German Shepherd Coat And Color Varieties
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Discover the wide variety of coat types and colors for German Shepherd dogs!
Like many other breeds, German Shepherd dogs come in a wide variety of coats and colors. However, some colors are not accepted by major kennel clubs and are thus considered faults. Many prospective owners prefer a nice coat and unique color on their dog. While selecting a puppy, however, one should also know which coat colors are accepted by major kennels and which meet the breed standards.
German Shepherd dogs are intelligent, courageous, and devoted. This is what makes them one of the most highly sought after breeds in the world.
German Shepherd Grooming & Care
Regardless of the color of your German Shepherd, your grooming process will be very similar, so dont think that choosing a specific color will help cut down on shedding!
These dogs have a long and fairly dense double coat, which means they do shed a lot. To keep your pups coat healthy, you should plan to brush them with a wire brush two to three times a week. This will help spread natural skin oils and also cut down on matting, tangling, and shedding. You wont avoid shedding altogether, so be prepared to do routine cleaning around the house in addition to regular brushing.
You should bathe your Shepherd about once a month or once every six weeks. Bathing more often can deplete those natural oils and lead to dry skin and irritation.
Is There Such A Thing As A Blue German Shepherd
The blue German Shepherd is an astonishing color variation that is extremely rare. However, like the German Shepherds liver color, this color variation is unable to compete in shows as it is declared a serious fault. Whilst being classified as a serious fault, this color is still recognized by the American Kennel Club.
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What Are The Breed
Anyone who wishes to show their GSD should know that there are 11 AKC-approved colors for the Shepherd dog breed, but NOT all of them can partake in dog shows.
The ones that are favored are black and red, black and tan, or black.
The bi-color, black and cream, black and silver, and gray Shepherds are accepted in the show ring but often do poorly when compared to the deeper shades above.
Liver or blue can also be shown, but its near impossible for these hues to win at a conformation show, while white is entirely off the table.
German Shepherd Color History
German Shepherds are among dogs that are easy to recognize. Their black and tan saddle pattern is so recognizable that any dog with a similar pattern will be confused with a GSD.
These black and tan dogs are indeed considered the breed standard according to all major kennel clubs, including the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club .
In fact, most successful dogs from this dog breed came in contrasting colors of either black and tan or black and red . German Shepherds are known for coming in two tones that are quite different in shade.
Still, the original German Shepherd called Hektor actually wasnt black and tan, but rather, sable. In fact, sable is dominant compared to black and tan, and most other colors youd typically associate with German Shepherds. In other words, its easier to breed.
Still, judges from dog shows preferred GSDs in black and tan and black and red rather than sable ones, which is why these two color variations became the most prominent ones.
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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.
What Is The Debate Regarding Bi
Not everyone sees bi-colored German Shepherds as having a coat of a different color. Many breeders classify bi-colored pups as simply having a pattern of their own.
Despite this, the AKC does approve and accept bi-colored dogs. They arent often found in show circles, though, as they are less likely to perform as well as their more commonly-hued counterparts. These pups may be more readily accepted in working lines, however, where they tend to do better.
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Different Coat Types For Gsds
German Shepherds have either a medium coat or a long coat. They both are double coats, having a denser guard layer over a softer undercoat.
- Medium coat dogs: The medium-coat German Shepherds have a shorter undercoat and a longer topcoat that is stiffer than the long coats. This type of GSD sheds year-round, but they typically do not shed heavily. The AKC does allow both short and long coated German Shepherds to compete in dog shows, but the UKC only allows short coats.
- Long coat dogs: The long-coat shep has a dense undercoat that is shed once or twice per year in addition to their topcoat being lost around this same time. These dogs have more difficulties tolerating hot or humid climates because they will overheat quickly if their topcoat is too thick. Although you may be tempted to shave your German Shepherd to cool them down, dont. As part of their genes, they shed and blow this part of their coat.It will really mess up this process if you shave them. You can see the longcoats we currently have available for sale here.
Additionally, long coats are known as fluffies and medium coats as shorthairs.
Different German Shepherd Coat Colors: Bicolor
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.
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German Shepherd Colors & Patterns
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When getting a German Shepherd, one of the most important things to consider is his function. Is he going to be a family pet? If so, he must look friendly. Will he be a guard dog? If so, he must look intimidating. And if you want to enter the dog in the show ring, he better look the part. The color of the German Shepherd plays a vital role in all of this.
German Shepherd colors are usually black and red and black and tan. Tan or red can be replaced by liver, white, cream, or silver, whereas black can be replaced by blue, or gray. These colors are often distributed in a bicolor pattern, including saddle, blanket-back, sable, and brindle.
In this article, you will learn more about every German Shepherd color, including the various combinations, the rarity of each, how the dogs look, and the best use of them. You will also learn more about the distribution of these colors and the patterns you can expect a GSD to have.
Each section also includes a best for verdict that highlights my recommendation for who the specific dog is best suited for. Lets get started!
Below is a deeper dive into each of the German Shepherd colors documented so far.
Other Eye Color Changes
Any other eye color changes in your German Shepherd can indicate that disease is present.
If their eyes take on a cloudy or gray appearance and it is evident that their eyesight is negatively impacted, they could have cataracts.
German Shepherds can contract this condition as they age, but it can occur in their adult years. Medical intervention is also advisable if this is the case.
