Since Old German Shepherds have been bred for function over form, they vary greatly in appearance. Moderate-length-shaggy Schafpudels, also known as German Sheep Poodles, have natural hanging ears and resemble Polish Lowland Sheepdogs. This type has reigned in the northern plains in Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania since the late 19th century. They are closely related to the same ancestors as the other shaggy breeds that spread with the flocks as they were dispersed across the continent. They are medium in size, 18–24 inches (46–60 cm) and come in all colors from black to white, roan, and pied.
In Central Germany there are three basic color types, the Schwarzer (black), the Gelbbacke (black and tan), and the Fuchs (red). They have been known as sheep-working dogs for many generations. The Schwarzer, also known as the Blacker, is from East Germany and has upright ears and an almost square physique. It is similar in appearance to Belgian Sheepdogs, though slightly smaller, ranging from 18 to 24 inches (46–60 cm).
The more rectangular Southern Black or Süddeutscher Schwarzer is noticeably different, with a height of 25.5 inches (65 cm) or taller and semi-erect, more pendulous ears.
The red fox-colored Harzer Fuchs (Füchsen) from the mountainous region. It is well adapted to the needs of the landscape. Due to the efforts of private farmers, the Harzer Fuchs has made a strong comeback.
The East German Fuchs, and the bicolored (liver brown or black) Gelbbacke — known as Yellow Cheeks (because of their distinctive tan trim) — are fairly exclusive to eastern Germany, with only a few in the North. Both the breeds are the same height, 22 inches tall (55 cm), with medium-length, textured hair. Both types can have alert, semi-erect or upright ears pointed at the tip.
Both the merle-patterned Tiger (above) and the medium-length wirehaired Strobel (below) are widely spread with flocks in southern Germany (Baden Württemberg and Bavaria). They are well adapted to the harsh landscape and are very strong working dogs highly regarded by herders. The Tiger also comes in black and red or shades of sable and resembles some early foundation Australian Shepherds in appearance with minimal white trim, semi-erect ears, medium coat type and length, and a size ranging from 18 to 24 inches (46–60 cm).
See also – Breeds From a Common Root:
However, it is not uncommon for Tigers to be crossed with the Strobel to reduce the negative influence of the merle gene. As a result, the offspring can have rough, broken coats. Both breed strains are highly regarded by sheepmen throughout the south. The Strobel, with his ears hanging to the side and height at the top end of the spectrum at 24 inches (60 cm), is considered more independent of the two.
To learn about herding breeds from around the world, their temperaments, working styles and how to train them please refer to the book Stockdog Savvy (Alpine Publications) by Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor and Ty Taylor:
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