03 Oct 2007

East Versus West German Shepherds

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photo:Sucherquelle German Shepherds

AP reports that Cold War rivalries survive in the breeding of German Shepherds.

As the country celebrates 17 years of reunification on Wednesday, some animosities between the formerly communist East and capitalist West remain — and few are as doggedly contested as the fight over whose shepherds are superior.

One thing nobody denies is that in the more than four decades of Germany’s division, the dogs did develop different looks: Eastern shepherds are mostly dark gray or black, while the Western dogs have the better-known yellow-and-black appearance.

West German shepherds also have a characteristically sloped back, while their East German counterparts have a straighter back — which their proponents claim is less prone to the hip problems that can plague the breed. …

Because of this, the claim for the better dog at times sounds more like a battle over moral superiority between the East and the West than breeder rivalry.

Grube called the claims from the East German breeders an “obvious case of Ostalgie” — a sentimental nostalgia about life in former East Germany, which went out of existence at reunification in 1990 at the end of the Cold War.

East German breeders get particularly upset when confronted with the widespread assumption that most of their dogs were used at the border to keep citizens from fleeing to the West.

“The army and the police only got the scum — the best ones went to dog lovers,” said Werner Dalm, the former government official for shepherd dog breeding in communist East Germany. However, he acknowledged that the East German army asked particularly for those “that could really bite well.”

Today, Dalm, who is still breeding shepherds at age 81 and is also convinced of the East German dogs’ superiority, believes that pure East German bloodlines are all but extinct.

“Since the unification in 1990, we’ve been mixing bloodlines,” he said. “Even my dogs don’t have pure East German pedigrees any longer.”

Whatever the truth, it does seem like the East German shepherd is making a comeback among the 75,000 members of the German Shepherds’ Club and even abroad.

“We get so many requests for our dogs, there’s an international wait list of several years,” said Schultze.

6 Feedbacks on "East Versus West German Shepherds"

Dominique R. Poirier

It’s a matter of racial purity and local culture once more, in sum.

“What’s bred in the bone will ever come out in the flesh.”


WOW!!! The dog in this picture is identical to our GSD who was born in Missouri, April 8, 1999. His parents were from Europe… we will have to look at his records. It is incredible how similar they are. We do not see many black sables in the US. Absolutely beautiful animals!

Gloria A Novak

I live in the state of Vermont. I own a bitch who is pure East German Shepherd. Her Mother was shipped from Germany.

I have papers to show

She will be one year old April 21,2010, solid black. Her parents both titled. She is amazing! I have no site as of yet, but can be contacted via e-mail…Gloria Novak

Gloria A Novak


I own a son of the dog in the picture. He is 100% DDR and an amazing dog. The best I have ever owned. In the past I had a Dutch-bred working dog, a Canadian bred show dog and the DDR dogs have been way easier to train. The vet loves his personality as well.

David Johns

I’ve been looking for years for a quality German Shepherd and have never found what I would like to have. I’ve seen some very nice dogs, but it wasn’t what I ws looking for. I would like to find a good East German GSD, female. Doesn’t have to be a puppy, but a young dog which would be easy to train. I’m 64 and would find it hard to keep up with a puppy. I exercise and walk daily and am good phisical condition. I would just like to have a quality german Shepherd female. I could work with and my wif and I could have a good companion.


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