The German Shepherd is one of the world’s most-loved dog breeds. It’s also one of the most recognizable, with a distinctive black-and-tan coat and noble bearing that helps this beautiful dog stand out from the crowd.
But did you know that the German Shepherd actually comes in more than a dozen coat colors? That’s right, there are many more beautiful German Shepherd color variations available than you might realize. And while not all of them are acceptable in the show ring, they can certainly result in some strikingly good-looking dogs.
Keep an eye out for these unique and downright gorgeous color combinations when you’re looking around for German Shepherd puppies.
1. Black and tan German Shepherd
This is the most common German Shepherd coat color combination. When you conjure up an image of a German Shepherd in your mind, chances are you’ll be picturing a dog with a glossy black and tan coat.
The black color commonly appears on the back and is described as a “saddle”, while it can also be seen on the dog’s muzzle. The tan coloring then covers the rest of the dog’s body, most notably on the legs, chest and underbelly. The shade of tan can also vary between dogs, ranging from light to a much darker, richer color.
Black and tan German Shepherds have been immortalized on the screen by everyone from Rin Tin Tin to Inspector Rex, helping make this variety the best-known German Shepherd color combo.
2. Black German Shepherd
As the name suggests, a Black German Shepherd sports a coat that is completely black. While some black German Shepherd puppies may have small patches of white when they’re born, those patches will typically disappear as the puppy grows.
Black fur is a recessive gene for German Shepherds, so this color variety is quite rare and hard to come by. However, take one look at this gorgeous dog and it’s easy to see why some buyers are willing to wait awhile for puppies in their favorite color to become available.
3. Black and red German Shepherd
In many ways, the black and red German Shepherd looks quite similar to the black and tan variety. But where the latter has tan markings, this gorgeous dog features rich mahogany coloring.
This deep reddish-brown color ensures that the black and red German Shepherd is very striking indeed. As a result, you’ll commonly come across this variety in the show ring, while working dog lines tend to usually be black and tan.
4. Black and cream German Shepherd
Next on our list of the best German Shepherd coat colors is this unique and eye-catching variation. Featuring a black mask and often a black saddle as well, the black and cream German Shepherd also sports a coat that’s off-white, even slightly yellow in color.
The shade of these cream markings can vary slightly between dogs, but we think you’ll agree it creates an overall look that’s undeniably cute.
5. Blue German Shepherd
One of the rarest German Shepherd coat colors available, blue is deemed as a fault by most kennel clubs around the world. This means blue German Shepherd puppies are very rare indeed, but once you see one it’s likely to be love at first sight.
This blueish-gray coloring comes from a recessive gene, so both parents must carry the gene and blue German Shepherd puppies usually don’t come cheap. These dogs also feature light or blue-colored eyes, which help them stand out from the crowd even further.
6. Liver German Shepherd
Liver is another of the rarest colors you’re ever likely to come across in a German Shepherd. The result of a recessive gene that must be present in both the mother and father, this beautiful brown coat is very easy on the eye.
Shades vary from a light brown to a darker, richer tone that verges on red, while some dogs will also have a hint of tan coloring. Unfortunately, as a liver coat is deemed a serious fault in the official breed standard, dogs with this gorgeous coat are few and far between.
7. Sable German Shepherd
Following on from a couple of rare color variations, sable is actually a much more common German Shepherd pattern that gives a dog a slightly wolf-like appearance.
Dogs with a sable coat have multi-colored hairs that feature two or three lighter colors on each strand of hair. Many of these are black at the tip and then feature colors ranging from light greys and tans to dark browns, resulting in an impressive variety of coat patterns.
Interestingly, the first ever German Shepherd, Horand von Grafarth, had a gorgeous sable coat, so it’s no surprise that sable remains a popular choice among German Shepherd breeders to this day.
8. White German Shepherd
Have you ever seen an all-white German Shepherd in the flesh? If so, did you realize that you were looking at a color variation that would see the dog disqualified from the show ring?
If you did, it probably didn’t stop you falling in love with this stunning dog. That all-white coat is simply beautiful and makes you just want to pull the white German Shepherd in for a big cuddle.
White Shepherds have come to be recognized in some quarters as a separate breed. In fact, their exportation to Switzerland in the 1970s eventually led to the creation of a new breed, the White Swiss Shepherd, which is recognized by the FCI.
9. Bi-color German Shepherd
Sometimes mistaken for a black German Shepherd, a bi-color coat is actually a variation of a black and tan coat.
However, the key difference is that the coat features more black and less tan, with the majority of the coat consisting of black fur. Tan markings typically appear on the feet and sometimes the face, giving the bi-color German Shepherd a unique look all his own.
Famously, President John F. Kennedy and his family had a bi-color dog named Clipper while in the White House. If ever there was a dog fit to be a part of America’s first family, it’d have to be this remarkable and versatile breed.
10. Panda German Shepherd
Our final pick of the most fascinating German Shepherd coat colors is the controversial panda German Shepherd. With its distinctive white spotting pattern, it’s pretty easy to see where the panda gets its name.
This coat color variation was first discovered in 2000 when two purebred German Shepherds produced a puppy with rare white markings. Though it was first thought this pattern might be a result of crossbreeding, it’s since been shown that the panda variety is the result of a rare mutation in the KIT gene.
Many within the German Shepherd dog breeding community are opposed to breeding to try to produce panda German Shepherds, while the variant also isn’t recognized by any major kennel clubs.
Despite the controversy, there’s no doubting the fact that this distinctive coat color is quite stunning, which is why it’s an important inclusion on this list.