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German Shepherd Coat and Color Varieties

Colors of GSDs

Colors of GSDs

Like many other breeds, German Shepherd dogs come in a wide variety of coats and colors. However, some colors are not accepted by major kennel clubs, and are thus considered faults. Many prospective owners prefer a nice coat and unique color on their dog. While selecting a puppy, however, one should also know which coat colors are accepted by major kennels, and which meet the breed standards.

German Shepherd dogs are intelligent and courageous, and devoted. This is what makes them one of the most highly sought after breeds in the world. This breed is also recognised by other names. To sort out any confusion, those names include:

  • German Shepherd Dog (GSD)
  • German Shepherd
  • Alsatian
  • Alsatian Wolf Dog
  • Deutscher Schäferhund
  • Berger Allemand
  • Schaferhund

Most Common Colors

The most common colors for this breed are

  • black
  • gray
  • sable
  • black and tan
  • blue
  • red and black
  • black and silver
  • liver (brown)

Some liver, blue, and solid liver-colored shepherds are accepted by kennels as pure bred. Pure white, solid blue, and spotted dogs, however, are not considered purebred.


Shepherds can have short, medium, or long coats.

Usually these dogs have thick and undercoated fur.

Their coats can also be:

  • short
  • dense and thick
  • medium thick
  • thick and fluffy
  • long
  • furry around their ears, chest, tail, or on the backs of their legs



Black and Tan


Pure White

Black and Cream


Solid Blue

Black and Silver

Light Blue

Fawn Color

Red and Black

Panda Pattern

Pure Red

Black and Red


Spotted Black and White

Solid Black






Dark Sable



Black Sable



Bi-Colour / Bi-Black



Common Colors Accepted by Major Kennel Clubs

While the dog's color doesn’t have any impact on their character, health, or fitness, it is important to know which colors are acceptable if you want to show your pup.

Below, find the list for GSD colors that are is accepted by major kennel clubs.

1. Varieties of Tan and Mixed Colors


The most common color combinations are:

  • black and tan
  • black and cream
  • black and silver
  • red and black
  • black and red
  • solid black
  • any variation or combination of the above

2. Varieties of Sable

There are four main types sable color combinations common in this breed. The sable color is an overlay of black coat. Based on their pattern and darkness, we can divide them into four categories.

  1. A light sable color
  2. Darker sable color
  3. Black sable
  4. Bi-colored

See below for picture examples. Also, notice the change in color as they grow from young puppies to adult. Sometimes they look totally different!


Rare Colors

While grey and black or tan colors are common and accepted as show quality dogs, note that some rarer ones come in a solid grey color, and this color is not acceptable for many major kennel clubs, and may be deemed a "faulty" color.



While some that are blue in color may be accepted as a pure breed, almost all major kennel clubs stamp blue as a faulty color and will not accept them as show quality. However, some may accept light blue or a blue shaded with black or silver.

For example, see below: the second dog in picture below can be accepted as pure breed and show quality, but first one may be rejected.


Liver (Brown)

The liver color is a controversial, in that those with light liver color and white (cream) shades can be accepted, but a darker liver color or red colored ones are considered faulty.

See the second dog from the picture below, that one can be accepted, but the first one may be rejected


Panda Shepherds

Panda shepherds are often mistaken as a cross of white and any other colored German Shepherd. However, this is inaccurate. Panda shepherds are the result of Piebald coloring occurring in a single blood line and a spontaneous mutation, they are unrelated to GSDs. They have 30-40% white while the rest of the coloring is black and tan. Their physical structure, behavior, and characteristics are similar, but many breeders claim that they are comparatively shorter than GSDs and they have only short/medium thick coats.

Some kennel clubs may permit these to participate in shows as Panda shepherds, but there are still many others that don't recognize them as a purebred pedigree dog.


Rare Colors of GSDs

Unaccepted or Faulty Colors

When we say faulty or unacceptable, this doesn't necessarily mean that the dog isn't purebred, just that it doesn't match the breed standards for show. Thus, they're only faulty in the sense that they can't participate in dog shows.

Coat and color are only one of many standards and sets of criteria looked at. Others include genetic health, appearance, any specific inherited disease and characteristics, fitness, and so forth. Also, they need to qualify in tests for factors like agility, specific work, or sports.


White German shepherd dogs have existed since the very beginning. GSDs share the bloodline with common shepherds from Germany, where many of these dogs were white, as well as black and tan. Though the white gene doesn't trace back to a clear record, it's presumed to be recessive and independent of any other genes. A good white dog of this breed should have dark eyes, a black nose, and dark lips. See below.


Other Faulty Colors

Other colors that aren't accepted for show include:

  • dark blue
  • yellowish white
  • light and dark liver
  • dark blue

© 2016 ARADHYA


ARADHYA (author) on August 01, 2020:

Kis City me Chahiye?

Waise pure white German Shepherd with paper mushkil hai / nahi mil payega.

ARADHYA (author) on June 11, 2020:

Abdelillah El Marji,

Congratulations for bringing home happiness.

I guess that's cross breed.

Abdelillah El Marji on June 08, 2020:

on May the 25th, i found a puppy (age: around one month old / it's been two weeks now which means she is around 6 weeks old) she looks like a german shepherd, maybe she is a mix of GSD and some kind of herd breed. My questions is: can a pure GSD have four while paws with white nails and white chin and chest and a white tip tail?

ARADHYA (author) on January 21, 2020:

Dear Sophia,

Yes that can be a real GSD.

Sophia on January 20, 2020:

Is a dark liver sable an actual GSD color?

