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American Show Line German Shepherds

American Show Line German Shepherds (Explained)

German Shepherds might seem to have the same general appearance. However, some of them are working line GSDs while others are show line GSDs. Perhaps the most popular type of show line GSD is the American Show Line German Shepherd.

This article will examine the Show Line German Shepherd, their history, and the typical characteristics you can expect from these dogs.

What Is An American Show Line German Shepherd?

The American Show Line German Shepherd is the most common type of GSD. They are different from their working line counterparts in physical appearance, temperament, and drive. So, they have different needs in terms of handling, training, and care.

Short History Of American Show Line German Shepherds

German Shepherds—whether working or show line types—all have the same ancestry. In fact, they can all link back a single dog, Horand von Grafrath.

Horand von Grafrath was owned by Captain Max von Stephanitz who is credited for the development and standardization of the German Shepherd. For decades, standards for breeding these working dogs were strictly enforced.

Over time, some enthusiasts of the breed were more interested in developing its appearance than its drive and temperament.

They were captivated by the German Shepherd’s aesthetic and sought to develop dogs that had brighter-colored coats and more angulated hindquarters. These dogs are now known as the American Show Line German Shepherd.

Are American Show Lines The Same As Canadian Show Lines?

Yes, American Show Line German Shepherds are the same as Canadian Show Line German Shepherds. In other parts of the world, these dogs are referred to as the North American Show Line GSDs.

Both the American and Canadian show lines are maintained using the same breed standards. The only difference between the two is the registry service and organization that upholds those standards. Those are the American Kennel Club in the United States and the Canadian Kennel Club in Canada.

How Rare Are American Show Line German Shepherds?

American Show Line GSDs are not rare at all. The reason why this variant is so popular is that they are easier to handle than working line types. For this reason, they are regarded as multipurpose working dogs and yet do excellently as household pets.

The problem with American Show Line GSDs being so common is that many backyard breeders reproduce them indiscriminately to turn an easy profit. This type of irresponsible breeding leads to poor health, bad genetics, and unpredictable temperaments.

It’s easy enough to find a show line GSD. But if you’re looking to welcome one into your home, make sure you get one from a well-reputed breeder. If you’re going to adopt one, speak to the shelter about their observations and possible issues that may arise once you’ve taken over the dog’s care.

What Work Are American Show Line German Shepherds Good At?

As their name suggests, American Show Line German Shepherds are popular as show dogs. They participate in conformation events that bring prestige to their bloodline and help their breeders earn prominence in their field.

But even if they’re known as show dogs, show line GSDs are still excellent working dogs. They may not have the drive and nerves of steel needed for such jobs as criminal apprehension and tactical deployment. However, they perform excellently in such roles as tracking and detection.

The American Show Line German Shepherds are still very confident, courageous, and willful dogs. However, their calmer nature makes them better suited for some settings and also makes them better service dogs.

Common Characteristics of the American Show Line GSD

Show line GSDs are similar to their working counterparts in several ways. They are, after all, merely different variants of the same breed, but they also differ.

Here are general characteristics and traits you can expect from an American Show Line German Shepherd:


The most distinctive characteristic of the American Show Line German Shepherd is its angulated hindquarters. Because of this, you’ll notice that their backs are more sloped than their working line counterparts.

In terms of build, show lines are usually bulkier and larger, although they are still quite agile and athletic. Their chests and heads are broader as well.

Additionally, show lines are usually those that don tan or red coats with the classic black saddle. Their coats might also be longer, thicker, and prone to heavy shedding.


American Show Line GSDs have a calmer nature that makes them better suited as household pets. They have a lower work drive and an especially lower prey drive. Nevertheless, these dogs still have strong protective instincts and will be wary of strangers.

Commercial breeding of American Show Lines has also led to the proliferation of nervous dogs with temperament issues. These make them more prone to biting and other forms of fear-based aggression. It’s essential to note that this is not standard to the show line but a consequence of indiscriminate and irresponsible breeding.

