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What Are The Different Colors Of German Shepherds

Sable Colored German Shepherds

9 Different Colors of the German Shepherd Dog

Forget the black and tan dogs that have come to represent the breed. Sable was the color of the very first German Shepherd. For some reason though, the color pattern has been edged out significantly even though its caused by a dominant gene.

Unique to sable coats is that a single fur can have bands of different colors like golden, tan, or gray. But one thing remains constant the black hair tips.

Thats why youre sure to run into several different varieties of sable coats like black over cream which is by far the most common. Other possible varieties include silver over cream, liver over cream, and black over red.

What Are The Colors Of A German Shepherd

Traditionally German Shepherds were sable or solid white or black. These dogs had working bloodlines and were able to perform the hunting or farming tasks asked of them.

These colors changed over time as owners wanted dogs for more than just working purposes.

Some owners prefer the black and red color so they can show their dog in a conformation ring. Others would rather have a blue German Shepherd that was bred for just companionship. Some might even be drawn to the idea of rare colors such as liver or panda.

There are now 13 German Shepherd colors. These different colors can be seen on working, show and companion dogs. Certain colors are more suited for work, but that is not determined by their coat color, rather their bloodline:

Black Work

Breeding for a specific color is not easy. It requires careful genetic selection, especially when dealing with rare colors such as panda.

Sometimes coat color is determined by a recessive gene . Breeders must ensure that both parents are carriers of that gene. Even then, they may end up with no puppies of that particular color. Genetics are tricky.

Color may make them look different, but it will not make them act different. It has no impact on temperament or personality. Their parents genetics, bloodline and how they were raised can make them act very different from each other.

What Type Of Dog Is A German Shepherd

As their name suggests, the German Shepherd is a breed of sheepdog from Germany. Their origin dates back to 1899, when it was developed by Maximilian von Stephanitz . The objective was to give life to an animal that would accompany the workers dedicated to the work of the field, especially in the task of protecting and guiding the flocks of sheep.

Likewise, it is a breed that is characterized by having a flexible, muscular and strong body. For this reason, it is considered an excellent guard dog, which is why it is also trained today as a police dog.

The German Shepherd has a life expectancy of 15 years and is usually identified by their black coat with brown areas. Still, it is not a generic characteristic as there are different types of German Shepherd. This is because the breed has been developed in different parts of the world over the years. If you want to know each of the particularities of this dog, you just have to keep reading.

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How Many Different Types Of German Shepherds Are There

Based on their appearance, coat color, and pattern there are five different types of German Shepherds. While the physical appearance varies from one type to the next, all are considered a part of the German Shepherd Dog breed.

While the breed standard recognizes only medium and longhaired German Shepherds the coat colors can be varied. However, certain color variations arent allowed to compete and some are considered faults and can affect the scoring.

Bear in mind that not all types of German Shepherd are accepted and recognized by major canine organizations. For example, the American Kennel Club and the World Canine Organization doesnt recognize White German Shepherds.

Do Black German Shepherd Puppies Change Color As They Grow

German Shepherds and The Common Law

Black German Shepherd puppies are born black and will stay black even as they grow.

This is because all German Shepherd puppies come out into the world in solid black, gray, or white colors.

Since black GSDs do not develop markings, patterns, or the usually-inherited tan coat, they will remain the same well into adulthood.

Meanwhile, regular German Shepherds will usually grow into their true coat colors at about eight weeks old.

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Are There Different Types Of German Shepherds

The American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club in the UK each only have one type of German Shepherd Dog on their registries.

This is also true of the Federation Cynologique Internationale a European registry which serves dog owners internationally.

The Australian National Kennel Club takes a slightly different approach however, and well come to that in a moment.

But first lets look at some of the criteria we can use to separate German Shepherds into informal groups:

  • Purpose
  • Size

Rare German Shepherd Colors

Rare or unique German Shepherd colors can mean different things to different people.

For responsible, health-focused working breeders, coat color will always be secondary.

The primary consideration is breeding working K-9 dogs with the athleticism and temperament to serve alongside people.

For serious competition-minded show breeders, German Shepherd colors are weighed more heavily, with distinct preference given to traditional colors such as sable and black and tan.

Here, so-called rare German Shepherd colors are avoided:

  • pale
  • liver
  • white.

As well, deliberately breeding for less common or unusual German Shepherd colors may be a handy marketing ploy to turn a quick profit.

But this approach seldom enhances the overall health and vitality of the breed long-term.

In some cases, with less reputable breeders or puppy mills, unusual German Shepherd colors may also indicate potential crossbreeding.

However, only DNA tests can verify whether the dog in question is a purebred GSD.

