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Why Are German Shepherds Backs Sloped

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Why Are German Shepherds’ Backs Sloped? The Controversy Over The Modern Breed Standard

If you are seriously thinking about adopting a German Shepherd and you are an elderly person, look into various rescues, shelters, and breeders in your area to find the dog that is right for you. Decide if you want a puppy or an adult dog, and make sure you assess your lifestyle so that you can provide your new dog with the best life possible. It will also be worth your while to do further research on the breed to ensure that you are able to take care of it. If you have any further questions and are seeking a professional opinion, consider contacting a vet or a German Shepherd breeder. If you choose to adopt a German Shepherd, you wont be disappointed.

About the Author: Kelsey Simpson enjoys writing about things that can help others. She lives in South Jersey and is the proud companion to two German Shepherds and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters.

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So Which One Should I Get

To be fair, the answer depends on your choice and lifestyle.

Despite the straight back versus sloped back controversy, most animal rescues, vets, and dog breed experts worldwide recommend straight back German shepherds.

The reason is pretty simple. Straight back German shepherds are more active, agile, and dont face a lot of health issues. Think about it is it fair to breed a dog with severe health conditions just because we love the modified look?

What Causes Short Spine Syndrome In Dogs

The condition, which is thought to be caused by inbreeding, causes the vertebrae of the spine to remain in a more cartilage-like state instead of strengthening into bone. As a result, some of the vertebrae fuse together, restricting movement. This compression of the spine leads to a shortened spine.

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Do All German Shepherds Have Sloped Backs

Do German Shepherds without sloped backs still have back problems? The reason for this topline angulation on the GSD is because it gives the dog a much more lofty, bouncy, trotting-type look when in the showring.

10 other answers

There is no evidence in the original breed standard developed by the breeds founder, Captain Max von Stephanitz, that the German Shepherd dog is supposed to have a visibly sloped back. Many breeders and owners are now starting to suspect that the sloped back is due to a skeletal deformity caused by intensive interbreeding to specific appearance standards.

So why do German shepherds have a sloped back? A It’s meant to help this dog work in the field with sheep. B It was introduced by influential ‘breed authorities’ C It allows an effortless trot. D It’s meant to reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia. The correct answer is: drum roll please….

The idea behind the sloped backs in german shepherds is to affect their movement giving them an efficient trotting gait that allows them to move efficiently while spending less energy. There are two different main variations of this slope. The West German Showlines have an actual curved back that is present regardless of how they are standing.

A sloped back can affect a great deal when it comes to orthopedics and therefore it can have an overall effect on a dog’s health. With the back curved, the dog’s hip and knee come closer to the ground causing the dog’s hindquarters to become more angulated .

Canine Hip Dysplasia: How To Tell

When Did German Shepherds Come To America

Do your German shepherds hind legs appear bent? If so, it maybe be because of breeding. The exaggerated hind leg angulation is often bred into the dog because of standards that dictate rear legs should come as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. Along these same lines, a sloping back causes hindquarters to become more angulate and, thus, prone to lower back pain.

These bent legs could point toward one of many health problems, one of which is hip dysplasia. If you notice a difference in your dogs gait or resistance to climbing stairs, it may be a good idea to have a certified veterinarian check your pup out. Although irreversible, canine hip dysplasia can be monitored and treated to reduce chronic pain. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, 19.8% of German shepherds suffer from hip dysplasia. The progression of it and the treatment options available depend on a number of factors, including the degree of misalignment and age of the dog.

CHD has a range of signs, depending on the severity of the disease and degree of looseness in the joint. Symptoms include a bunny hop gait, limping, lameness in the hind legs, and decreased range of motion, among others. The severity also ranges from mild to extreme painsome German shepherds even have to use a wheelchair.

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How To Decide If You Can Afford The Overall German Shepherd Cost

Overall, German Shepherds cost around the same amount as other large breed dogs in the United States.

With so many numbers being tossed around, the official German Shepherd cost can be confusing.

On average, raising a large breed dog from puppyhood costs around $23,410. So, where does the German Shepherd stand in comparison?

Great question.

Raising A German Shepherd The Breakdown of German Shepherd Cost

Remember, the first year of German Shepherd ownership is going to be most expensive. Youll not only be putting down your initial payment on a German Shepherd puppy, but youre also stocking up on supplies and getting a handle of first-time medical expenses.

Then youll have the average cost of caring for a German Shepherd throughout his life.

The Average German Shepherd Puppy Costs $800

The Average First Year Of GSD Ownership is around $3,815

The Average Total For That First Year of German Shepherd Cost Is $4,615

The Average Lifespan of A German Shepherd is Around 12 to 14 Years

The Average Yearly Cost of Raising A German Shepherd After Year One Is $1,764

The Total Average Cost For Raising A German Shepherd For 12 to 14 Years Is Between $24,019 to $27,547.

On the low end, the average German Shepherd cost is not much more than the average cost of raising a dog of any breed.

