photo by Irfandiawhite

Different Colors of German Shepherds

As a pet owner, you probably wondered at least once where your German shepherd belongs to in terms of coat color variations. Sure, it’s not exactly necessary since color doesn’t affect health or behavior, but you still have to wonder.

Is he a grey German shepherd, or is he solid black? Is there a chance that what you’ve got are black and tan German shepherd puppies? Curiosity sometimes gets the best out of us. Just as there are dog lovers that think of breed as the most important part of a dog, there are also those that value color more than anything else.

For the former, color can be simply black, red, sable, and such. However, there’s actually more into the color of a German shepherd than you think. Here we look at the different colors of German shepherds as we delve deeper in color genetics, origins, and what they mean.

The Original German Shepherd Colors

There are different color variations of German shepherds. Some are accepted by the American Kennel Club and others are not.

However, the original German shepherd colors are accepted by most organizations.

After all, you can consider these colors as the different colors of German shepherds in the 1800s to 1950s. In short, they’ve been around for the longest time.

The original German shepherd coat colors consist of the following:

  • Solid Black German Shepherds
  • Black and White German Shepherds
  • Solid White German Shepherds

Contrary to what you may believe, these three colors are actually one of the most common colors of German shepherds. It’s just that it’s not common in places like America. There are, however, coat colors that are popular in America and other countries.

Common Colors

There are 8 main colors of German shepherds, which is considered to be the most common of all variations (around the world).

  1. Black
  2. White
  3. Black and Tan
  4. Black and Red
  5. Bicolor (Almost Black)
  6. Sable (Tri-Color German Shepherds)
  7. Liver and Tan
  8. Blue

While you may view these colors as simply… colors, each of them is actually unique in its own ways. They vary in popularity, history, some of them even have another set of variations.

  • Black: As previously mentioned, the black variation is one of the original German shepherd colors, along with black and white German shepherds and white GSDs.
  • White: The white color is also one of the original variations. Sadly, white German shepherds are not able to participate in kennel club shows, although they are allowed in agility and obedience competitions.
  • Black and Tan: German shepherd puppies of this variation is the most commonly bred in many countries. It is also the most popular since Hollywood canine stars such as Rin Tin Tin bears the black and tan color.
  • Black and Red:  This color variation is often associated with the black and tan color. The pattern looks similar, with only the tan being red as the difference.
    While black and red German shepherds are more common in show lines, the black and tan variation can be found more in working lines.
  • Bicolor: Bicolor German shepherds is often called “Almost Black”. This is mainly because they are basically black German shepherds with a shade of silver, gray, or brown.
    Some examples of bicolor GSDs are black and silver German shepherd and those with colors black & gold.
  • Sable: Sable GSDs are particularly known for having individual hairs that has two or three colors. That’s why they were often called tri-color German shepherds.
    This variety of colors is what makes them unique. This unique trait is also responsible for many variations such as red sable and silver sable German shepherds.
  • Liver and Tan: This is a rather unique variation in the sense that what normally will be black in color in a German shepherd will be brownish instead. Additionally, GSDs in this variation has hint of tan, although there are pure liver German shepherds.
  • Blue: Blue GSDs are also of a unique kind. Just like the liver and tan, instead of having black in color, they will adopt the blue color instead.

While these are the common colors of German shepherds at this point, times are changing. What happened to be rare today might become common tomorrow. Of course, common colors can also become rare at some point.

Speaking of which, there are color variations that are in danger of fading slowly in the German shepherd color gene pool.

Rare Colors

Rare colors are usually a genetic fault. But while they can be considered a flaw in genetics, they are still the lovable German shepherds we know.

Also, these colors are usually a different version of some of the previously mentioned common colors.

