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American vs. European German Shepherds

german shepherd side profile

The American German Shepherd and the European German Shepherd are the same breed, but with different backgrounds. Is there really that much difference between these two? Let's take a closer look.

The European German Shepherd

Not surprisingly, European German Shepherds are bred mainly in Europe. Although these dogs are usually brought over to the United States from Europe, there are some German Shepherd Breeders in America who breed European lines. A few things to know:

  • Regulation: European German Shepherds are regulated under the SV (German Shepherd Club of Germany), which gives each and every registered dog the seal of approval.
  • Physical Characteristics: Physically, European German Shepherds have bigger heads, a straighter line on their hind legs, and a shorter and wider backline.
  • Traits: European German Shepherds are believed to be better suited as working dogs than their American counterparts. Because of this, it's also believed that they make better guard dogs. The majority of police dogs are from European lines. This may be due to the fact that the SV has worked hard at preserving the working temperament of German Shepherds for many years.

The American German Shepherd

American German Shepherd Dogs are bred and raised in the United States. Here are a few things that distinguish them from the German Shepherds that are breed across the Atlantic:

  • Regulation: American German Shepherds may participate in competitions under the American Kennel Club; however, these dogs don't have as many regulations as their European counterparts.
  • Physical Characteristics: Although they are a bit bigger overall than European German Shepherds, they have a more refined head, their hind legs bend more, and their torso is more angled from front to back.
  • Traits: American German Shepherds are known for being elegant, having a graceful walk, and for their extraordinary performance in the show ring.

Which German Shepherd is right for you, the American or the European? That's something only you can answer. But if you're a German Shepherd lover, we're sure you'll find something to love in both varieties.

  • The Serious Benefits of Play

    dog carrying a frisbee in its mouth

    Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

    The benefits of play

    Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

    • Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
    • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
    • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
    • Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
    • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.

    How to play with your dog

    There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.

    When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.

    When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

    Playtime tips

    • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
    • Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
    • Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
    • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
    • You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
    • If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!

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