Just like many other dogs, German Shepherds are often revered for the colours and patterns that are present in their coats. There are a wide variety of colours that you can find on a German Shepherd dog.
It’s important to know that some colours aren’t considered to be legal tender by major kennel clubs. According to these rules, dogs that have a certain colour of fur would not actually be considered a Shepherd. More on that later.
German Shepherds originated as working dogs in – you guessed it – Germany. They were bred for many years to have strong willpower, physical strength, a good sense of loyalty, and the ability to work long hours in bad weather conditions. They are very balanced in terms of not only physical structure, but mental endurance, so they can move fluidly for a long time without losing their spirits.
There are many different types of German Shepherd, each with its own characteristics and traits. The different types of German Shepherd will be more or less likely to have certain types of fur. The breed as a whole can have widely varying colours from black to tan to white or any combination of all of these.
Here are the most common combinations of colours for the various breeds of German Shepherd.
Black and tan German Shepherd
This is the most common colour for these dogs and is the colour pattern that’s most recognized. A lot of famous dogs that have been in movies or made their way into popular media have sported black and tan coats.
Generally the lower parts of the dog are tan – the legs and the underbelly – and they have a black saddle on their backs that stretches out from the neck to the tail. They may have a black mask-like patch on their face.
American and Canadian show lines both agree that this colour combination is acceptable for the breed.
Black and red
This pattern is much more frequently associated with German show lines when compared to American or Canadian. They often follow a similar pattern as the black and tan dogs, though the tan is much more closer to the red end of the spectrum or sometimes strawberry blonde.
Some dogs of this breed are silver instead of red, but they fall under the same category for some reason. These dogs are far less common in show lines, but they are fairly well-known as domestic dogs.
Despite the misleading name, bicolor Shepherds are not actually two different colours. To qualify as a bicolor in a major kennel club, a dog has to have a solid coat of black. Dogs with black heels are sometimes known as tarheels.
They might have different colors on their feet in domestic situations, but for a Shepherd to qualify for a show line position, their feet must also be black. Brown features may also be noted around the face or ears, but will not do a show line dog any good.
Blue or liver/tan
These dogs don’t make it to the show lines very often because the specific mix of colours suggests that the dogs were not bred with pure german shepherds or somewhere along the line, a discolored Shepherd was allowed to contribute to the lineage. Even if they are purebred, the genes for these colours of fur could be passed down as recessive genes throughout generations.
The blue color is more like a slight variance on black. Very light blue might seem closer to the actual colour, but bright blue is also not appealing for show dogs because it displays the inconsistency in the dog’s breeding history. Dark blue dogs may occasionally be allowed in shows.
Sable or grey German Shepherds
These dogs aren’t seen as frequently in show lines compared to the previous colors. That’s because grey German Shepherds are typically associated with working dogs.
Sable dogs are very interesting because each hair on the dog’s fur is actually multicoloured. These dogs aren’t allowed in show lines but since they have the same temperament and strength as other shepherds, they make fantastic domestic pets. The hairs can contain black, red, grey, and tan, and are often covered by a thin layer of black hair.
Sable puppies might not look the same when they reach adulthood due to the changes their hair experiences overtime.
Solid white German Shepherds are absolutely beautiful, but they are not permitted to take part in beauty shows because the solid white colour is a sign of recessive genes. They tend to perform fantastically in obedience and skill shows, through.
The recessive gene that allowed for the creation of white Shepherds is similar to the one responsible for humans developing blond hair. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it does indicate recessive genealogy.
Black German Shepherds
For some reason, black Shepherds are categorized differently than bipolar ones, which are also generally full black. This is possibly because bicolor Shepherds are not necessarily fully black when they are domestic, though any that you would see in a show would have to be.
Sometimes black Shepherds have white patterns on their chests. They are different from other types of black dogs, which typically start out black and then fade to grey as they get older. German Shepherds start out black and stay that way for the rest of their life.
The coats for German Shepherds are not too varied.
The most commonly sought coat is a double coat, mid-length. These might be wiry in appearance, and are approved for shows. They must be plush to qualify.
Shorter coats, as long as they are comparatively plush, may also be accepted in competitions.
Longer coats are not really accepted in shows, but many people prefer to get a Shepherd with a long coat of fur because it makes them soft to the touch. Long hair is good for dogs who live in cold environments (like Germany, despite the clubs there not approving of long haired Shepherds.)