When you think of German Shepherds, the first image that may come into your mind is that of a black and tan-coated large canine that you often see in movies as police dogs.
So, if your perception of them is limited to what you’ve seen on screen, chances are, you would never know the many other types of German Shepherd coats, as well as the several other color combinations for this highly intelligent, brave, and dependable dog breed.
When you decide you want a German Shepherd, you quickly learn that getting one is harder than it first appears to be. The correct coat type, color, and pattern are essential considerations that the majority of outsiders aren't even aware of. So, in this article, we’ll talk more about these things:
This indicates the hue of the topcoat on a German Shepherd. It matters because some colors affect the price and others indicate a dog's likelihood of competing in or succeeding in dog shows.
Coat Type or Length
This relates to the quantity and length of the dog's coat. Short, medium, and long hair are the three primary categories based on length, while single and double coats are the two types of hair based on quantity.
The term describes the distribution of color in a German Shepherd's topcoat. German Shepherds almost usually have a patterned topcoat because they are rarely solid-colored dogs. This term also covers facial patterns.
German Shepherd Coat Colors
Coats are crucial in the German Shepherd's form and function. German Shepherd’s varied body shapes, colors, and lengths combine to make this dog breed one of the most structurally varied breeds.
While GSDs have several coat colors, it's worth noting that some hues are not recognized by significant kennel clubs and are consequently viewed as flaws. However, unless you intend to enter your dog in dog shows, this should not be a problem.
Standard German Shepherd Colors
1. Black and Tan
This is the most common coat color combination of German Shepherds. We see them often in the pictures and this color is what automatically comes to our mind when we think about this dog breed. These shades can often become lighter with age. During birth, their pelt is often darker in color.
About equal amounts of both hues can be seen in adult German Shepherds. The top of their backs (black saddle), as well as their noses, various areas of their faces, and ears, are all covered with black.
The bottom of the animal as well as its face, legs, neck, and tail are all brown. They occasionally even have the ability to grow a grey stripe down the middle of their backs. Women are more likely to experience this.
2. Black and Red
This color combination is quite similar to black and tan. However, one distinction is that the shade of red is more vibrant and may look rust, orange, or deep red. Black and red are both formed as a result of a dominant gene (making the effect recessive). Breeders frequently like this color scheme due to the lovely and contrasting coat hues.
3. Black and Cream
This medium-length coat with a huge black saddle and somewhat diluted red to approximate “cream” color is another typical variety.
4. Black and Silver
Due to its black, grayish-white, and grayish-white coat, this dog almost has a smoky look. While their feet and stomachs are predominantly silver, their backs are black. When a dog has this coloring, his face or upper stomach may have fading stripe-like patterns.
Labrador or Newfoundland is usually a breed that is usually regarded by most people as having solid black or completely black coat. However, some German Shepherds can have a solid black pelt.
Unlike most purebred German Shepherds, this variation rarely appears in the wild and rarely appears on the street. They are also a bit bigger and therefore more powerful. This dog's complete black coat is a result of a recessive gene that is covered by a dominant gene.
This is one variation of the black-and-tan coat color combination. Compared with the former, bi color dogs have smaller patches of the accent color. Bi-Color German Shepherds are commonly described as being “All Black,” despite the fact that their paws and lower feet occasionally have a contrasting color, like brown, gray, cream, or silver. Numerous bicolor variations exist. The first is rich bi-color, meaning their legs and faces have different colors.
Brown paws and legs are indicative of black bi-color melanistic. The last type of bi-color is faded, which has the brownest hue that eventually transitions to black. They have brown fur on their paws, legs, chests, faces, and occasionally tails.
Shepherds with sable coats frequently have color bands in their fur. Basically, the strands that make up their coat are different hues, including brown, black, silver, and red. Usually, a layer of black hair covers these bands.
A phenomenon known as Agouti hair occurs when a single hair can have many hues.
The most typical sable color combination is black hair with cream bands. Some even have patterns of gray over silver or black over silver, which truly gives them a wolf-like appearance.
Rare or Faulty Colors
This dog has a reddish coat that is almost strawberry blonde or light brown, similar to the Red German Shepherd. The pink or brown noses of Liver German Shepherds are one of their distinctive characteristics. This contrasts with the darker German Shepherds' black noses.
