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What Colors And Patterns Does A German Shepherd Come In?

When we think about German Shepherds, aesthetics are rarely the first thing that comes to mind. The dog breed is wildly popular for its other features including the high levels of intelligence, unwavering loyalty, and versatility as both a working dog and a companion dog. However, their aesthetics are just as worthy of recognition with German Shepherds being some of the most beautiful dogs out there.

The coat on a German Shepherd is one of the leading contributors to the physical beauty in this breed. German Shepherd coats come in 2 lengths, 3 patterns, and 16 color combinations. We will take a look at common German Shepherd coat variations like the medium-haired bicolor GSDs as well as rare colors like Isabella German Shepherds, and patterns like the Panda German Shepherds.

21. Medium Haired (Coat Type)

Medium-haired German Shepherds are the most common variety based on the coat type. The fur is medium-length with the top coat fur measuring about 1 inch in length over most parts of the body. This includes the tail whose medium-length coat gives it a thick and bushy appearance. 

The only parts where this length of coat is not seen are the face and behind the ears where the coat is shortest.

20. Long-Haired (Coat)

Long-haired German Shepherds are the rarest of the two breed variations based on coat type. The coats have long fur that could measure up 1.5 to 2 inches. They tend to have their longest strands around the neck, on the limbs, and on the tail. The shortest fur, on the other hand, is over the face as with the medium-haired German Shepherd.

The long-haired German Shepherds are also different in that they do not always have a base coat.

19. Bi-Color (Standard Color)

In German Shepherds, the Bicolor trait is a specific coat variation as opposed to a blanket term used to refer to varieties of the breed that have 2 colors.

Bicolor German Shepherds are usually black and tan in color. The black color covers most of the body entirely including the face, back, tail, and chest. The tan or other shade of brown may cover a very small portion of the body which is almost always on the limbs.

18. Black (Standard Color)

Black German Shepherds are not very common as this dog breed more often than not has two-color combinations. However, the black German Shepherd dog is probably one of the most intriguing and beautiful variations with its solid, jet black coat.

The coat may either be glossy or dull depending on a number of factors. These include the length and texture of the coat, the dog’s health status, and grooming practices or products used.

17. Black & Cream (Standard Color)

Black and Cream German Shepherds stand out with the sharp contrast between the two coat colors. The black parts are always a solid, jet black and are mostly localized to the back and part of the face especially over the snout.

The cream part of the coat is what covers most of the dog. The shade can best be described as a very light and non-glossy variation of the tan coat color.

16. Black & Red (Standard Color)

Black and Red German Shepherds are relatively common variations of the breed based on coat color. Like most other 2 toned GSDs, the black parts may be found on the back, face, and parts of the tail and limbs.

The red, on the other hand, covers the face, ears, chest, most of the torso, and the limbs. The red shades vary from dog to dog. it could be a rusty, red or a deep brownish-red reminiscent of hardwood panels.

15. Black & Silver (Standard Color)

Black and Silver German Shepherds are quite mesmerizing. The silver part of the coat is the most outstanding feature. It ranges in intensity from dull gray to bright, off-white shades. This contrasts beautifully with the solid brown parts of the coat.

The extent of coverage by the black and silver fur varies from one dog to another. Some follow the saddle pattern where the black part is limited to the back, snout, and tail. In other cases, there are only trace patches of black on the snout and limbs with the rest being all silver.

14. Black & Tan (Standard Color)

The most common coat color combination with German Shepherds is black and tan. They have a saddle-type distribution of colors with black covering most of the back, tail, back of the head, and the snout’s dark mask. The lower parts of the body including the chest, lower abdomen, legs, and neck are tan.

This should not be confused with the bicolor black and tan German Shepherd that has most of the body purely black and only the limbs tan.

SPOTLIGHT: Check out your dog’s weight at with our very own puppy weight chart right here.

13. Blue (Standard Color)

Blue German Shepherds get their name from the bluish-silver hue that their coats have. They are essentially full black German Shepherds where specific genes cause watering down of the intensity of the melanin and by extension water down the black.

The resulting aesthetic can best be described as a powdery grayish-black shade.

In some cases, the melanin in the eyes is also interfered with. This results in Blue German Shepherds also having blue or very light brown colored eyes.

12. Gray (Standard Color)

Gray coats in German Shepherds usually occur in old age as the fur loses pigmentation. However, the gray coloring can exist as a standard color variation.

It is very difficult to distinguish between blue and gray German Shepherds. This is because they are fundamentally similar in that they are both the result of watered-down black coats.

The best way to distinguish them is side by side in which case the Gray German Shepherd stands out as a lighter and more watered down coat.

11. Liver, Chocolate or Brown (Standard Color)

The liver or chocolate German Shepherd ranges in intensity and shades of reddish brown. The dog could have a rusty, red shade that in the light almost appears orange. On the other end, the liver coat may have strong, brown undertones that make it look more like dark chocolate than liver.

Liver German Shepherds are among the rarest of all the types of German Shepherds. It is already very rare for German Shepherds to only have one, solid color. The liver or chocolate variety take things up a notch by having a rare color to boot.

