Long-Haired German Shepherd Vs. Short-Haired: 3 Differences Explained

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: October 26, 2023
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You might think the only difference between a long-haired German shepherd vs. short-haired German shepherd is their hair length, which makes sense given their names. And we’ll be honest, you would be right to some degree. However, there are slight differences in their needs and temperament. But the main difference between the two is a recessive gene that causes a German shepherd to have a longer coat. 

Continue reading for a full breakdown of the long-haired German shepherd vs. short-haired German shepherd debate, including appearance, size, personality, needs, and health issues. 

Long-Haired German Shepherd Vs. Short-Haired: A Comparison

ComparisonLong-haired German ShepherdShort-haired German Shepherd
Height22 to 26 inches tall22 to 26 inches tall
Weight50 to 90 pounds50 to 90 pounds
Coat TypeDouble coat; long, fringed hairDouble coat; short and flat or wavy hair
ColorsBlack and brown, black and tanBlack and brown, black and tan
TemperamentCalmer, more friendly, eager to pleaseEnergetic, protective, athletic
UsesFamily dogFamily dog, guard dog, police dog, show dog
Life Expectancy9 to 13 years9 to 13 years

Key Differences Between Long-Haired German Shepherds and Short-Haired German Shepherds

Long-haired German shepherds and short-haired differ between coat types, temperaments, and uses.

The three key differences between long-haired and short-haired German shepherds are their coat types, temperaments, and uses. 

Long-haired German shepherds: longer hair, used mainly for family dogs, and have a calmer and more friendly demeanor.

Short-haired German shepherds: Short hair, used as family dogs and police or guard dogs, and are more athletic and energetic.


German Shepherd, Dog, Sitting, Outdoors, Grass

German shepherds have either long or short hair. But both types have an undercoat that shed twice a year.


While the two appear similar, there are obviously some distinct differences. Let’s look into them.

Long-Haired German Shepherd Vs. Short-Haired: Height and Weight

As far as size, the long-haired and short-haired German shepherds are exactly the same. Males average between 24 and 26 inches tall, while females are between 22 and 24. Males weigh around 65 to 90 pounds on average, and females clock in at 50 to 70 pounds. German shepherds, in general, are muscular and agile, with a large build. 

Long-Haired German Shepherd Vs. Short-Haired: Coat Type

Their coat type is the main difference between them. German shepherds have two coat lengths, either long or short. Short-haired German shepherds have a short topcoat that lays flat against the body. While the Long-haired shepherds have a long topcoat that fringes at the end. They can also have a slight mane around their faces. However, some long-haired German shepherds may not have a double coat. These shepherds are considered faults in their breed, meaning the characteristic can be detrimental to their breed, and most breeders will need to correct the trait.

How bad do long-haired German Shepherds shed?

German Shepherds continuously shed their fur throughout the year, but they experience two significant shedding events annually, known as “blowing their coats.” During these shedding periods, it can take 10 days or longer to shed their dense undercoat. If you’re not prepared to manage shedding, a German Shepherd may not be the most suitable choice for you.

As mentioned this breed regularly sheds their topcoats throughout the year, but they undergo two significant shedding periods annually. The heaviest shedding typically occurs in the summer, while shedding is at its lowest during the winter.

Long-Haired German Shepherd Vs. Short-Haired: Colors

Both long and short-haired German shepherds can come in many color variations. However, the most common colors are black and brown or black and tan. They can also come in gray, white, all-black, red and black, black and silver, or all-brown. 


Both variations (long hair and short hair) share a similar temperament. However, long-haired German shepherds can be friendlier and calmer.

©Korneeva Kristina/Shutterstock.com

So far, we know that these two variations differ in coat type. But what about their personalities?

Long-Haired German Shepherd Vs. Short-Haired: Temperament and Personality

First off, let’s discuss their similarities. Both are loving and affectionate with their families and great with children. They are generally friendly around other dogs but may be somewhat hesitant around animals they don’t know. And they can also be a little cautious around strangers. But with their owners, they are playful, protective, and highly adaptable. German shepherds are a highly energetic breed and need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. But thankfully, they are very easy to train.

It’s true that both variations have an almost identical temperament. However, there may be slight differences depending on what they are bred for. Some people believe that long-haired German shepherds are calmer, more friendly, and eager to please. But they also may not be as protective. Short-haired German Shepherds can be more energetic, loyal, and athletic. But there is debate on whether these characteristics are something they are born with or if they come about through training.  


Short-haired German shepherds are more likely to be used for shows or as guard dogs and police dogs. They are often highly trained and more active, often coming off as aloof and serious. Long-haired dogs are almost always used as family dogs due to their fluffy appearance and eager-to-please behavior.

Social Needs

There are no differences in social needs between these two. Both are loving, affectionate, and want to spend lots of time with their owners. They can act aloof or uninterested in strangers and may take time to warm up to new people. Early socialization and training are key with this breed. Without regular socializing, German shepherds may not do well around people or pets they don’t know. 

Why do dogs put their ears back

German shepherds are smart, loyal, affectionate dogs that have a strong protective streak.

©Schelmanova Natalia/Shutterstock.com

Health Factors

Let’s discuss some of the most common health problems with German shepherd breeds, along with their average life expectancies.

Long-Haired German Shepherd Vs. Short-Haired: Health Problems

There don’t seem to be any differences in the health issues between long-haired and short-haired German shepherds. They are both predisposed to the same conditions.

Here are some of the most common health problems in German shepherds:

Long-Haired German Shepherd Vs. Short-Haired: Life Expectancy

Long-haired and short-haired German shepherds live an average of nine to 13 years.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Florida State College. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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