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West German Shepherd Working Line Dogs

Updated on January 13, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.

One of the most revered working lines in the German shepherd breed is the West German working line. Believed to be the line that is closest to the original breed created by Max von Stephanitz, this line is bred not just for color and body shape, but for working drive.

As with all working lines, the emphasis is put on the dog’s behavior and personality, rather than on just their body shape and gait, which makes for a much healthier and more active line. While many people choose the West German working line when they are looking for a working dog, these dogs also make great family pets, if the family has enough time for that dog.

West German Shepherd Coat Colors and Body Shape

The average West German shepherd is going to mostly black, with tan legs and some tan on his face. You will often also see white tufts on his back legs and tail. The coloring of these dogs is going to vary greatly when compared to show lines.

There are some dogs that are completely black, with only a little bit of tan on their legs, while other dogs, even from the same litter, may be mostly brown.

In general, these dogs are not the same tone of brown and black that the American working line exhibits. The black will be darker and less uniform, while the tan will usually be lighter. There is also a fairly common occurrence of sable in the West German working line.

As for body shape, you are going to see the regal head and shoulders, though there may be less bulk in the front of the body. These dogs are generally more balanced, as they are bred both for speed and agility, in addition to bite power.

This breed type does have a more sloped body than the east German shepherd. However they don't have that much slope compared to show lines and in particular most American show lines. Just be careful, because of the inbreeding in the recent past some do also suffer from hereditary hip en joint issues.

Why Choose a West German Shepherd?

There are many different lines to choose from when adopting a German shepherd. If you are concerned about temperament first and foremost, this is the line you will want to look for, but be sure you like at the working lines first and not their more show oriented counterparts. They are friendly with people and with other animals, are naturally loyal, and protective.

With the right training, they are going to make great puppies and dogs. Even more so than other lines, these dogs will want to play and they will be very driven to fall your directives and do what they are told.

© 2019 Sam Shepards


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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great article. These dogs sure are interesting. Thank you.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      5 weeks ago from UK

      Thanks for explaining that. I thought there must be some reason for the name change.

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      5 weeks ago from Europe

      Alsatian is just another name for German shepherd. Because of the world wars people (Brits etc.) didn't want to use the original name anymore so they used Alsatian (After the German French border area of Alsace-Lorraine)...

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      5 weeks ago from UK

      These photos remind me of a breed called 'Alsatian' from many years back. I have vivid memories of being chased by one as a child.


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