Furthermore, there are a few ways you can go about cutting costs without cutting the quality of your German Shepherds supplies, food, health or life.

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Why Do German Shepherds Have Bad Back Legs

It was bred to have an easy, smooth, rhythmic, flowing gait. This curve in the back, called a roached back. According to Louis Donald , a working dog judge, the extreme angulation of the German Shepherd back is the result of a small group of influential breed authorities who promoted this feature at dog shows.

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What Causes Pain And Lameness In A German Shepherd Dog

Swelling or abnormalities around the joints. Genetic disorders. A common cause of lameness in some breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherd Dogs is Hip or Elbow Dysplasia. This is a genetic condition that causes the joint to become malformed. This causes lameness and pain from a relatively young age.

Should You Be Able To Feel A German Shepherds Spine

GSD Crufts 2016 – the missing TV footage

Feel your dogs spine Again, you should be able to feel the bones, but they shouldnt be protruding. If you cant feel the bones, or they seem to be buried under fat, you have an overweight dog. If the spine is very pronounced with little or no flesh on top of the individual vertebrae, you have an underweight dog.

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How To Get A Straight Back Gsd Puppy

The straight backed German shepherd puppies are the original working-class dogs bred for outdoor activity. This breed has entirely different physical phenotypes or skeletal physique as compared to other bloodlines in GSD.

One can start by familiarizing oneself with GSD history and breed. Check with friends and enthusiasts, local veterinary, dog owners, and different GSD clubs. Research about the background and reputability of breeders.

Be mindful of the lineage of the dog or puppy you are acquiring. See its parents and grandparents if possible. This way you can know firsthand if they are straight backed German shepherd puppies.

Dont pay much attention to the prizes and trophies won by the dog or its parental line in show ring results. Pay attention if any disease has been prevalent in the parents, especially related to bones, like hip dysplasia.

In some instances the police and armed forces breed GSD, to always get the best traits, health & performance they want. Sometimes they offer to the public if they have a surplus kennel.

If budget is no bar, then buy from Germany, where the breeding standards are strictly maintained and no diseased dog is sold.

German Shepherd Straight Back Vs Sloped Back: Which Is Better

Over the last 100 years, the German shepherd has become a popular dog breed with exceptional attributes. This dog is intelligent, obedient, and devoted to its handlers.

Like most dog breeds, the German shepherd has continuously become one of the top dog breeds that most breeders continue modifying. Hence the reason you find working line German shepherds and Show-line dogs.

Besides this division, you can also find German shepherds with a straight back or a sloped back. And most people cant tell the difference when it comes to choosing either.

So what is a German shepherd straight back, and what is a sloped back GSD?


  • Final Words
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    Straight Back Vs Sloped Back German Shepherd:

    Although many reliable breeders tried to keep this breeds original capabilities, others focused on developing a more physically attractive dog. These different breeding objectives created a division within the German Shepherd dog breed. This majestic breed has undergone a series of transformations.

    To find out the differences between straight back and sloped back German Shepherd dogs, we need to look at German Shepherds breeding dynamics.

    So, to find out which one is the best option for you to go, lets have a look at the old-fashioned German Shepherd.

    German Shepherd Sloping Back Vs Straight Back

    Sloping backs in puppy

    The German Shepherds are handsome dogs but they are also very active and functional. This dog breed was designed to be a working dog but why do we frequently hear about GSDs with straight back and sloped back? Getting an answer to this question entails a question after another. In this article, you will learn about the What, When, How and Why of the differences between GSD sloping back and straight back.

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    Why Do German Shepherds Walk Weird

    Besides the lower back, the other main difference between straight back and sloped back German shepherd is the gait of the latter.

    The old-fashioned or the straight back German shepherd performed its functions perfectly all day long for which it was bred-trotting. Working on farms and assisting in herding cattle/sheep and never getting tired.

    With the development of show line or slant back German shepherd, modifying of the body skeletal & muscular structure to lower the back, impacted the gait.

    The difference is not in the spine or back but rather in the hips and hind legs. This produces a different gait.

    Although not a defect, but this angulation does not help the dog to perform for long hours in the field doing shepherding jobs, or jobs requiring stamina and power.

    What Is A Straight Back German Shepherd

    This is the oldest name used for the breed of German shepherd dogs used by German farmers. Terms like flat back German shepherd, working line, old fashioned are also commonly used for the straight back German shepherd.

    Such terms are used to differentiate the breed line with peculiar phenotypes or skeletal physique from its other breeds.

    Originally a crossbred with the wolf, German shepherd dogs had been used for centuries by the German farmers to control/herd and safeguard their cattle, especially sheep on their farms.

    They were preferred for such jobs mostly because they outclassed other dog breeds in the qualities needed like higher intelligence, ability to train easily, vigilance, agility, loyalty, and strong stamina.

    This formal classification of the breed helped induct these dogs into the police and military, for guard duty, as guide dogs for the handicapped, search and rescue dog, courier service, Red Cross duties, and K9 operation.