  • Light Blue: Obviously, this belongs to the blue color variation. The only difference between blue and light blue is that there may be traces of silver in a light blue GSD. Because of this, the blue color variation is accepted by the AKC, but the light blue isn’t.
  • Grey: A grey German shepherd resembles a sable GSD in the way how it looks like a wolf. However, sable color may range from silver, black, gray, or tan. On the other hand, grey GSDs are mainly gray with almost no traces of black hairs.
  • Panda: Panda is more of a pattern than a color. A panda German shepherd is like a white GSD, except it displays black spots around their body.
  • Liver: Just like liver and tan, the liver color results in a brown German shepherd instead of black. This time, however, it’s completely liver with no hint of the tan color.

These colors might be rare, but some owners are not even aware of how rare their German shepherd is. But what pet owners really don’t know about is the color change of German shepherds.

photo by lifewitharie

Do German Shepherd Colors Changes by Age?

There have been asking this questions lately, which is perhaps because they are noticing some color changes in their German shepherd.

The answer to this question is yes, the color of a German shepherd can change as they age. However, the severity of this color change depends on the original color.

To give you a better idea, here’s a look at the different German shpherd coat colors that changes over time.

  • Black and Tan: They might be the most popular, but this information might not be known to many. Contrary to common belief, black and tan German shepherds are born as completely black dogs.
    The tan only starts to show itself after at least 6 months. But there’s a limit to how tan they can be. To be more precise, a GSD’s color will stop changing after 2 years.
  • Sable: Regardless of the main color of a sable GSD, be it tan, silver, or gray, the color will change as they grow older.
    Some may get darker by age, and some may get lighter. Either way, the period is the same as black and tan. It starts at 6 months and ends in 2 years.

These two are the color variations that undergoes the most significant color change in German shepherds. While other colors change, too, the change isn’t that much.

There are, however, some German shepherds coat colors that do not change. In short, dogs with these colors live with it for the rest of their lives.

  • Black and White: The two original colors, black and white, undergo no changes as they age. These are the only exceptions and they will live out their lives with the color they were born with.

There are many people that have their own opinions, like those who think of color change as a modification in a German shepherd’s color genetics. If you take a look at it, it can be viable since it would explain why the original colors, black and white, doesn’t change colors.

However, some opinions are false. Unfortunately, there have been many misconceptions nowadays about the different colors of German shepherd.

Misconceptions about German Shepherd Coat Colors

Throughout history, there have been lots of misconceptions and myths made surrounding German shepherd coat colors.

These misconpcetions usually revolve around the unique color traits of German shepherds. There’s even a myth about the most popular color.

Tan & Black and Red & Black

The tan in tan & black and red in red & black is often seen as two different colors of German shepherds.

However, these two are actually of the same color. The only different is that with the tan & black variation, the pigment is lighter while with red & black GSDs, the tan is darker.

Solid White GSDs are Albinos

White German shepherds aren’t albinos. This had been confirmed by many other veterinary researchers.

They don’t have albinism genes. They aren’t showing the symptoms of albinism. It’s simply because of a masking gene that blocks the ability to produce a black color.

Liver and Blue are Normal German Shepherd Colors

The liver and blue color are faults in the color gene pool.

Despite being one of the common colors, these two variations aren’t rare. This is because the lightening of pigment is a common flaw in the color genes of a German shepherd.

Panda German Shepherds are Crossbreeds

Due to their unusual appearance, panda German shepherds are seen as mixed breeds by a poodle or chow chow dog.

However, panda German shepherds are not crossbreeds. In reality, the panda pattern is caused by a rare genetic fault, which results in few panda GSD in the world.

Bicolor is the Same as Black

Due to the resemblance of bicolor GSDs and black GSDs, the bicolor is often considered as black. There is a difference, however, and that lies on the traces of silver, gray, and other colors in a bicolor German shepherd.

Final Thoughts on Different Colors of German Shepherds

Having a German shepherd, it’s only natural to wonder what lies deeper in your pet’s color.

Is it rare? Is it a genetic fault? Or is it a normal color?

After reading this blog post, you should already know the answers to these questions. Plus, we discussed the most common misconceptions about the coat colors of German shepherds.

You might’ve been unaware of where your German shepherd’s color came from. But after this, you can sit back and be assured that you achieved a better understanding of your cute pet.

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