European German Shepherd’s are a bit smaller in built as compared to American GSD’s, they have bigger built. American GSD are lesser in weight as compared to European counterparts. There are other differences too, read the details below.

The decision to take a German Shepherd as a pet might seem easy to you apparently as you just have to pay and the dog is all yours. But in the long run, many other factors are even more important and should be considered well before you finalize your decision of taking a German Shepherd home.

The breed to which your German Shepherd belongs is a vital factor in the selection of a German Shepherd. It is about choosing a breed that suits you and your lifestyle the best.

Based on differentiation, there are two major categories in which a German Shepherd breed can be divided.

  1. The European German Shepherds
  2. The American German Shepherds

The European and American German Shepherds belong to the same breed, having different backgrounds. Let us discuss these two in detail.

American Vs European Gsd

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The European German Shepherd

Bred mainly in Europe, European GSD’s are smaller in size, they tend to be more expensive in comparison to the American GSDs.

The European German Shepherds are also known as East-European Shepherds. The European GSDs are the working dogs as Captain Max Von Stephanitz from the German military, decided that this breed will be a working dog that will work for the military and police.

The European GSDs are a blend of classic German Shepherds and the native Russian dogs. This blend was aimed to get a breed that will be strong, large, can resist the harsh cold weather of Russia, and can work for the Russian police and military force.

Characteristics of European GSD

Here are some of the highlighted characteristics of the European German Shepherd.

  • Size & weight

The size of the European German Shepherd is larger than the normal German Shepherds and the American German Shepherds but the European GSDs often look smaller than the American GSDs. Also, the weight of European German Shepherd is comparatively more than a regular and American German Shepherd.

The female European German Shepherd is 28 inches tall with a weight of 110 pounds while a male European German Shepherd is 30 inches tall with a weight of 130 pounds.

  • Temperament

The European German Shepherd is an active, confident, calm, and quiet dog with a strong body. The major focus of this GSD remains on the owner and his commands. It is an obedient and well-mannered dog that is suitable as a working dog for police and military. The European German Shepherds are famous for being extremely loyal and devoted to their owners.

It has a defending attitude and needs a regular exercise to burn its outbursting energy.

  • Appearance

The European German Shepherd is a strong, muscular, and tall dog. It has a big wolf-like head, with a long neck and thick fur on the collar. It has a straight line on the hind legs with a strong, long, and wide back.

Its long tail with thick fur becomes erect in excitement. It never skids but trots while walking.

  • Color

The coat color of the European German Shepherd is dark as compared to the American German Shepherd. It appears mostly in red and black.

  • Adaptability

The European German Shepherds are bred in such a way that they can easily adapt and tolerate the harsh and cold weather of Russia.

  • Health

The European German Shepherds are at low risk of getting sick due to a straight and balanced body posture. They are usually tall, strong, and healthy but due to more weight, they can have health issues like hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia.

  • Teeth

It has strong jaw muscles and sharp teeth that bite like a scissor edge.

  • Lifespan

The European German Shepherd has a lifespan of about 14 years.

  • Regulation

The European German Shepherds are regulated and approved by the German Shepherd Club of Germany. It has worked hard for the preservation of this breed and ensured to produce great GSDs in terms of temperament and physical traits.

Before getting registered, the European GSD has to clear a test organized by the German Shepherd Club of Germany.

  • Cost

Under the strict rules of the German Shepherd Club of Germany, it is very difficult to breed a European German Shepherd. The price of the European German Shepherd is also very high. It cost about $1200 to $1500 to get a European German Shepherd. [/box]

The American German Shepherd

The American German Shepherds are mainly the European German Shepherds that were taken by the soldiers of world war 1 to the USA. Since then, the European German Shepherds are taken to America, and the breeders of America breed the European lines.

The American German Shepherds were mainly bred as the show dogs. That is why they are only used as show dogs and are not suitable as a guard or police dogs. The intellect and strength of American German Shepherd are similar to that of an original German Shepherd.

Characteristics of American GSD

Some basic characteristics of the American German Shepherd are as follows.

  • Size & weight

Although the size and weight of an American German Shepherd are less than the European German Shepherd, it has a large built, and apparently, it looks bigger than the European GSD.

The female American German Shepherd is 22-24 inches tall and weighs about 70 pounds. The male American German Shepherd is 24-26 inches tall and weighs about 90 pounds which are almost equal to the normal German Shepherd breed.

  • Temperament

The American German Shepherds are intelligent and sharp but their nervousness and anxiety make them difficult to get trained as a police dog. They are more suitable to be kept as a pet at home.

  • Appearance

The American German Shepherds appear to have a more refined body. Their head is bigger and more refined, its back has a steep slope, the rare legs are angled, and their hind legs tend to bend more than European GSDs.

  • Color

The color of the American German Shepherd coat is lighter, mostly tan and black.

  • Adaptability

The American German Shepherd can tolerate and adjust with the cold and warm weather with the help of double coat, but it can not survive in the extremely harsh weather.

  • Health

The American GSDs are also prone to suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia due to their slanted body. They can also catch allergies and suffer through bloating

  • Lifespan

The American German Shepherds also live for about 14 years.

  • Regulation

The American German Shepherds are regulated by the American Kennel Club (AKC). They have permitted the dogs to be used only for show and to be kept as pets.

No test for registration is taken by the AKC if the parents of the American German Shepherd have already been registered as American German Shepherds.

  • Cost

The price of the American German Shepherd is quite reasonable. It costs only $500 and you can take a German Shepherd home as a family pet dog and as a guard as well.

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What Should You Choose?

Regardless of the differences between the two, the European and American German Shepherds belong to the same breed. Training a German Shepherd is like bringing up a child. You have to put some effort into training them and deal with their temperaments.

So, choose the dog that is most suitable for your temperament, patience, and lifestyle. This will ensure you have the best companion with you for plenty of coming years.[/box] [box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]

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Nathan Carlton

Nathan Carlton is an executive editor at He is an avid dog lover and holds a degree in "Holistic Health & Puppy Care" from The British College of Canine Studies. He has been parenting dogs since age 10, when he developed a strong bond with his father's Bull Dog. Today, he has a German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever, who he calls Joani and Saga, respectively.