The black sections of Liver German Shepherds have all varying hues of brown or liver, from light to dark. They might also have very light eyes, which normally develop darker eyes as they age.
Also, this shade is pretty controversial since those that features light liver color with white or cream are accepted by the AKC breed standards, while the red colored ones or darker shade are considered faulty. Additionally, while Liver German Shepherds are pretty rare, they are still cheaper compared to other colors, such as the black and red show line.
These German Shepherds' black-blue-tinted fur, especially if it is longer, can occasionally make us think of wolves. Typically, their noses are bluish. Light Blue dogs are incredibly attractive and typically have lighter eyes, like gold or amber, due to their blue fur. And while this coat color is beautiful and rare, it is also considered faulty for dog shows by the American Kennel Club.
This coat color is too rare to the point that when you see a GSD rocking it, you won’t know what kind of dog breed it is right away. As such, Panda Shepherds are often mistaken for crossbred dogs. Research has shown that this pattern is actually the product of a genetic mutation rather than crossbreeding. Following DNA testing, it was discovered that the original Pandas were purebred German Shepherds.
The pattern on this dog resembles that of a calico cat or a panda with white on at least 30% of its body matched with other patches of colors, such as brown/tan and black.
Their physical makeup, temperament, and traits are similar to other GSDs. However, many breeders contend that they are smaller and only have short to medium-length coats. And while many kennel associations do not accept these as purebred pedigree dogs, some may allow them to compete in shows as Panda German Shepherds.
The protagonist of the cherished Disney film, Bolt, is an illustration of a pure white German Shepherd puppy. They can be compared to the White Belgian Malinois due to their erect ears and body style.
Despite having a regal appearance, white is still seen negatively by the majority of kennel standards. The dog's white coat is actually a genetic flaw that hides its entire black body. They are not frequently bred because they are not desirable in dog shows.
However, if you fell in love with its majestic presence and you don’t intend to join in shows, then, this should not be an issue for you. Despite being a faulty color, some enthusiasts still breed them because of their remarkable look, and they even give them new names, such as the American-Canadian White Shepherd and White Swiss Shepherd.
Types Of German Shepherd Coats
1. Short Coat
For working dogs who require good eyesight and less obstruction when on the move, this coat's short length is ideal. And that’s why, police dogs, service dogs, military dogs, and other working dogs have short coats, such as Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois.
This coat is simpler to comb because it needs less maintenance than other overcoat kinds. With this dog, shedding is less of an issue than with canines with medium coats and long coats.
German Shepherds with short coats have a guard coat that is short, dense, and covered in straight, coarse hair that is close to their body. They have slightly longer and thicker fur around their necks, as well as hair that is slightly longer on the backs of their forelegs and hind legs from the hock to the tail.
2. Medium Length Coats (Plush Coats)
The medium stock coat, sometimes known as a “plush coat”, is located in between short stock-coated dogs and long stock-coated dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standards favor this medium stock coat, which is becoming more frequently seen in West German show rings.
Aside from being a favorite in dog shows, German Shepherds with a medium coat are also popular family pets because they are huggable and cozy.
3. Long Coats
Among all German Shepherds, this variation has the longest coat type. However, because their undercoat is frequently missing, they cannot compete in AKC conformation events. We refer to them as being “open coated” when this happens.
German Shepherds with long coats have a luxurious, long topcoat that does not hug the body closely. The back of the hair may be parted, and it is frequently lustrous. The ears, legs, and neck will all be feathered, and the thicker, longer hair around the neck will resemble a mane.
Because of the length of their coat, this also means that GSD with a long coat demands more grooming time to prevent matting. Aside from that, it’s also not advisable to shave long-haired GSDs because it is dangerous for double-coated dog breeds like them.
Coat Pattern of German Shepherds
Rarely do German Shepherds come in a single solid hue. They frequently have a variety of colors, arranged in one of a few patterns. The dog you want will probably fall into one of the following patterns whether or not he is bicolor.
