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Black German Shepherd – The Truth About This Rare German Shepherd Color

Black German Shepherd – The Truth About This Rare German Shepherd Color

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Everyone knows how German Shepherds look. These are glorious dogs with a recognizable tan and black color pattern on a medium-length double coat. However, black German Shepherds also exist.

Many people think that black German Shepherds aren’t even GSDs, and that they are some kind of a crossbreed. Some think that even if they are purebred, they aren’t up to the breed standard, and that the American Kennel Club (AKC) and other kennel clubs don’t recognize them.

We’re here to give you the truth about black German Shepherds. If you want to learn more about this glorious dog breed, you’re in the right spot.

Let’s begin.

Black German Shepherd Breed Information

black German shepherd portrait leaning on the tree in the forest

The black German Shepherd dog is a variation of a German Shepherd breed. It isn’t known when they appeared, but it is believed that the first black GSDs were created as a result of an accident. Over time, people started breeding them intentionally.

German Shepherd dogs were initially bred as herding dogs, but over time, they became used as working dogs, guard dogs, and service dogs. They are also used in the military, and they are among the most well-known police dogs.

In fact, GSDs are so loved that they are ranked as high as the second favorite dog breed in the USA! One of the reasons behind this is the popularity of the Rin Tin Tin comic.

Despite the many duties they are known for doing, they are also beloved family dogs and companions for many people worldwide.

Are Black German Shepherds Purebred?

black german shepherd lying on the ground

Despite what many people are saying – yes, black German Shepherds are purebred. In fact, while black and tan is the most popular color variation in GSDs, they can come in 15 colors, most of which are approved by the AKC. One of them is – you guessed it – the black color.

Even non-full black GSDs still have black in their coat color. Most will have a black mask all over their face as well as some other black markings on their body.

As you can see, the black color occurs naturally in the GSDs gene pool, and it isn’t unusual by any means. Still, people still seem to be in awe when they see a black German Shepherd.

Are Black German Shepherds Rare?

sideview of a purebreed black german shepherd in focus photography

Black German Shepherds are not a common sight. Because of this, many people wonder whether they are rare, or if they simply aren’t as popular.

The truth is, black GSDs are truly considered among the rarest German Shepherd colors – if not the rarest one.

This is because German Shepherds aren’t supposed to be fully black. While the AKC recognizes black as a GSD color, it is still considered a birth defect. This is why it is very rare for black German Shepherds to win at any dog shows or other dog events.

In fact, breeding black German Shepherds wasn’t recommended for many years, and even now, there aren’t many breeders that would delve into such a task. Breeding black GSDs isn’t an easy accomplishment, which is another reason why these pups are so rare.

The Genetics Behind Black German Shepherds

Portrait of a beautiful german shepherd or alsatian dog hiding in the grassland

Just as is the case with any other feature, a dog’s coat color is determined by its genetics. The same goes for the black German Shepherd.

Overall, there are two types of pigment that determine the dog’s color. These are eumelanin, which is responsible for black and brown color, and phaeomelanin, which is the pigment behind red and yellow shades.

The distribution of pigmentation is what causes the exact shade of a dog.

On its own, black is a dominant color. In fact, this is the most dominant gene out of all of them. However, things aren’t that simple.

While black color will easily express itself over other colors, GSDs have genes in them that make these pigments spread around in a specific pattern.

If a German Shepherd comes in a single, black tone, this is a result of a rare combination of recessive genes. These genes make eumelanin cover all of the dog’s coat, no matter the other color genes he might carry.

As these genes are recessive, it means that both the dog’s parents have to carry this gene, even if they aren’t black by themselves. In fact, breeders would have to find two dogs that are a 100% match in the shade, so they can be certain that their offspring will be in a single color.

Since black German Shepherds are rare on their own, finding the perfect mate for your black GSD can be a bit tricky, if not a nearly impossible task.

Black German Shepherd Appearance

alert black German Shepherd dog laid on some grass with his eyes pricked up listening

Overall, a black German Shepherd will have all the physical traits of a regular GSD, except for coat color. They have the same build and the same genetic traits.

There isn’t too much of a height difference between males and females, and both will reach 22 to 26 ins. However, the weight difference is quite significant, with males weighing between 65 and 90 lbs, and females having a weight of 50 to 75 lbs.

German Shepherds have a long snout and erect ears. While they are considered large dogs, they have a fairly short tail, and their tail is fluffy.

However, some black German Shepherd owners have noticed that their dogs seem to have straighter backs compared to their tan counterparts, and that they can be somewhat larger.

