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Short-Haired German Shepherds: Unveiling Their Unique Charm and Traits - PawSafe
Dog Breeds

Short-Haired German Shepherds: Unveiling Their Unique Charm and Traits

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

short haired German Shepherds

Short-haired German Shepherds are loyal and capable companions. They stand out because of their grace and agility. German Shepherds with shorter coat have a more manageable coat than long-haired ones. Their coat is easier to groom, making them practical for active families or individuals. These dogs are highly intelligent and versatile. They excel in various roles, such as family pets or working dogs. They embody the breed’s well-known characteristics of courage and trainability.

All GSDs are prized for their strong work ethic. Many professionals in various fields prefer this variant. Dandre Prins, a breeder and trainer at Rudaric Kennels, specifically trains working German Shepherds and can attest to their unwavering focus and stamina. So, we made sure to speak to him and other GSD experts to tell you everything you need to know about smooth – coated GSDS before you look for Short haired German Shepherd Puppy to add to your family.

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The question of whether there is a “short-haired” German Shepherd breed can be tricky. The typical coat of a German Shepherd is described as a stock coat, which is short-to-medium in length, that is also dense with an outer and inner layer of fur (double coat).

This is generally what people refer to as “short-haired” German Shepherds, in contrast to the long haired variant. However, this stock coat is not truly short in the way some other dog breeds’ coats are. If you are thinking short like Doberman’s coat, this is highly unlikely to show up naturally in the GSD breed.

While stock haired German Shepherds are recognized within the breed standard, it is important to note that there are purebred German Shepherds with very short, sleek, and smooth coats. Some of these dogs may exhibit a single coat, which could be an indication of crossbreeding, though this is not always the case.

Dandre Prins, an experienced breeder and trainer of German Shepherds, says that short-haired German Shepherds are indeed purebred. According to him, just like the long-haired variant, short-coated GSDs can occur naturally due to specific genetic traits. If breeders select for these traits, then there will be more of these shorter coat dogs.

However, Mr. Prins also points out that German Shepherds with genuinely short coats are very rare. Most GSDs have thick medium-length coat or a long coat. This suggests that while short-haired German Shepherds do exist and are purebred, they are less common than their long-haired or standard stock coat counterparts.

Explaining the Shorter or Smooth Coat

According to Geliebte Shepherds, the German Stock Haarig or Stockhaar Coat (the Stock Coat GSD)  is characterized by its shorter hair length, with the coat closely adhering to the body. Compared to the West German Show Dogs, which typically boast a fuller and somewhat longer coat, the American Shepherd Stock Coat resembles the length  of a Labrador’s coat. This stock coat includes an undercoat that experiences seasonal shedding, typically occurring twice a year.

Smooth coat German Shepherds stand out with their sleeker, less dense hair. While they’re not an officially distinct breed from the stock-coated and long-haired varieties, they may have a coat that seems almost single-layered and minimal. This can sometimes appear similar to the coat of Doberman Lab mix, although German Shepherds are a pure breed on their own.

Based on the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard, genuinely short-coated German Shepherds may not be adhering to the ideal breed standard. The standard describes the ideal coat as a “double coat of medium length” with the outer coat being “dense, straight, harsh and lying close to the body.” While a slightly wavy outer coat is permissible, the standard specifies faults in coat, including a coat that is “too long,” “soft,” “silky,” “woolly,” “curly,” and “open.”

Since the standard emphasizes a medium-length double coat and lists deviations from this, including coats that are too long or too soft, a short-haired German Shepherd  (or a dog with a single coat instead of double) probably falls outside the breed standard. 

Breed Characteristics

When looking into German Shepherds with shorter coats, you’ll notice characteristics that include their size, coat, shedding patterns, and temperament. Each trait defines the breed and contributes to its unique identity.

Size and Appearance

You’ll find that an smooth-coat adult German Shepherd stands between 22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder. Their build is muscular and well-proportioned, showing off strength without bulkiness. Typically, they weigh about 50 to 90 pounds, with males being larger than females.

