Are Black German Shepherd’s Different?

Black German Shepherd’s are fundamentally no different than German Shepherd’s of any other color – they have the same capability to be loyal, loving, intelligent family members, and they can appear in litters even where there are no other black pups. German Shepherd’s have carried the gene for the black coat color since the very first German Shepherd (Horand V. Grafrath) was registered, and in German Shepherd’s, the black gene is both dominant and recessive, so there are a lot of factors at play regarding which dogs throw black puppies, and if black dogs – when mated to dogs of other – colors will continue to produce puppies that look like them.

Are Black German Shepherd’s Rare?

gsd2Yes and (mostly,) no. Black German Shepherd’s make up a very slim chunk of German Shepherd’s worldwide, with an estimated 5-6% of all German Shepherd’s being black. However, this is largely due to a lack of enthusiasm for black dogs, and not because black dogs are hard to produce. The traditional saddle marking of German Shepherd’s is often what people are looking for when they get their first German Shepherd, so few other colors are actively being bred for.

In working dog kennels, German Shepherd’s more commonly represent the colors of their forefathers – which includes sable, bi-color and black. Even so, it is probably more appropriate to say that black dogs are unpopular, and not rare. If black German Shepherd’s were suddenly popularized in a book or TV show, it’s very likely you would begin to see a lot more of them.

Are There Any Physical Differences?

gsd3 Not really. Depending on the dogs breeding, you could very easily have black German Shepherd’s who are very small (50lbs~) or very large (150lbs~) Most black German Shepherd’s that we see today tend to fall somewhere in the middle, and can sometimes – due to their primarily working dog ancestry – be marked by their high energy and drive to perform.

The one significant difference that seems to exist in black German Shepherds vs German Shepherd’s of other colors, is that the stock coat variety may have softer fur and shed less than a traditional stock coat Shepherd of other colors.  It is believed that because their black coat attracts heat, they grow a thinner undercoat, which means they shed less as a consequence. Despite this, black German Shepherd’s are still considered heavy shedders and should be expected to shed year round.

Are There Differences in Temperament?

My Veterinarian once told me, “I’ve never had a black German Shepherd in here that we could control. They’re all a little squirrelly.”

While this observation was by no means scientific, it does point to a real truth – because many black German Shepherd’s come from working bloodlines, a vast majority of them do tend to mature into dogs who require experienced handling. There is no evidence that supports black German Shepherd’s being harder to handle or more aggressive than any other coat color, but conventional wisdom supports that because so many of these dogs come from working backgrounds, the odds that you’ll have a high-energy dog are in your favor. Still, every German Shepherd is different, and no matter what color it is, it should be assessed as an individual.

In conclusion, black German Shepherd’s make amazing family dogs, working dogs, and companions, just like German Shepherd’s of any other color. And while they’re known for shedding less than German Shepherd’s of other colors, they still shed year round and require regular brushing to keep their fur and skin healthy.