German Shepherds are handsome canines on their own, but a panda German Shepherd is even more striking with its curious color combination.
Combined with a majestic stance and a great size, the panda German Shepherd is an eye-catching dog that will be a memorable pet to have.
Get to know the panda German Shepherd with these fascinating facts about them.
What Is a Panda German Shepherd?
A panda German Shepherd is basically the German Shepherd you know and love, except with an interesting color combination that is not often seen in the breed. It has black and white markings, especially around its eyes, similar to its namesake panda.
Contrary to the connotations of the word panda, not all panda German Shepherds are born black and white. A lot of them can sport a third color, commonly tan, distributed throughout their bodies.
Panda German Shepherds, just like their standard-colored counterparts, originated from Germany where they worked to herd sheep until the late 19th century.
With their hardworking and intelligent nature, they have since become one of the preferred breeds for service dogs for people with disabilities, as well as for police and military assistance.
Other Names of the Panda German Shepherd
The panda German Shepherd is also known as the piebald German Shepherd.
Piebald is a term that means having a pattern of unpigmented spots over a pigmented background, just like the white patches of fur over a panda German Shepherd’s black-haired body.
Since they can also have a third color in their coat, they are also referred to as the tricolor German Shepherd.
Panda German Shepherds Genetics: Are Panda German Shepherds Purebred?
What makes the panda German Shepherd distinct is that it carries a mutation of the KIT gene, which leads to its unusual markings. Otherwise, it is the same as regular-colored German Shepherds, and its coloring has no bearing on its pedigree.
According to the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the panda German Shepherd is a recent mutation, first discovered in a female German Shepherd born in 2000.
Studies showed that the dog was purebred but had the mutated KIT gene, which is said to be dominant.
What Do Panda German Shepherds Look Like?
The panda German Shepherds are characterized by symmetrical markings of black and white around the face, which resemble those of a panda bear. While the amount of white may vary per dog, these patches are often seen on the forelock, the muzzle, chest, abdomen, and the tip of the tail.
Panda German Shepherds can stand as tall as 24 to 26 inches, with females being on the lower end of the range. Healthy dogs can weigh anywhere between 75 and 90 pounds.
Purebred German Shepherds are longer than they are tall, and the panda German Shepherd is no exception.
Despite the name, most panda Shepherds are not only black and white. They can have a third color, which leads to them often being called tricolor German Shepherds.
Panda German Shepherd puppies are born with floppy ears. As the dog grows, the ear cartilage gradually develops further, and usually by the time they are one, their ears stand up fully.
Whether two-toned or tricolor, a characteristic of the panda German Shepherd is the patches of black around its eyes, making it resemble its namesake bear. The amount may vary per dog, which is what makes them unique.
Are Panda German Shepherds Rare?
Since panda German Shepherds are a recent discovery in contrast to how long German Shepherds have been around, they are currently considered rare. The gene mutation that gives them the piebald coloring is not present in many German Shepherds.
The white markings in panda German Shepherds are considered faults because they go against showings’ criteria. As a result, many breeders often hesitate in breeding panda German Shepherds.
However, since UC Davis’ Veterinary Genetics Laboratory has determined the panda gene to be dominant, more panda German Shepherds might exist down the line.
Do Kennel Clubs Accept Panda German Shepherds?
Panda German Shepherds do not meet the breed standards of the American Kennel Club (AKC), the largest dog registry in the world. Their white markings are considered as severe faults and are not allowed in the show rings.
Other kennel clubs, such as the United Kennel Club and the Federation Cynologique Internationale (or the World Canine Organization) also do not currently accept panda German Shepherds.
Panda German Shepherd Temperament: Do They Make Good Family Pets?
Panda German Shepherds enjoy an excellent reputation for being hardworking and obedient dogs. They are naturally curious, fast-learners and eager to please, all of which have made them a popular choice for police and military assistance, as well as service dogs for people with disabilities.
