The German Shepherd is one of the best and most popular breeds for work as a protection dog or as a security dog. While the original German Shepherd was bred exclusively for its qualities as a working dog, the same cannot be said for all members of the breed today. The German working line is an example of a bloodline that maintains the philosophy of working ability above all else. On the other hand, the West German Show Line and the American Show Line are bloodlines that put emphasis on outward appearance and conformation standards.
Between the show lines, there are variations in the breed that have developed differently from each other over time. An example of this would be the shape and angle of the dog’s back. American Show Line German Shepherds are longer and leaner with sharp angulation at the hind-quarters. German Show Line German Shepherds often have what is known as a “roach back,” meaning the back is sloped.
While these dog-show focused bloodlines are now being bred primarily for appearance, this does not mean that they are incompetent as working dogs. In fact, most are happiest when they have some form of job to perform, and may even feel restless without one. What is important is finding what types of work would be suitable for your dog. All German Shepherds are descended from the original working breed. Show line dogs are still loyal and intelligent, and can make excellent herding dogs or guide dogs. However, many show line dogs lack the energy and the nerves required of true protection dogs. Their energy and their nerves are what separates them from the working line dogs.