What you need to know before getting a Czech German Shepherd

Border patrol and police work, that’s what comes to mind when you see the Czech Alsatians. They are elite dogs developed to be the best.

They aren’t the most popular as family pets, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be.

A Czech German Shepherd smiling and resting on the grass
Meet Aiko, a handsome sable Czech German Shepherd resting – Image source

If you’re interested in getting a Czech GSD, or simply want to know more about them, buckle up because this is the most comprehensive guide on these working dogs.

What is a Czech German Shepherd?

Everyone is familiar with the German Shepherd breed, but the dog’s pedigree has been split into many factions especially since they were such versatile dogs.

Today, you can find West German Working Lines, East German DDR Working Lines, American Show Lines, as well as European Show Lines. You can have an in-depth look at them here.

Czech GSDs were developed in Czechoslovakia before the country split into the two states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1992.

They were an independent communist country prior to that, up till 1918. Before communism ended in 1986, these protection dogs were largely used to protect the Czech border.

The Czech Alsatian breeding program began in 1955 at a kennel manned by the Pohranicni Straze or Border Control arm of the Czechoslovakian Army.

They were largely bred from DDR German Shepherds, which means that they are quite similar, both in appearance and temperament. They are both valued for their strong work ethic, courage, and trainability.

Due to the prevalence of mixing between lines and unregulated breeding practices coupled with the desire for a more manageable house dog, the majority of Czech GSDs of today are no longer the elite forces of the past.

In this article, we will be focusing on the true Czech German Shepherds and the ideals that they stand for. 

What does a Czech German Shepherd look like?

Erect ears and a wolfish appearance, that’s what all German Shepherds look like. A closer look will reveal that not all GSDs are built the same.

Unlike the German Show Lines that often have excessively sloped backs, working line dogs need to be more functional than pretty. They have straighter backs and their legs do not have the same slant to them. 

A Czech GSD working dog smiling
Image source

American breed standards dictate that conformation dogs should be Black and Tan or Black and Red.

Rich pigmentation is preferred by both AKC and FCI, but the Czech working line dogs are generally sable colored or black, despite the fact that GSDs can come in a variation of colors.

Working line Shepherds all bear a resemblance to one another. 

In regards to their build, these dogs not only have strong jaws, but they also have a more muscular structure, as well as larger chests and heads.

Czech German Shepherd vs other German Shepherd dog breeds

Wondering how the Czech dogs compare next to other shepherd variations? Being a rather new breed, they can be quite rare.

Aside from that, dogs from these German Shepherd lines have strong nerves and even stronger work ethics. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another dog as determined and fearless as these dogs with Czech bloodlines.

East German (DDR) German Shepherd vs Czech German Shepherd

An East German Shepherd smiling and sitting down with blue leash
A smiling East German Shepherd resting on a rock near a road – Image source

Are they basically East German working lines? Well, all German Shepherds are technically the same dog. The differences are where they were developed and what purpose did they serve.

Czech GSDs served the militia as border patrols and were developed in Czechoslovakia but the East German Shepherds were bred in East Germany.

DDR dogs have thicker coats to withstand harsh winters, bigger paws to scale six-feet-high walls, and rough terrain.

They also have larger heads when compared to other lines. A DDR Shepherd will generally have more muscle mass, less angulation, and possess darker coats.

Belgian Malinois vs Czech German Shepherd

A working Belgian Malinois on training
A Belgian Malinois outdoors training

From the Northwest region of Belgium, these dogs are tan with a black face and muzzle.

They have significantly shorter coats when compared to their German Shepherd counterparts. Smart, eager, with a penchant for herding stock.

Belgian Sheepdog vs Czech German Shepherd

A black Belgian Sheepdog portrait
A Belgian Sheepdog standing showing-off its black luxurious coat

Black with a longer and more luxurious coat, these working dogs also have a strong work ethic, as well as a desire to have human companionship.

They are especially devoted and were once employed to be border patrollers, much like the Czech Shepherds. 

Dutch German Shepherd vs Czech German Shepherd

Two Dutch German Shepherd with toy truck
Two Dutch German Shepherd with brindle coats sitting with a toy truck in the middle – Image source

An independent dog that looks more like a wolf! These dogs have longer coats than the Czech Alsatian and have brindle coats.