ARADHYA (author) on October 20, 2019:

Dear walkstalk,


I didn't get your quest, where you need to submit fur pattern picture?


Walkstalk on October 19, 2019:

Hello! I found your article very useful and informative. I was wondering if you know a way to submit a fur pattern/picture?

Rich on April 14, 2019:

I have two pure breds that I won't register with the AKC because they allow manipulation to bred standards.

ARADHYA (author) on March 15, 2019:

Thanks for sharing your pet info. Hope soon you can get another Frosty..

Anon on March 12, 2019:

my grandfather had a white when he was a kid. her name was Frosty. he tells me stories about her sometimes. she was ridiculously obedient. like he'd take her out to the yard and tell her to sit and stay, then he'd walk back into the house and get a drink, do his chores, maybe even watch some tv. when he came back out she hadn't moved an inch. he the said "heel" and she would get up walk around him and sit by his side. she didnt even need a leash on walks. his stories really sparked my interest in the breed and someday i hope to get a white shepherd like Frosty.

ARADHYA (author) on February 28, 2019:

Yes, its possible.

ranbir purewal on February 19, 2019:

is it not possible to get black and gold? :(

Pupper mumie on January 05, 2019:

"However, pure white, solid blue, and spotted dogs are not considered purebred." This statement is not correct. Sherri's post below is accurate. Our pure white is a registered AKC female therefore purebred since the AKC will not register unrecognized animals like other organizations. However, you are correct in that she disqualifies for show. The white is one of the original colors when the breed was created. They have fewer issues with hip dysplasia because they don't have the sloped rear quarters. They look "normal", so to speak. It takes two white parents to throw white puppies as the gene is recessive.

I have also had a black and tan and a silver merle. All 3 have been fantastic family dogs : D

ARADHYA (author) on November 15, 2018:

White GSDs are rare

E on November 11, 2018:

You know I have a white german sheperd she is so sweet I love her

Farid shah on August 07, 2018:

Very informative

Ivette Diaz on July 18, 2018:

I love German Shepherd dogs, my favorite colors are silver and black. But in PR is rare to find this color.

Jade She on June 24, 2018:

The picture you used for the adult "solid blue German Shepherd" seems to actually be a blue/tan Australian Kelpie, not a German Shepherd.

Sherri on June 09, 2018:

This article is not well researched and contains misinformation. White GSDs are definitely purebred. The original dogs used to make the breed included a white dog, and the white GSDs come from the same litter as the black and tan ones. Although the white GSDs are not accepted for showing in AKC conformation events, they are accepted for agility, obedience and performance events. The white dogs fell out of favor with Hitler who had them all slaughtered, and the AKC and UKC disallowed them in conformation events in the 1960s (before that time they competed in the events). Since then breeders have bred the white colored dogs out of their stock because they can't make as much money, which is why the white dogs are now rare. It's too bad, because they are GORGEOUS dogs!

Sheila Rhodes on March 06, 2018:

Can my body tell me what color is this German shepherd Is? And does any body has one like him

ARADHYA (author) on February 26, 2018:

@ Bhuvenesh bhatnagar

in HINDI Language,

Dark color coaat ke liye, kuch alag se nahi kar sakate - lekin agar thore thande jagah par rakhen to .. coat color thora dark ho jata hai.

ARADHYA (author) on January 30, 2018:

Agree with your logic, but Panda shepherds are not accepted as a pure breed by AKC. Like White doberman dogs are not accepted as a pure breed dog.

ARADHYA (author) on January 30, 2018:

Actually White shepherds are not acceptable. But its not only because of coat color, some of the white shepherds have red nose (Which is not accepted) and the eye color that should be same for all the dogs.

chris on January 27, 2018:

your comment in the Panda Shepherd portion is FALSE. Panda Shepherd IS related to the GSD. PUREblood GSD. you cannot take a gold fish with a mutation in color and call it a trout. Still a gold fish, still a GSD.

ARADHYA (author) on January 24, 2018:

Cant say there are many other criterias, but this combination is excepted.

ARADHYA (author) on January 14, 2018:

Hi Kristen,

About "The Spotted dog on the left is actually a Panda.".

Actually that's a pure breed of GSD, but because of Piebald coloring occurring in a single blood line and a spontaneous mutation, color is changed.

But yes, most of kennels do not accept them a variety of GSD.

Kristen on January 12, 2018:

Newsflash! The Blue is NOT rare. Neither is the Liver. Oh and the "Bi-Color" is actually a Black Sable Longhair. The Spotted dog on the left is actually a Panda. The "Red & Black" is still a Black & Red. The "Gray" is a very light Silver Sable. Not one of these "rare" colors are truly rare.

ARADHYA (author) on July 28, 2017:

Hi, Julie Grinnell

Normally GSD color doesn't change much. But some cases that may be,

- Like, if you bought him from a colder climate (or litters are from colder weather) and pup is living in tropical or warm weather, then he may get light color shed (can say dark grey), especially if have long fur.

- But getting brown _ grey shed is deff. very rare. (But if brown sheds are at his chest and legs then that is also not usual but can be accepted).

Julie Grinnell on July 28, 2017:

I have a 6 month old GSD puppy, when l got him at 7 weeks old he was regesrtered black but l know they can change but hes got brown plus grey he is also a long coat please help me to try to distinguise his colour as its very unusual .Thank you .

GermanShepherdDog on February 09, 2017:

You may want to include info about German Shepherds without masks (sometimes called maskless) which is due to recessive genes. It can pop up even when both parents have a black mask. There are examples here - http://www.pioneergermanshepherds.com/masklessgerm...