There’s nothing quite like the striking appearance of an all-black German Shepherd.
These stunning dogs are almost spectral in appearance, with a wild wolf-like appeal and noble stature. But do these dogs change color as they age? Will your black coated puppy stay that way?
Some dogs look very different in puppyhood than they do as adults. Adolescent dogs can change color as they age as well.
This is usually due to genetics, breed characteristics, health, parentage, and other contributing factors. So do black german shepherds change color?
Black German Shepherd puppies tend to change color as they age. A puppy’s color stages are impacted by its bloodline, parents’ coat types, and more.
German Shepherd puppies are born mostly black with tan boots. In most cases, their feet, muzzles, tails, and ears may lighten into the classic black and tan pattern that distinguishes the breed.
However, this will not always be the case. All-black German Shepherds may stay black for their entire lives.
Additionally, colors like blue, sable, and grey, may begin to emerge as a German Shepherd puppy ages.
In this in-depth guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about German Shepherd coat colors and how they change as a puppy grows into adulthood.
Everything You Need to Know About German Shepherd Coat Colors
In this comprehensive German Shepherd coat color guide, we’ll talk all about a German Shepherd’s fur.
We’ll discuss which breed variants tend to change color, why this is, and when this tends to happen. Let’s get started!
Some German Shepherds are Bred Specifically to Have an All-Black Coat That Doesn’t Change
Some breeders have chosen to breed German Shepherds with a completely black coat that will stay that way for the dog’s entire life. This black coat is quite attractive and gives these dogs a stunning aesthetic appearance.
This article from animalso.com talks about black German Shepherds, what they look like, how they may differ from the breed standard, and more. So, if you’re looking for an all-black coated German Shepherd, it’s worth reading.
The German Shepherd Breed Comes in Many Different Coat Color Combinations
Interestingly enough, the German Shepherd dog has many coat color variations. German Shepherds can be found in many different coat colors and lengths!
Below, we will go over what these are and what they look like. This way, you’ll know what to expect your full-grown dog to look like!
The American Kennel Club recognizes that there are various coat colors within the German Shepherd breed. However, they have strict specifications when it comes to which markings are needed for a dog to qualify or rank well in a dog show ring.
However, this does not mean that a dog with markings outside of the AKC standard is not a German Shepherd. It simply means that the dog will not place well in AKC dog shows. German Shepherds are known to come in thirteen different coat colors.
This in-depth article from AnimalCorner explains each coat color in detail. The most common coat color for a German Shepherd is black and tan, while the rarest coat color is a red variant, known as “liver.”
Most Common German Shepherd Coat Colors:
- Black and tan (most common coat color)
- Black and silver
- Black and red
- Black and cream
- White (a disqualifying AKC coat color)
- Liver (a rare coat color, considered a fault by the AKC)
While some liver patterned, blue flecked, and solid black coated German Shepherds are accepted by the American Kennel Club as purebred dogs, others are not. Completely white, solid blue, and spotted German Shepherds, can not usually compete in AKC dog show rings.
Remember, just because the AKC doesn’t count certain colors as with the breed’s standard, this doesn’t mean there’s a problem with the dog.
Some would argue that these coat color variations help to ensure that bloodlines stay diluted, leading to healthier dogs.
If you plan to show a German Shepherd in official dog shows, you will want to select a puppy that fits with breed standards.
A reputable dog breeder can help you select a puppy that will do well in dog shows and conforms to breed standards.
Look for a mostly black pup with tan, red, or brown extremities.
German Shepherds Can Also Have Various Coat Lengths
Apart from having many different coat colors, German Shepherds can also have various coat lengths. A German Shepherd’s coat may be short, medium, long, or mixed.
Coat lengths vary based on bloodline, genetics, and working group purpose. The coat length of a German Shepherd has to do with the dog’s lineage.
A Shepherd’s coat length will often be integrated into its bloodline to help with whatever job it was bred to do.
For example, northern herding bloodlines were bred to have thick plush double coats. Dogs that were meant for police work are sometimes bred with shorter coats for convenience. Some German Shepherds have an undercoat, while others just have a single layer coat.
The undercoat is that fluffy furry layer that tends to shed heavily a couple of times a year. Also, keep in mind that some German Shepherds shed profusely year-round, so you’ll want to have a good dog brush handy! This has earned the breed the nickname “German Shedders.”
To learn more about how to care for your German Shepherd’s coat, we recommend reading this great article by dog expert Jennifer Miller.
It talks all about how the unique coat of a German Shepherd should be groomed and cared for.
German Shepherd Coat Lengths:
- Short – A short coat that doesn’t come with the undercoat layer.
- Dense and thick – The thickest, densest, and most likely to shed coat length variant.
- Medium-thick – Longer, still with an undercoat.
- Thick and fluffy – A thick and fluffy plush coat that keeps the dog warm.
- Long – A long thick coat that doesn’t have much in the way of an undercoat.
These dogs can also have a short or medium coat that’s extra fluffy around their ears, chest, tail, or legs. As you can see, German Shepherds have many interesting coat variations!
German Shepherds Do Tend to Change Colors as They Age
With all of these coat colors and lengths, how can you tell what your puppy will look like as an adult? No worries, it’s not all that hard.
Generally, german shepherd puppies will look like their parents in one way or another as adults.
So, all you have to do is look at the mother and the father of the puppy you’ve adopted or purchased.
If the parents are tan and black or sable, the pups will likely be as well. With that being said, there are some exceptions to this.
Puppies that are mostly black with brown, tan, or cream boots, will “grow into their socks.” This means that the colors you see on their legs, pars, ears, and sometimes muzzle, will spread out as they age.
This will eventually lead to the standard black and tan (or cream or red) coat that is known within the breed standard.
Not All German Shepherd Puppies Will Change Colors
Completely black puppies will likely stay that way as adults. For this to happen, they must have other colors in their fur besides black. Puppies that have been born all-white or liver (a form of brownish red) will also usually follow this rule.
Whatever color a German Shepherd puppy’s socks are will be the color to spread. Keep that in mind as you try and guess what your puppy will look like when fully grown.
You can check out this YouTube video as well. It talks about the changing coat of a German Shepherd puppy and how to care for your puppy properly.
In Conclusion: Some German Shepherd Puppies Will Have Different Coat Colors as Adults, Others Won’t.
As you can see, the coat of a German Shepherd can come in many lengths, styles, colors, and textures. Lighter colored extremities in puppies will almost always stay light. The lighter color will often spread to other parts of a dog’s anatomy as they age.
Completely black coated German Shepherd puppies that are older than 7 weeks will often stay completely black.
However, if a puppy has any lighter colors in its fur, especially on the feet, legs, tail, or muzzle, these colors may spread as the dog ages.
The best way to tell what a black German Shepherd puppy will look like as an adult is to look at its parents. Most puppies will resemble one or both parents when fully-grown.