The Old German Shepherd is most often viewed as a long haired German Shepherd and most often it is considered as a variety of the German Shepherd breed, rather than a separate breed. And indeed, the Altdeutsche Schäferhund is not officially recognized by any national kennel club. So what is the reason for the separation from the German Shepherd? Well, to understand that, we need to look at the origin and history of the breed.
The Old German Shepherd share the same ancestry and origin with the German Shepherd and their origin dates back hundreads of years. Most likely the ancestors of Old German Shepherds lived in the area of todays Germany since as early as the 7th century and their original purpose was to herd livestock, mostly sheep. Before 1890s, any dog used for herding and protecting in Germany was simply called as German Shepherd dog. But that changed in 1890s, with the introduction of the German Shepherd association. This association wrote an official breed standard for the German Shepherd, where the long-haired variety of the German Shepherd was not accepted. That caused decline in popularity of the long-haired German Shepherds, but some breeders started their own breeding programs and started to call their long-haired GSDs as Old German Shepherds, or Altdeutsche Schäferhund. The situation once again changed not so long ago, in 2010, when the German Shepherd association decided to allow the long-haired type in their breed standard once again. Since than, the long-haired type is again bred within the official German Shepherd association, but some owners and breeders still stick with the term Old German Shepherd and with their own breeding lines.
3) Old German Shepherd vs German Shepherd
You already know that the main difference between the Old German Shepherd and „classic“ German Shepherd is their coat length. The Old German Shepherd has much longer coat. But are there any other differences between them? Well, mostly because of the breeding programs, it is said, that the backline of Old German Shepherds is not sloping as much as the normal German Shepherds backline. Their backs are typically much straighter which makes them look healthier. And what about the temparament? I will talk about it later in the video in more details, but many owners claim, that the Old German Shepherd is somewhat calmer, more balanced and more relaxed, especially when they are at home. But overall, the temperament is very very similar.
4) Coat and color
As you already know, the coat of Old German Shepherd is pretty long. It is a beautiful long coat with soft undercoat. The tail and legs are typically more bushy and fluffy than the rest of the body. Some dogs exhibit a mane around the neck. And the breeds come in several colors and color combinations, which are most commonly black-brown, black-grey, black-yellow or all black.
Speaking of the coat it is important to mention the grooming and maintenance as well. And it is slightly harder than with the short-haired GSD, but it not extremely hard grooming routine. The only thing these dogs require is brushing. But it is recommended to brush their coat regularly, few times a week, in order to prevent matting and tangling. The Old German Shepherd also sheds fur all year long and regular brushing will minimize this shedding. You should never shave the coat of the Old German Shepherd, or better to say, you should never shave any doublecoated dog. The doublecoat provides protection in cold, but also in hot temperatures and it provides protection against all kinds of weather. But you can trim some parts of your Old German Shepherds body, such as the area around ears or bottom of their paws, but if you will just brush your dog regularly, you will make good job. These dogs also do not need much bathing. You should bath them only when it is really really necessary and they are dirty. Otherwise there is no reason for bathing them. And of course, just like with all dogs, you should regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clean them or clip them if needed.
The first ancestors of the Old German Shepherds had one main utilization, which was herding and protecting the livestock. But over the time, they found utilization in many other areas and fields. Thanks to their endurance and strength, intelligence, loyalty, incredible work ethic, confidence with nerves of steel and eagerness to please, they are trainable to do almost any task. They can be herding, protecting the livestock, but they can also be property or personal guard dogs, police dogs, military dogs, search and rescue dogs, service dogs or therapy dogs. They can truly do almost any kind of a job and they will excell at it. The one exception is hunting. These dogs are not used for this purpose. The Old German Shepherd can also compete in various dog sports, like Schutzhund, obedience, rally or nosework and tracking. And of course, these dogs can also make incredible companion dogs.
As i mentioned earlier in the video, the Old German Shepherd is considered as slightly calmer, more relaxed and little bit friendlier than the German Shepherd. And these are great benefits for companionship. But remember, that the difference is not really big and the temperaments are very similar. It is a docile, obedient, absolutely loyal, but also affectionate, gentle and playful dog breed. They have very well balanced character. It is a good natured dog, known to show affection towards kids, but of course you should never leave any dog breed with a very young child unsupervised. The Old German Shepherd can also live with other dogs or other pets in the family, especially if socialized together from the puppyhood. This is a reliable companion dog whose playful character brings a lot of life into a family. I can guarantee you that you will never be bored with this breed by your side. Overall, it is an excellent companion pet for active families.
And when i said that they are much better suited for active families, i 100% meant it. These dogs are no coach potatoes. If they are not used for some kind of a work, they definitely need daily longer walks or hikes accompanied with some vigorous playtime, which will exercise their body, but they will also need some fun training session or playtime that will occupy their mind as well. Without enough physical and mental exercise, they will become bored and possibly develop some unwanted behaviour, such as destruction or excessive barking. You can also try some dog sport with the Old German Shepherd. These dogs will be always ready for any kind of outdoor adventure, and it does not matter if its raining or snowing outside, they are just always ready.
The Old German Shepherd is a very strong and muscular, but also agile and athletic dog breed. Its height and weight is the same as the size of German Shepherd, but their long coat makes them look little bit bigger and much stockier. When a long-haired and short-haired GSD will stand next to each other, the long-haired type will just look bigger. And what is the average height and weight? Well, the height is typically between 55-65 cm, which is 22-26 inch and weight between 22-40 kg, which is 49-88 lbs. Females are typically slightly smaller than males.
The Old German Shepherd is a big dog, and just like all the large dogs, they have higher chance to suffer from bone and joint problems, such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Other health issues associated with this breed are some eye problems, allergies or muscle atrophy. The list of health issues associated with the Old German Shepherd is similar to the one of classic German Shepherd. The average lifespan of this breed is around 12 years.