Black German Shepherd: Are Black GSDs Really Aggressive?

Black German Shepherd on the walk outside in the winter

When we talk about German Shepherds, we immediately think of their rich brown coats and distinct black markings. But did you know that there is a rare variety known as the black German Shepherd?

Black German Shepherds are acknowledged by the American Kennel Club under the same purebred genus as regular German Shepherds – the only difference is that these canines sport a solid black color.

Some might think that this unique color is the result of a genetic mutation or else unethical inbreeding.

However, this article will help debunk some popular myths and frequently asked questions about this one-of-a-kind breed, so make sure to keep reading!

What Is a Black German Shepherd?

Black German Shepherd Dog with pointed ears waiting for a command

Black German Shepherds are a rare variety of standard German Shepherds (GSDs). These magnificent black beauties are not crossbred or mixed with other dog breeds. They are purebred intelligent herding canines most noted for their courage as guard dogs. 

The black German Shepherds still qualify under the set breed standard of the AKC.

These guys rank third out of the 197 dog breeds listed in the AKC’s Most Popular Dogs Chart. Despite that, little is known and publicized about its black variant.

Despite the recognition of distinguished kennel clubs, black German Shepherds are often declared as defects, much like long-coated GSDs.

However, their rarity makes them dog collector favorites. Do note, though, that they cannot be considered designer dogs since they remain purebred.

In terms of appearance, black shepherds can come off as extra intimidating, given their wolfish nature.

Not to mention, black German Shepherds can have blue eyes at birth but they will eventually develop into a dark or piercingly amber color as they mature.

Over the decades, they have become popular police and service dogs because of their high trainability and their menacing color.

In further sections, we will be detailing their origin, appearance, and difference from a regular colored GSD.

History and Origin of Black German Shepherds

The best way to understand the history and origin of the black German Shepherd would be to learn about German Shepherds in general since they belong to the same breed. 

GSDs could be traced back as early as the 1800s. Back then, German cavalry officer Captain Max von Stephanitz, along with other breeders, wanted to create the ideal German herder dog.

In 1899, the captain attended a dog show and was impressed by a dog named Hektor Linksrhein. The canine was a product of selective breeding and carried similar traits to the modern standard German Shepherd. 

He ended up co-founding the world’s first German Shepherd club and spent 35 years refining the breed. Both regular and black German Shepherds have become popular in the United States by the early 1900s.

Since the GSDs and black shepherds were initially raised as herding dogs, their canine occupation shifted with the rise of modern livestock management.

Von Stephanitz then started to promote German Shepherds as police and military unit dogs.

READ NEXT: Shepherd Dog Breeds: 21 Types of Shepherd Dogs (With Pictures)

Black German Shepherd Appearance: What Does a Black German Shepherd Look Like?

Beautiful young black German Shepherd Dog sit in green grass

Since black German Shepherds are a variation of your typical GSDs, they possess the standard appearance and characteristics of the dog breed.

However, black GSDs sport a pure black coat and will oftentimes be larger than your typical tan canine.

Here are some of the most distinguishing features of this amazing dog:

  • Size, Height, and Build: Male black German Shepherds weigh 65 to 90 pounds and stand at 24 to 26 inches. Meanwhile, females weigh around 50 to 70 pounds and are measured at 22 to 24 inches. Despite their graceful curves and gait, they have a generally muscular body.
  • Head: Known for its noble stance, the black German Shepherd has a strong, chiseled head that is often held high.
  • Ears: A black shepherd has erect ears which are pointedly open toward the front. 
  • Muzzle: The breed’s muzzle is considered intimidating and scary because of its wolf-like nature. Black German Shepherds have strong, long mouths with firmly fitted jaws. 
  • Body: The dogs’ chest area is deep while their shoulders are broad. On the other hand, their abdomen is firm and moderately tucked-up.
  • Tail: The black German Shepherd’s tail is bushy and smooth. However, it typically rests low even when the dog is not nervous or agitated. At its relaxed state, the lowered tail shows a slight curve, giving the impression of a hook.
  • Coat and Color: Black GSDs have a medium-length double coat of solid black color. Dog experts have noted that their coat tends to be more luxurious and flowing. Also, some varieties can be long-coated. Regardless of coat length, though, a black Shepherd still sheds heavily year-round to protect them from the changing seasons.

