Thursday, September 10, 2009


I appreciate all of those who read my blogs and e-mail me with suggestions for topics to write about. This article was suggested to me by a top winning kennel whose dogs you might see in the show ring most week ends. She wanted to know what people think about a long coated German Shepherd winning in the ring. As she said, it’s only a minor fault. I just looked at the German Shepherd Dog Club of America’s new and improved website under the breed standard. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought I once read that the long coated shepherd is considered a minor fault. Now I read that it classifies it as a fault in coat. Perhaps it’s just a difference in wording.

The above picture is of a dog that I bred MANY YEARS AGO with Marge Dolan of Dolmar German Shepherds. He was a coated puppy. However, his coat wasn’t very long at all on his body. Mainly the long hair was on his head around his ears. I showed him twice and both times he took Best Puppy under specialty judges. He was exceptionally well bred with a magnificent side gait, having both front and rear angulation. His bone was oval, his head masculine, tight feet and a temperament to die for. I mean he had no other faults beside the coat. Because I was relatively new in the breed, I decided instead of trimming his ears, I would sell him into a pet home. If I had to do it over again, I don’t think I would have made that same decision. He was a product of the best of the Doppelt Tay lines (#2 Select Gilda’s son Steel Curtain bred to the famous Reno/Rhyme bloodlines).

Many a time in a breeders litter, the long coated puppy is the best in conformation and temperament. I wonder why that is. The long coated puppy is generally very easy to sell into a pet home. Some coats are indeed, very long. Others like mine, might just have the tell tale sign of being a coat around the ears….sometimes between the toes as well.

For those readers not familiar with the coat of the German Shepherd Dog, the breed has a double coat which is medium in length. His undercoat insulates for warmth and protection from the elements. The long coat doesn’t offer him this same protection. It is a softer coat in texture and gets wet quicker than the double layered coat.

So what does a breeder do when faced with a long coated puppy of superior conformation and movement? Many breeders will keep this type of puppy for breeding purposes and breed her to a stud that doesn’t carry the long coat gene. Then there are some who will trim the dog and show them anyway. The long coat is not considered a disqualification.

In my opinion, there a many more things to worry about in the breed than a long coated German Shepherd. Temperament should be the first thing we look for in a good quality dog followed by a sound functional body. I know some people will think, let the long coated dogs win and next we’ll see the livers and blues winning. We over look one thing and then where does it end? This is why we have a standard to base our breeding program on.

Faults of gait are considered very serious faults, and yet I’ll see dogs that kick up in the rear, those who lift from the elbow, dogs who are sloppy going away and they’re winners; many of them are champions. Surely if the faulty gaits are judged and overlooked then a minor fault like a coat shouldn’t be eliminated. Ideally, we would like to see all winning dogs be faultless. It’s not going to happen. The perfect dog hasn’t been bred. Genetics being what it is hasn’t produced the perfect specimen yet. We as breeders can only hope to show the best of our litters and come as close to the standard as possible.

So what do you think? Would you keep and show a long coated dog who had everything else going for him or sell him into a pet home?

My rating on a long coated dog being shown and finished: Only is it’s superior to all the others in the ring: (4), use for breeding: (4)


  1. If it was a superior dog, I'd keep it for breeding but I wouldn't show it because I don't know how to properly trim the coat so that I doesn't look butchered.

  2. I agree it would be a challenge to know the proper way to trim a long coat to make it look as normal as possible!

  3. Barbara,As fate has it,I am keeping a gorgeous long coat bitch that is Medusa's grand daughter(right there says shes perfect :)
    I have thought about showing her as she is exceptional. But,the way I understand the ruling,it is OK to show a coat because its merely a minor fault,but you will be disqualified if you trim a coat and show it altered.???

  4. Interesting.....I didn't know that if you trimmed the coat that you would be disqualified!