Used as guard dogs for farms and cattle carts, these dogs are dependable workers that don’t require as much human interaction, best for those often away from home.

American German Shepherd vs Czech German Shepherd 

An American German Shepherd on training
An American German Shepherd puppy with an incredible standing position – Image source

The biggest difference between them is the sloping backs and temperaments. American Alsatians are great big softies that don’t have the same drive as their hardworking cousins.

Properly bred, they should be of even temperament and could be a good option for dedicated first-time owners.

Size: How Big is a Czech German Shepherd?

Alsatians, regardless of line, will all fall within the medium to the large breed standard. You can expect your Czech German Shepherd to be as large as any of his cousins.

That’s to say, 24 to 26 inches (60 to 65 cm) for males and 22 to 24 inches (55 to 60 cm) for the ladies.

Males are usually bigger and heavier, falling within the 66 to 88 lbs (30 to 40 kg) range. Females would be slightly lighter at 49 and 71 pounds (22 to 32 kg). 

These are not apartment dogs. They need lots of space, stimulation, and will not be happy cooped up indoors all day.

However, if you’re able to meet his energy requirements every day by giving him a job, whether as a local therapy dog or as part of the SAR team, he could potentially live in an apartment.

That being said, they would be much happier living in a landed property with lots of space to run around and explore, along with having a proper job.

Coat / Hair

Czech GSDs have strong agouti bloodlines. This makes them either sable or black in color, as opposed to the classic saddle patterns that we commonly see on film or in America.

Working lines, in particular, can have more color variation than conformation dogs and can come in blue or even white. 

Aside from that, they can also come in long hair or short hair. Working lines generally value the shorter but denser coats because they can better protect them from the elements. You can read all about it here.

Temperament: Are Czech German Shepherds good family dogs?

GSDs take to training like a duck takes to water. They were built for this. But you will need to show the appropriate leadership without reducing to negative or even physical punishment.

Like all dogs, they do well with positive reinforcement. Clicker training is especially effective with these dogs. 

Schutzhund is a method that can be quite foreign to North American concepts. It enhances the dog’s protection abilities and was first developed for German Shepherds.

There are three steps to this training program which are tracking, obedience, and protection. It’s important to find a suitable mentor to guide you and your dog in this practice.

A Czech GSD doing the schutzhund training
Image source

Be patient, consistent, and stay calm during training sessions. These intuitive dogs know how their owners are feeling and from a dog’s point of view, emotional people don’t make great leaders.

Your dog will sense your anxiety and disobey. Respect has to be mutual for it to go a long way. 

Training and socialization go hand in hand. Help your dog get accustomed to all sorts of sounds, smells, people, and animals that they will come across over the course of their lives.

Don’t forget the daily appliances that you use in your home. Some dogs freak out over vacuum cleaners and hair dryers because they weren’t properly introduced.

While it might be cute as puppies, you’ll find yourself having to deal with inconveniences when your dog is grown and large enough to knock you over.

An excitable dog, especially a big one, is nobody’s friend. If you’ve got kids or are planning to, it’s doubly important to have a dog that knows to stay calm in whatever situation. 

Most German Shepherds do well with kids and other pets if socialized from a young age. However, dogs that weren’t exposed to cats often develop an innate need to hunt them due to their strong prey drive.

How to take care of your Czech German Shepherd

German Shepherds are adaptable dogs. They have a high tolerance for pain and can live in extreme weather. Hot or cold doesn’t matter to them.

What they need is purpose. Don’t bring home a GSD unless you are committed to the lifestyle that comes with them.

Look at little Juno being picked up by his humans:

Exercising your Czech German Shepherd

Imagine breeding for law enforcement, using stock from animal herding that worked hard all day. You’ll have an extremely active dog on your hands.

Regardless of which types of German Shepherds you have, they need at least 60 minutes of hard exercise a day, starting from 2 years of age. 

Aside from exercise, you need to spend time with him working on his agility and obedience. Remember, these dogs love to work.

Keeping him locked up is not only cruel, but it can also cause him to become destructive, hyperactive, and loud!

Having nothing to do might cause them to develop separation anxiety because they are too bored without you around. 