They are also loyal and affectionate, which makes them ideal family pets. They crave human company and affection, so they are suited for medium to large-sized families that can give them the attention they deserve.
They also make great companions to people with active lifestyles, as they are full of energy and require regular exercise.
Given their size, they thrive in homes with enough space for them to run around, but they can quickly adapt to apartments and smaller spaces as long as they are taken on frequent walks.
Panda German Shepherds also tend to be alert and watchful. Even if they are raised as family pets, they will make sure to guard their homes well.
Just like with most dogs, they need to be socialized properly at an early age, especially if you have young kids. Given sufficient care and training, they will reward their families with loyalty and protection.
How to Care for a Panda German Shepherd
Food and Diet
Panda German Shepherds need a lot of energy, especially when they’re put to work, so it’s crucial for them to get adequate sustenance through a well-balanced diet.
Dry kibble is easy and convenient for dog-owners, and a high-quality brand will ensure your panda German Shepherd gets all the vitamins and minerals that it needs. You can alternate it with canned dog food to give your pet variety.
If you prefer to do away with commercial dog food, go for protein-rich foods and some nutritious fruits and vegetables. Here are some foods you can feed your panda Shepherd:
- Leafy Greens
- Cooked Sweet Potatoes
- Plain Yogurt
Exercise and Socialization
Panda German Shepherds love a good physical and mental challenge and will become restless and destructive if they do not have an outlet for their energy.
Make time to take them out for walks every day. They also make great workout buddies, so you can take them out for jogging or running.
Whether you are keeping one as a service dog or a family pet, it’s important to start training your panda German Shepherd at a young age.
This breed is known for being highly intelligent and eager to learn; you can easily housebreak a puppy with a little patience.
Socializing a panda German Shepherd early will also make it a great companion to you and your family, although it may be defensive when it comes to strangers.
Cleaning and Grooming
Panda German Shepherds are double-coated dogs that shed heavily all year round.
They also blow their undercoat twice a year, during fall to prepare for the winter season, and again in the spring to get their coats ready for the warmer summer months. Coat blowing will usually last for a few weeks up to a month.
Brush the coat of your panda German Shepherd regularly to get rid of excess hair, so you don’t have it all over your home.
Baths should be given only when necessary, or else it may give your dog skin problems. Make sure to rinse off shampoo thoroughly and blow-dry to avoid hot spots.
Besides caring for its coat, regularly clean the ears of your panda German Shepherd and keep its nails filed down to avoid injuries to itself and other people and damage to your belongings.
Panda German Shepherd Health Issues (and Lifespan)
The average life expectancy of a panda German Shepherd is between 9-13 years. A responsible breeder will make sure to check for health ailments predisposed to the breed, but their builds can also cause some problems down the line.
Since they are active and hardworking dogs, mobility issues that lower their quality of life often lead to their early death.
Here are some common health issues that can affect panda German Shepherds:
- Hip Dysplasia: Often seen in large dogs, this is a condition in which the hip socket does not properly fit the joint ball. Instead of sliding smoothly together, they rub and grind against each other, which leads to deterioration over time.
- Elbow Hygroma: A fluid-filled swelling on the elbow, though it can also be seen in other joints. It can go away on its own, but a large one that will cause pain to the dog needs a surgical drainage procedure done by a vet.
- Gastric Dilation-Volvulus: A common ailment in big and deep-chested dogs, in which their stomach gets bloated. It can be fatal if the dog is not rushed immediately to the vet.
- Canine Degenerative Myelopathy: An incurable and progressive disease of the spinal cord. It starts as weakness and a lack of coordination of the rear limbs at around 7 years old, which eventually leads to full paralysis.
- Hemangiosarcoma: Cancer of the blood vessels, often affecting the heart or the spleen in dogs. It starts as a tumor and becomes aggressive, leading to canine death through organ rupture.
Panda German Shepherd Puppy Price and Expenses: Do They Cost More Than Other German Shepherds?
