Sable German Shepherd โ€“ Your Complete Breed Guide

German Shepherds are quite popular all over the world both as companion pets and as working dogs. When it comes to aesthetics, most of us are very familiar with the classic black and tan saddle type with a medium-length coat. However, this dog breed has so much more to offer in terms of aesthetics with 2 variations based on the coat type and 5 different types based on colors and markings.

The Sable German Shepherd is one of the 5 main coat color variations of the German Shepherd Breed. The unique coat is an expression of a common dominant gene which makes this one of the most common coat variations for the breed.

Contrary to popular beliefs, the Sable German Shepherd is not a different breed from the rest of the variations of the breed. However, there are a few quirks here and there in terms of personality and care needs that you should know if you want to get one. Letโ€™s dive into all of them.

What Color Will My Sable German Shepherd Be?

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The Sable German Shepherd is quite a common variation of the breed. More often than not, they resemble either the saddle coat or the pure black German Shepherd. This is because their coats are black and white with different distributions of either color in different Sable GSDs.

Despite the similarities with the other variations, there are some physical differences with a few physical differences. Here are some of these features that point to a purebred Sable German Shepherd.

Skull And Facial Structure

The Sable German Shepherd has the same facial features and head structure as all other purebred German Shepherds. This includes a narrow forehead, long snouts, and close-set eyes. The ears are large and erect which came in handy for their different applications including hunting, guarding, and herding dogs.

Size And Build

Sable German Shepherd is related to Working Line dogs which are most evident from their build. The dogs are typically larger than most other German Shepherd coat-based variations. They weigh up to 95 lbs and measure 24 to 26 inches.

However, the females are much smaller averaging 55 to 75 lbs and as little as 20 inches in height.

Coat Color And Markings

The coat on this variety can be either long or medium. The color is what sets them apart. They are characterized by a black tip marking on every strand including those where the rest of the strand is tan.

Depending on the intensity of these markings as well as how much of the coat has tan sections, the dog may look almost entirely black. However, the lack of a solid root to tip black style differentiates them from the pure black GSD variation.

Interestingly, these markings are not visible at birth. The Sable German Shepherd may actually be born tan and black then develop the black tips later on.

How Long Do Sable German Shepherds Live?

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Like the other German Shepherd variations, the Sable type can live for 12 to 14 years. This is quite long especially considering the fact that they are such large dogs. When it comes to their health, they more or less suffer from the very same issues you will find with other German Shepherd variations. These diseases include:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia affects most German Shepherd dogs. However, sable and black variations are usually the worst hit due to their large size. Most breeders often use selective breeding to get rid of this undesirable trait.

However, this may not always work in which case a healthy diet and moderate but regular exercise are the only things that will help.

Allergic Dermatitis

German Shepherds as a dog breed in general have very sensitive skin that is prone to irritation from a number of allergens. Once the reaction is triggered, the dog will be in a lot of discomforts and may itch a lot.

Things get really bad when the dog injures itself which may sometimes involve skin infections and fur loss.


More often than not, arthritis in Sable German Shepherds is a result of joint issues like hip dysplasia. However, this is not always the case with other issues including autoimmune diseases, infections, and even old age being the trigger. Whatever the cause, this condition significantly reduces the quality of life for the doggy.


Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Sable German Shepherds, especially in old age. The tumors can affect any organ or system from the blood to bones, the gut, and the reproductive system. Regular vet checkups are important as they give you the best chance for early detection and interventions that may save your dogโ€™s life.

How Much Is A Sable German Shepherd?

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The average price of a Sable German Shepherd puppy is $800 to $1,500.

This is quite a lot considering that you can get a regular saddle-coat black and tan German Shepherd for $300 or even less from adoption shelters.

This might seem unusual given the fact that the Sable German Shepherd is not necessarily an exotic or super rare variation of the breed. However, there are a few justifications that will help you see that the dog is actually worth it.

Here are 3 good reasons why you should get yourself a Sable GSD.

Gorgeous And Unique

If you want a bit more flair than what the standard black and tan German Shepherd has to offer without all going to extremes like the white, black, or panda variety then this is the breed for you. It allows you to have a beautiful dog with something different to celebrate without being too flashy.

