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Long-Haired German Shepherd: Fluffy Coat GSD Genetics & Puppy Costs

Are you seeking to bring home a long-haired German Shepherd? We take a closer look at all the details, including coat length, color, controversies and more. Get to know this unique fluffy German Shepherd variety to learn if they are a right fit for your family.


Last Updated: November 17, 2023 | 10 min read

Long Haired German Shepherd - Fluffy Coat

Long-haired German Shepherd Dogs (or GSDs) are a unique variant of the ever-popular short to medium-length coated Shepherds. The difference between the breed’s coat has little effect on the breed. Rough-coated dogs are considered unique due to the rarity and beauty of their fur.

Widely considered a recessive trait, long-haired Shepherds were rejected from competition until recently and were even disliked by the father of modern Shepherds, Max Von Stephanitz.

The GSD is no stranger to having unique coloring and coat combinations, as the blue version has become popular, along with the black, white GSD, and even a red coat.  Let’s look into what makes the long-coat German Shepherd so special.

Long-Haired German Shepherd
    • weight iconWeight50-90 Pounds
    • height iconHeight22-26 Inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan9-13 Years
    • color iconColorsBlack & Tan, Black, Silver, Sable, Red, Bi-Color
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

German Shepherd Overview

German Shepherd Dog in Road
The German Shepherd is the 2nd most popular dog in the US.

The original forebears of the German Shep came into recognition when they were exhibited in 1882 and were previously cataloged as “German Sheepdogs.” The Phylax Society became the first club focused on these dogs and their breeding capabilities. Even though they made great strides in standardizing these dogs, they quickly disbanded in 1894.

“Vereinfur Deutsche Schaferhund,” or the German Shepherd Dog Club, was founded in 1899 by President Max von Stephanitz. His decisive and robust view of what direction a breed should take led to the origin of multiple dog breeds, including the Shepherd and the Malinois. He wasn’t interested in the dog’s look but found beauty in how the dog could be used for working purposes. The Shepherd breed became one of the most intelligent, strong, and hardest-working canine breeds.

Long-Haired German Shepherds

Long Haired Fuzzy German Shepherd
Long-Haired GSDs are less common.

The rarity of the long coat German Shepherd arises from the recessive gene meant to be bred out of the breed entirely. Previously considered an unfortunate consequence of inbreeding, the coat can now be found from selective mating and attention to parenting. The origins of the long-haired variant march in line with their typical, short-haired cousins.

Von Stephanitz stated that long silky hair was often associated with a refined head and often had no undercoat. This would cause the part along the back of the breed to form pockets of moisture when it rained, which led to drenched skin. The long, silky, or shaggy hair was also likely to mat, get frozen during winter, and get stiff with dirt if not properly taken care of.

He viewed long hair as too much trouble for what it’s worth. If it were possible to breed long hair out of the Shepherd or their short to medium hair counterpart, this would be preferred by von Stephanitz as long hair lacked the density and protection from all elements.

A balance would be necessary for the coat of the average Shepherd, as “coats must be judged simply from the point of view of serviceability because otherwise, such dogs are not of importance for the breed.” The focus was more on the undercoats’ protection and the length as the medium-haired German Shepherds were easier to care for and, therefore, made better working dogs. These pups are not to be confused with GSD mixes like the GSD/Husky.

Fluffy German Shepherd Origins

Fluffy German Shepherd
We aren’t sure when the fluffy GSD’s coat came around.

It’s unclear how the original long-haired Shepherd came about, but their more modern origins come from the Wuttermburg region of Germany. Wuttermberg is mountainous and located close to Switzerland, making it a colder part of Germany despite being more south.

These long coats were likely evolved and considered advantageous to protect them from below-zero temperatures. The long hair gene is deemed to be recessive in all modern Shepherds, being found in approximately 10% of the breed.

Removing Long Coats From Breeding

Rough Coated GSD
The rough-coated GSD is generally removed from breeding lines.

The Breed Survey Scheme in Germany removed the rough-coated and shaggy-coated Shepherds from the breeding pool in 1922 due to specific instructions from von Stephanitz. However, long coats with undercoats could still be surveyed and exhibited at shows.

A specific date for when they were banned entirely from showing isn’t written down, but they were actively being bred out and determined “unacceptable for breeding” around the 1970s. This ban continued until recently.  Other breeds also have this recessive trait, and it’s also bred out of these breeding lines.

Reversing The Rule

Long Coated GSD on Rock
GSDs with undercoats are now permitted to be shown, not mated.

