European German shepherd Vs American German Shepherd Dogs

European German Shepherd vs American German Shepherd

Before you can adopt either a European German shepherd or an American German shepherd, you need to understand the differences and similarities between the two breeds. You also need to be aware that owning either of the German shepherds is not as easy as merely paying for one.

When deciding to own either the European German shepherd or the American German shepherd dog, check on your lifestyle and the dog needs.

Although the two breeds’ disparities may be very minimal, a few characteristics may woe you into choosing one of the dogs over the other. Physical appearance, body size, work ethic, are the factors that will help you choose one dog over the other.

In this article, you will get the opportunity to understand the individual characteristics, similarities, and differences between the two German shepherd breeds.

Characteristics of European and American German Shepherd Dogs

The European German shepherd Dog

Unsurprisingly, the European German Shepherds are mainly in Europe. Most of the European Shepherd found in the United States come from Europe. Whereas, you will also find some breeders in the united states breeding them.

The European German shepherd shares similar resemblance and ancestry characteristics with the German Shepherd. Being a tough, and an outdoor dog breed that has a tendency to develop hip or elbow dysplasia, which is a condition prevalent in all German shepherd breeds.

General Appearance

The European German Shepherd dogs are generally of medium sizes, muscular and powerful, with a standard height that ranges between 55 and 65 cm.

Note, females are smaller than males.

Additionally, breeders created the European Shepherd dog by mixing Russian breeds such as the Laika to give rise to a working dog adapted to harsh sub-freezing weather conditions. The European Shepherd is an excellent guard dog, trained to guard and protect, rather than a pet dog.

If you desire to own this dog breed, keep in mind that the European Shepherd is primarily a working dog. Therefore, the breed gets a lower score when it comes to interaction with children, other dogs, and pets.

Having stated this, if your dream is to purchase the European Shepherd as a family dog, you must be an experienced dog trainer and dedicate much time to obedience training.

Further, the puppy must come from a well-socialized family breed, displaying positive results and experiences of interactions with other domestic dogs and humans.

The European German shepherds have a strong prey drive, making them highly prone to chasing other animals. That is why you will have to keep him as a lone pet. Having stated that, when the European German Shepherd is in the right owner, he becomes loyal and a family pet that anyone would wish to have.

Training a European German shepherd Dog

The European German Shepherd is very energetic, work-oriented, and intelligent, making him easy to train with the right motivation. However, due to his natural strength and some independent thinking, he needs special handling and firm leadership.

Like other domesticated dogs, a reward-oriented training approach is the most appropriate. Through this form of learning, the breed learns to demonstrate its intelligence by thinking through challenges to get praise.

However, training is not that easy since the method needs to be in a firm but fair manner as the dog is attentive in listening to the master’s instructions and doesn’t try to take advantage. Therefore, this is not a mere training of a dog breed to follow instructions; it entails conducting obedience training that must remain an on-going and continuous process throughout the dog’s lifespan. This training ensures that the breed gets a mental stimulation and reminder of their position – knowing who is in charge.

The American German shepherd

As you go around thinking and researching the best dog breed to acquire, you might have come across this term. As the word suggests, the American German Shepherd Dogs are bred and raised in the United States. In this section, you will find all about the American German Shepherd Dog’s traits.

Having spent over 30 years trying to create and the perfect dog breed specialized in herding, Max von Stephanitz finally developed the German shepherd dogs.

The breeds moved to various countries across the globe. Those who found their way into the United States in the early 20th century became identified as the American German Shepherd dog.

This breed has undergone tremendous evolutions ever since breeders imported into the United States. With time, the American GSD began to separate from the mainstream traditional German Shepherds due to the different interpretations of the breed’s standards across various regions.

However, unless you are an experienced dog breeder, it isn’t easy to distinguish an American German Shepherd Dog from another German Shepherd Dog, such as the European GSD.

In most instances, the American German Shepherd Dogs is bred and trained to serve one particular reason – for showing.

For this reason, the breed may display some disparities from the traditional German shepherds in terms of their physical appearance, temperament, trainability, and health. Let’s have a look at some of these characteristics that distinguish this breed from the mainstream GSDs.

General Appearances of American GSD

Typically, the American German Shepherd Dog has a similar resemblance to other German Shepherd Dogs.

A male American German Shepherd Dog has a height of 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 65 to 90 pounds, while a female is around 22 – 24 inches tall and 50 to 70 pounds in weight.

Although American German Shepherd Dogs can have long or short hair, a medium-length coat is considered ideal.

This breed’s coats come in a wide variety of colors, with black and tan being the most standard. The American Kennel Club breed standard has listed at least 11 color standards of these breeds.

The Temperament of American German shepherd Dog

The conformation and breeding standards have influenced the temperaments of the American German shepherd.

The breeds are strong and intelligent, displaying the desire to please their masters/mistresses. However, it is generally difficult to predict their overall temperament. Overall, some American German Shepherd breeds may show signs of nervousness and anxiety, a behavior that is uncommon among the GSDs.

When such a dog lands in the lands of an inexperienced owner who cannot clearly understand the dog’s body language, serious problems may arise. It would be best to keep in mind that this breed of dog is bred to perform extra tasks apart from showing.