READ NEXT: Dwarf German Shepherd: Everything About the Breed + FAQ

Is a Black German Shepherd Rare?

Black German Shepherds are rare. In fact, this unique variety makes up only 6.8 percent of the total German Shepherd population around the world, already taking into account intentional breeding.

Compared to other unique dog breeds and varieties, the black German Shepherd is easier to breed since you do not need to rely on mating two black GSD parents.

Regular tan and black German Shepherd Dogs can also produce black puppies. Unfortunately, the hard part is that genetics can be unpredictable, so the chances of creating solid black GSD puppies are slim.

Black German Shepherd Color Genetics: What Makes a German Shepherd Black?

Color genetics is a pretty complicated but fascinating topic. In essence, our dogs’ coats are made from two types of pigment: eumelanin (black) and pheomelanin (red). 

Getting these two mixed with other genes will result in new color combinations and dilutions, such as brown and grey. The blend is also responsible for the unique markings in a pooch.

Naturally, most black dogs obtain their color since they contain a dominant gene that produces eumelanin.

In the case of the black German Shepherd, however, a recessive gene is responsible for the unique coat since the default color of GSDs is sable.

As it turns out, the black German Shepherd was created by accident. The recessive gene should be acquired from both dame and sire in order for a dog to be born black. 

Do Black German Shepherd Puppies Change Color as They Grow?

Cute German Shepherd puppy with a black coat

Black German Shepherd puppies are born black and will stay black even as they grow. 

This is because all German Shepherd puppies come out into the world in solid black, gray, or white colors. 

Since black GSDs do not develop markings, patterns, or the usually-inherited tan coat, they will remain the same well into adulthood.

Meanwhile, regular German Shepherds will usually grow into their true coat colors at about eight weeks old.

RELATED: Do German Shepherds Change Color As They Grow?

Do Kennel Clubs Recognize the Black German Shepherd?

The black German Shepherd is recognized by the AKC and has even been included within the German Shepherd breed standard. This is because black GSDs are naturally occurring albeit being a rare variation.

They have not been produced through unethical crossbreeding and they remain purebreds of the same caliber as their regular-colored counterparts.

On another note, there has been no mention of black GSDs competing in dog shows.

They are still acceptable entries since the rare pooches adhere to the standard. However, the same cannot be said for its opposite, the white-colored German Shepherd.

Additionally, German Shepherd shows dogs should not have cropped or hanging ears, a docked tail, or noses that are not predominantly black.

As long as your black GSD steers clear of these checkpoints, then you’re good to go.

Check out this video of a well-trained and show-competing black German Shepherd:

Black German Shepherd Performing At Dog Show | International Dog Show 2020

Black German Shepherd Temperament: Does the Color Affect Their Temperament?

There’s currently no evidence that a dog’s coat color can affect its general disposition and temperament. However, colorism also exists even in the dog world, and there are studies to back up this claim.

Although the black German Shepherd is generally similar to regular German Shepherds in all ways except coat color, there’s still a common misconception that the dogs will be more aggressive – and this is due to the Black Dog Syndrom

In essence, the Black Dog Syndrome is a phenomenon in pet adoption wherein people are less likely to choose black dogs over light-colored ones on the account that they look less favorable or friendly. 

But once you learn to look past your own prejudice, you’ll see what a loyal and lovable companion a black German Shepherd is. As trusted guard dogs, these noble canines are alert, intelligent, and have a high prey drive.