The SV amended the standard on December 23rd, 2010, actively reversing the 40-year-old rule allowing “long coats with undercoats” to be exhibited again. However, they are still not allowed to mate with ordinary coated Shepherds.

It is unclear why this rule was reversed, but it is thought to be done to save the breed from complete extinction. This has increased the possibility of more long-haired Shepherds being bred in the future.

Impact Of The Ban

Fluffy German Shepherd at Show
Fluffy German Shepherds are now permitted to be shown.

The ban has made it challenging to find long-haired Shepherds anywhere. They were already rare when they were partially banned in the 1920s. However, after the total ban in the 1970s, recovering from the lengthy no-breeding rule has made it difficult to find this breed from a reputable breeder – although not impossible.

There may be a rebirth of this variant of Shepherd, as they have a large cult following within the community.

Long-Haired German Shepherd Genetics

Long Haired German Shepherd Dog
Long Haired breeds are more likely to occur when both parents have longer coats.

Long hair is a recessive trait, meaning both parents must carry the recessive gene for long hair to present in offspring. Two long-haired parents have a higher chance that a puppy will inherit the trait. Breeding one short-coated parent with one long-coated parent means a chance of getting both long and short-haired puppies if both parents carry the recessive gene. In extremely rare cases, two short-haired dogs who carry the trait can produce a long-haired puppy.

Spotting A Long Haired GSD

Fluffy GSD in Field
Rough Coated GSDs are easy to spot in a crowd.

You can see this unique breed variant from miles away, as they are sporting quite an elegant coat. You’ve likely seen a short-haired German Shepherd, so comparing the two will be easy. They have tufts of fur around their ears, back of legs, hindquarters, around the tail, and between their paws.

Most long-haired Shepherds don’t have an undercoat and, as a result, look shiny. As Von Stephanitz suggested, they don’t make great workers as they have less protection from the elements. The only significant difference is primarily the length of the coat when compared to standard German Shepherds.

Coat & Color

GSD with Long Black Coat
Long-haired GSDs can have any color coat in their gene pool.

As mentioned, the long-haired version of this breed’s most unique feature is their long, luxurious coat. Most don’t have an undercoat, but some are bred to have them. These undercoat variants are large and poofy and would be great for winter months if they didn’t require so much maintenance.

They can be found in all the standard short and medium-length colors such as black and tan, black and cream, black and silver, red and black, black and red, solid black, sable, dark sable, black sable, and bi-color/bi-black. As the long hair gene in Shepherds is considered recessive, you’ll likely have a recessive-colored dog to pair with their long, double coat.

Unique Colors

Long Haired German Shepherd with Stick
Long-coated GSDs can have unique color combinations.

Although rare, pure white, solid blue, fawn color, pure red, and spotted black and white are also found. However, neither of these colors is accepted when it comes to competitions. These colors will only be found due to genetic mutations or if they don’t match the breed standards for show. A breed’s color doesn’t necessarily come with health issues, and neither of these does.

To know if your Shep is genuinely long-haired, you only need to look at it. Long-haired Shepherds have unique features associated with their breed, including a lack of undercoat, creating a glossy sheen on their fur. You’ll notice that the average German Shepherd has a thick double coat, which is often medium-length. The long-haired variant is rare and can easily be picked out of a crowd.

Coat & Colors In Competition

Long Haired German Shepherd Competing
Guidelines are stringent when it comes to competition dogs.

Color during competition does matter when showing off your dog. Multiple colors aren’t allowed in most competitions, including pure white, solid blue, fawn, pure red, and spotted black and white. Some colors, such as gray, liver, light blue, and panda, are deemed faulty by major kennels, but not always.

The long-haired variant has had a long history of being banned and reinstated. If you want to show off your long-haired beauty, they must have an undercoat, or they won’t be accepted. Black and tan, black and cream, black and silver, red and black, black and red, black, sable, dark sable, black sable, and bi-color/bi-black are all accepted color variants, so finding the proper color is the least of your worries.

Although the short-haired German Shepherd breed has a long track record of competition wins, the long-haired variant is out of luck regarding frequent wins or any wins at all. The banning of the long-haired variety has made it difficult for them to be recognized.

They are often overlooked at dog shows in favor of the classic breed look: black and cream. This doesn’t mean that these dogs are bad in competition. It is more likely that the association with the breed is stronger with the tan or sable color scheme. I recommend passing up the long-haired variant if you want a show dog. You should only be looking for the short to medium-haired version.

