Do German Shepherds Change Color As They Grow?

Do German Shepherds Change Color As They Grow?

Does it seem like your German Shepherd’s color changes over time? Their light tan might’ve turned into a black coat, and there is a greying hair color around the eyes and the muzzle.

Well, it’s not quite an illusion. But let’s find out why shouldn’t be alarmed by your observations. So, do German Shepherds’ color changes?

German Shepherds do change their coat color as they grew up. It usually happens in patches around their face, neck, chest, and hips or on their saddleback. This change makes them unique to other several canine breeds.

The puppy, German Shepherds, could be more prominent once they grow up. It drastically started happening when they are 8 weeks old until they turn two.

This means between these ages, they would look less colorful and duller in appearance. All these physical changes, such as the color and changes in their coats, are normal. I call them “the dog of color.”

Changes in Coat

Oh no, don’t you panic! But indeed, you’ve read it right. Take all the time you want to cuddle their soft coat as puppies because of not only their color changes but their coats as well.

Their cuddly, soft, short puppy fur would start to fall off as they grew up, especially if you brush them off. They’d be replaced by an appealing, denser, thick adult coat which we commonly see.

But the texture and length of the new grown coats will depend. The distinctive length of their coats would vary from short, medium, and long. While as for the texture, your GSD would start to molt or shed twice a year losing more hair, and the new one becomes thinner.

And again, these changes brought by their socialization to the adolescent stage shouldn’t be alarming since it’s a normal growth process for German Shepherds. You won’t be able to stop these natural changes, but there are steps you can do to keep their soft and thick coat as they grew up.

Exceptions With the Changes

Somehow, there would always be exceptions. A puppy German Shepherd would often change color as they grow older.

Still, the colors for the solid black German Shepherd, white German Shepherd, and sable German Shepherd are an exception since it’s gonna be their permanent color since a pub.

Also, you have to make sure that if changes occur before or after the 8 weeks to 2 years and it happens so rapidly, you may want to consult a veterinarian immediately! And if your German Shepherd loses its hair through patches, it could indicate thyroid issues, cancer, or liver issues.

The Color Changes and the Meaning Behind

Curiosity does get ahead of us sometimes. If you’re a new owner, you might’ve thought that something wrong is happening or their breed was not typical. All these thoughts make us wonder about the worst things. But don’t worry because you’re not the only one. We’ve all been there! 

Below is the list of different German Shepherd colors and what could be the possible meaning behind it. (Few isn’t accepted by the Americal Kennel Club yet.)

OriginalCommonRare
Solid Black German ShepherdsBlackLight Blue
Solid White German ShepherdsBlack and TanGray
Black and White German ShepherdsBlack and RedPanda

Bi-color (Almost Black)Liver

Blue

Gray

Liver and Tan

Sable (Tri-Color GSD)

White

Original Color

The original colors which fall under dark and white coats are what most GSD Organizations found since the 1800s. They are the:

  • Solid Black German Shepherd
  • Solid White German Shepherd
  • Black and White German Shepherd

A pure, solid black German Shepherd comes from two pure black parents or a single pure black and a tan parent. Even though it’s one of the original colors and considered as a purebred by the AKC, they are rare. They have a strong and dominant personality.

On the other hand, a solid white German Shepherd has a shy personality. But if trained well, just like any other GSD, they are hardworking, loyal, intelligent, and brave breed.

They aren’t accepted by the AKC because they are considered as a genetic flaw. However, their unusual light skin and golden eyes make them rare as well!

Common Color

The word “common” itself means it’s what we usually see whenever there’s a German Shepherd at the Veterinarian Clinic, our neighbors home, walking on the streets, and thereof. They are considered as the ‘correct color.’

And the most common GSD Colors that people know are:

  • Black – Not the usual solid and pure black color. They are the majority of the black GSD that is considered as the original color of the breed. Black could mix with tan, red, silver or cream, and even white.
  • Black and Tan – You might be familiar with ‘Rin Tin Tin’? They are considered as one of the most popular colors of the GSD and popular in Hollywood as well! The majority of their bodies are black, and as puppies, their colors lighten. The color tan can be replaced by other colors, such as red. They can also be found in a working field.
  • Black and Red – Similar to the black and tan GSD, but the color tan is replaced by a red or strawberry-type like color. They can be found in the show field. Sometimes, instead of red, they’d turn into a shade of cream calling them Black and Silver. But they could still be considered as Black and Red color.
  • Bicolor (Almost black) – The majority of their bodies are color black. Yet, the legs have a different color, for instance, brown, gray, or Agouti, and they also have no saddleback. 
  • Blue – Their origins are unknown. Still, the blue pigment appeared when the black color was diluted, turning the skin to a liver brown color that can appear blue in our eyes.
  • Gray – They have the same appearance or color as the wolf. They have coats colored gray and/or silver, and for others, they are considered as saddle-type.
  • Liver and Tan – They have a unique brown color of the incomplete black pigment. Their overall look could look brownish with little to no color of black.
  • Sable (Tri-Color German Shepherds) – They are one of the most popular GSD types nowadays. They were born in a tan color, yet as they grew up, one additional color or two also grew, replacing the Tan.
  • White – Snowy-fur light-colored GSD that could mean solid and pure or mixed. It shared the same bloodline as German Shepherds. Yet, it is presumed that they are independent or recessive from other colors.

Rare Colors

These are the German Shepherd considered as a severe or genetic fault. This means for different reasons, their colors are unusual for the GSD breed. Serious German Shepherd’s Organization has unacceptable color and doesn’t register the rare-colored ones too. 

Some of them are:

  • Light Blue – comes from the Blue variation, yet it isn’t accepted by the AKC.
  • Grey – just like what we’ve said before, they have the typical color of the wolf but with darker markings. 
  • Panda – They have a pattern of white color with black spots. It is said that they are the result of Piebald coloring occurring as unpigmented white spots.
  • Liver – They have a recessive gene that blocks the black pigment from appearing, thus replacing it with brown.
  • Pale and Dilute – anything that looks pale or lighter in color, such as white and liver GSD.

Along with Rare, the Color Coats Not Accepted by AKC are:

  • White
  • Dark Blue
  • Yellowish White
  • Light and Dark Liver

Have you seen how incredible it is to think that even a single breed like the German Shepherd has variations of colors? They are indeed one of the most unique canine breeds.

Final Thoughts

The way we see it, German Shepherds do change color as they grew up. And as time goes by, you’ll see how more beautiful they are even with various differences in appearance such as the colors, texture, coarse, and length of the new coat.

Rapid or Unusual changes are abnormal and should be taken to the Vet for immediate care. 

And lastly, this article made us appreciate them all. No matter what they appear in our eyes, even though they aren’t accepted by the legal registration for the German Shepherd’s Club, they are still precious to us.

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially 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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