COAT LENGTHS IN GERMAN SHEPHERD DOGS
There are technically only TWO coat lengths in the German Shepherd
STOCK COAT (short) and LONG STOCK COAT (long coat).
Both coat lengths have an undercoat that makes the German shepherd weather proof.
LONG HAIR GSD that does not have an undercoat is a fault. We will also cover "PLUSH",
simply FYI, as it is a term is unofficial and used to describe fuller coat - often times Stock.
German: Stock Haarig/ Stockhaar Coat
The short coat is just what it sounds like - short. The hair length is short and the coat lays flat against the body. West German Show Dogs usually have a fuller, slightly longer, luxurious coat then the American Shepherd Stock Coat, which as as short as a Labrador. The Stock coat has an undercoat, which sheds out twice per year - seasonally.
Image: Klara Stone Yard
Image: Jerland's Casar
The Plush Coat is an American term and is not an official term to describe coat length in a German Shepherd Dog. It means a coat is 'plushier' than the short coat, and is preferred more in the show ring. It's basically is a longer, fuller coat. This term can be used on a Stock Coat (short) or Long Stock (long coat) dogs, depending on who is using it.
Image: Chelsey V.Ljulin
German: Lang Stockhaarig / Lang Stockhaar
The Long Stock Coat is a long coat that has fringe and an undercoat. The undercoat will be thinner in the summer and thicker in winter. As a puppy, you can not tell how long it will be. Long and full is desired with sort of a lions mane. It will not grow as long or thick in hotter climates. These dogs are stunning and in high demand.
Image: from the web
This coat is extremely long, like an Afghan Hound. It parts down the middle of the back. It is soft, sort of fly away hair, light and very long. There is never an undercoat. this type of dog is restricted from breeding due to the fact that no undercoat is a fault as far as the standard is concerned. It has long hair or feathering on the ears, legs, and tail.
Coat lengths Genetics
Coat Lengths Genes are found in the alleles at the L locus.
There are two known alleles that occur at the L locus:
L = Short coat
l = Long coat
Only these two genes determine the length of the animal's coat. A puppy inherits only one gene form each parent.
L (short stock) is dominant to l (long coat). A long coat has been considered undesirable for many decades, and historically there were just short stock dogs used in breeding and selection. Some lines of German Shepherd Dog are pure at the L Locus (homozygous on gene "L") and only have Short Stock puppies.
Many short stock dogs were heterozygous - carriers for a long coat and there would have been an occasional long coat puppy born in a pair of two short stock parents (both must be carriers). This puppy was considered a fault in the litter. Breeders believe that close to 25% of short stock dogs are carriers for a long coat gene.
A long coat is demonstrated only when a dog is homozygous on gene "l" - has pair of recessive l alleles at this locus.
The dominance of L > l is incomplete, and L/l dogs have a small but noticeable increase in length and finer texture than closely related L/L individuals. However, between breeds there is significant overlap between the shortest L/L and the longest L/l phenotypes.
We believe that when it comes to "plush coat" in German Shepherd, when the coat is often of medium length - these individuals are also heterozygous at the L locus (L/l).
With the great number of breeders focusing on long coat dogs, it has been ruled to only allow breeding of Long Coat Dogs to a Long Coat Dog. A Short Stock dog must be mated with a Short Stock Dog only. This is done to have more predictability in breeding, as mating between heterozygous dogs is highly unpredictable and has a large variety of possible outcome (from producing puppies of pure short stock (LL), to carriers (Ll) and Pure Long Coat (ll). Mating a Pure Short Stock to Pure Long Coat dog will only produce Carriers.
While this seems like a great idea to outcross all heterozygous on the Locus L dogs from breeding programs, this will take some time. Many "plush" dogs are very active in breeding, as frankly, they look great and thicker coat is an added benefit to those breeders that still do not accept Long Coat dogs.
We believe that deep knowledge and understanding of Canine Genetics is the key. Large probability is only scary to those that do not understand how to predict the outcome. We enjoy learning and studying and have pretty clear understanding of what to expect in our breeding.