They are easier to please and easily trained, making them ideal pets for a structured household. They are also active dogs, so you’ll surely have fun owning them.

Black German Shepherd Lifespan and Health Issues: Are Black German Shepherds Healthy Dogs?

This herding dog has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years, given its active lifestyle and overall health. Black German Shepherds have great immune systems, strength, and endurance.

But of course, no dog breed – not even our favorite police dogs – is invincible. 

A black German Shepherd Dog is prone to face the same health issues as a regular-colored GSD. These include: 

  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): Usually targeting GSDs that are eight years or older, degenerative myelopathy is a disease that causes the deterioration in the spinal cord of dogs. Over time, it could cause immobility.
  • Hip Dysplasia: This disease affects 15 to 20 percent of the entire German Shepherd Dog population. Hip dysplasia causes the hip joint to become too loose, eventually developing a dislocation of the ball and socket. 
  • Perianal Fistula: Perianal fistula occurs when the skin around your Shepherd’s anus contracts blister-like openings that swell, leak, and drain. This is caused by infections within the anal sacs and poor air circulation within the pooch’s anal region.
  • Pancreatitis: Simply put, pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas and other local organs. This is caused by obesity, eating problems, or blunt trauma in dogs. 

While black German Shepherds are an overall healthy breed, awareness will help you detect the early signs of an impending disease. In the long run, this could make or break your dog’s lifeline.

How Much Are Black German Shepherds? Are They More Expensive Than Other Colors?

Black German Shepherds will naturally be more pricey than your regular-colored GSDs due to their rarity.

A standard sable shepherd puppy is valued at $900 and up. On the other hand, black German Shepherd puppies from reputable breeders have a price tag of $1,000 to $2,000

Furthermore, black GSDs sometimes come in long-haired variants. Unique coats of a rare breed will obviously cost you a few extra hundreds, so expect long-haired black German Shepherds to start out at $2,500.

RELATED: How Much Does a German Shepherd Cost? Puppy Prices and Expenses

Places to Find Black German Shepherds Puppies for Sale and Adoption

Two working line black German Shepherd puppies for sale or adoption

If you manage to find a black German Shepherd puppy available for sale near you, then you’ve struck gold. Other people find it hard to find reputable breeders that sell quality GSDs in their local areas. 

To help speed up the buying process for you, I’m going to suggest some black German Shepherd breeders:

  • Kraftwerk K9 – Kraftwerk founder and trainer Wayne Curry is considered the only reputable breeder in history to bring back their American-bred GSDs to mainland Germany for competition – and the canines actually end up winning. On Kraftwerk’s site, they also have allotted sections for owners’ self-education and detailed outlines of their obedience training programs for German Shepherd Dogs.
  • Kennel Von Wiese – Von Wiese means “the meadows” in German. It makes perfect sense that the Kennel Von Wiese is situated within the vast lush meadows of Lake Norman in North Carolina. Other than the ideal environment wherein they raise their litters, the breeder takes pride in their world-famous lines of black GSDs stemming from champions such as Paska vom Salztalblick, Troll von der bosen Nachbarschaft, Olex de Valsory, and Nick vom Heiligenbösch.
  • Ruskin House of Shepherds – What’s great about this breeder is that their site has always offered a 10 percent discount purchase for people in the military, police, coast guard, and any other service members. 

Of course, a premium dog will come with premium rates. We’ve already covered the average price of a black German Shepherd Dog in the previous section, and I understand that not everyone can shell out that much money in such a short period of time.

RELATED: Best German Shepherd Breeders (2021): 10 Places to Find German Shepherd Puppies for Sale

If you’re really intent on getting a black German Shepherd puppy, but you’re currently on a budget, you can always choose to adopt from a local animal shelter or rescue instead of buying from breeders. 

Do note, however, that there are no black GSD-specific rescues since the pooches are already rare. Therefore, the suggestions below take in all kinds of German Shepherd varieties.