Although your German Shepherds eyes can become paler or cloudy as they age, this does not always mean that they have cataracts.
When their eye color does change in mature years, this condition is referred to as nuclear sclerosis.
This condition may not be serious, but it is safer to put your mind at rest with a professional opinion.
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Is One Color More Desirable Than The Other
Despite the diverse range of this breeds eye colors, some pet owners insist that they want a pet with a particular eye color. Your German Shepherds eyes will follow the genetics of its parents.
Most German Shepherd eyes are brown, so you can expect your puppys eyes to be the same color or a shade thereof.
In rare instances, your puppy can inherit a recessive blue eye gene from its parents. In this case, the coat color may be red, but your pet may still have blue eyes.
Blue eyes in German Shepherds are far more common when the coat is liver.
But no matter the coat color of your pet, unless its eyes are brown, it wont be possible to show your dog. Show line German Shepherds must have brown eyes according to acceptable standards.
Despite blue eyes being normal in the German Shepherd, strict show standards wont accept these animals as thoroughbreds.
The good news is that even if you cannot show your pet at national or international shows, you can enter them into other competitions.
Other competitions for agility, strength, or to show off your pets obedience levels, dont mind what eye color your German Shepherd has.
For German Shepherd lovers who want a show line dog, then eye color is definitely important.
On the other hand, some pet owners seek a German Shepherd line with blue eyes because they enjoy the unique contrast with the animals coat.
Some pet owners will even go to great lengths to try and source a breeder for a German Shepherd puppy with
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.
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True German Shepherd Colors
There are 7 acceptable German Shepherd colors:
- Black and Tan
Black and Tan is the most common color among German Shepherds.
The classic black and tan German Shepherd is often seen in working lines.
While this dog definitely exists in show lines across the world too, many people in the US prefer the next type thats more red than tan.
The tan part is also commonly referred to as mahogany or rust in other breeds and everything essentially refers to the same color.
How rich or pale this coat type is can vary but its a pretty safe choice when it comes to color.
People who want to compete in conformation may need to look more closely at the coat.
The Alleles And Chromosomes
Genes contain pairs of alleles, one of which descends from each parent.
Alleles are located on a chromosome.
When dogs are breeding, both mother and father randomly bestow their offspring with one allele each. This process provides a 50% chance that parent dogs could pass on each allele to a litter of puppies. The result of alleles is that one comes out dominant.
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White German Shepherd Puppies Before You Buy
Naturally occurring White German Shepherds are quite rare to produce a white puppy, both parent dogs need to carry and pass on the recessive white gene. It is therefore often the case that White German Shepherds will have siblings within their litter that are not white. In fact, the only way to guarantee a litter of white puppies is to breed from two white dogs.
As such, it is significantly more difficult to find and purchase a White German Shepherd puppy than a standard colored pup. From a practical point of view, for those looking to buy a White German Shepherd, you should expect to wait longer for a puppy to become available, and you may also need to pay more than you would for a standard German Shepherd puppy.
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:
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:
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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Other German Shepherd Eye Colors
German Shepherds eyes can also be unique and come in shades of blue and variations of this color. While the eye color of this breed is determined by melanin or eumelanin, their eye color also comes from their genes.
Eumelanin comes in light and dark brown. When the dogs parents pass on this gene and dont have a recessive one or another pigmentation, the eumelanin can result in light-colored eyes.
Depending on how much melanin a dog produces, it will also make the German Shepherds eyes darker or lighter shades of brown or blue.
Other German Shepherd eye colors include:
- Pale blue
- Light gray or liver
- Green in rare cases but more specifically, if the dog is a mixed breed.
While most dog breeds eyes are brown, some can have blue eyes. This is the case with the German Shepherds eyes. Their eye color is typically brown but can also be blue and different shades of this color.
If German Shepherds produce a lot of melanin, this will impact their eye color, whether brown or blue.
Blue eyes depend on the dogs melanin production and appear to be anything from a deep blue to pale blue or various shades of gray.
German Shepherds with blue eyes can also trick their owners into believing their eyes are green in a different light. Even though dogs can have green eyes, this color is extremely rare to unlikely.
Albino German Shepherds also typically have pale blue eyes, surrounded by prominent pink skin, common with this condition.
How To Understand German Shepherd Color Gene Variations
There are eight genes in a German Shepherds DNA that are responsible for coat color. These genes have a pair of alleles one from each German Shepherd parent. The alleles are located at specific locations on a chromosome. This position is known as locus or loci.
When two German Shepherds mate, each dog will contribute an allele at random. This means that there is a fifty percent chance of a particular shade being passed onto their offspring. One of these alleles at each locus is dominant. This will result in specific coat color.
With German Shepherds, the most important loci to be aware of are the following:
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German Shepherd Color Changes
Almost all German Shepherd puppies are born with a coat that looks nothing like their adult coat. As the puppies grow, theyre going to grow new hair and the color will change at the mark of 6 months, 18 months, and finally when the puppy is two years old.
Sable German Shepherd puppies change colors as they grow older. They will probably reach their final adult color when the dog is almost 3 years old. Black and tan puppies are usually born with pure black coats. They will start shedding the baby hair when the puppy is 6 months old, and the tan color will start to pop out.
However, some black and sable dogs are born with a lighter coat. As the dog grows, it will start to grow more black hair, darkening the overall color of the coat.