Personality Traits

Canine personality depends on each individual dog. Some might be more aloof while others are incredibly sociable. This is true whether they are show lines or working lines.

Something notable about the American Show Line German Shepherd is that they are more likely to be playful. They are sometimes even goofy attention-seekers that love to make you laugh. These dogs also tend to be more affectionate and willing to switch off for a snuggle.

Training Requirements

Despite their calmer nature, these dogs are still energetic and relatively high drive dogs. They need to be raised by a capable handler, ideally one with experience in working breeds.

Otherwise, some dogs can easily develop not only bad manners but also confidence issues that lead to fear-based aggression.

Thankfully, training American Show Line German Shepherds are incredibly smart. They are also very eager to please and they thrive on plenty of mental stimulation. Because of this, they are exciting and fulfilling to train.

Care Requirements

Besides training and mental stimulation, American Show Line German Shepherds require proper socialization. They need plenty of exposure to develop their confidence and understand the best ways to interact with their environment.

Additionally, they still have copious amounts of energy that they need to burn off on a daily basis. Physical exercise and lots of opportunities for play will help them become healthy and happy dogs.

As for grooming, these dogs need regular brushing as they are notorious shedders. They shed especially heavily twice a year in preparation for the summer and winter seasons. During these times, they will also need to bathe more frequently.

Are American Show Line German Shepherds Good Household Pets?

American Show Line German Shepherds are much more suited to household companionship than their working line counterparts. They generally have a calmer temperament and have a lower work drive.

They’re also better at socializing with other members of the family rather than bonding with just one person (i.e. their primary handler).

This is not to say that American Show Line German Shepherds are actually docile pets. Ultimately, they are still working dogs that require a job to do in order to thrive. They need proper handling, training, and socialization.

Even show line German Shepherds are incredibly energetic and so will do best in a family that can meet their need for exercise and lots of mental stimulation.

Plenty of walks and other physical activities should do the trick along with trainingpuzzle toys, and enrichment games. Participating in canine sports like flyballcanicross, and dock diving would be even better.

How Much Do American Show Line German Shepherds Cost?

According to Pet Budget, the average cost of a German Shepherd puppy is $800, with puppies commonly ranging from $450 to $1,900. However, those from well-reputed breeders and offspring of show winners can fetch much higher prices.

In the American Kennel Club Marketplace, it is customary for puppies to list for upwards of $2,000 each. Other breeders charge much more because of their experience, expertise, and pedigree.

For example, California’s At Redwood Runs sell American Show Line German Shepherd puppies for $3,500 to $4,000 each while the dogs at Big Red Texas German Shepherds Ranch can sell for up to $5,000 each.

Apart from the breeder’s reputation and the dog’s bloodline, factors that can increase a GSD puppy’s price is club registrations, health screenings, build, and special colors or markings. Any socialization and training they receive will also affect the price.

How Long Do American Show Line German Shepherds Live?

German Shepherds generally live between 10 and 14 years. Because of irresponsible backyard breeding, many show lines suffer from severe health issues and have shorter-than-average lifespans. However, this isn’t something you should worry about if you get your dog from a reputable breeder.

Responsible breeders take special care of their pedigrees and so will practice proper selective breeding. They will also screen their puppies for various genetic, behavioral, and health defects before selling them.

However, don’t let this deter you from adopting or rescuing a German Shepherd. These dogs are among the most popular breeds in shelters and there are many that are just waiting for homes that can accommodate their size and energy.

Final Thoughts

Although show line GSDs are more suited as household pets than their working line counterparts, they are still working dogs. They are extremely energetic and will need plenty of physical exercises and mental stimulation. They will also need proper socialization and a firm handler.

Before welcoming a German Shepherd into your home, it’s essential to understand their needs and whether you’re capable of meeting them. But if you’re up to the challenge of providing for a GSD, these dogs can be wonderful lifelong companions.

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