Black German Shepherd Coat Type

beautiful young wolfdog in nature calm with tongue out

Black German Shepherds are noticeable, thanks to their solid black coats. Their fur can be anywhere between short and long – with the short being the more common one, but the longer coats are more sought-after.

If they come with a long coat, you can expect them to have the appearance of flowing, skirting, or feathering.

These dogs are solid black in color, which means they cannot have any other markings on them. Still, there are several other variations of black found on some other coat variations. We’ll go over most of them.

Tan And Black German Shepherd

black and tan dog sleeping comfortably on a large pillow indoors

The most common German Shepherd color is actually a variation of a black coat. They have a rich tan base color, with a black face and back. This is also the oldest GSD color out there as it has been around since the breed was first registered in Germany back in the 19th century.

The black and tan German Shepherds carry recessive genes compared to the most dominant sable gene, but they are still dominant over solid black GSDs.

Keep in mind that most black and tan German Shepherds will fade in color as they grow older. Some might even develop a gray strip down their back, which is known as a ‘bitch’s strip’ as it’s more common in females than in males.

White And Black German Shepherd

hands of a man on his dog's head a German Panda Shepherd dog looking away from the camera

White and black German Shepherds are considered bicolor dogs. They are very rare and don’t fit the breed standard.

Because of their unique pattern, you might also find these pups under the name Panda German Shepherd.

Most of these dogs have a rare genetic mutation caused by the piebald gene. This genetic mutation makes about 40% of the dog’s body pure white.

However, most white and black German Shepherds are crossbred either with a white Labrador Retriever or with a white Golden Retriever.

Some white and black German Shepherds might have vitiligo; a health issue that causes progressive and partial pigment loss.

Black And Red German Shepherd

sad German shepherd lies in the path of the leaves in autumn forest

Black and red German Shepherds are considered among the most beautiful variations of the breed. They have a rich red pigment as a base color, and black markings.

Most of the time, they have the same pattern placement as tan GSDs, but this might vary.

Unlike black, red is the product of the phaeomelanin gene; the pigment responsible for red and yellow shades. This also means that these pups have two dominant genes, making them really easy to breed.

Just like tan and black, red and black purebred German Shepherds are very popular dogs, and their prices can be high.

Silver And Black German Shepherd

brindle German Shepherd with silver and black color in close up image

The silver coat color is the result of the dilution gene present in the dog’s genetic pool, meaning that the portion of its coat comes in a gorgeous silver shade with black markings.

This color combination isn’t preferred, so you’ll rarely find it among the show-quality dogs. Most silver and black German Shepherds are working dogs, such as watchdogs or field dogs.

The fun fact about silver and black GSDs is that they are almost invisible in the dark. They can be even harder to spot than solid black German Shepherds! Because of this, you should only walk them with a light-up dog collar.

Black German Shepherd Personality

sideview of a black german shepherd on a leash held by the owner in the snow

Despite some rumors, black German Shepherds aren’t considered to be an aggressive breed. While they are protective and trained to become excellent guard dogs, most are simply loyal to the core and very courageous.

If you train and socialize them from puppyhood, they can even become amazing nanny dogs. They’ll do well with children and they’ll watch over them all the time. In the end, all German Shepherds consider taking care of their pack as their full-time job, and this is what they’ll gladly do.

Black GSDs will take some time getting used to strangers, and they’ll gladly alert you if someone new is in the house.

However, they won’t be aggressive, and if they notice that the new person smells like you, then they’ll probably be friendly right away. When a German Shepherd becomes your friend, he’ll stick with you to the end.

Unfortunately, this family-friendly temperament has its downsides. They are prone to separation anxiety, and they hate being left alone, even for a short period of time. This can make them express some destructive behaviors.

Because of this, they are not the best fit for people working long office hours.

Black German Shepherds are smart dogs that might want to do things their own way. This can make them somewhat challenging for first-time dog owners.

Black German Shepherd Grooming

Black dog getting a bath with water by the owner

The grooming requirements will highly depend on the coat length of your black German Shepherd. If they have a medium coat, then you won’t have to deal with too much grooming. However, if they have long hair, then you’ll need to brush them every day.

Black German Shepherds have a double coat, which means they’ll experience lots of shedding. This also means that their fur is prone to tangles and knots.

The shedding amount will increase two times a year, during shedding seasons. When this period arrives, you’ll likely have to vacuum clean your house every day. No amount of brushing will stop the loose hairs from flying everywhere.

We don’t suggest having white furniture with this dog breed!

Fortunately, there are some deshedding tools that can help you manage your pup’s undercoat. They are excellent tools for long-haired pups. You can also find some anti-shed shampoos in stores or on online sites such as Amazon.

