Long Haired German Shepherds: Everything You Need to Know

The German Shepherd is a dog breed renowned for its intelligence, loyalty, and versatility, and is also celebrated for its striking appearance. While most people are familiar with the standard German Shepherd coat, there exists a lesser-known variant that is just as magnificent: the Long Haired German Shepherd.

Key Takeaways

  • The Long Haired German Shepherd, a variant of the standard German Shepherd, possesses a softer, flowing coat due to a recessive gene passed down from both parents.
  • This coat variation, while aesthetically pleasing, isn’t recognized as standard in major dog shows like the AKC, contributing to its perceived rarity.
  • Despite its unique coat, the Long-Haired German Shepherd shares the strength, loyalty, and intelligence characteristic of the breed.
  • While they face general health concerns like other German Shepherds, their extended coat makes them more prone to skin issues, emphasizing the importance of diligent grooming and care.

What is a Long Haired German Shepherd? 

The presence of long hair in German Shepherds is attributed to a recessive gene. In simple terms, both parents must carry this gene to produce a long-haired offspring, even if they don’t exhibit the trait themselves. This genetic nuance has been present since the inception of the breed, with records indicating long-haired puppies appearing in litters for well over a century.

Long-haired German Shepherds may seem rare, but they’re more common than perceived. The long-haired trait is recessive, so two carrier parents can produce such puppies, with about one in four inheriting the trait. Their limited presence in official events, like AKC shows, due to non-standard coat recognition, amplifies their perceived rarity. However, their actual frequency is influenced by genetics and breeding choices.

Differences Between Long-Haired and Standard German Shepherds

Long-haired and standard German Shepherds primarily differ in their coat attributes. The long-haired variant boasts a softer, flowing coat without the dense undercoat typical of the standard variant, requiring more grooming and possibly offering less insulation against cold temperatures. 

While the longer fur lends a more elegant look, it isn’t recognized as standard in major dog shows like the AKC. Despite these distinctions, both types maintain the breed’s characteristic temperament and intelligence.

Physical Characteristics of the Long-Haired German Shepherd

  1. Coat: Their defining feature is a long, soft, and flowing coat. Unlike the standard variant, they often lack a dense undercoat.
  2. Color Patterns: Similar to standard German Shepherds, the long-haired variant can come in a variety of colors including black and tan, sable, black, blue, and even white.
  3. Facial Features: They have a strong, chiseled head, with medium-sized almond-shaped eyes that are dark in color. Their ears are large and stand erect.
  4. Body Structure: A robust and muscular body, exhibiting strength and agility. Their back is straight and strong, leading to a bushy tail that often has more pronounced feathering due to the longer hair.
  5. Legs and Paws: Legs are well-muscled and straight, with the back of the legs showcasing more pronounced “feathering” or longer hair. Their paws are round, compact, and have tufts of hair between the toes.
  6. Size: Generally, males stand about 24-26 inches tall at the shoulder, while females stand about 22-24 inches. Their weight can range from 50 to 90 pounds, with males being on the heavier side.
  7. Overall Appearance: The long coat gives them a majestic and elegant appearance, making them stand out from their standard-coated counterparts. 

Despite their luxurious coat, the Long-Haired German Shepherd retains the strength, athleticism, and commanding presence typical of the breed.

Care and Maintenance for Long-Haired German Shepherds

Grooming Requirements

Long-Haired German Shepherds have a unique coat that demands regular attention. A thorough brushing at least 2-3 times a week is essential to prevent tangles and mats, especially in areas prone to matting such as behind the ears, the underbelly, and the back of the legs. Using a quality slicker brush and a metal comb can ensure a smooth and tangle-free coat.

Additionally, periodic trimming around the ears, paws, and hocks can help maintain a tidy appearance.

How often should I bathe my German shepherd?

Bathing your Long-Haired German Shepherd too frequently can strip their coat of natural oils, leading to dryness and potential skin issues. It’s recommended to bathe them every 3-4 months or when they are notably dirty. 

However, using a gentle dog shampoo designed for long coats can allow for more frequent baths if necessary. After baths, it’s vital to thoroughly dry the coat, paying special attention to dense areas to prevent moisture-related skin issues.

Tips for Maintaining German Shepherd’s Coat Health

  1. Diet: A balanced diet with high-quality dog food can promote a healthy, shiny coat. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid supplements can further enhance coat health.
  2. Regular Check-ups: Inspect your dog’s coat regularly for signs of external parasites, skin irritations, or infections, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors.
  3. Avoid Overwashing: As mentioned, frequent baths can strip the coat of its natural oils. Instead, opt for spot cleaning or using grooming wipes for minor dirt.
  4. Protection: In wet conditions, consider using a waterproof dog coat to prevent the fur from becoming heavily soaked, which can lead to prolonged dampness and possible skin issues.