Big And Strong

Sable German Shepherds satisfy a niche demand for large but manageable dogs. With their 65 to 95 weight range, they are ideal if you do not want a dog that is too large.

Great Working And Companion Dogs

If you want a dog to guard your home, accompany you on hunting trips, or even keep you company as you lounge in the house, the Sable German Shepherd is a great pooch to have. They are very adaptable and will thrive in any setup and when used for any purpose.

Are Sable German Shepherds More Aggressive? Temperaments Of Sable German Shepherds

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When it comes to temperament, there are very few ways in which the Sable German Shepherd strays from the architype followed by the standard type of the breed.

Sable German Shepherds are generally very calm and easy-going dogs. However, they have an aggressive side especially when trained for use as guard dogs or in law enforcement. Here are a few other temperament traits you can expect from Sable GSD.

Intelligent And Easy To Train

This variety is like any other German Shepherd and lives up to the intelligent reputation. They are very responsive and obedient in addition to their ability to pick up on new skills pretty quickly. This works to your advantage allowing you to train the dog for anything from a simple companion, to use as an aid dog.


Sable German Shepherds can be a bit reserved at first especially around unfamiliar people. However, once they have established that they can trust you, they tend to get very friendly. They are also quite affectionate and will ask for a nice snuggle every once in a while.


Sable German Shepherds have a long history of use as guard dogs. This was largely due to their sharp senses and focus on whatever job they were given. This is a trait they have not lost to date and still comes in handy in their many different applications.


The Sable German Shepherd is a large dog but this does not slow them down. They are strong, fast, and have incredible endurance which was needed for their historic use as herding dogs. They need a lot of outdoor time for physical engagement to avoid frustration as well as health issues like hunger.

Do Sable German Shepherds Shed? Grooming Tips For Sable German Shepherds

German Shepherds in general are high maintenance and the Sable variation is no exception. Fortunately, you can do most of their grooming yourself if you have the right tools and a good schedule. To help you out, here are some of the most important grooming tips for these doggies.

De-shed The Dog Regularly

Most Sable German Shepherds dogs have long coats which means they shed minimally to moderately. Even those with medium-length coats do not tend to shed too heavily. Therefore, you can get by just by brushing its coat one to three times a week.

Unfortunately, you will not always get every last loose strand which is where the iRobot Roomba i3+ comes in. The automated vacuum is designed to pick up dander and fur on the floor to help you conveniently clean up after your dog.

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Detangle Their Coats On A Fortnightly Basis

These dogs are prone to developing coat knots especially when the fur is long. Brushing to detangle is usually easier and may just involve combing out the tips to separate any knotted fur.

The Furminator Undercoat Tool is easy to use and very effective making it ideal for the job. The best part is that it is also awesome for de-shedding allowing you to get two uses from one tool.

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Wash The Dog Every 4 To 8 Weeks

This interval is ideal as it allows you to keep your dog clean and smelling fresh without damaging their beautiful coats with excessive washing. The choice of shampoo also makes a huge difference. We recommend you go with the Paws & Pals 6-In-1 Oatmeal Dog Shampooย which not only cleans the coat but also conditions the coat, controls odors, soothes irritation and so much more.

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Are Silver Sable German Shepherds Rare? Silver German Shepherds are very rare. They are known for their off-tan to greyish-white coats that usually have black tip markings especially around the torso. The gene responsible for this trait is quite rare and is also believed to be recessive. As a result of how rare they are, they tend to be quite expensive and can go for up to $1,500 or more.

What Is The Rarest Color Of German Shepherds? The rarest color of German Shepherd dogs is liver. They have a copper-red coat with a saddle pattern where the back is darker than the limbs and abdomen. They do not have the classic black face mask that most German Shepherds have. However, they may have a darker patch of fur around the snout.

What Does Sable Mean For Dogs? Sable coats in dogs feature black tip markings on fur strands that may be different lighter colors including tan, gold, brown, red, or even white. It is as a result of the sable gene that is dominant which means that only one of the parent dogs need to have it for it to manifest in the puppies.

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Pete Decker