From 1949 until 1990, Germany was divided into the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) in the East, and the Federal Republic of Germany in the West. The DDR, being a communist state under influence from the USSR, was kept separate from West Germany. This separation is what caused the split in German shepherd bloodlines that persists to this day.
The working lines were bred to have a high pain tolerance so that they could endure the hardships of protection work and border patrol. They are mostly black and tan, all black and sometimes sable in color.
- Breeders focus mainly on good movement and look.
- These shepherds are larger, heavier but have a lighter bone structure.
- Temperament plays a huge factor here as shepherds from the US were not bred as working /herding dogs but for show.
- In Germany, both parents have working titles-Schutzhund and are hip certified before they are allowed to breed.
- Schutzhund is about accountability, whereas in the US and Canada, breeders do not need any of these things except pedigree.
- German shepherds in the US are primarily judged by their looks.
To German shepherd breeders, their dog’s working ability was most important, and then came the outstanding looks. The West German show lines are the most popular worldwide. These dogs are mostly black and red and exhibit a fluid, ground-eating trot.
The Czech lines were originally bred in Communist Czech as state working dogs.
- Large blocky head with big bone structure and much leaner in build. These shepherds have straighter backs and fewer problems with hip dysplasia. However, they are high-energy dogs.
Czech line German Shepherds and East German DDR German Shepherds are essentially the same bloodlines. The bloodlines in West Germany were split between working line dogs and show line dogs. It is important to recognize that the working line and show line German Shepherds from West Germany are vastly different.
Show line dogs are bred to be physically attractive but lack the courage and strong nerves of a true protection dog.
Accepting that West German show line dogs are unfit for protection work, the true comparison is between the West German working line (often stated simply as German working line), and the DDR/Czech line. There has been much debate over which is superior, and this debate may continue for years to come.
Some people consider the West German lines to be superior, arguing that the DDR/Czech lines were developed before the split between working and show lines, and are not extraordinary in either discipline. Both lines were recovered from the original German bloodlines after WWII, and both have been continuously built up and bred for working qualities over the past 60 years. The bottom line is that they are both working line dogs. Show lines are a better choice for homes with children and working lines for protection work.
The American shepherds are calmer in temperament and have a lower energy drive. The North American shepherd relies on physical ability to move quickly and turns on the blink of an eye. Many breeders have attempted to combine the East and West or American shepherds to achieve a lower incidence of hip dysplasia and achieve a strong work instinct and more refined show lines.
To this day, the German Shepherd breed has proved to be the most valuable as a guard dog, guide dog, and tracker. The German Shepherd and Malinois breeds are one of the most effective anti-poaching units in Africa.