Coat and Color

The normal German Shepherd sports a double coat, consisting of a dense, straight, and harsh outer layer with a softer, thick undercoat. However, it is possible they may have a single coat; it’s just not part of the breed standard. It you do see a GSD with a very short, sleek, single coat, they may be mixed breed (although this is not for certain as genetics can be surprising). They usually also have a bit of ruff around their neck where the coat is a bit longer and thicker.

Coat colors range broadly, including black and tan, sable, and all-black. No matter the color, their coat shines with a healthy luster if well-maintained. But beware of unusual colors like brindle, as this has been extinct in the breed for a long time.

Do short haired GSDs shed less?

You might think that shorter-coat German Shepherds shed less than their long-haired counterparts, but that’s not necessarily true. Both types have double coats, implying that they shed year-round with increased shedding twice a year during seasonal changes.

Temperament

German Shepherds are known for their confidence, intelligence, and loyalty. They serve well as family pets, working dogs, or both. Early socialization and training help hone their natural protective instincts and ensure that they’re well-adjusted companions.

Note that GSD temperaments vary a lot over individual bloodlines, with working-line dogs generally being very active, high-energy, and courageous dogs. Pet-line dogs should be more laid back and suitable for families. Be careful of breeders who bred a GSD for looks rather than temperament, as they can have behavioral issues not common in the breed, like fearfulness.

GSDs need a lot socialization and training. They can be very reactive if they have negative experiences, so we suggest reading this article on taking your dog to the dog park. In the article, we touch on some of the thing you need to watch out for to avoid issues in public areas.

These dogs love children, but should be supervised because they are quite big, energetic dogs. They can get along with other animals, including other dogs and cats, so long as you invest the time in early socialization.

Genetics Of A Shorter or Smooth Coat In The GSD

When you look at a German Shepherd with shorter coat, you’re actually looking at the work of specific genes. Your dog’s coat length and texture don’t just happen randomly; they’re inherited traits determined by the dog’s genetic makeup. The key players in your German Shepherd’s coat are a set of genes that influence hair growth and development.

According to Dr. Housley from the  College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University the gene known as FGF5 is largely responsible for determining hair length in dogs. Mutations in this gene can lead to significantly shorter hair, giving the short-haired variety of German Shepherds their distinctive looks. The gene results in a suppression of hair growth as compared to their long-haired counterparts.

Another gene, RSPO2, has been linked to the wiriness of the coat. While not directly impacting the German Shepherd, it’s an example of how genetic variations can lead to different coat textures within the canine world. A German Shepherd with a smooth coat does not express the wiry coat, likely due to the lack of such a dominant mutation.

Coat Patterns and Pigmentation

Aside from hair length and texture, genes also play a role in the intricate colors and patterns seen in the German Shepherd’s coat. These patterns are the result of complex interactions between various genes. Understanding the genetics of coat color can be advantageous for breeding purposes, as it can help predict the appearance of future litters.

Remember, every German Shepherd is unique and even within the short-haired variety, you’ll notice some variation. These differences underscore the complexity and beauty of canine genetics.

Health and Care

When you own a smooth or stock coat German Shepherd, understanding their specific health and care needs is crucial for their well-being. This includes regular grooming, being aware of common health concerns, providing a balanced diet, and ensuring they get enough exercise.

Grooming Needs

Your German Shepherd’s short coat still requires regular brushing at least once a week to minimize shedding and keep it clean. During shedding season, more frequent brushing can help manage the extra hair.

Common Health Issues

German Shepherds are known for their loyalty and versatility, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain health issues. In fact, they have about 50 genetic diseases to watch out for. It’s crucial for prospective owners to be aware of these potential problems and to understand the importance of choosing a responsible breeder.

1. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

This is a common genetic condition in larger breeds, where the hip or elbow joint doesn’t fit together perfectly, leading to arthritis and pain. Screening for this condition is essential, and reputable breeders will provide certification showing their breeding dogs have been tested.

2. Degenerative Myelopathy

A progressive spinal cord disorder, this condition can lead to paralysis and is more common in German Shepherds. While there’s no cure, early detection and supportive care can manage symptoms.

3. Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus)

This life-threatening condition involves the stomach filling with gas and twisting. Knowing the symptoms and getting prompt veterinary care is critical.

4. Allergies and Skin Issues

German Shepherds can suffer from various allergies, leading to skin irritation and infections. Regular check-ups and good diet can help manage these issues.

Choosing a Responsible Breeder

The importance of selecting a responsible breeder cannot be overstated. A reputable breeder will:

  • Conduct health tests on breeding dogs for common genetic issues like hip dysplasia.
  • Be transparent about the health of their dogs and the puppies’ lineage.
  • Avoid breeding lines with exaggerated physical features like overly sloping backs and over-angulated hind legs. These features, while sometimes sought after for show purposes, can lead to serious back and joint problems, impacting the dog’s quality of life.

Be Wary of Certain Bloodlines

Prospective owners should be particularly cautious of German Shepherd bloodlines where parents have overly sloping backs and over-angulated rear legs. These physical traits, although sometimes popular in show circles, are linked to an increased risk of musculoskeletal problems, including early onset of back and joint issues. Dogs with these characteristics may face mobility challenges and chronic pain, which require lifelong management.

Diet and Nutrition

Offering your dog high-quality food appropriate for their age, size, and activity level is essential. Puppies, adults, and seniors have different nutritional requirements. Consult your vet to ensure you’re providing a diet that supports your German Shepherd’s overall health.

Exercise Requirements

An active breed like the German Shepherd will need daily exercise to stay fit and happy. Aim for at least 60 minutes a day of activities like walking, running, or playing fetch. Remember, mental stimulation is just as important, so include training and brain games to keep their mind sharp.

Training and Behavior

When training your stock coat German Shepherd, it’s important to start with the basics, ensure proper socialization, and be aware of potential behavioral challenges. This breed is known for its intelligence and can excel with consistent training.

Training Basics

In beginning your training journey, remember that consistency is key. Start with simple commands such as sit, stay, and come. Your German Shepherd is eager to please and responds well to positive reinforcement, so be sure to reward success with treats or praise.

  • Commands to Start With:
    • Sit;
    • Stay;
    • Come;
    • Heel; and
    • Down.

It’s also crucial to establish yourself as the pack leader to help prevent dominance issues. Short-haired German Shepherds are known for their work ethic and thrive with a job or task to perform.

Socialization

Proper socialization involves introducing your dog to a variety of environments, people, and other animals starting at a young age. This helps your Shepherd become well-adjusted and minimizes fears or aggression.

  • Socialization Checklist:
    • People of different ages and appearances;
    • Various animals and dogs; and
    • Different locations and sounds.

Regular walks and visits to dog parks provide excellent opportunities for socializing your pet.

Behavioral Challenges

German Shepherds may exhibit certain behavioral challenges if not trained and socialized properly. They can develop tendencies such as:

  • Common Issues:
    • Excessive barking;
    • Chew on furniture or other objects;
    • Jumping on people; and
    • Reactivity towards strangers and other dogs. 

Implement early training techniques to curb these behaviors. Barking can be a way your dog communicates, so ensure they are getting enough mental and physical exercise. Provide them with chew toys and puzzle feeders to help manage their high intelligence and energy levels.

Short-Coated German Shepherd History

You might be fascinated to know that the story of your German Shepherd starts with a man named Max von Stephanitz. He’s the father of the breed, really. It was back in 1899 when von Stephanitz saw a dog named Hektor Linksrhein at a dog show, and it was love at first sight. He decided right then that Hektor had all the qualities he wanted in a working dog. So, what did he do? He bought him straight away and changed his name to Horand von Grafrath. This pooch became the first registered German Shepherd.

Von Stephanitz had a vision. He wasn’t just thinking about beauty — no, he wanted a dog that could work hard too. Discipline and function over form, as they say. So he founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde, which is the Society for the German Shepherd Dog. 

When it comes to looks, back then, how fluffy a German Shepherd’s coat was didn’t really matter to von Stephanitz. It was all about how well they could do their job. But eventually, folks started to favor the short-haired variety for less maintenance and a sleek look.