Here are some places you can look into for rescuing and adopting your dream companion:

  • Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue – This rescue aims to give abandoned German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois a second chance to find a loving family. They evaluate and place each of their rescued black shepherds to appropriate foster homes until they find their fur-ever home.
  • German Shepherd Rescue and Adoptions – German Shepherd Rescue and Adoptions mainly operates in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. They are staunch advocates for the protection and de-stigmatization of GSDs as a breed.
  • Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue – Formed in 1999 and continued to be run entirely by volunteers to this day, the Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue has dedicated itself to finding great foster homes and eventual adopters for their pooches.

RELATED: 10 Best German Shepherd Rescues for Adoption (2021): Our Top 10 Picks!

Frequently Asked Questions

Black GSD lies in green grass

Are Black German Shepherds Aggressive?

Black German Shepherds have the same temperament as any regular German Shepherd who is a great working and family dog. They remain loyal, intelligent, and active members of your “pack.” 

However, without proper socialization and basic training, your black shepherd puppy or any other dog breed will grow destructive and sometimes aggressive. There is no bad dog breed, just bad owners. 

Before you go out and get an active herding dog such as the black German Shepherd, consider if your lifestyle will match your future pooch’s needs.

Will you be able to make time for daily exercise and training? Are you patient enough to deal with its high energy levels? These are just some of the basic questions to keep in mind.

What Other Colors Do German Shepherds Have?

The common and accepted German Shepherd coat colors by major kennel clubs and organizations include mixed tan, sable, liver, and blue.

In case you’re wondering why a kennel club’s approval matters, it is because these organizations ensure that all dog breeds and the succeeding dog events they enter are run fairly, honestly, and prioritize the welfare of the animals.

Some rare, faulty German Shepherd colors include solid white, gray, fawn, spotted, and lilac. Sadly, forcing the production of such rare genetics leads to complications within the breed that could harm them in the long run.

What Is the Rarest Color of German Shepherds?

A panda German Shepherd is one of the rarest variations of the breed and may cost up to five times as much as traditional black and tan GSD variations.

On other dogs, the panda pattern is more commonly accepted and is also referred to as piebald

This variety features a 30 to 40 percent white coat coverage with black patterns over a GSD’s average tan and black coat.

In addition, panda German Shepherds are relatively shorter than other varieties. They also only come in short to medium thick coats.

Panda German Shepherds are the result of piebald coloring occurring in a single bloodline and a spontaneous mutation, which are unrelated to GSDs.

This is why most established kennel clubs do not acknowledge them as purebred.

RELATED: Panda German Shepherd: Are Panda Shepherds Purebred?

Do Black German Shepherds Shed?

Black German Shepherds, as well as every other kind of GSDs, are heavy year-round shedders. In particular, you have to be more mindful during spring and fall since they tend to blow their undercoats.

These pooches also have non-hypoallergenic hair. So if you or a member of your household suffer from allergies, then the black German Shepherd is not the pet for you.

If you’re seriously invested in getting one, however, just keep a vacuum on hand to help clean up the shedding.

Final Thoughts

Black German Shepherds are essentially still like regular-colored German Shepherds in terms of size, appearance, health, and temperament. The one and only difference is their pure black coat.

Due to intrinsic human biases, black German Shepherds are prone to be abandoned or feared by people who do not have deeper knowledge about the breed.

Black Dog Syndrome tends to stereotype black GSDs as more aggressive or unpleasant than the average K9 German Shepherds we always see.

However, black Shepherds are just as loyal, intelligent, and loving. They are ideal for individuals or families who lead active lifestyles or those simply in need of an alert service dog. 

Not only is a black German Shepherd rare because of its color, but it is also one-of-a-kind because of its steadfast loyalty and affection for its owner.

Taking care of a rare-colored playful dog will surely present its challenges, but surely, the love and reward you’ll reap will be unparalleled.

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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