German Shepherd Coat and Color Varieties

German Shepherd

Colors of GSDs

If you have thought that all German Shepherd dogs look the same, you are wrong as they come in a wide variety of coats and colors.

The problem is that if you want to show your dog, there are only some colors that are accepted by major kennel clubs.

Numerous owners prefer to have a dog with a nice coat and unique color, but it is important to pick the puppy whose coat colors will be accepted by major kennels, and which meet the breed standards if they do not plan to keep it for their own pleasure.

As you already know, German Shepherd dogs are really intelligent and courageous, making them one of the most attractive breeds in the world.

However, this breed is known by some other names.

Not to get confused, 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 German Shepherd are:

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

It is worth noting that certain liver, blue, and solid liver-colored shepherds are accepted by kennels as purebred.

On the other hand, pure white, solid blue, and spotted dogs are not considered purebred.


Generally speaking, shepherds can have short, medium, or long coats, with 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 Gray Pure White
Black and Cream Liver 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

Even though the dog’s color has no impact on their character, health, or fitness, there are only certain colors that are acceptable by Major Kennel Clubs if you wish to show your pup, so we offer you a list of GSD colors that are accepted.

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

Varieties of Sable

As you will see, there are four main types of sable color combinations that are common in this breed.

The sable color is an overlay of black coat, but they are divided into the following categories based on their pattern and darkness:

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

You can easily notice the change in color as these dogs grow from young puppies to adults.

Rare Colors

In the majority of German Shepherds, grey and black or tan colors are common.

These are accepted as show quality dogs, but there are also some of them, though rarer, which have solid grey color.

Unfortunately, even though they look fantastic, this color is not acceptable for many major kennel clubs.


Hav in mind that some kennel clubs will accept German Shepherds that are blue in color as a pure breed, and some may even accept light blue or a blue shaded with black or silver.

But, blue is not considered a show quality and almost all will consider it a faulty color.

Liver (Brown)

The liver color is quite questionable, being that light liver color and white or cream shades German Shepherds can be accepted, while, on the other hand, a darker liver color or red-colored ones are rejected and this color is taken as faulty.

Panda Shepherds

If you possess a panda shepherd, you may be told that it is a cross of white and any other colored German Shepherd, but this is not the case.

Actually, Panda shepherds result from Piebald coloring that frequently occurs in a single bloodline and a spontaneous mutation.

This means that they are unrelated to GSDs as they have 30-40% white while the rest of the coloring is black and tan.

When compared to GSDs, there are both similarities and differences.

When their physical structure, behavior, and characteristics are in question, they are quite similar.

But some breeders believe that they are comparatively shorter than GSDs and have short thick coats.

All in all, there are certain kennel clubs that allow these to participate as Panda shepherds, but others will not recognize them as a purebred pedigree dog.

Unaccepted or Faulty Colors

Possessing an unacceptable color does not imply that the dog is not purebred.

This just means that the color is not accepted as the breed standards for show and the dog cannot participate in dog shows.

However, other criteria have to be taken into consideration as well such as genetic health, appearance, fitness, to mention just a few.


You may not have come across white German shepherd dogs, but they have existed since the very beginning.

They come from Germany, where many of these dogs were white.

A white dog of this breed has dark eyes, a black nose, and dark lips.

Other Faulty Colors

There are colors that are not accepted for show and they include:

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

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