The short-haired variety was always alongside the long-haired pals, just with a coat that was easier to manage. No judgment, though — whether long or short, these dogs rocked. In 2010, to make things official, they were categorized as variety “b” with the shorter coat being more popular because of its ease of care and the less grooming required, compared to their long-haired counterparts.

Remember, your German Shepherd shares a rich history of careful breeding with goals that were more about brains and brawn than just good looks.

Choosing a Smooth-Haired German Shepherd

When you’re looking to bring a German Shepherd with a smooth coat into your home, knowing where to find a reputable breeder or considering adoption is essential for a healthy and happy addition to your family.

Finding a Breeder

Your journey to find a stock coat German Shepherd should start with thorough research. Seek out reputable breeders with a track record of ethical breeding practices. This can be evidenced by health clearances for the parents of the puppies and the opportunity for you to visit the breeding facility. Good breeders will welcome your questions and be transparent about their breeding program. It’s important to be patient; esteemed breeders often have waiting lists.

  • Questions to Ask:
    • Can I see the puppy’s health records?
    • Are the puppies socialized and exposed to various environments?
    • What are the temperaments of the puppy’s parents?

Adoption Options

Alternatively, adopting a German Shepherd can be a rewarding option. Adoption not only provides a home to a dog in need but often includes the benefits of a dog who is already trained and doesn’t come with the surprises of puppyhood. Look for local animal shelters or rescue organizations specializing in German Shepherds.

  • Adoption Benefits:
    • Often more affordable than purchasing from a breeder.
    • Dogs may already be vaccinated and neutered/spayed.

By evaluating breeders or adoption avenues critically, you can ensure your German Shepherd is a well-adjusted and healthy pet for years to come.

How much does short or smooth coat German Shepherd Puppy Cost?

When you’re looking to add a short-haired German Shepherd to your family, the price can be a big factor. Typically, the cost for a puppy like this ranges from $300 to $900 for a pet-quality dog. However, if you’re aiming for a show-quality puppy from a reputable breeder, prices may soar to $2,000 to $4,000.

Here’s a quick breakdown of costs to consider:

  • Pet-Quality Puppy: $300 – $900
  • Show-Quality Puppy: $2,000 – $4,000

Depending on training and lineage, working-line German Shepherd dogs bred for protection and fearlessness, can cost about the same as they show lines, or more. This is especially true if the dogs come from imported European lines, such as the DDR GSDs.

Remember, these prices can vary based on factors like the breeder’s reputation, location, and the dog’s lineage. Breeders may charge more for puppies with a lineage of champions.

Keep in mind that on top of the initial cost, you’ll need to factor in expenses for vaccinations, spaying/neutering, training, and supplies. Initial supplies can set you back an additional $200 to $300.

Make sure to do your research and choose a breeder who prioritizes health and temperament. A well-bred German Shepherd is a great addition to your home, and investing upfront in a healthy pup can save you money on vet bills in the long run.

For information on the breed and the importance of choosing a responsible breeder, check out Constructing the German Shepherd Dog.

Best Names for a Short-Haired German Shepherd

Short-haired German Shepherds are known for their noble demeanor and strong presence. Choosing the perfect name for your furry friend can be a delightful yet important task. Below is a list of names that fit well with the strong and loyal characteristics typical of this breed.

Names Inspired by Personality

  • Bold: For a pup with a daring personality.
  • Loyal: A name that reflects their devoted nature.
  • Vigilant: If your German Shepherd is always on alert.

Names Reflecting Strength and Valor

  • Blitz: Emphasizing speed and power.
  • Maximus: A name fit for a strong and authoritative dog.
  • Atlas: For the pup that seems to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Cultural-Inspired Names

  • Kaiser: A nod to German heritage, meaning ’emperor’.
  • Freya: Borrowed from Norse mythology, perfect for a protective female shepherd.
  • Bruno: Strong and masculine, this name is classic yet commanding.