Grooming & Living Conditions

Grooming For Long Haired German Shepherd Dogs
Get ready to groom your Rough Coated Shepherd.

Long-haired Shepherds shed a lot all year round. Molting will also occur three weeks before fall or three weeks before spring. They are notoriously nightmares to groom as their coats tend to clump and mat – a lot of patience is needed to groom these dogs. You’ll need the perfect brush. A metal brush with lengthy teeth is preferred to get deep into the coat, and a pin brush is recommended to keep your pup’s coat shiny and clean.

Brushing daily for several minutes will prevent knots in the future. Be prepared to vacuum frequently to keep your surroundings clean, and always have a lint roller nearby to clean yourself before leaving the house. German Shepherds are large, powerful, and possess strong guarding instincts, so great care should be exercised when purchasing them. Poorly bred dogs are more likely to exhibit anxiety and nervousness.

To prevent overguarding and resource-guarding behavior, it’s best to socialize them early and have extensive obedience classes. While with the family, they should be exposed to different elements, including loud noises and children. They like to be active and can get bored quickly, so ample exercise is necessary to keep them engaged.

Long-haired Shepherds should be kept indoors due to their large coats that can be matted easily. They’re best kept inside to prevent overheating in the summer and frostbite in the winter. Do not forget to brush their teeth or try another dental cleaning system to keep their teeth healthy and prevent periodontal disease.

Do your best to keep your dog clean and groomed. Their fur will attract dirt and mud and may start to mat if not washed frequently. If you’re leaving, having a house sitter or taking them to a kennel is a good idea, as they require much attention.

Finding A Long-Haired Puppy

Rough Coated GSD Puppy
Long-haired GSD puppies will cost about the same as regular coated pups.

Finding a reputable breeder is the most likely way you’ll find a long-haired Shepherd. If you can find one at a local animal shelter, it will save you a lot of cash. While finding a breeder for these special dogs can be challenging, it’s your best-case scenario for finding one.

Long-Haired German Shepherd Price

Due to the breed’s rarity, the average cost will be slightly higher. It’s also difficult to determine how many puppies will be in the litter. It may not work out even if you find a breeder that purposely breeds long-haired dogs. Longer-coated Shepherds can be more expensive than standard German Shepherds. The GSD price is mainly determined by the hair color rather than the long hair itself. The cost varies widely, with the price being as low as $700 and as high as $3,500.

Long-haired Shepherds will be known from birth. This breed variant doesn’t change the length of hair as it grows. This means if the breeder states the puppy’s hair will grow longer, this is a scam. Ask if their coat is likely to have an undercoat. Most long-haired German Shepherds don’t have this feature, but it can happen in some litters.

Reputable breeders will have no issue showing you the parents of your pup. They should also be willing to show papers of the parentage of the puppies you want to buy. A huge red flag is if they’re protective of this. A legitimate breeder will want you to trust them. Seeing the parentage can also determine potential health problems or the quality of the puppy.

Could Pet Insurance Help?

If you have pet insurance that covers exam fees and your dog needs a non-routine examination, there is a good chance your policy will reimburse some of those costs based on your deductible and other policy details. However, if you are a new customer, vet expenses will not be covered until after your policy’s defined waiting periods, so signing up once you have an existing health concern will not help this time. Pre-existing conditions are not covered by any current pet insurance plans.

This is why it is a great idea to sign up for a pet insurance policy when your pet is young and relatively healthy to ensure you will be covered when you need it most.

Other Fluffy Dog Breeds To Consider

The long-haired German Shepherd has a large cult following due to their unique look and fantastic personality. Their gorgeous hair, plucky, light-hearted temperament, and enthusiastic attitude make them unique in their own right. However, if this breed is too big or energetic for you, there are plenty of other German Shepherd mixes and fluffy dog breeds to consider. The Corgi German Shepherd is a unique blend, or perhaps you want a dog that looks like a German Shepherd but is a different breed.

All dogs, regardless of breed or coat length, need high-quality, healthy dog food, regular veterinary care, and plenty of love, toys, and supplies. If you plan to bring home a German Shepherd or other larger breed, remember that they need large to extra large supplies.

Have you ever had a long-haired German Shepherd or any other Shepherd pup? Share your GSD experiences with us in the comments.