Do Long-Haired German Shepherds Shed?

Yes, Long-Haired German Shepherds do shed. While they might lack the dense undercoat typical of their standard counterparts, they still undergo shedding cycles. 

Expect increased shedding during the spring and fall as they transition between seasonal coats. Regular grooming can help manage and reduce the amount of loose hair around your home.

In essence, while Long-Haired German Shepherds require a bit more grooming effort, the result is a splendid, healthy coat that complements their majestic appearance. Proper care and maintenance ensure that these dogs not only look their best but also remain comfortable and healthy.

Common Health Issues of Long-Haired German Shepherds

Long-Haired German Shepherds, while sharing several health concerns with their standard counterparts, have a unique set of challenges primarily due to their extended coat. For instance, they are more susceptible to skin allergies caused by environmental factors, fleas, or certain foods, often presenting as itching, redness, or recurrent ear infections.

Though they are also at risk for conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and bloat, it’s their predisposition to skin issues that sets them apart. It’s imperative for owners to ensure regular grooming to prevent these complications. 

Coupled with consistent veterinary check-ups and a balanced diet, proper care can ensure these majestic dogs lead a healthy life.

Where Can I Get a Long-Haired German Shepherd Dog?

If you’re interested in acquiring a Long-Haired German Shepherd dog, here are some suggested steps and avenues to explore:

  • Breeders: Look for reputable breeders who specialize in German Shepherds. Always research the breeder’s reputation, ask for references, and visit their facility if possible. Many breeders have websites with photos and information about available litters.

At Shepherd Kingdom, we are a German Shepherd breeder who cares about happy and healthy dogs. All of our puppies are raised by us at our own home place unlike aggregator websites that list dogs from puppy mills. 

  • Rescue Organizations and Shelters: Sometimes, long-haired German Shepherds end up in shelters or breed-specific rescue organizations. Adopting from a rescue can be a wonderful way to provide a home for a dog in need.
  • Breed Clubs: National or regional German Shepherd dog clubs often have breeder directories and might host events where you can meet breeders and dogs in person.
  • Pet Classifieds: Websites like the American Kennel Club (AKC) Marketplace, PuppyFind, and other pet classified sites often list puppies for sale.
  • Local Dog Shows: Attending a local dog show can be a great way to meet breeders and see Long-Haired German Shepherds in person.
  • Recommendations: Ask veterinarians, dog trainers, or pet owners for recommendations. They might know of local breeders or upcoming litters.
  • Importing: If you’re looking for a specific lineage, some people opt to import a dog from overseas. This is a more complicated and costly process and involves understanding the import regulations for your country.

Remember, when acquiring any dog:

  • Prioritize the dog’s health, temperament, and well-being.
  • Always research and ensure that the source practices ethical breeding and care standards.
  • Be prepared for the responsibility of dog ownership, including training, healthcare, and long-term commitment.


The Long Haired German Shepherd stands out as a variant of the beloved German Shepherd breed, showcasing a majestic coat that demands attentive care. While sharing many characteristics with the standard German Shepherd, their extended coat makes them distinct, especially when it comes to grooming needs and susceptibility to skin issues. 

Regular grooming, proper nutrition, and vigilant healthcare are essential for maintaining their radiant appearance and overall well-being. Recognizing their unique needs and addressing potential health concerns, particularly those related to their skin and coat, ensures that these remarkable canines live fulfilling, healthy life.

Their grandeur, combined with their characteristic loyalty and intelligence, makes them an exceptional companion, deserving of the utmost care.

Frequently Asked Questions About Long Haired German Shepherds

Is it bad to shave a long-haired German shepherd?

Yes, shaving can damage their coat and affect their natural temperature regulation.

Do long-haired German shepherds smell?

Like all dogs, they can develop an odor if not groomed regularly, but they don’t inherently smell more than other breeds.

How can you tell if a German Shepherd puppy is long haired?

Look for fluffier fur around the ears, legs, and tail, and often, a noticeable absence of a dense undercoat.

What is the lifespan of a long haired German shepherd?

Typically, 9-13 years, similar to standard German Shepherds.

James has been raising and working with dogs since 2017, and has been a dog lover his entire life. He and his wife have a young son and love spending time together, traveling, enjoying the outdoors and connecting their quality German Shepherd pups with great families.