Here’s a simple table to help you visualize some great options:

PersonalityStrength & ValorCultural
BoldBlitzKaiser
LoyalMaximusFreya
VigilantAtlasBruno

Remember, the name you choose will be a reflection of your bond as well as your dog’s unique identity. Whether inspired by their temperament, your personal inspirations, or their strong lineage, make sure it’s a name that you’ll love to say every day!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do some German Shepherds have shorter hair than others?

Short-haired German Shepherds have a coat that is genetically determined. This type is listed as variety a, indicating that it’s a recognised variation within the breed.

What’s the difference between a short-haired and a long-haired German Shepherd?

The main difference is the coat length. Short-haired German Shepherds have a dense, straight, and coarse outer layer of hair, which lies close to the body, while long-haired ones have a longer, sometimes wavier coat that tends to shed more.

How much do short-haired German Shepherds usually shed?

Short-haired German Shepherds shed throughout the year, despite their shorter coat. Shedding increases twice a year during the changing of seasons.

Can you find breeders that specialize in short-haired German Shepherds?

Yes, there are breeders who specialize in short-haired German Shepherds. It’s essential to research and ensure that they are reputable and breed for health and temperament.

What should I know before looking for a short-haired German Shepherd puppy?

Before you look for a puppy, know that short-haired German Shepherds are active and require exercise and training. Consider if your lifestyle suits a dog that is intelligent, loyal, and has a protective nature.

What does ‘sable’ mean when talking about German Shepherds?

The term ‘sable’ refers to a color pattern where each hair has multiple colors, starting from a lighter base and darkening towards the tip. This creates a shaded or gradient effect commonly seen in German Shepherds.

Which German Shepherd is non-shedding?

No German Shepherd is completely non-shedding. All varieties, including short-haired, shed some amount of hair. If shedding is a concern, consider breeds that are known for minimal shedding.

Do German Shepherds with a short coat need grooming?

They do need grooming, but typically less than their long-haired counterparts. Regular brushing helps manage shedding. They also need basic grooming tasks such as nail trimming and ear cleaning.

Final Thoughts

If you’re considering a short-haired German Shepherd, you’re in for an adventure with a loyal and hardworking companion. Their coat is easier to maintain. It just needs regular brushing to keep it sleek and free of loose hair.

These dogs are incredibly versatile. They can excel in various roles. Whether you’re looking for a family pet, a service dog, or a security animal, they can be trained for it. Due to their intelligence and eagerness to please, training should be a rewarding experience for both you and your dog.

All breeds need consistent socialization and exercise to stay happy and healthy. With their high energy levels, a good run or an engaging game will do wonders for their well-being.

Moreover, keep in mind their health. Generally robust dogs are prone to conditions like hip dysplasia, so regular check-ups with a vet are a must. These check-ups help prevent potential issues.

Finally, if you choose a short-haired German Shepherd, you’ll gain a lifelong loyal companion.

References

  • Tsai, K.L., Noorai, R.E., Starr-Moss, A.N., Quignon, P., Rinz, C.J., Ostrander, E.A., Steiner, J.M., Murphy, K.E. and Clark, L.A., 2012. Genome-wide association studies for multiple diseases of the German Shepherd Dog. Mammalian Genome, 23, pp.203-211.
  • Cadieu, E., Neff, M.W., Quignon, P., Walsh, K., Chase, K., Parker, H.G., VonHoldt, B.M., Rhue, A., Boyko, A., Byers, A. and Wong, A., 2009. Coat variation in the domestic dog is governed by variants in three genes. science, 326(5949), pp.150-153.
  • Kaelin, C.B. and Barsh, G.S., 2012. Molecular genetics of coat colour, texture and length in the dog. In The genetics of the dog (pp. 57-82). Wallingford UK: CABI.
  • Housley, D.J.E. and Venta, P.J., 2006. The long and the short of it: evidence that FGF5 is a major determinant of canine ‘hair’‐itability. Animal genetics, 37(4), pp.309-315.
  • Brancalion, L., Haase, B. and Wade, C.M., 2022. Canine coat pigmentation genetics: a review. Animal Genetics, 53(1), pp.3-34.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.