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  1. We have had two long-coated GSDs: Koda (2004-2015) and our current dog, Fozzie (b. 2020). In both cases, neither parent was long-haired, and the breeder did not know they both had the recessive gene until they produced litters with two or three long-coated pups. (The other puppies in these litters had standard lengthed fur.) Because he breeds dogs for show, and the AKC didn’t like the variant, he chose not to mate those dogs again, and as a result it was 15 years between the litter that produced Koda and the one that produced Fozzie.

    Aside from the fur, these dogs were no different from the other GSDs that have shared our lives. The intelligence, temperament, and other features were exactly what you’d expect with a purebred GSD. They were both AKC-registered, eligible for agility and obedience competitions; one of them, Fozzie, is also acceptable for breeding, although we don’t breed our dogs. (Also, both of our long-haired dogs have had undercoats. I’ve never met a GSD without an undercoat.) Contrary to the information in this article, we did not pay slightly more for the rarity – we paid slightly less because the AKC wouldn’t allow them to be show dogs, so I suppose it depends on the breeder’s view of the long fur.

    We love this breed regardless of variant, but we really, really like the look of the long-coated shepherds. They’re just gorgeous, gorgeous dogs. It’s interesting how many people have never seen them, though. A lot of people assume our Fozzie is a shepherd mix of some kind. But my favourite mis-identification came with our other long-haired, Koda, when a little boy whispered to his mother, “Mama, look – that lady brought a wolf!”

  2. Irving Zisman

    I love long haired shepherds. They are very rare in my neck of the woods, so whenever we see one, it’s a beautiful sight! I am currently in the process of trying to acquire an all black one.

  3. Christine Wilson

    I am looking for a long coat German shepherd female puppy to be a family pet, do not want show quality or for breeding just a good addition to our family.

  4. Hi,
    Love your article! Do you know where I can get one if these beautiful dogs? I’ve only found 2 places that look very reputable and have champion blood parents for puppies. They are charging 5k-6900. I would absolutely love a long hair red and black male Shepard puppy if you know any reputable breeders that are more in line what you said here 700-2500.00. I live in Florida but fine with paying for transportation or picking the puppy up if need be. Thank you – and and all suggestions appreciated!

    1. We purchased a beautiful dog from Ruskin House of Shepherds. Breeder does predominantly long haired GSD. She is a personality, but is very passionate about her craft and her dogs. I have owned 5 GSDs, and this one is by far the smartest and most loving. Trained immediately, and only had 2 accidents before being fully house broken. Just an amazing dog, and now 7 months old. Pricey, but the money was well spent!

  5. Jay Garacochea

    We stumbled upon our long-haired Shepherd as the mom was a traditional and the dad was a long-haired. Everywhere we go we get nothing but compliments about how beautiful our a little girl is. Wish I could post a photo.

  6. Vom Bavaria Hof

    In your article you make mentioned that ”The likelihood of getting a long haired Shepherd with two long-haired parents is high. However, it is still possible to get medium or short length coated puppies, even with two dominant parents”. I have searched the internet and spoken to a few breeders and they say that 2 LONG COAT DOGS, will never produce short coat puppies. They say that a Long Coat’s genes are a lot more dominant than that of a short coat and even though the LONG COATS that were mated has short coat parents on both the Sire and Dam side the will not produce short coats. Please advise ?