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The Original German Shepherd Colors


The people who love dogs can greatly prefer a color choice of their pet dog when they are adopting one. Talking about the German Shepherd, all their colors were defined in the 1800s and 1950s. Basic original colors of the breed of a German shepherd breed are:-

  • Black and white
  • Solid Black
  • Solid white

Most of the dogs breed revolve around these colors, so does the breed of German Shepherd is. The original colors of this breed of dog are highly common but not in America. America has a different a little brown color as a common among the German Shepherd breed.

German Shepherd Colors Black & Tan

What are the different German Shepherd Colors

While the sable coat color is the most common, it is black and tan that most people think of when they think of German Shepherds.

In some cases, this is exacerbated because some black and tan patterns can look remarkably close to sable patterns. This is especially so as the puppy coat is being shed and the black and tan coat is just coming in.

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Different German Shepherd Coat Colors: Bicolor

Photo from:

Bicolor German Shepherds appear almost completely black at first glance. But, in order to fit into the breeds standard, these pups must have black legs, backs, heads, and tails.

Even if the paws of these dogs are brown, the heels must be black by the color standard definition.

Some German Shepherd enthusiasts have questioned if bicolor is actually a coat color or just a pattern of a different color.

Whatever the case may be, the AKC accepts bicolor as a recessive color in the breed.

And, even though bicolor German Shepherds are technically allowed in the AKC conformation events, they are also mostly found in working dog lines.

German Shepherd Different Colors


Color black is just what it sounds like an excellent black dog. In a classic German Shepherd genetic table black is a recessive gene, and to produce a solid black puppy, BOTH parents must carry a black gene.

Owners of Solid Black dogs are incredibly proud of the color of their dog, and many call it rare, as not always you can produce a Solid Black dog. Solid Black puppies are born completely black and have no tan anywhere on their body. Small patches of white can be present at birth , but they will disappear as puppy grows.

Black and Red

The red color and deep black as the highest quality of color German Shepherd in Show World. The darker the better and when you see the RED, you know it.

Black and Cream

We are not exactly sure what Black & Cream means, But this color is scarce. Anytime we see a dog that is pale tan with a saddle pattern we think it might be just that. It is an off-color as far as we are concerned.

Black and Tan

Tan is similar to Red, but not as intense, not as deep and bright. This is a classic color of a Working German Shepherd Dog with a saddle pattern, and we see most of the Black & Tan dogs on the images from the past.



Gray is a color of a Sable dog, but when you do some research, you recognize that Gray German Shepherd is a washed-out, pale Blue or a washed-out Black and Cream or just any washed-out color with very minimal black.





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German Shepherd Dog Breed Spotlight: 5 Essential Traits

Thanks to The Daily Shep for this guest article.

According to Rovers database, the German Shepherd dog is the fourth most popular dog breed in America. Chances are either youve had one as a family pet at one point, or you have a friend who has.

So, what is it that makes the German Shepherd so attractive not only to families, but the wider dog-loving community? Weve rounded up five special hallmarks of this popular breed that will give us some clues.

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What Are The Different Types Of German Shepherds Breeds

11 German Shepherd Colors

The German Shepherd, regardless of its type, is a playful, sociable and intelligent dog that has earned the sympathy of most people. Likewise, it has a balanced character, is not dependent on its owner, but it does show him loyalty.

Despite the characteristics that all types of German Shepherd have in common, other qualities cause them to differ greatly from each other. In this section we will explain the singularities of each one of them.

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German Shepherd Colors: Grey

Not to be confused with the black, blue, or silver German Shepherds, the grey variety looks more like a wolf with its dark coat.

This coloring is also known as wolf-grey.

While some people state that grey German Shepherds are a type of agouti or sable, as it is also known, grey is one of the six solid colors accepted by the AKCs German Shepherd breed standard, despite the fact that the genes responsible for the grey color can also be found in the A series agouti genes.

Unlike the blue and liver color in GSDs, the grey color is produced not by a recessive gene, but by a dominant one, making it easier to breed for. This means that puppies need only one dominant gene from either parent in order to get a specific color.

On the other hand, in order to express a recessive color gene, a puppy will need to inherit two copies of that gene, one from each parent.

Most grey GSDs also lack any black pigmentation. Because of this, they are easily differentiated from the sable variety, which usually has black tips on their hairs.

Grey-colored German Shepherds are not as rare as, lets say blue or Isabella, but they are still quite uncommon. You will be lucky to find one available for adoption however, some breeders specialize in producing dogs of this striking color.

Red & Black German Shepherd

The red and black German Shepherd is something you dont see every day. Theyre spectacular specimens that are undeniably beautiful no matter what your taste in dogs.