A panda German Shepherd puppy can cost between $1,000 and $3,000 because of its rarity. In comparison, standard-colored German Shepherds can be between $500 and $2,000. Either way, the price can go even as high as $10,000 if it is part of a champion lineage.
Adopting a puppy at the nearest animal shelter can be cheaper or even free in some places. Pet adoption fees will set you back around $500 and can include paperwork and vaccinations.
However, you may not be able to decide on a panda German Shepherd specifically unless one is already available and waiting for a new family.
Besides the initial purchase or adoption cost, a new panda German Shepherd will require a further financial commitment.
As a large dog, its appetite is proportional to its size, so food is a non-negotiable expense. The price of dog food can go higher when you choose better quality ones.
Other expenses may include:
- Food and Water Bowls
- Collar and Leash
- Dog Tags
- Spaying or Neutering
- Grooming Essentials
- Crate and/or Dog Bed
Where to Find Panda German Shepherds for Sale and Adoption?
Panda German Shepherds are rare and may be hard to come by. Often, panda puppies are already spoken for even before they are released. Keep an eye out for reputable German Shepherd breeders in your local community.
Make sure they conduct health tests for common health ailments. You can look into clubs such as the United Schutzhund Clubs of America and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America for leads.
Here are some places you may find panda German Shepherds for sale:
- AKC Marketplace – A trusted source of purebred dogs from reputable breeders, they have several listings for German Shepherds, including pandas.
- Ruskin House of Shepherds – Based in Florida, they breed German Shepherds of all colors, including the panda. Their puppies come with AKC registration, a one-year health guarantee, and microchipping.
- K9 Pines – Also based in North Carolina, they are an AKC-preferred breeder specializing in German Shepherds, including the panda.
- Bradford’s K9 Corral – Having bred German Shepherds since 1996, they are one of the trusted breeders and are recognized by the AKC.
- Mintern’s German Shepherds – A breeder of traditional and panda German Shepherds in North Carolina.
Adopting a puppy is also another option, though you may not find one easily given the rarity of panda German Shepherds. Here are some establishments you can inquire about for availability.
- Petfinder – An online database of animals who need homes, they currently have a directory of over 11,000 shelters and organizations across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
- Adopt-a-Pet – North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption organization that seeks to give animals their forever homes.
- German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County – A volunteer-driven organization that places German Shepherds in Southern California.
- Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue – A non-profit organization dedicated to providing rescue and adoption services for German Shepherds in Maryland, Washington, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Delaware.
What Is the Rarest Color of a German Shepherd?
Among the many colors of a German Shepherd’s coat, two are incredibly rare: the blue and the liver. The blue, characterized by a steel-gray coat and a gray nose, is considered a serious fault and cannot join conformity shows; hence they are not often bred.
The liver is a rich brown color, the nose is often pink, and the eyes are light-colored.
How Many German Shepherd Colors Are There?
The AKC, a reputable source for dog breed standards, recognizes the following 11 colors for the German Shepherd:
- Black & Cream
- Black & Red
- Black & Silver
- Black & Tan
Here are some of the most common colors of the German Shepherd in action:
RELATED: Sable German Shepherd: Interesting Facts You Did Not Know
Do Panda German Shepherds Shed?
Panda German Shepherds are heavy shedders all year round and will blow their coats twice a year to get them ready for both the winter and summer seasons.
It’s easy to get hair everywhere in your home, but the shedding can be managed by brushing their manes regularly to get rid of loose hair.
Final Thoughts: Should You Get a Panda German Shepherd?
A German Shepherd is always a great idea for a pet because of their intelligence and attitude towards work. They are the preferred dog breed for service dogs and police or military assistance for a reason.
Panda German Shepherds are no exception. You get all the best qualities of a German Shepherd but with a unique coloring that will make them really fascinating and distinctive to look at.
Just like any other dog, you should take the time to train and socialize your new panda German Shepherd diligently, though the process will be much easier because of how quick they are to learn.
Given sufficient love and attention, and a panda German Shepherd will look after you for years to come.
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.