10. White

White German Shepherds are another variation that qualify as incredibly rare. The trait can occur in purebred German Shepherds. In this case, the entire coat is white while other pigmented parts like the nose and eyes retain their dark colors.

In very rare occasions, the white could be as a result of albinism. Here, the eyes and other pigmented surfaces like the nose and paw pads may also not have melanin. In these cases, the dog may have blue eyes and a pink nose.

9. Cream

Cream German Shepherds are very similar to white or silver German Shepherd variations. What sets them apart is the fact that their coats have a dull, off-white hue to them. They may even appear as very light shades of yellow or tan.

It is important to note that Cream German Shepherds rarely have uniform coats. While it may be one single color, there are parts like the back where the cream will be a richer tone than other parts like the chest and limbs.

8. Silver (Non-Standard Color)

Silver as a single coat color is unique for German Shepherds in that it rarely ever happens as a standalone color. More often than not, silver GSDs have sable markings where the tip of the fur is black.

This gives the German Shepherds a beautiful, almost wild wolf-like aesthetic which is ideal for dog lovers who like the wolf features in their domestic dogs. In some cases, the all-silver coat may include the iconic dark mask with black fur over the snout.

7. Liver & Tan (Non-Standard Color)

Liver and Tan GSDs are in a lot of ways similar to iconic varieties like the black and tan. They have a combination of colors with the saddle pattern where the darker color is found mainly on the back and head and the lighter color appears on the chest, belly, and limbs.

The only difference is that with liver and tan German Shepherds, the dark color is a shade of reddish brown that blends in perfectly with the tan parts.

SPOTLIGHT: Check out your dog’s weight at with our very own puppy weight chart right here.

6. Blue & Tan (Non-Standard Color)

Blue and Tan German Shepherds have a very beautiful, soft aesthetic with muted tones of watered down black and dull tan markings. This non-standard variation typically follows a different pattern of color distribution from the common saddle-type pattern.

With blue and tan German Shepherd dogs, the blue part occupies most of the body including most of the torso, head, and tail. The tan sections appear mainly on the limb and occasionally on the chest and face.

5. Golden (Non-Standard Color)

Golden German Shepherds are single-toned variations of the GSD dog breed that have fully golden-brown coats. This shade of brown is a very light, yellowish brown with a glossy finishing. The full beauty of Golden German Shepherds is best appreciated with long-haired varieties.

Contrary to popular beliefs, Golden German Shepherds can actually be purebred. They are just very hard to come by as the genes required are themselves rare and recessive.

4. Isabella, Lilac, Fawn (Non-Standard Color)

Isabella is a term used to describe a watered down version of brown coats. In German Shepherds, they appear very similar to watered down chocolate or liver GSDs with a powdery-looking coat.

Isabella or fawn German Shepherds are usually single-toned in that the watered down brown covers the entire body. However, in most of these dogs the fur on the top aspect of the body tends to be darker than what is on lower parts like the chest, neck, and limbs.

3. Sable (Pattern/Markings)

Sable German Shepherds refer to variations of the breed that have black tip markings on lighter parts of the coat. This pattern is often confused for the Brindle German Shepherd pattern especially if the black tips align and seem to form lines.

The dog may also appear to either have watered down shades of black or even completely black coats where in real sense it is a bicolor GSD with black tips on the fur.

2. Brindle (Pattern/Markings)

Brindle German Shepherd dogs have beautiful, stripped patterns that make them look similar to tiger coats. The stripes are always of a darker color that is usually black but could also be blue. The rest of the coat has a lighter color which in this case is either tan or brown.

The stripe markings are most prominent over the torso and limbs and are best visualized on medium-haired German Shepherd dogs. There may be some stripes on the face but these pale in comparison to more pronounced the dark mask feature over the snout and around the eyes.

1. Piebald Or Panda (Pattern/Markings)

Piebald German Shepherd dogs have very distinct white coat markings. These occur in large, white patches and sometimes cover more than half of the dog’s body.

In most cases, the Piebald marking occurs on what would otherwise have been a bicolor GSD. The result of the 2 main colors and the white patches from the piebald gene is a tricolor German Shepherd.

On the other hand, if the piebald gene occurs in a German Shepherd with genes of single, solid color coats, the result will be a bicolor German Shepherd with a combination of white and other color like liver or black.

Related Questions

What Color Is A Purebred German Shepherd? The color of a purebred German Shepherd depends on a number of factors including genetics. Some of the common colors include black and tan, black and red, and even black and cream. The GSD may also have rarer colors including white, liver, and all black. While these single, solid colors are not very common, they do appear in purebred German Shepherds.

What Is The Rarest Color Of German Shepherds? The rarest color of German Shepherd is liver. This term is used to describe a rich, reddish brown shade. The hues range from brighter shades that look like rusty, brick red to almost earthy, brown tones.

Can A Black German Shepherd Have White Puppies? It is possible for a black German Shepherd to have white puppies. This happens in cases where the black GSD was a carrier for genes responsible for white coat in the breed. It could also happen with albino white German Shepherds born to black mothers. With the albino GSD, the white coat is accompanied by a pink nose and sometimes blue eyes.

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