German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in America, and can be found in many different colors, and with both thick and short-haired coats.
For the most part, when we think about German Shepherds, we see that glorious, fluffy black and tan fur that is so iconic of the breed. However, you can also get black German Shepherds, but these are slightly rarer to come across.
But, did you know that German Shepherds are not born with that beautiful multi-tonal coat? One of the biggest questions we get asked is whether German Shepherds are born black, and how their coats can change color.
This guide will discuss whether German Shepherd puppies are born black, how you can get black German Shepherds, and whether these dogs are different from their tan siblings!
Are German Shepherd Puppies Born Black?
Yes, German Shepherd puppies are actually born black! They can also be born gray and white, as the coats will gradually change color as they grow older. From about eight weeks onwards, a German Shepherd puppy should have its final coat color, and it will stay that way!
However, many German Shepherds can be born black, and their coats may stay black. How the coat eventually turns out will depend on how the German Shepherd puppy’s genes interact with pigments such as eumelanin and pheomelanin. This will then determine the natural color of the puppy’s coat.
Some German Shepherds that are born black will never gain their color, and will remain with a black coat forever. However, this is incredibly rare, and it is said that only about 6.8% of German Shepherd puppies will maintain their black color after birth.
It may surprise you that German Shepherds can actually be born in three different colors. They are typically either born black, white or gray in color, and you will see the color change from the age of 8 weeks onwards, but it can take up to two years to see the final color.
Black and tan German Shepherds are the most common, and they will gradually get more tan as they age, with the browner colors appearing around the face, tail, ears, stomach and time passes.
In addition, a German Shepherd that is born black can either grow up to be black all over, or they may fade to another color such as Sable, Gray, Black and Tan, Brown, Black and Silver, or other variations of the breed.
Even if you have a puppy that has been black for more than 8 weeks, it is very unlikely that it will stay entirely black as it grows. Black German Shepherds are extremely rare, and most will turn more Sable colored or Tan as time progresses.
Whilst German Shepherds can come in a few colors, their coats also vary in length and thickness. The most common German Shepherds will have very thick, long, fluffy hair, but some can be short-haired.
How Come German Shepherd Coats Change Color?
German Shepherd puppies’ coats can change color because of pigments in their genes. The German Shepherd breed has two pigments in their fur called eumelanin and pheomelanin. How these pigments interact with other genes in the German Shepherd puppy determines how the coat will turn out!
For example, the pigment called eumelanin is responsible for the color black. This pigment will always default to black, but depending on the dog’s other genes, the eumelanin can interact and result in a black-blue tint or yellows and off-white colors.
On the other hand, pheomelanin defaults to red, which can create Red Sable, or deep brown tones and pale gold colors. The dominant gene for German Shepherds is the black and tan color, however, depending on how each puppy’s genes interact with the pigments, their coats can look different shades of black, brown, sable, golden and yellow.
What Color Parents Would Create A Black German Shepherd?
If you are hoping to find yourself a black German Shepherd, then you may have a tough job in doing so. A black German Shepherd is actually very rare, and is down to genetics and pigmentation, so even with a black parent, it is not guaranteed that the puppies would be black in color, or remain black in color as they grow.
The most promising combination for a black German Shepherd puppy is if both parents of the puppies are black themselves. This will give you the greatest chance of achieving all black puppies. However, some black puppies can come from parents that are both black and tan, or if one parent is black and tan, and the other is black. It sometimes is just down to luck.
That being said, if both parents have the solid black color recessive gene, meaning they are fully black all over, and not even slightly black and tan, then it is likely that the puppies will be born black, and will stay black as they grow older.
Are Black German Shepherds Different From Tan German Shepherds?
As black German Shepherds are incredibly rare, some people are under the impression that they are a different breed altogether, but the black variant is a recognized version of the regular German Shepherd dog.
Although they are the same breed, there can be some differences between the Black and Tan German Shepherds and the Black German Shepherd. For instance, a black German Shepherd can quite often be much larger than the regular German Shepherd. They may also have a much straighter back than a normal German Shepherd.
In addition, black German Shepherds can sometimes have a thicker coat, especially at the neck and on the front and back legs. You may also notice that some black German Shepherds will have thicker fur at the ears and around the tail, which is why some people think that they are a different dog breed as they can sometimes look more like wolves than German Shepherds!
Some black German Shepherds may also have much fluffier coats, or a stronger, more athletic build and erect, pointed ears, however it does depend on the dog itself. Whilst the black German Shepherd can have a thicker coat, all types of German Shepherd are heavy shedders and will lose lots of fur, so don’t think that you can avoid it with a different type!
As previously mentioned, the black German Shepherd is a much more rare occurrence than the more common Black and Tan German Shepherd, and as such, they can be harder to come across and much more expensive than any other type of German Shepherd.
How To Get A Black German Shepherd
A black German Shepherd can cost upwards of $1000 – $2000 dollars depending on the specific breeder that you purchase the dog from. However, you should exercise some caution when trying to purchase a black German Shepherd, as many breeders may advertise a black version of the breed, which may not exactly turn out to be. You do not want to pay thousands of dollars for a ‘rare’ German Shepherd that turns out to be ordinary.
Therefore, you should ensure that you are buying your dog from a reputable and registered breeder, and after it is 8 weeks old, as you should by then be able to see some changes in the dog’s coat. In addition, purchasing from a reputable breeder will ensure that the dog does not have any health issues or problems later in life which can also cost you thousands of dollars, too!
To ensure that you get a good quality dog, you should always find out the parentage of the puppy. This means either asking for documentation to prove the father of the puppies, and checking to see if the mother is with the puppies, and properly cared for. You can also research which breeders are trustworthy by looking at registered breeders on the American Kennel Club website.
The American Kennel Club can find suitable puppies from registered and recognized breeders here: https://marketplace.akc.org/.
Do Black German Shepherds Suffer From More Health Issues?
Some people are under the misconception that black German Shepherds are highly different to regular German Shepherds, and have different temperaments and health issues or ailments. However, this is not always the case.
A great number of people seem to think that black German Shepherds are more aggressive than regular German Shepherds, and may be more prone to angry outbursts or aggressive behavior.
This is not strictly true, as most dogs’ temperaments depends on the dog themselves and not the color of their fur. German Shepherds are typically very active, intelligent, alert, friendly, loyal and loving animals, but there may always be some that show signs of aggression or misbehavior. This can be solved with a solid routine and expert or professional training.
You have to keep in mind that because German Shepherds are so intelligent, they need a lot of mental stimulation and attention to keep their minds engaged and active. This means giving them a lot of exercise, time, energy and toys to keep them focused and interested. Otherwise, you may notice some aggression, anti-social, destructive or bad behavior as they tend to act out and become naughty if they are bored.
To summarize, German Shepherd puppies can be born black, but not all are. Some German Shepherd puppies can be born black, white or gray, and may stay this color for about 8 weeks. After this period has passed, the puppies will begin to show their true colors shall we say, and turn their final color.
At this point, most German Shepherd puppies will become that common Black and Tan color that we know and love, however some will have different genes and pigments, which will result in a black German Shepherd, but this is very rare.
In order to get a black German Shepherd, both parents would need to be black, or one would have to be black and the other black and tan for a black puppy. This is why all black German Shepherds are considered a rarity, and are therefore much more expensive than normal ones. However, the black variant of the German Shepherd is no different in temperament, health or breed.