German Shepherd Breed Profile | American vs. European and German Bloodlines and Breeding
After the First World War we begin to see divergences between the European German Shepherd and its American counterpart. American soldiers, who had encountered the German Shepherds during their period fighting abroad, became interested in the German Shepherd (although, given anti-Teutonic sentiment at the time, they were given to referring to the breed as either just “shepherd” or by the recently-adopted English appellation of “Alsatian”), and films like Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart introduced the breed to a wider audience. Unfortunately, however, American breeders tended not to use the stringent – some might argue excessively selective – standards of German breeders, choosing instead to breed as many dogs as quickly as possible at “puppy mills,” resulting in turn in dogs that were relatively poor-quality compared to their German counterparts.
However, today's German Shepherd has become a dog that Americans and Europeans of years gone by would be proud of-a highly intelligent canine, one that has been extensively used as a proven war and police dog.
Even with that said, it's very important to note that there are real differences between the American and European German Shepherds. While American German Shepherds (for purposes of scope, we're including both Canada and the United States) adhere to the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and American Kennel Club (AKC) standards, they are merely just that -standards-with minimal enforcement, if any, on issues relating to health and temperament. In Germany, the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV), the official club for the German Shepherd dog, has taken a more involved and proactive role in the breed as a whole, requiring the dog meet a number of specified prerequisites for registration. Even with that said, the SV has had its challenges to, particularly with the German police, who have found it quite difficult to obtain quality working dogs for police work. But more importantly, the differences seen in the German Shepherd breed from an American vs. European perspective are as follows:
And to be fair, the issue is much larger than "show dog" lines vs. working lines in America, rather, it's the struggle to preserve and protect the breed form careless and misinformed individuals. And though purists of the working line for the German Shepherd dog greatly criticize the "softening" of the breed, it must be stated that as long as the "show", "ring" and family dogs being bred are healthy, with a sound and stable temperament, then consideration should be given by all in the German Shepherd community (especially the working line "purists") for accepting these canines as quality examples of this fine breed. Without question, the American German shepherd is a different breed than its European counterpart, but given the varying needs of this dog on the Americans shores (from family pet to canine cop), one can understand the desire to produce litters suited for various roles in our society.