Grooming: Do Czech German Shepherd dogs shed?

German Shepherds have double coats and are not hypoallergenic. As with all breed types that have double coats, they shed their undercoats twice a year.

When they are shedding, you will need to brush them on a daily basis to make sure their coat stays smooth and sleek.

During the non-shedding season, you can get away with brushing them twice a week. They also don’t require much in terms of bathing, bathing when necessary is good enough.

Fortunately, these dogs don’t have much of a doggy smell. Also, being active dogs, they often wear down their nails naturally so you don’t have to worry about clipping them. 

However, if you do hear their nails clicking on the tiles, it’s time to get a nail clipper off Amazon and shorten them! One other thing you do have to check for is ear infections. 

Feeding: Czech German Shepherd Food Consumption

Since Czech Shepherds are active dogs, adults should be fed 2 to 4 cups of kibble daily. Before they are 4 months old, they should be eating 1 – 2 cups of kibble over the course of 4 meals.

Check the label on the dog food and feed your dog according to his weight. A 30-lbs puppy will need 2 cups of kibble a day.

Puppies should be given a large breed puppy kibble and adults should be fed dog food meant for active dogs. This is important because the wrong kind of food might cause hip dysplasia or other health problems such as obesity.

Puppies need lots of nutrition to grow, so it’s important to feed them quality dog food. To learn more about the best dog food for Alsatians, you can take a look at our guide here.

It also includes a table on what food they should not eat, such as grapes, nuts, and garlic. 

What health problems do Czech German Shepherds have?

A Czech GSD enjoying the beach sand
Meet Nala, a Czech GSD appreciating her first time on the beach – Image source

A healthy Czech has a lifespan of 12 – 15 years, the same as any German Shepherd from other lines.

They don’t come with a whole lot of health issues, and the only concerns are eye problems, ear infections, bloating, and hip dysplasia. 

Since they don’t have the extreme angulation of show dog lines, they are clear from skeletal and spinal problems.

To learn more about what problems affect this breed, you can read our guide to German Shepherd health here.

How Much do Czech German Shepherds Cost?

Depending on where you procure your puppy from, the costs can really vary.

Sourcing your Czech GSD locally in the United States would be much cheaper, and you’re looking at anywhere between $500 to $1,800, depending on their working titles or stud dogs used.

Since breeding is extremely regulated in Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Germany, Czech German Shepherd puppies from Europe will be much pricier, and that’s not including shipping costs. 

If you are able to afford it, it’s definitely worth getting a puppy from Europe because they are guaranteed to be free from common health problems such as hip dysplasia.

Side portrait of a smiling Czech German Shepherd sitting
A five-month-old Czech German Shepherd sitting while training – Image source

Czech German Shepherd breeders

Good breeders produce high-quality dogs.

If you get your dog from a backyard breeder who has no intention of bettering or preserving the integrity of the breed, the dog that you bring home will not be an adequate representative of the breed and you’re better off rescuing a stray from the shelter. 

Not only will an irresponsible breeder produce dogs that are not up to standard, but they will also likely have problems regarding health, temperament, and behavior.

A good breeder will be able to assure you the dog’s merit, as well as offer valuable advice for years down the road.

Here are a few breeders that you can start your search from:

Czech German Shepherd rescue and for adoption

If you have the time and heart to rescue a dog, you can search for your faithful fido from local shelters.

Bear in mind that many abandoned dogs might come with behavioral problems, but are always fully assessed and rehabilitated before placed in an adoptive home, so there’s no chance of bringing home an aggressive dog.

Many people believe that raising a puppy means that the dog will be easier to control and will show more devotion to its owner. This is not true. Dogs of all ages can learn to love the hand that nourishes them. 

Finding a Czech-specific shelter is hard, but you can try your luck at the following German Shepherd rescues: 

Who should get a Czech German Shepherd?

A Czech GSD puppy standing on the field and being trained
A Czech GSD puppy on training for the Elite protection program – Image source

The Czech Alsatian should have an experienced owner, someone who knows how to handle dogs with high intellect and energy levels.

They are best suited to someone with a busy life that requires a dog to not only be his companion but to aid him in his day-to-day routine.

They make wonderful partners, not pets, and need to be given the chance to show off their working ability.

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