In a way, the coat pattern of the red and black German Shepherd looks almost like a brindle or merle. In other words, youll usually get a GSD with a dark mahogany base coat, with patches of black around the coat.

The black color is most commonly found on the dogs back, tail, bottom and face .

The black is not limited to those areas of the body it depends on the dog and the parents. However, black color around the dogs muzzle is almost always guaranteed.

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Other Unique Shepherd Colors

Although rare, pure white, solid blue, fawn color, pure red and spotted black and white are also found. However, neither of these colors are accepted when it comes to competitions as these colors will only be found due to severe genetic mutations, or they simply dont match the breed standards for the show. A breeds color doesnt necessarily come with health issues, and neither of these do.

To know if your German Shepherd is genuinely black, you need to make sure there are no patches or stripes of another color. Black Shepherds have unique features that are associated with the color, including a straighter back. Youll notice that the average German Shepherd has a slanted back with short legs.

Although black Shepherds still have short legs, they stand taller, making them appear bigger and stronger. There are black varients with spots, creme, silver or tanned patches or combined with a red coat, but these variants look like the average Shepherd and are hard to mix up with the black version.

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Genetic Testing And Dog Colors

7 Different GERMAN SHEPHERD Coat Color Patterns

With all living things genes influence pretty much everything about that being, and the coat color of your dog is no exception.

Generally, a dogs hair color is determined by the melanin pigment which occurs as eumelanin and phaeomelanin. Eumelanin is the pigment for black and brown while phaeomelanin is for lighter colors such as red, yellow, and orange.

The color of your German Shepherd will be determined by the presence of either the dominant eumelanin or phaeomelanin genes. Both of these two main gene pigments are usually modified by alleles to give rise to the different colors youve seen above.

Genetic testing can help in determining the specific melanin type your dog has and the different genes that give him a distinct color.

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The Disqualified German Shepherd Colors

As mentioned above, white, liver, blue, fawn, pure red, and spotted black and white are considered disqualified and the results of faulty genes. However, these coat colors are not related to any health or behavioral issues.

So, you can get a German Shepherd in any of these colors if you dont plan to take your dog to showings. They look as beautiful as other German Shepherd varieties.

White German Shepherds were previously considered to be suffering from albinism .

However, research has long confirmed that white German Shepherds are not albinos they only have a significantly lower melanin level than other varieties.

German Shepherd Puppyhood Last Longer Than You Think

First-time German Shepherd owners are often stunned to learn that a large breed dog like the German Shepherd can continue growing for 24 to 36 months. An adult German Shepherd dog may weigh anywhere from 50 to 90 pounds and stand anywhere from 22 to 26 inches tall . That is a lot of growth that needs to get done.

Growing too fast can put pressure on a GSD puppys growth plates, bones, muscles, and ligaments, causing a painful condition called panosteitis . For this reason, genetically speaking, it is advantageous for a large GSD breed puppy to grow in spurts, spacing it out over time.

German Shepherds that will be in the lower weight/height range as adults often, these are female GSDs but not always may finish all their growing by 18 to 24 months.

But the most prominent German Shepherds that will grow to 90+ pounds and stand to the full height of 26+ inches may continue growing for up to 36 months.

This is important to know because you may see your dogs coat color, texture, and consistency changing quite a bit throughout the whole growth cycle.

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What About Breeders That Say Rare Colors Should Be Standard German Shepherd Colors

One reason there are so much debate and controversy regarding German Shepherd coat colors is that breeders cannot agree on whether less-common coat colors reflect genetic fault.

For example, K-9 Pines German Shepherd breeder is a kennel that actually chooses to specialize in breeding colors that are commonly viewed as genetically flawed.

This breeder focuses on the blue, brindle, white, piebald, liver, and fawn coat colors and color patterns.

Part of the controversy arises from how the American Kennel Club issues AKC papers to German Shepherd puppies.

As long as the breeder can prove that the puppys lineage all came from purebred AKC-registered German Shepherd bloodlines, the puppy is eligible to be registered as a purebred AKC German Shepherd dog.

This is why there are German Shepherd breeders that are breeding purebred AKC-registered German Shepherds that have coat colors that would be judged at fault or not even allowed in the show ring.

Akc German Shepherd Colors

German Shepherd Coat and Color Varieties

The AKC is the oldest and largest purebred breed registry in the United States. It maintains a copy of the most current breed standard for all recognized and registered purebred dog breeds in the country.

The AKC German Shepherd colors listed on the breed standard include:

  • black
  • sable
  • white.

Then the breed standard fine print goes into further detail. It specifies that pale coat colors, washed-out coat colors, blue, and liver are each considered to be serious faults in the show ring.

Presentation of white in the show ring means automatic disqualification for that dog.

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