Another option you have is to ensure that your pup’s coat is healthy. A healthy coat won’t fall off that much, so you’ll experience a lower amount of shedding. Stick to foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Consider adding tuna or fish sticks to his diet.

Just make contact with your vet prior to changing your pet’s diet.

Black German Shepherd Exercise and Training

German shepherd aggressive dog train obedience

As mentioned before, black German Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs. This can make them effortless to train, or it can make them nearly impossible to train.

To make sure that you can train your GSD without too much hassle, make sure you start with training while they are still puppies.

Positive reinforcement is the key to a well-trained black German Shepherd. Give them their favorite treats whenever they do as you say. If you worry about them getting obese, then give them some healthy alternatives from your kitchen such as peppers, fig newtons, or brussels sprouts.

Praise your GSD for every little thing they do right, and pet them. Tell them how good they are and be happy for them. Black German Shepherds can feel when you are happy, and they’ll know to appreciate that.

Introduce them to many new things and people from an early age. If you keep them as house pets, take them to dog parks right after they get their vaccines, and call guests over so they can get used to new people. If your black GSD is a working dog, introduce him to loud machines, hats, farming animals, and other equipment.

Don’t forget to introduce kids to your black German Shepherd puppies. Dogs can find kids annoying, so they need to get used to them from an early age. Don’t tolerate any bad behavior, especially around children.

If you plan on using a harness on your dog, make sure he is used to it from an early age. This is also the time when you need to teach him how to behave on a leash. Most dogs will pull as this is their natural instinct. When you have such a large dog, you cannot tolerate this.

The same goes for crate training. Crates can be a dogs’ safe space, but they need to get used to them early on.

When it comes to exercise requirements, black German Shepherds are active dogs that need to get out often. Give them at least an hour of heavy exercise daily. Don’t worry… they’ll enjoy anything, from hiking, swimming, or playing fetch.

Don’t let your black GSD get bored. These dogs need lots of mental stimulation. Otherwise, they might become destructive.

Black German Shepherd Diet Requirements

young black german shepherd nibbling on a slipper

There is one general rule when it comes to feeding any dog: The larger your pet is, the more food he’ll need.

Most German Shepherds will need to eat 4 times a day. Give them small meals and make sure they eat slowly. These large dogs are prone to bloat; a condition that can be fatal. If you teach them to eat slowly, the chances of bloat will decrease.

Black German Shepherds tend to be a bit larger than their regular counterparts, which also means that they’ll grow at a much faster pace. This also means that they’ll require more dog food as time goes on.

If you’re unsure about the amount of food you need to give your dog, contact your vet to help you. A rule of thumb is to give a fully mature dog 1.19 grams of protein and 0.59 grams of fat per pound of their body weight.

 The number of calories needed:
Male puppy 2,200 to 3,000 kcal
Female puppy1,700 to 2,500 kcal
Male adult1,700 to 2,100 kcal
Female adult 1,200 to 1,600 kcal

Black German Shepherd Health

happy german shepherd dog lying down with a protection training sleeve

Luckily, the black gene doesn’t give black German Shepherds an increased chance of any health condition on its own.

Unfortunately, large dog breeds tend to suffer from more health issues than their smaller counterparts. As black German Shepherds are somewhat larger than standard German Shepherds, this also makes them more prone to various health problems.

Scientists have yet to determine the exact cause of shorter life spans in large dogs. However, they believe it has something to do with their fast growth rate.

Let’s explain.

If you take a look at a German Shepherd puppy and, for example, a French Bulldog puppy, you’ll notice how there isn’t as big of a size difference as there is between adult dogs.

Most dogs are born of similar size. However, large dog breeds need to grow larger at a much faster pace. This means their cells are reproducing much faster than the cells of smaller dogs.

This fast cell reproduction is what leads to the increased chance of bad organ development and even cancer.

Overall, a black German Shepherd is prone to:

• Hip dysplasia

• Elbow dysplasia

• Diabetes

• Gastric Dilatation (bloat)

• Epilepsy

• Hemophilia

• Cataracts

• Degenerative Disc Disease

• Degenerative Myelopathy

• Thyroid Issues

• Pancreatitis

• Panosteitis

• Osteoarthritis

• Cancer

Not all of these health issues will endanger your pup’s life. Most orthopedic conditions cause the lameness of certain body parts, and they can affect their walking, but they won’t directly make their lives shorter.

Others, such as cancer or bloat, can suddenly end your pup’s life.

