfere with overall weight because the total coat weight is similar between all types. While long-haired varieties have topcoats that are twice as long as the short-haired dogs, this type has double coats. The factor that actually affects the size, then, isn’t hair but gender.

Given that show line German Shepherds are short-haired or plush coated, it is also worth mentioning that there’s a slight size difference between the working lines and the show lines.

Short Haired German Shepherd Dog

Short-haired German Shepherds belonging to the working line will be less bulky than show lines. This is primarily due to different genes, but you can exaggerate the size difference with the working lines being trimmed closer to the coat and show lines having their coats fluffed up for conformation events.

Temperament

Personality Traits of the Short-Haired German Shepherd

Since short-haired German Shepherds are classed as the standard of the breed, their personality traits are what you would expect. However, the way you treat them also shapes their personality.

The two types begin cultivating different traits, with the long-haired being treated differently than short-haired ones. Here’s how the results manifest.

Socially intelligent

Short-haired German Shepherds are socially intelligent because their potential for observation is honed by their owners, who adopt them for work or enroll them in the show circuit. The long-haired types are often adopted by novice dog parents who fall in love with the pup for personal reasons. Nonetheless, both types make good pets.

The difference in owners/trainers is reflected in the dogs, and by adulthood, a short-haired German Shepherd is already inducted into the norms of human-canine socialization.

Alert

While short-haired German Shepherds can be incredibly alert, this trait is often watered down by lack of reward. Initially, they will bark incessantly at everything “wrong” in their surroundings. But the “wrong” could literally be your mother-in-law visiting for the weekend! 

Even though you and your doggo might agree on how wrong that is, the social norms dictate that this is fine. That is why you don’t reward the dog for barking, which discourages him from barking at every other guest. Compound this for a year, and you have a best friend who is alert but for very specific things. 

Long-haired German Shepherds don’t experience anything too different either, which is why both start off too alert and mellow down as they grow up.

Loyal

Short-haired German Shepherds are loyal dogs, and their loyalty is cemented further as they bond with their owners. They shed more during the fall and spring because of their undercoat change. This means their owners brush them more frequently than long-coated dogs who shed at the same rate year-round. 

Brushing is therapeutic for the owner and pleasant for the pup because of the attention he receives. As a result, short-haired German Shepherds bond very quickly with their owners.

Curious

Short-haired German Shepherds are also quite curious. They are interested in exploring and can often get distracted by external stimuli. This trait isn’t very different from their long-haired counterparts, and depending on how well their sense of wonder is preserved, they can stay curious until their senior years. 

Coupled with their high energy, this sense can make them hard to handle if not appropriately trained. They need walks, but if they cannot focus, they end up making you walk a longer distance and in more directions than you planned. To avoid this, you must know how to take care of a short-haired German Shepherd.

Learn More About The Standard German Shepherd…

All about the German Shepherd - History, care & training

How to Care for a Short-Haired German Shepherd

Do Short-Haired German Shepherds Shed?

Short-haired German Shepherds shed consistently throughout the year and lose their undercoats rapidly during the fall and spring seasons. You need to brush them twice a week to ensure that loose fur is liberated and your dog doesn’t spread the hair across your flooring and furniture.

Long-haired types, in contrast, do not shed more during fall or spring. However, they too require the same regular brushing regimen. From an owner’s point of view, there’s no difference in effort when brushing either variety.

Do Short-Haired German Shepherds Get Cold?

Short-haired German Shepherds do not get cold as their woolly undercoat acts as an insulating layer and prevents their body heat from escaping, which helps them stay relatively warm in colder weather. The breed is perfectly capable of living and sleeping outside if exposed and trained from an early age.

Still, when it comes to extended exposure, they can’t tolerate temperatures that Huskies thrive in.

Long-haired German Shepherds aren’t any better at this either. They often don’t have an undercoat which leads to loss of heat only hindered by their topcoat. Therefore, they too get cold in extreme temperatures but survive relatively cold weather like their short-haired cousins.

Aside from brushing your short-haired German Shepherd and keeping him from getting wet in the cold, there are other things you need to do as your pup’s caretaker. Again, because this variety accounts for almost the entirety of the breed, I would refer you to my comprehensive article on taking care of German Shepherds.

Health

Common Health Problems

Short-haired German Shepherds seem privileged in that they have better acceptance than other types. But there are limits to the perks of any breed, and with long hair, medium, or short, health problems remain a significant concern. Here are some medical complications a short-haired German Shepherd is prone to.

  1. Degenerative Disc Disease.
  2. Cataracts.
  3. Bloat (GDV).
  4. Epilepsy.
  5. Hip Dysplasia.
  6. Hemophilia.
  7. Elbow Dysplasia.
  8. Diabetes.

FAQ About Short-Haired German Shepherds

Are Short-Haired German Shepherds Hypoallergenic?

Short-haired German Shepherds are not hypoallergenic. They have two coats and constantly shed all year round. They also have increased shedding twice per year when they blow their undercoat during the allergy season, triggering reactions in people with particle allergies.

Dogs, in general, aren’t hypoallergenic, with very rare exceptions. If you are looking for a German Shepherd with reduced shedding, you might want to consider a miniature GSD, such as a Poodle mix (Shepadoodle).

How Much Do Short-Haired German Shepherds Cost?

On average short-haired German Shepherds cost $2,000 if you buy them from a reputable breeder. This gets you not just the puppy but also papers and the assurance that the dog comes from health-tested parents. Alternatively, you can get an untested puppy without papers for as little as $450.

However, bargain hunting in this domain isn’t ideal. When it comes to having kids, we wish them the best in health and potential. When getting a puppy from a breeder, you get to choose how healthy and fit the next addition to your family is. Deciding to get a dog with the best shot at a healthy life will save you a lot of pain in the future.

You can read more about the prices and costs of owning the dog in these two articles:

By the way, if you are thinking about buying a product or toy for your dog, check out my favorite gear below. Also, check out the 10-year warranty on the dog bed!

RetailerMy Favorite ProductLink to Store
Walk Your Dog With Love LogoThe Original
No-Pull Harness
Go to Walk Your Dog
With Love
Amazon LogoFurminator Undercoat
De-shedding Tool
Go to Amazon
Big Barker LogoOrthopedic Dog Bed
(10-year warranty)
Go to Big Barker
Amazon LogoOutward Hound Interactive
Puzzle Toy
Go to Amazon

Final Thoughts

If you set out to get a German Shepherd but got sidetracked by coat length, get yourself a short-haired as that’s the standard. Even if your motivation to get a dog was to have him enter the show ring, choose a short coat because long-haired shepherds have little chance at enrollment or success. But for that, make sure you get the colors that qualify.

But if you want a German Shepherd who won’t shed as much or has a distinct look that sets him apart from other GSDs, with a slightly friendlier temperament, get yourself the long coat variety, and for every ten dogs, yours will be one of a kind.

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