German Shepherds come in various colors: Black & Tan, Black & Red, Black & Silver/Cream, Black, Sable, White, Liver, and Blue. The Black & Tans and Black & Reds are most preferred. Solid Blacks are preferred to breed in more coloring to lighter Black & Tans. Less preferred are the Black & Silvers and Black & Creams because the tan is washed out. While even less preferred and not recognized as breeding show type dogs are Whites, Livers, and Blues because the all-black leather noses are not present. Click on the links to see examples of the colors listed. As with all dogs, health and temperament is important and the coloring a bonus.
Black & Tan is the most coveted coloring. The puppies are born nearly all black with the tan coloring gradually appearing during first 3 years. The GS has a saddle back with mask. This coloring is most popular in show lines. Along with the Black & Reds, this coloring is only allowed into the final show rings as they most accurately represent the breed.
Black & Red is the most popular coloring in Germany. As with Black & Tans the puppies are born nearly all black with the reddish coloring appearing during first 3 years.
Black & Red
Black puppies are born all black and will stay all black. This coloring does not included GS with some brown on their legs or feet. Black GSs are acceptable for show, but the coloring is not preferred.
White is the most discriminated color. The coloring is all white fur with black nose, eyelids and lips. Severely unwanted in the past and were killed by breeders. However, the color is becoming more popular with very loyal owners. The white GS is known to have a slightly different temperament than other colors, not typically aggressive more likely to be timid or skittish, tend to be quite vocal with whining and groaning, rarely have dominant personalities but can be hard-headed. This color is most prejudiced. Few know that a white dog was the grandsire of the dog that became the official first GSD in Germany in 1895, the color white is in the gene pool of GSs. Discrimination against the white GSD began after the architect of the GSD line died in the 1930’s. The 60’s saw more uprising against and blaming the white GSD for color washing, and was eventually disqualified to compete in the show ring. AKC still registers them against demands to stop. Please note the white coloring is not an albino, which has no pigment – eyes with red pupils and milky or translucent skin. Also note a difference in registering them with AKC and UKC as “German Shepherd” and “White Shepherd”.
Black & Silver/Cream is a color not preferred because of the white instead of the tan coloring which is considered to be “washed out”.
Black & Silver
Black & Cream
Sable coloring is easily identified by each hair having two or more colors. When you brush against the fur it appears to change colors creating a unique color pattern to each dog. Sable is a dominant gene and very common. The puppy will get darker or lighter in color with age. The puppy is born tan with coloring vastly changing till dog reaches 3 years of age. The color range is from the lightest tans to the darkest black.
Blue is a recessive gene. This gene dilutes the black pigment and is considered a serious fault. Blue colored GSs are not acceptable for show because the noses are not an all-black leather but more of a grey or off black. Blue GSs were unwanted in past and were killed. The color ranges from an all blue called “steel blue” or light blue called “powder blue”.
Liver would be more accurately described as chocolate or brown. The color range is from an all dark brown to light brown with traditional GS markings. The Liver coloring gene is an incomplete black color. The gene is recessive and, blocks the black pigment. Liver coloring was unwanted in the past and were killed. Presently breeders can be found to specialize in this coloring. Liver is also considered serious fault and are not acceptable for show because their noses, eyelids, and mouth are a variation of brown coloring.