It’s important not to miss any vet appointments. Have annual checkups and do bloodwork on older dogs. Also, make sure your dogs eat only high-quality dog food, and watch out so they don’t become obese. If you do all of this, then you can ensure that your black German Shepherd will live 10 to 14 years.

Long Haired Black German Shepherd

Two obedient long-haired black German Shepherd dogs sitting together in a green grass holding red soft bite tug toys in their mouths

Just like all other GSD colors, black German Shepherds can have long hair. While most people think the difference is only in their size, the truth is rather different.

Most German Shepherd owners have reported that long-haired German Shepherds are more outgoing and much milder compared to standard German Shepherds. This is likely because they aren’t suited for most working dog tasks, and they have been kept as family dogs for generations.

Another reason behind this is that long-haired black German Shepherds don’t have an undercoat. This means that they had to be kept inside during harsh winters, meaning they are more adjusted to family life.

Unfortunately, the AKC considers long-haired black German Shepherds a genetic fault, so they are not acknowledged. This isn’t a problem for people looking for a new house pet, but it can cause issues if you want to have a show dog.

Black German Shepherd With Blue Eyes

Adorable German Shepherd puppy with blue eyes

If you look at photos of black German Shepherds, you might notice that many of these dogs have blue eyes.

Most people consider black German Shepherds with blue eyes to be a crossbreed, most likely with a Siberian Husky.

And, it’s true that some of these dogs are mixed.

However, purebred black German Shepherds can come with blue eyes, although this is very rare.

Blue eyes are the result of a specific genetic variation. They usually occur in blue German Shepherds. The reason behind this is that blue is the result of a dilution gene that turns black pigment into dark grey or blue.

Solid black German Shepherds with blue eyes have this gene, but it affects their eyes only. Chances are most cannot even be considered black, but blue – however, their coat is so dark that it is impossible to differentiate from pure black.

Still, just like with long-haired black German Shepherds, these pups aren’t recognized by the AKC and are considered faulty.

Also, if your black German Shepherd has grey markings and blue eyes, then he is likely a German Shepherd Husky mix.

Black German Shepherd Puppies

Cute puppy of a black German shepherd lies on the grass in spring

Black German Shepherd puppies are usually born from two black parents. While they can happen in litters of parents of other colors as the gene for solid black is recessive and can stay hidden, this is extremely rare, and it will usually happen in one or two puppies in the litter.

The issue is that all German Shepherd puppies are born black. Many unethical breeders will try to sell you very young black German Shepherd puppies, claiming that they will stay black when they grow up.

However, most black German Shepherd puppies will grow up to be sable, black and tan, black and red, and so on. Only if a puppy stays black after two months will he be pure black once he grows old.

How Much Is a Black German Shepherd?

Two black working line German shepherd puppies brings one stick

Black German Shepherd puppies are quite rare, which also means their price will be much higher compared to an ordinary GSD.

The biggest issue with breeding such rare dogs lies in the fact that you can never be entirely certain just how many puppies will be in a litter. Most of the time, the puppies will be reserved even before they are born, especially if the litter is small.

The coat length also affects the puppy price, so the long-haired pups will typically cost more.

While the regular GSD puppy costs $900 or more, you can expect to pay up to $2,500 for a black German Shepherd.

If you see a GSD being offered for less than $1,000 – be careful. Chances are you aren’t dealing with a reputable breeder.

Black German Shepherd Puppies for Sale

black german shepherd looking at camera

Photo from: @brewingsomekona

While looking for black GSD puppies for sale, you might notice a lot of offers – some of which are not fitting the price range for these amazing dogs.

As mentioned before, a solid black German Shepherd costs somewhat more than a regular German Shepherd. This turns off many potential dog owners who are convinced that they can find a purebred black puppy at a much lower price.

While you can find a puppy costing as little as $600, you need to watch out. Most people who are selling puppies at a discounted price are backyard breeders.

Backyard breeders don’t really sell dogs in their backyard. This is just a term used for breeders who aren’t licensed and who usually don’t really know what they are doing. Most of the time, these are dog owners who have ended up with an unwanted litter of puppies that they are now trying to sell.

While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this, you need to keep in mind that these people don’t really know how to deal with puppies. They don’t know how to socialize and train them properly, and they don’t know how to tell if the puppies are free from some genetic conditions.

A reputable breeder will do all they can to ensure that they are giving you healthy puppies. They will conduct the necessary genetic testing that will let them know whether a dog is at risk of certain health conditions. Some will even pay for the first vaccines, so the puppy is more prepared to go to a new home.

A good German Shepherd breeder will also begin with dog training and socialization as early as possible. This is important because the first few weeks are essential in creating a dog’s character. If you miss that period, chances are you’ll end up with a dog that is more challenging to train.