  7. As an owner of 5 longcoats, 1 black/red..3 red/black and 1 bi color and a retired co breeder with another kennel, I can assure you that all of our gsd’s have undercoats. Every pup born was lc and had an undercoat. The adults that were bred had hips/elbows certified and all necessary DNA testing done to help avoid genetic medical problems in our pups. Bloodlines and access to the parents of litters was always available as well as a health and temperament guarantee. Our pups have gone on to be herding dogs, service dogs and competition dogs doing nose work, obedience, Conformation, agility and so on.
    The Male I kept recieved 5 best male, 5 best of breed and in the end 3 Reserve best in Show during his 1st show weekend in UKC.
    I know many breeders of longcoat German Shepherds in both the Showline (red/black) and the Working lines (Sables, Bi and Solid Black).
    In the US and Canada, a good breeder will Always have Certified the hips/elbows, do DNA testing for at least DM, MDR1 and have Cardio testing done. They should post the results of these tests along with the bloodlines of both parents. In the US, it is required that the stud have his DNA registered with AKC if he sire’s more than 3 litters or the pups can’t be registered. We had an application because not everyone is the right person for a LC German Shepherd and we would not have sold to a person that we didn’t feel would be right for this breed. We Always had a waiting list of 24 people…after we pre screened the applications. We allowed you to pick a pup but some people pick because it is the biggest Male or they think it will be the darkest female. We temperament tested our pups prior to the stage of you choosing. If you work all day and only have time for a quick game of fetch or are elderly and can only walk around the block but the pup you chose has a high energy level, we would guide you to the right pup for your lifestyle. There were always a variety of drives and energy levels in a litter. We also wormed the pups at 2,4,6 and 8 weeks…the pups had Veterinary checkups at 6 and 8 weeks and had the appropriate vaccinations and your pup was microchiped. You received a puppy package with coupons for free insurance, information about training, house breaking, grooming, toxic things to keep your pup away from ect. You also received the paperwork to register your pup. The litter was always registered. Finally you received a Certificate of Health from the Department of Agriculture because in the US, it is illegal for a breeder to sell pups going to another state without this Certification. Our Kennels were also inspected by the State Inspector several times a year and by AKC.
    Because our goal was to breed Healthy LC German Shepherd Dogs with good temperaments we did not try to get rich. Our pups sold for $2000 for limited registration. That means we expected you to spay or neuter your new gsd at the appropriate age. We didn’t sell breeding rights. We had contracts that you had to follow.
    This all may sound invasive or that we were being jerks but we put the Breeding Program 1st meaning that many dogs came to us from Europe in the almost 30 years of breeding not all of them met our standards or passed our testing. Those dogs were altered and adopted by families already pre approved.
    We put the future wellbeing of our pups as high on the list. They were the reason we worked so hard. We didn’t advertise on Craigslist, in newspapers. You are right….we had a Cult following. I have owned both Stock Coat and Long Coat German Shepherds and I had a Norwegian Elkhound growing up. I get way more undercoat when they blow their coat but it is easier to clean up. I do vacuum every day.
    I started training dogs in 1976 and the German Shepherd is a very intelligent dog but I haven’t noticed a difference in training stock vs longcoat.
    I’m not sure how things work in other countries but in the US…these things will separate a good breeder from a bad breeders.

  8. Are baby will be a year in Feb 2022 he is a very healthy 110 +lbs. He’s are first longcoat Shepard and is completely spoiled but very easy to train he is my dream shepherd and has not disappointed. Super smart super super handsome

  9. Wendy Aminzadeh

    I am looking for a female German Shepherd long hair in Black .or chocolate or liver colors. Or red and chocolate. I am in the clovis fresno areas.

  10. We have a long haired male German shepherd 18 months old at 43 kilos. Both parents were the standard type Shepherd. He does have a chocolate coloured undercoat. The fur on his back is black and shiny with long hair on his legs and long hair around his head. He is a lovely looking dog. Due to his destructive nature he lives out side. We also have a crate indoors without any training he goes into it. He is a very strong dog and training has been difficult . Have a Halti head collar to try and stop him pulling but he still pulls.

  11. My beautiful boy will be 2 in January, the comments about the water bowls really made me laugh and reminded me of him as a pup who liked his water bowl full then would get hold of the rim pick it up subsequently emptying the water everywhere and trot around the kitchen with it in his mouth!! Needless to say I got wise to this very quickly! He is such a beautiful boy friendly with everybody and every dog, one thing I will say stood on his back legs was taller than me I’m 5ft 2″ but he has no concept of personal space or how big he actually is – he’s hard work but I wouldn’t change him for the world 😊

  12. Gabrielle Alwin

    I have a red and black long-haired German Shepherd female. The breeder advised me I might have the first long hair German Shepherd pup she’d bred in 40 years. The mother was imported from Germany. I now know the implications of living with a long hair German Shepherd beside the vacuuming and clogged drains. Extremely intelligent. High prey drive. Fearless. And, that is just for starters. Prepare to up your game.

  13. I just got my long-haired GS pup today. He won’t go to sleep unless he’s got his mouth in a bowl of water, LOL!

      1. Apiffany Gaither Billings

        That is definitely an interesting place to sleep! To stop this behavior, you can choose a weighted or “no-tip” water bowl or place the water bowl in a raised stand to decrease the chances from your dog turning the water bowl over.

  14. We have a 2 year old black and silver long haired GSD with no undercoat. She was essentially a rescue from a farm situation where it seems she was underfed and ill kept. We expected a 50 to 70 pound dog, but she grew and grew.

    She is 120 pounds and not fat! We did her DNA suspecting she was a crossbreed but she is pure GSD. She has been healthy despite her large size and weight.

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