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German Shepherd Dog > Visual Difference between WL and SL? (54 replies)

by fawndallas on 26 November 2012 - 14:11

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Without looking at the pedigree or being able to watch the dog in action....... Are there visual markers that show the difference between a WL and a SL German Shepherd?

In my limited experence, the roach back was the give away to a SL and the straighter back was a WL.   I think there is more, as someone indicated that Rose and her pups were SL and I do not see the roach back (maybe I am blind though).

Could also be that "look in their eye."   I have looked at the different puppy pictures posted here and I agree that what many indicate as a WL has that look that simply says "I am looking for trouble."  This throws me off too, as all GSDs generally come from the same beginnings and genetics don't normally produce for a "look in the eye."

by Aadilah07 on 26 November 2012 - 15:11

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What's the matter, are you looking for trouble...

There are tons of info on the web, go and do some homework...

You posted "smart comments" on the Czech GSD Forum but you don't even know the difference bet. the show and sport/workline GSD's....

by fawndallas on 26 November 2012 - 15:11

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Why would this be looking for trouble?  For the people on this forum that I respect their comments (both SL and WL people), they know I am asking an honest layman's question.  Everyone else, well, I know how to ignore unuseful information.

I can relate more to the WL.  A dog with that purpose makes more sense to me rather than a SL.  Not to say SL are negative; I just have a harder time relating.  

There are more people like me who would not know a SL / WL from a hole in the ground; at least at the visual level.  From what I have learned so far, if I intended to get another GSD in 5 - 7 years, I better start researching so I make my own decision without fully relying on others to "tell me" what dog to get.

Anyone can feed me a line.  At this point, other than asking around, I will not know the difference.  Again, there are a lot of people like me.  
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ADDED:


Once I see a dog in action, yes, I have learned enough to tell the difference.  From a photo, no, I still do not quite "get" what I am looking for. 

by VKGSDs on 26 November 2012 - 15:11

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A roached back is a fault regardless of line.

The easiest visual difference is color.  Most WGSL are black and red.  There are some black/red or black/tan WL but typically they are more tan than red and/or have a tighter coat. This is just a generalization though, as there are also sable WGSL and Am line SL come in every color (sable, black, bi, blanket, black/tan....).

I think the problem is that you are asking for generlizations that just perpetuate...well, generalizations.  It would be better to learn the pedigrees, learn what dogs have been successful and why and how they have impacted the breed (or not) than just learn more generalizations.

Just saying this as someone who owns, trains, titles, and shows BOTH working and show lines (my dogs all do the same things, I don't care what color they are or what "type" they look like).

by fawndallas on 26 November 2012 - 15:11

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Thank you.  That makes sense.   I was getting an impression that there were distinct visual differences between the 2 types.    So it really is more of a temperament, what they are used for difference, right?

by mollyandjack on 26 November 2012 - 15:11

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There are visual differences between the types, but it may not be too helpful to a novice to hear about them as you end up generalizing as VKGSDs mentioned...for example, going by color, you might end up thinking that this dog is a SL:


http://www.pedigreedatabase.com/dog.html?id=563607



Going by structure, you might think this guy is a SL (though I think the photo has been altered??):

http://www.pedigreedatabase.com/dog.html?id=443289


by VKGSDs on 26 November 2012 - 15:11

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No, it's not really temperament or look, it's pedigree.  A WGSL dog is a WGSL dog because of his pedigree, not because of how he looks or acts.  Say you get a really duddy WL dog that is scared of its own shadow and can't do any sort of work....that's still a "working line" dog because that's what the pedigree is. A lot of "working line" dogs are "just" pets and never work a day in their life but are still *working line* dogs.  Likewise if you get a WGSL dog that turns out looking really different and/or has several faults that make it a bad candiate for conformation shows, it's *still* a "show line" dog because of the pedigree.

I cannot speak to the generalization of "what they are used for" because as I said, all my dogs whether working or show or combination ALL are trained in several sports and working disciplines *and* they are shown.  I like to do Schutzhund, SDA protection, flyball, agility, dock diving, lure coursing, UKC conformation, and SV conformation and I do all these things with each GSD regardless of his color or type.  Either I like the dog or I don't.  If a dog has bad structure or a weak temperament I won't own it.

A great example posted above.

by fawndallas on 26 November 2012 - 16:11

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Now I understand.  The visuals helped a lot.  You are correct in that I might have passed up both of the examples just because of the visual and not even looked at their pedigrees to see they are WL.

So my best starting point is to go to as many shows / trials as I can.  Learn to "see" what I like/ don't like physically and temperament wise; get dog names; and research/watch the line from there.

Thank you both.

by VKGSDs on 26 November 2012 - 16:11

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Yep, look at dogs and ask for their pedigrees.  Most show catalogs list the sire and dam so you can start from there.  You will begin to see patterns and be able to identify not only a dog's type but start guessing at the lines and dogs in the pedigree based on how the dogs look or act.

by fawndallas on 26 November 2012 - 16:11

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Also making sure I have a clear understanding on what I want from the dog and my plans for the dog.  

by jra on 26 November 2012 - 16:11

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So, for someone who's never looked at pedigrees/lines/etc. and has absolutely no experience in 'reading' them....how would they know which a dog is just by looking at a pedigree?  Just because I'm curious, I've looked at a couple and they don't specify "working", "show", "American", etc.  If someone wanted to know what a breeder produces and it isn't spelled out - how would a novice know?  Some sites clearly state they breed XYZ, but some others don't.  Thanks. 

by fawndallas on 26 November 2012 - 17:11

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I look for titles like IPO, BH, SCH to identify WL.  I have not yet figured out how to ID herding or SL.

