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There are a few desired colors of the German Shepherd Dog, that include: black, tan and red. According to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America the coat color may vary although strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out off-colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified.  Most often, Black and Red colors are seen in Showline, while Back and Tan are seen in Working Lines. 

All our saddle dogs are RED & BLACK, with their red being very bright and shiny in the sun. These colors make Show Line German Shepherds truly stand out. Good balanced diet, daily NuVet, addition of carrots and Salmon oil benefit the Genetics.  Many times when we are in public we are asked what breed our dogs are and when we say that they are "German Shepherd Dogs", people are surprised and say, "Wow! But they are so red! We thought that German Shepherds are more pale/cream/tan..."  We then smile and say, Yes, many are.. but we like ours better!


We do not breed for color, and we never will breed off-color, but appearance & conformation of our puppies is very important. 


Can a breeder know what color will two dogs produce? The short answer is YES, as genetic testing for Locus A (Agouti) is available and genetic outcome can be predicted.

However,  there are a few more Locuses that are also responsible for color in German Shepherd Dogs: Locus B (Brown), Locus I (Intense), Locus D (Dilute), Locus E (Extension), Locus K, Locus S, Locus G, Locus M, Locus R, Locus T.  

We are amazed by all the scientific research that is done in breeding and continue to learn!

Below we will discuss different colors that are recognized by AKC  in the same order as these colors are listed on AKC Ownership registration form and explain the differences to the best of our knowledge.


007 - BLACK

Color black is just what is sounds like - completely solid black dog. In a classic German Shepherd genetic table - black is a recessive gene and to produce a solid black puppy BOTH parents must carry a black gene.  Owners of Solid Black dogs are extremely proud of the color of their dog and many call it "rare", as not always you can produce a Solid Black dog.

Solid Black puppies are born completely black and have no tan anywhere on their body. Small patches of white can be present at birth (on chest or on the paws), but they will disappear as puppy grows. 

Image: Irena / Vom Geliebten Haus

The exterior of an Eastern European Shepherd dog against the background of a mountain slop

We are not exactly sure what "Black & Cream" means, but anytime we see a dog that is of pale, washed-off  tan color  - we think it might be just that. It is an off-color as far as the breed standard goes and is a highly undesirable color. 

Image purchased from Shutterstock


Rich deep mahogany red color and deep black as the highest quality of color in Show World. The darker - the better and when you see the "RED", you know it. 

Image: Chelsey / Vom Geliebten Haus


Tan is similar to "Red", but not as intense, not as deep and bright. This is a classic color of a Working German Shepherd Dog with a saddle pattern and we see most of the "Black & Tan" dogs on the images from the past. We also see more "Black and Tan" dogs being short-stock.

037 - BLUE

Blue is not a recognized color by the breed. This is a serious fault. We have done some research on the web and found that,  blue German Shepherd Dogs "are distinctive as their coats are a blue/gray color and they also have blue eyes. There are actually three variations of a blue German Shepherd Dog as they come in blue and tan, blue and sable, or blue and black."

100 - GRAY

We were hoping that "Gray" is a color of a sable dog, but when you do some research, you realize that "Gray GSD" is a washed out, pale "Blue" or a washed out "Black and Cream" or just any washed out color with very minimal black. 


123 - LIVER

Liver  German Shepherd is a dog that is a color of a solid brown.  The nose of a liver GSD is brown leather as well.  This is an off-color and is a fault as far a breed standard goes.

164 - SABLE

The sable is classic pattern of  a GSD and is described by gray coat that looks very similar to the coat you would expect to see on the wolf. Even with a sable, you can see variances in the color of the pigment. Sometimes you will hear people say they own a red sable. Sometimes you will hear them say that they own a gray. The hairs on a sable dog refer to the banding of color on the dog’s individual hairs. The dog’s hair is tipped with varying amounts of black on the ends with the rest being different shades of red, gray, etc. So you can find black sables, tan sables silver sables or red sables. This is how much the coat of a sable can vary.

Image from the web

199 - WHITE

The white German Shepherd is a dog of solid white color. This is major fault as far as breed standard goes and a white dog will be disqualified from a show ring. 


The bi-color is a classic pattern when the saddle part of the dog covers most of the body leaving markings on the feet and sometimes on the face like having eyebrows.

Image from the web

Below this text is a popular image that is circulating on the web. Many off-color breeders are using it as a proof that their dogs are German Shepherd dogs of AKC recognized "rare" color. Even so, we here at Vom Geliebten Haus, go by the German Shepherd Breed standard and only respect the desired colors of the German Shepherd Dog, that include: black, tan and red. These colors can be present in any of the standard patterns: solid, bi-color, blanket back, sable and saddle. 

The coat color may vary although strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out off-colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified.  


Image from the web

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