You should also avoid puppy mills and pet shops. These establishments don’t really care about the well-being of the dogs they’re selling. Instead, they only want to make a quick profit. Most of these locations don’t train or socialize their dogs, and they don’t do any health tests.

Sure, reputable breeders are more expensive, but this is because they need to cover all the expenses of ensuring that you get a healthy, well-behaved pup.

If you’d like to adopt a black German Shepherd, check out local shelters. While rare, some black GSDs can be found at a shelter or at a humane society. These dogs usually come at an adoption fee that ranges between $50 and $500.

While adopting is the most humane and ethical option, keep this in mind: You can never know the full background of the dog you’re adopting. This means that you might end up with a dog that has certain behavioral or health problems you aren’t initially aware of.

Of course, whether you buy or adopt, the choice is on you. You are the one responsible for creating the best dog possible.

Black German Shepherd Breeders

black german shepherd trained by the owner in the field

After reading all of this, you might wonder how you can tell a reputable black German Shepherd breeder from a backyard breeder. While there is no 100% right way to tell one from another, a general rule of thumb is this:

A reputable black GSD breeder will only sell you puppies older than 8 weeks. There are several good reasons behind this.

First off, a puppy younger than 8 weeks is too young to be separated from its mother. It’s important that he stays with his brothers and sisters so he can learn how to behave around other dogs.

Also, most German Shepherds are born black, but their color will change over time. By the time they are around 8 weeks old, their true colors will show. A black German Shepherd will stay black even after this time frame. It can be challenging to predict whether a puppy younger than this will stay black.

All reputable breeders will be open about the possible color change, and they’ll advise against buying a younger puppy. If a breeder tells you that a puppy that is only a few weeks old certainly won’t change color, or if he is oblivious about the possibility of a color change, chances are he isn’t experienced.

At the same time, reputable black German Shepherd breeders will gladly show you the parents of your puppy. If anything, they should show you their mother. If they don’t – this is a huge red flag. All good breeders want you to trust them. To accomplish this, they need to be completely transparent.

Some scammy breeders will also try to sell you mixed breed dogs, telling you that they are black German Shepherds.

The most common one is the crossbreed between a German Shepherd and a black Labrador Retriever.

Sure, there is nothing wrong with getting a crossbreed – if this is what you want. However, you need to know what you’re getting and what you’re paying for.

Can Black German Shepherds Participate in Dog Shows?
Row of german shepherd dogs on leashes next to their owners at the dog's exhibition

While we’d like to say that the coat color doesn’t matter, it truly does if you want your dog to participate in dog shows.

When it comes to German Shepherds, many colors aren’t allowed to participate, such as pure white, fawn, solid blue, pure red, and spotted black and white. Certain kennel clubs ban some other colors as well, such as liver, light blue, gray, and panda.

When it comes to pure black German Shepherds, you should know that they are allowed in the show ring. However, there are some rules they need to follow.

For a GSD to be considered solid black, all parts of his body need to be in this color. This includes the nose, lips, eye rims, and paw pads. Their eyes need to be black or dark brown as well.

When it comes to coat lengths – all coat lengths are allowed as long as your pup is properly groomed.

During the last 100 years, many German Shepherds have won awards at dog competitions. However, almost none of them were black as most judges prefer seeing GSDs in their standard black and tan color combination.

Are Black German Shepherds Good Family Pets?

Funny German shepherd puppy pulling a tug toy (selective focus on the nose)

If you’re looking for a good family pet that can also keep your loved ones and your property safe, then black German

Shepherds are among the best dogs you could look for. They are loyal animals that offer you companionship and security.

Of course, you need to take good care of your black German Shepherd for him to keep you safe. Give him a comfortable place to sleep, plenty of dog toys, and high-quality food.

While black GSDs can live inside apartments, we would advise them to dog lovers with a large back yard. These are active dogs that need to spend a lot of time outdoors, and they can be too large for most apartments and condos.

If you want to get a black German Shepherd puppy, consider getting a doggy gate. While older dogs don’t need it, puppies might become too energetic when guests arrive, and a doggy gate is a great way to ensure that they learn how to behave.

Black German Shepherds are not suitable for people who aren’t at home most of the time. They hate being left alone, and they’ll miss their owners greatly.

The biggest downside of black German Shepherds is that you can see all the dirt and dust on their black coats, so you’ll need to give them regular baths and brushing, especially if they love rolling around in the mud!

Other than that, black German Shepherds make amazing family pets that can be great companions to your children. Just make sure not to leave them unattended with small kids as they might knock them over by accident.

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