From the perspective of the coat length, German shepherd dogs (GSD) fall into either of the two broad categories: a short haired German shepherd or a long haired German shepherd.
Short haired German shepherd or short coated German shepherd is exactly as it sound. This simply means that the German shepherd’s coat lies very close to its body and is usually a double layered coat.
The undercoat is woolly and water proof, which provides extra insulation for the German shepherd in the cold (perfect for the winter) and with an additional stiff short haired outer (top) coat.
Long haired German shepherd is also referred to as coated German shepherd or long coated German shepherd. These German shepherd dogs have longer hairs (soft and silk like) around their bellies, ears, faces, behind their legs, hindquarters, their tails and indeed generally more hairs than the short haired.
Most long haired German shepherd however do not have undercoat which makes them less suitable for working in the cold while some other long coated German shepherds have the undercoat just like the short haired German shepherds i.e. they are double coated.
There are however some German shepherd dogs that do not have a short or long coat because their coat is longer than a short coated German shepherd but not as long as a long coated German shepherd.
These German shepherd dogs are said to have a medium coat and are referred to as plush coated. Just like the short coated German shepherds the plush coated German shepherd are also double coated with nice wool like undercoat and longer outer coat.
Regardless of the length of hair on the body of the German shepherd dog, be it short, plush or long hair they still all belong to the same breed. However because long coated German shepherd breeders do not breed their German shepherd for protection or guard work, these long haired German shepherds are said to have much softer temperament.
Long coated German shepherd dogs without the double coat are viewed as a defect in conformation dog shows. In fact in the united states of American long coated German shepherd either double or single coated are not permitted to compete in dog shows by the American kennel club because the long coat are not considered to have met the standard for the German shepherd breed.
There are more short coated German shepherd dogs than long coated German shepherds. There are only a small percentage of long coated German shepherd puppies. This is partly because the American kennel club does not approve of long haired German shepherd which makes the long coated puppies difficult to find.
The long coat has its origin in the breed that was used to start the German shepherd breed, which had coats like collie.
Short haired German shepherd shedding
There is a misconception that the long haired German shepherd shed more than the short coated German shepherd but this is not true.
On the contrary, a closer observation of both the short and long coated German shepherd might even suggest that the short coated German shepherd shed more than the long haired German shepherd because when the short coat German shepherd sheds, the hairs are all over the house. However the shed hairs of the long coated German shepherd tend to get trapped in their long coat.
Therefore with regular brushing this creates the illusion that the long haired German shepherd shed less than the short coated German shepherd.
However the fact is that the German shepherd breed is a heavy shedder and indeed one of the worst of all dog breeds. Either short or long coated. While most dog breeds shed moderately a few times during the year with a heavy shedding occurring twice. The GSD sheds all year round with some of the heaviest shedding of any dog breed occurring during those two shedding seasons of the year.
While all German shepherd dogs of the various coat length shed a lot, the single long coated German shepherd (without the undercoat) sheds the least of all because it has only a single layer of coat to shed.
If we look back at the primary reason the German shepherd was bred, this may give us a closer insight about the shedding nature of this particular dog breed. The German shepherd dog were bred primarily as working dogs on farms for herding sheep and this will involve having a strong, large-sized and intelligent dogs that can work all year under different weather conditions.
A dog that will do well in all weather conditions must be well coated i.e. it must have an undercoat that will always keep it well protected from the harshness of the different weather conditions and also able to repel water. Above all, it must be able to retain this coat all through the year.
Shedding which occurs quietly on daily basis is how the German shepherd retains its coats. Same way the birds drop their feathers in order to grow new ones.
The two major shedding season of the German shepherd (including other breeds) occurs over three weeks in spring and autumn. As temperature increases during summer the German shepherd shed the undercoat, enabling them to stay cool in the hot summer weather. When the temperature drops in the winter the summer undercoat is shed for a thicker winter undercoat.
Regular brushing of the German shepherd dog (GSD) is almost mandatory if you don’t want your GSD to end up with a matted coat particularly with the long hair German shepherd. Regular brushing is also necessary to reduce the amount of German shepherd dog hairs flying all over the house.
While grooming for German shepherd dogs is a necessity, the short coat German shepherd will require less grooming.