    Besides the farm work, an adaptation of the straight back German shepherd as a family dog had always been very popular.

    In the early 20th century the straight back German shepherd was introduced in America and soon won positions in the dog shows, showing its growing popularity with the public.

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    Understanding The Different Types Of Gun Dogs

    Many dog owners and dog lovers do not realize that there are a variety of sub-categories within the canine group known as the gun dogs.

    Gun dogs are typically understood to mean hunting dog breeds. However, gun dogs can also be police K-9s, military dogs, or private guarding and protection dogs.

    The key is to understand how the dog interacts with their human partner. In hunting, the main types of gun dogs are pointers, retrievers, and hunters, as the Gundog Club UK explains.

    The key to understanding the three main categories of gun dogs, or hunting dogs, is to understand that each breed has a primary strength but can also handle the other jobs if necessary.

    Which Breed Is Right For You

    Delivery driver steps in as German shepherd attacks woman and her dog in Cape Coral

    We highly recommend choosing a German Shepherd with a straight-back, especially if youre looking for a companion animal. Those with straight backs are less prone to health problems and have higher endurance. They fit closer to what the German Shepherd originally was intended to be. They make much better working dogs as well since they have higher endurance and are bred for more practical purposes.

    Those with sloped-backs have few benefits over the straight-backed GSD. For the most part, these dogs are only around in the show-ring, where they have been known to win some competitions. However, this has led to lots of controversies, as their backs likely led to excess health problems and are not in line with the original breed.

    In fact, the breed standard specifically speaks against sloped-back dogs, so it is odd that they are winning competitions at all.

    Many kennel clubs are starting to stand against these sloped-back dogs, especially after the extensive media coverage that some of them have gotten. For this reason, we highly recommend sticking with straight-backed dogs on all occasions. In fact, we particularly recommend finding a breeder that produces working dogs, as these will have more practical traits and temperaments.

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    Why Are My Dogs Back Legs Slipping Out

    This is a complaint Ive heard many times in the vet clinic from people facing a change in their dogs mobility. The most common causes for an older dogs back legs collapsing, slipping out or hind leg weakness are osteoarthritis, intervertebral disc disease, lumbosacral disease and degenerative myelopathy.

    Should A German Shepherd Have A Straight Back Or A Sloped Back

    Canto von der Wienerau

    This is perhaps one of the most most debated topics of the German Shepherd breed. Should the shepherd have a straight back or a sloped back.

    People all over the planet get very bent out of shape and emotional when trying to discuss the shepherds back. Some people say the straight back looks awful. Others call the sloped back a mutilation or deformity due to bad breeding. There is, however, one things nearly everyone discussing this has in common: complete ignorance.

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    Dont Skip Annual Check

    Early detection is the best way to save money on medical bills. Not to mention that its the best way to keep your pup alive and healthy without long-term consequences.

    Prevention is always a better option than expensive medication. Annual check-ups are important to help you detect the early stages of plenty of health conditions, which is the key to keeping your pooch healthy.

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    Great Names For Your New German Shepherd

    Many working dogs with sloping backs

    If the German Shepherd fits within your budget and you welcome this amazing animal into your home, youre going to need a name.

    Youre in luck because we have plenty of ideas!

    To start, take a look at our guide to German Shepherd names. Youll find hundreds of ideas fitting for your new four-legged friend.

    Another great place for inspiration is our top dog names. This includes the most popular picks among pup parents.

    Big dog names and tough dog names are also a great choice for a strong and strapping dog like the German Shepherd.

    The name ideas dont stop here. If youre not inspired by the resources above, try our online name generator and find even more options. You can sort by your favorite styles and themes.

    Popular categories include:

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    Why Do German Shepherds Have A Sloping Back

    Adrienne Farricelli

    The German shepherd is a dog breed that has undergone several transformations in the past years. Many people may remember that the German shepherds of decades ago looked quite different than the ones we see today, especially those shown in the show ring. One trait of this breed that has become quite popular is a sloping back, a trait that seems to have been exaggerated, up to a point that many people wonder whether it’s a good thing for the breed or not. In today’s trivia we will discover why this breed has a sloped back.

    So why do German shepherds have a sloped back?

    A It’s meant to help this dog work in the field with sheep

    B It was introduced by influential ‘breed authorities’

    C It allows an effortless trot

    D It’s meant to reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia

    The correct answer is: drum roll please….

    The correct answer is B, the sloped back feature was introduced from influential breed authorities.

    A Look “Back”

    German dog breeder, Max von Stephanitz is credited as being “the father” of the German shepherd breed. Von Stephanitz was fond of dogs with a wolfish appearance and sharp senses and worked hard in creating a working dog that could have been potentially used for herding and protecting sheep throughout Germany.

    Even earlier, in 1915, the book “Dogs of All Nations” described the German shepherd as having a “deep chest, straight back and strong loins”. German shepherds were recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1908.

    • Sep 3, 2021


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