For example (using 1st picture above):

Dog Hajen O'Snuske  shows IPO2, UHP above her name.  The IPO2 tells me she has been taught tracking and protection/bite work (those are part of the Shutzhund requirements).   Through out the dog's pedigree, I see a lot of IPO and SCH titles.  This tells me a working line.

I hope this helps.  Please keep in mind, I am new to this part also; double check my answers.  If I am wrong, please let me know so I can update my knowledge.

by fawndallas on 26 November 2012 - 17:11

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Something that I have also learned, if you are new to this breed and are interested in the WL.  Generally, the WL require an experienced owner with lots of energy.  These are not your sit at home 24/7 dogs; even the "pet" ones.

If this is what I get for my next GSD, I will look just as hard for a mentor to teach me to give the dog the best I can and to not sell the dog short.   I treat my dogs as living things that require respect and my time; similar to kids.  My ranching family does not always agree....  Teeth Smile

by Keith Grossman on 26 November 2012 - 18:11

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While there are exceptions, they are few and far between and color and pattern is the most obvious indication.  In reasonably well bred dogs, most red/tan dogs with black saddles are SL and most bi-colors, sables and black dogs are WL.

"Something that I have also learned, if you are new to this breed and are interested in the WL.  Generally, the WL require an experienced owner with lots of energy."

Plenty of SL dogs are very energetic as well; no good GSD should have the temperament of a Golden Retriever.  Having said that, every potential owner should be realistic about what he/she is bring into his/her home and most novices should be prepared for something many times more dramatic than they've imagined, especially with a driven WL pup.

by fawndallas on 26 November 2012 - 18:11

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Thumbs UpThumbs Up

by VKGSDs on 26 November 2012 - 18:11

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Something that I have also learned, if you are new to this breed and are interested in the WL.  Generally, the WL require an experienced owner with lots of energy.  These are not your sit at home 24/7 dogs; even the "pet" ones.

I guess this is a matter of opinion, but to me a GERMAN SHEPHERD is not a sit at home 24/7 dog, regardless of line.

I will say that I often observe more hyper/anxious "energy" from show lines than working lines.  Again with the generalizations.  Energy is not the same thing as drive.  A dog with good drives does not have to be a hyper dog that can't settle and be a good house pet too.  IMO a dog like that is bad temperament whether it's working line or show line or a pet or a working dog.  To me a dog that is hyper and won't settle is a temperament issue and not a desireable thing.

by fawndallas on 26 November 2012 - 18:11

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I am sorry.  Hyper is not what I was thinking of.   I am thinking more along the lines of giving them something to do, exercise, lots of interaction.   I should have used the word "high drive" for a WL.

From what I have seen, a GSD that is just dumped in a kennel or left inside all the time with limited interaction and exercise has a tendency to bark a lot, be destructive, and be over weight. 

When I think of a hyper dog, I picture a Jack Russell.

by Ibrahim on 26 November 2012 - 18:11

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VKGSD,

I agree with your take on the subject, I agree also with most of what other posters said. I just want to hear your input on the type itself. What I mean is when you look at a GSD physically you can see a distinguished type in the Sl that is different from Wl, again different from Am Sl etc. Example Am Sl has straight back, more rear abgulations, straighter front upper arm, smaller head and you can name physical traights for WG Sl, WG Wl and so on.
So you do not misunderstand me I agree to the pedigree being the prime difference between all GSD types, but talking physical type there are some clear differences to an experienced eye. What do you say?

by VKGSDs on 26 November 2012 - 18:11

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Ibrahim in general terms yes I agree but the problem I see is that accepting these general differences makes it seem like I'm in agreement with them and I'm not.  I do not like excessively high withers, curved back, and steep croup of many WGSL, nor do I like a ram-rod straight topline of many ASL.  Most people do not care for these extremes so why use them to identify dogs from these lines that aren't put together this way?  My KKL1 WGSL male has many times been mistaken for a working line dog because of his conformation.  I don't really take that as a compliment or a put-down, just saying that is what happens when we try to describe dogs in generalizations that no one likes anyway.  I still maintain that if the OP wants to become adept at identifying what lines a dog is from s/he should learn based on the pedigree and not just a single photo or a quick glance at the dog.   It's easier to use the pedigree anyway, then you don't need pictures just to making generalizations about a dog.  For example if someone tells me their dog is linebred on Ursus I don't need a picture to guess what that dog might look like or act like.  There is the phenotype and the genotype so why ignore the genotype and only look at the phenotype?  To the OP Fawndallas, really it does not take long to start being able to recognize which dogs are from what lines or type.  If you are around a lot of GSDs, looking at pedigrees on here, going to events...maybe after 6 months or so you'll already be getting pretty good at it.

by trixx on 26 November 2012 - 19:11

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WL have a very slender look  and smaller head for work, ( but  some are bigger) while SL  are built for show so they are   built with bigger heads , thick  bone and are very pretty looking black/reds. i see alot of SL with alot of energy, some have alot of drive and some dont, WL do seem to have  the darker pigment, they are also really strong in wanting to work, i can always tell the difference cause they are very different in looks. temp, drive etc..  you can find good in all the lines, you have to do some reseach to find what you are looking for i would start with what the parents are that is a start to go in the right direction. but  most of the people that posted here  have told you   of what to expect in the different lines and what to do.

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