Across Europe, all GSDs must pass the Schutzhund test before being approved for breeding in Europe.

The test ensures that the German shepherd dog meets a working dog’s standards.

These three tests are obedience, protection and tracking.

However, this test is not a mandatory requirement for American German Shepherd Dogs.

Consequently, if you have an American GSD, it becomes hard to predict its behavior and response to training.

Therefore, if you have acquired the American German Shepherd Dog or its puppy, you should enroll it in training classes sooner.

Besides, taking your American GSD for training will benefit both you as the owner and the dog. The training will ensure that your dog becomes sociable in its early development stage and lay the foundation for easy trainability in the future.

American German Shepherd Dog Health

Some health issues have been reporting or observed in these breeds, often related to this dog’s breeding standards.

The breeders have exaggerated the slant of the dog’s back and angle of their hind legs to such an extent that at times appears to be burdening and compromising the dog’s health.

Generally, the American German Shepherds are prone to experiencing health challenges common among German Shepherd Dogs.

These health conditions include hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and bloat.

The American German Shepherd Dogs has a lifespan of 7 to 10 years.

As with any animal and even human being, as the American GSDs age, they start developing health complications relating to their conformation.

If you own an American GSDs, then you should be aware that the breed is susceptible to suffering from bloat.

Therefore, you should consider regulating its feeding pattern by investing in a slow feeder. The feeder will ensure that the dog eats its food slowly.

A Comparison between the Breeds (European German shepherd Vs American German Shepherd Dog)

A quick comparison between the European and American German shepherds shows that the European German Shepherds have big heads, a straighter line on their hind legs, and a shorter and wide backline than the American German shepherd dogs.

  • Regulation: The European German Shepherds has its all regulation and breeding standards under the SV (German Shepherd Club of Germany) that provides the seal of approval to every registered dog.
  • The European German shepherds are assumed to be better working dogs compared to their American German Shepherds counterparts. Because of this, it’s also believed that they make better guard dogs. The majority of police dogs are from European lines.
  • Regulation. The American German Shepherds are actively involved in a dog competition. Still, they must meet the American Kennel Club regulations, although they do not have much strict code of practice as their European counterparts.
  • Additionally, an American German shepherd’s hind legs are more bent, and their torso is angled from front to back.
  • Other characteristics. The American German Shepherd dogs identify its self through elegance and remarkable performance in the show ring. Also, the American German Shepherd has a coat color lighter than the European breed.

The American German Shepherd dog has a more refined head, with smooth curves outlined instead of angular. This explains why it is generally taller compared to the European counterpart. On the contrary, the European GSD has a bigger head, a more angular slope rather than smoothly curved, and a smaller height.

In terms of appearances, the American German shepherd dogs are generally large than the European German Shepherds and have a more refined head. You might observe that the American German Shepherd’s body is quite more angular, longer and back-sloped, while its European counterpart has a straight topline and shorter body.

Further, a look at their bone construction and weight shows that the American German Shepherd dogs are generally heavy since they contain thicker bones than the European German Shepherds.

Health Issues of European and American German shepherd Dogs

As aforementioned, the European GSD breed is a working dog. For this reason, it displays a healthier conformation compared to the American strain, which has a more curved back and shorter hind legs.

The curved hind legs in American GSDs contribute to the dog developing health conditions, particularly joint problems.

This health problem is not common in the European German Shepherds, whose hind legs and backs are long and straight.

However, it would be best if you understood that some health conditions that affect both of these breeds. Such illnesses may include hip dysplasia, bloating, Pancreatic Acinar Atrophy, and Degenerative myelopathy.

European German shepherd American German shepherd
Breed regulation German shepherd club of Germany American kennel club
Bases of breeding ( group) working show line
Height 22-26 inches 22-26 inches
weight 55-90 pounds 50-80 pounds
temperaments Intelligent, hardworking, loyal hardworking, loyal, intelligent
Backline straight Sloped with steep angulation
Grooming need Thrice a week Thrice a week
Regulation Strict ( undergoes obedience, health, and temperament ) test Not strict
Life span 10-13 years 10-13 years

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Cost of an American German shepherd And European German Shepherd?

The price of an American German shepherd can range from $500$ to $2000. And that is if you buy from a breeder.

If you decide to adopt instead of purchasing from a breeder, the price can go as low as $250.

Meanwhile, the price of the European German shepherd is higher than the American German shepherd. Because of its breeding standards, this dog can cost from $2000 – $10000.

What Is (Major) Difference between an American German Shepherd And European German Shepherd?

The difference between the American German shepherd and the European German shepherd is their physicality.

The American German shepherd is more masculine than the European German shepherd.

Which Dog Is The Best For My Home?

That’s a good question. Deciding on which dog to bring home is not a decision that should be done with haste.

Choose a German shepherd that will suit your needs. Furthermore, have a dog that you can suit its needs depending on its energy levels and other necessities.


Despite the previous mention of disparities between the two breeds, they are typically samily. The American German Shepherd you may own may only display very minimal difference from your neighbor’s European German shepherd.

From the above comparison about the American German shepherd vs European German shepherd, which dog would you prefer in your home? Or do you own one of either?

Kindly tell us in the comment box.

Scroll to Top