German Shepherd pedigree names
Hi Mk Welcome to the PDB and if you are a new GSD owner welcome to a wonderful talented smart breed. Most GSDs will keep you on your toes as a dog owner.
As to your question - the best place to start is always with the breeder of your dog. A good breeder will know the answer to the question and should be able to tell you the why behind the breeding. Why certain lines or certain dogs were chosen and what the goal(s) of the breeder is. For example if the breeder likes to compete in conformation it's highly likely the dogs will be show lines chosen primarily for their physical appearance. If the breeder likes working his dog or competing in sports such as schutzhund, herding, obedience, tracking or breeding dogs for real work such as police or search and rescue dogs it is likely that person has chosen dogs based on their working abilities and traits and again should be able to tell you the why and wherefore behind the breeding.
If that resource is not available to you, the next tool is your pedigree which can contain many clues re the origin and purpose of the dogs behind your pup. One of the easiest to help determine nationality of the dogs involved is the registration information for the dog but this can also be very deceptive because dogs are imported across national lines and reregistered in their new country all the time. I will use two of my dogs as examples for you. First is Remy who was my service dog and my sport dog. This links you to her pedigree Remy was an import from Holland when she was 10 weeks old. She has a NHSB registry # but to compete in this country she had to be reregistered with the AKC the FCI recognized registry so her record shows a DN #. On the pedigrees it may sometimes indicate AKC but often just shows DN or DL or similiar registration # which are used by AKC. Next you will notice two other registration designations in her pedigree - NHSB and SV the Dutch and German registries respecitvely. However that is not the whole story. Her dam side consists of hard core working Dutch dogs (mostly KNVP wh/ is Dutch police dog training. Her sire is also NHSB registered and a highly accomplished KNPV dog BUT he comes from West German (SV) dogs and in this instance from WG Show lines (WGSL). This was an outcross breeding with only minimal linebreeding in the 7th generation.
Now if you look at her daughter's pedigree you will see that tho Seffe is slightly more linebred than her dam, in many ways she has a far more open pedigree than her dam. In fact she has two different WGSL and two different WG Working lines (WGWL) - all SV registered, Dutch lines ( NHSB), Czech (CMKU, CKSP), East German (DDR) and Sksp wh/ I do not remember is Slovak or Polish. About all she's missing from the bifurcation of GSD lines is Belgian(LOSH) and American. Tho the openness of these two pedigrees is a bit unusual today there were good sound reasons for both breedings tho that is not germane to the current discussion.
So if SV indicates a German registered dog (usually german bred) how do I know a working from a show line and one show line from another. What I call time in grade. I've owned showed and trialed GSDs for decades and have been a student of the breed all that time. I study pedigrees, read breed specific magazines and books and historical material. I go to all kind of dog events - herding, schutzhund, obedience, agility trials; conformation shows both specialty(only GSDs) and all breed. I talk to folks and ask about dogs I like asking about pedigrees and traits and training. I have trained my own dogs. However it started with one dog and pedigree that I had to learn to read and interpret. It's not really difficult. In fact I find it fascinating and I love to look at the "brews" successful breeders use. You will start to recognize dogs names since most pedigrees today in their own little piece of the GSD world (show, working, WG, Czech etc) have great commonality. By listening and asking you will start to learn which is which - show /working etc.