German Shepherd Straight Back Vs Sloped Back: Which Is Better

German Shepherd Straight Back Vs Sloped Back

Over the last 100 years, the German shepherd has become a popular dog breed with exceptional attributes. This dog is intelligent, obedient, and devoted to its handlers.

Like most dog breeds, the German shepherd has continuously become one of the top dog breeds that most breeders continue modifying. Hence the reason you find working line German shepherds and Show-line dogs.

Besides this division, you can also find German shepherds with a straight back or a sloped back. And most people can’t tell the difference when it comes to choosing either.

So what is a German shepherd straight back, and what is a sloped back GSD?

The German Shepherd History

The German shepherd is a dog breed of German origin – And Captain Max von Stephanitz is attributed to the development of this dog breed in the late 19th century. Thus regarded as the father of German shepherds.

When developing the German shepherd, Captain Max von Stephanitz desired to have a dog breed with high energy levels and more devoted than the local herding dogs.

His desires were achieved when he came across a dog named Horand von Grafrath, of which he commenced his breeding programs using this dog breed.

The original GSD bred by max V, Stephanitz, had a long straight back and strong hind legs, giving this dog ability to work and herd the sheep with ease.

What Is A Straight-Back German Shepherd?

Straight-back German shepherds are also called old-fashioned German shepherds, as they resemble the original dog bred by Captain max V. Stephanitz. This dog has a straight back which starts from the withers to the croup.

Most dog breeders following the breeding standards set by Captain Max von Stephanitz advocate for such German shepherds with long and straight backs.

Varieties of the German shepherd straight back

Straight Back, Short Haired German Shepherd

The straight-back short-haired German shepherd is one of the common working line German shepherds. This dog has a short-haired coat with a straight back-line. Furthermore, this is one of the top dog breeds you find in the police and military department.

Long-Haired Straight Back German Shepherd

Unlike the short-haired straight-back German shepherd, the long-haired back straight back GSD has a long-haired coat. Such a coat gives it a beautiful resemblance. Moreover, this long-haired dog breed has a straight back line with no angulation on its hind limb joints. Besides being a good working line dog, this old fashion dog is a popular dog breed and a perfect home companion.

Large Straight Back German Shepherd

These large straight-back German shepherds are also known as large old-fashioned German shepherds, and they tend to have a big physique. These dogs have gigantic heads, well straight backs, and thicker bones. It’s often rare to find most breeders breeding them, and if you get one, you may spend a lot of money. Nevertheless, this dog breed is hardworking, intelligent, and loyal.

An example of the large straight-back German shepherd is the popular German shepherd movie star called RIN TIN TIN.

What Is A Sloped-Back German Shepherd?

Some German shepherd breeders are not into much of this dog’s working abilities. Rather, they are more satisfied with its appearance or looks. Thus they opt to have sloped back German shepherds.

Such sloped-back German shepherds tend to have exaggerated slope back lines. And if you look at their hips and knees, they are close to the ground, making this dog have angulated hindquarters.

Such a physique is present in Showline German shepherds.

German Shepherd Straight Back Vs German Shepherd Sloped Back; What Is The Difference?

As we have seen, the major difference between a German shepherd straight back and the GSD slopped back is the backline in either dog breed. The German shepherd straight back has a strong leveled backline with no hide quarters angulation – and such dogs are also known as old-fashioned German shepherds as they conform to the earlier original breed standards set by captain Max von Stephanitz.

Sloped or bend backline German shepherds – these dogs have a curved backline with more angular hind quarters.

Speed – Straight backline German shepherds can run faster than the slopped back German shepherds.  Unlike slopped back German shepherds, straight back German shepherds have more straight hind legs that stretch easier, especially when they are running and jumping.

Such gives them an edge, especially when taking part in agility competitions.

German Shepherd Sloped Back Problems

GSDs with slanted back lines tend to have many health issues, which we will discuss in this section.

Hip Dysplasia

German shepherds with sloped backlines tend to have more hip dysplasia incidences than straight back German shepherds.

Hip or elbow dysplasia is a severe joint disease that is often inherited and transmitted from one generation to another. GSDs with hip dysplasia undergo a lot of pain. Although this disease has no cure, medication and diet management or hip replacement can help ease this dog’s troubles.

As a highlight, always ensure you get your dogs from responsible breeders who perform health checks on their dogs. The reason being straight back German shepherds sought from unscrupulous breeders can also acquire this disease.

Cartilage Issues And Distress

Sloped back German shepherd dog breed lines will tend to have high incidences of cartilages and joint issues. With their hips and knees too close to the ground, they tend to overstretch these joints and cartilages, more so when walking and jumping.

Such wear and tear of joints and cartilages cause these sloped back German shepherds to have an irregular gait.

Dogs with joint issues and cartilage issues will not participate in any physical exercises to their full potential.


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease more prevalent in senior German shepherds. Because of the sloped back German shepherd’s skeletal structure, they tend to acquire this condition earlier than the straight back or the traditional German shepherds.

Is A Sloped Back On A German Shepherd Bad

Even though German shepherds with sloped backlines are good companions, they tend to have more issues with their musculoskeletal health than straight-back GSDs. These dogs are more prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, osteoarthritis, and other joint issues because of the bone structure.

Even captain Max von Stephanitz was against having such dogs. In the 1923 book, the German shepherd dog in word, captain max von Stephanitz states that ‘curvature of the spine diminishes the power of endurance and speed, and therefore a serious handicap for efficiency.’

Why Do German Shepherds Have Arched Back?

Originally, German shepherds bred by captain Max von Stephanitz had straight back lines. However, other German shepherd breeders swayed away from these guidelines. All they wanted was a beautiful dog; thus, they have to alter its gait. These dog breeders preferred the look on sloped back German shepherds than on the original breed type that had a straight backline. More so, some went overboard and made their GSDs have and an exaggerated slope.

Should A German Shepherd Have A Straight Backline?

As per captain max V. Stephanitz, a German shepherd should have a straight back line with no slanted legs.  Such a physique gives the dog ability to herd sheep smoothly. German shepherds with slanted backlines tend to be inefficient in their working abilities.

German Shepherd Straight Back VS Sloped Back, Which Is Better

Besides their differences in their backs, the straight-back German shepherd and the sloped back are great furballs.

However, the straight-back German shepherd is better than the slopped-back German shepherd.

Here are the core reasons

Compared to German shepherds with sloped backs, the German shepherd straight back has fewer health conditions, like hip dysplasia and may tend to have a poor quality of life

Also, this is the type of dog breed Captain Max von Stephanitz desired when he started breeding the German shepherd.

And for those who prefer working dog breeds, the straight-back GSD is more hardworking and resilient than the sloped-back GSD.

Final Words

Between the German shepherd straight back and the sloped back German shepherd, which is better. This is one top question that is often debatable; however, we have tried to answer so you can tell the difference.

As you can see, German shepherds with a straight backline conform to the German shepherd breed standard set by captain Max von Stephanitz. And the sloped backline German shepherd is a creation of influential breeders who concentrated on the cosmetic traits of this German shepherd; thus, they decide to alter its gait.

Finally, when you decide to choose any German shepherd, ensure you get it from a reputable breeder who checks for any health issues on his dogs.

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