Dogs with a solid color are typically all-black, although they can also have other colors. They may have distinct markings as puppies, but as they become older, they stop re-growing the various colors of fur that they lose.
This distribution pattern gives the impression that the German Shepherd is carrying a saddle, which usually appears in black.
It is referred to as a blanket pattern when the saddle design is large enough to almost completely cover the back and a sizable amount of the limbs.
This is a pattern where the dog's belly, back, and limbs are covered in tan, red, gray, silver, or blue hair. In order to create the sable color pattern, the other color, which is typically black, appears on the tips of individual hairs.
In this more uncommon pattern, the dog's body is covered in barely perceptible black stripes. Usually, the other color is lighter.
This is a pattern that usually comes in addition to a saddle or a blanket where the dark color of the dog’s back is also distributed around his eyes, giving him a panda-like appearance.
This design, which is frequently used in addition to a blanket or saddle, covers the dog's face with lighter hair, creating the impression that it is wearing a mask.
Dogs with this pattern look like wolves with the lighter part of their fur acting as the mask, and the darker color surrounds it and even links with the blanket or saddle.
Some individuals may be put off by these marks and begin to question the puppy's suitability for dog shows. As the German Shepherd doesn't renew the lighter hair, these white markings typically go away. On rare occasions, a dog will have them until far into maturity.
The Truth About Single and Double Coats
Double-coated dog breeds like German Shepherds have two layers of furs. And over 90% of GSDs have double coats, which undergo high shedding. The long-haired German Shepherds are the only ones with a missing undercoat or an undercoat that is too thin that they are somewhat non-existent.
A double coat is also the preferred type based on the American Kennel Club’s breed standards for German Shepherds. Double-coated dogs have a guard coat, which is also called the top coat. This is more abrasive and wirier. Just below the guard coat, the GSDs also have a softer and lighter-colored underlayer, called the undercoat.
These two layers of protection are important as they help regulate the dog’s body temperature, repel water, protect their skin, and give them protection from harmful UV rays.
Moreover, some dogs are considered to only have one coat layer because as mentioned earlier, their undercoat is too thin to be counted as a second coat. Single-coated GSDs are not accepted by the AKC breed standard, and they are considered a faulty breed.
Daily, extensive shedding is important for German Shepherds (or Shedders) to keep their coats in top shape. Unfortunately, this necessitates more brushing and occasional bathing. If you have one or more German Shepherds within your home, you will need to get a good vacuum cleaner or sweeper.
Grooming and Care
Your best lines of defense against excessive shedding are occasional bathing and daily brushing. Puppies should have baths every 8 to 12 weeks depending on their activity level. Occasional bathing starting at a young age is important so they can grow to either appreciate or endure the process. The majority of German Shepherds enjoy getting groomed, and since they generally adore water (in all its forms), taking a bath can also be enjoyable for them.
Regular brushing is necessary for the majority of double-coated breeds, including German Shepherds, particularly if they have a thick undercoat. Daily brushing is crucial in the spring and fall when their coats are being blown. This speeds up the removal of their undercoat and reduces the amount of hair within your home.
Regular brushing is not only good for removing loose and dying hair, but it also gets rid of mats and tangles. Due to their proximity and adherence to the skin, mats can be uncomfortable in addition to being ugly. The wetness accumulated from these mats can promote the growth of skin irritants and other bacteria.
Occasionally taking a bath can assist in getting rid of the last 20% of shedding hair that is still intact. Using a de-shedding shampoo and conditioner can help in slicking down the hair and making them easier to remove.
You can bathe your dog at home, or you can take him to a professional groomer every 8 to 12 weeks depending on his activity level. It’s not advisable to bathe your dog as often as possible as it can strip away its natural oils, which can lead to dry skin and irritation.
German Shepherd coat varieties and colors are beautiful. And these big dogs’ coats are distinctive in their own unique ways due to their tones and fur lengths, despite some being considered faulty and/or unacceptable by the AKC breed standards.
Most of these distinctions are only visual, and the coat’s faultiness or unacceptability will only matter if you would like to join in dog shows. If you own a German Shepherd, you are aware of its genuine beauty, both on the inside and the outside. And you know how precious this dog breed is regardless of the color, length, and pattern of their coats.