When Captain Max von Stephanitz, a German army officer, sought to develop the perfect herding dog in the late 1890s, his motto was "Utility and Intelligence." He cared little for beauty, focusing instead on qualities that would make an outstanding working breed-strength, intelligence, and fitness.
Von Stephanitz was quick to eliminate characteristics he considered to be "faults." That's where the trouble began for the Long-haired German Shepherd. When this recessive gene surfaced, a dog was born with longer hair and little of the waterproof undercoat that von Stephanitz considered essential for a herder. As a result, the long-haired variety was disqualified from competition and has been banned from dog shows ever since.
Every bit a German Shepherd
While it may not "conform to physical breed standards," the Long-haired German Shepherd has all the characteristics that make this breed so lovable and loyal. His longer coat has no affect on his working ability, intelligence, or legendary focus. In fact, in Europe it is common to see the more "coated" Shepherds serving as police, guard, and rescue dogs. Many owners of the
long-haired variety claim that it has a friendlier disposition than the traditional German Shepherd.
The fight for acceptance continues
Fans of the Long-haired German Shepherd continue to fight for the breed's acceptance. In 1984, a German group was formed to lobby American and international governing bodies to allow different coat varieties. In 1991, their motion was denied.
Today, advocacy groups for the Long-haired German Shepherd are growing, and the variety has already been accepted in some competitions in Germany and the UK, but not yet by the American Kennel Club. It may be only a matter of time, however, before you see this handsome German Shepherd taking Best In Show.