==> Not all is black & white...
But black is beautiful!
BLACK German Shepherd
About four months back another Periodical presented the truth about WHITE German Shepherds, and you may remember that there was a lot of news to absorb. Now, the truth about the BLACK German Shepherd holds a few fascinating insights too.
So, this Periodical is to inform you about the solid black, all-black, pure black, black patent, or pitch-black German Shepherd dog - and I will keep this Periodical short and structured.
If you belong to those who often felt that GSDs aren't "handsome dogs", then this Periodical should be able to convince you that German Shepherds can be very handsome indeed: We will show you some black beauties along the way!
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In this Periodical:
- Black German Shepherd History
- Black German Shepherd Genetics
- Black German Shepherd Popularity
- Any Physical Differences?
- Temperament Differences?
- One Significant Difference!
- Relevance of Grooming
- Safety Considerations
Black German Shepherd History
Already the alleged breed founder, Max v. Stephanitz, found solid black to be a desirable coat color for German Shepherd dogs: The breed standard comprised solid black ever since, see eg in the Periodical on White German Shepherds the coat colors per breed standard. As much as v. Stephanitz owned all-white GSDs, he also owned all-black GSDs.
The first registered German Shepherd Dog ever, Horand v. Grafrath (v. Stephanitz' dog), already had the recessive black coat gene (as well as the recessive white coat gene).
Black German Shepherd Genetics
Here's the curiosity: The gene for the black coat color can be recessive, but it can also be dominant! The dominant black coat gene of course is a different gene, thus an all-black German Shepherd may have both the dominant gene and the recessive gene - while GSDs of any other coat color may have the recessive black coat gene but not the dominant gene.
If you breed a dog with the dominant black coat gene, the offspring will be all-black too regardless of the coat color of the other parent - except if the other parent bears a different dominant coat color gene (which certainly is not the gene for the tan-black coat, and it is unclear if another dominant coat color gene exists at all in German Shepherds).
This is why the SV Germany and other GSD club functionaries in the world tried to get retired all solid black breeding stock where a dominant black coat gene was suspected, such that their preferred coat color (tan-black) would prevail!
Preferred tan-black? Yes, or did you believe that the clear dominance of tan-black German Shepherd dog champions throughout history is coincidence?
Also note that GSD pups are born black (or grey or white - in this order of frequency). The dog's ultimate coat color cannot be safely determined before age 6 weeks the earliest. Indeed, I have heard from many GSD-puppy buyers that their dog later developed a coat color very different to what they thought they get when they chose the pup (typically around age 7 or 8 weeks).
In terms of the common hereditary disorders of German Shepherds (such as Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia, Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), Digestive Disorder, and Arthritis), the all-black GSD shows no difference to the prevailing tan-black GSD (or indeed the white GSD).
Black German Shepherd Popularity
Thanks(!) to all the subscribers who have subscribed with dog details (or added them later through the link 'update subscription preferences' at the bottom of every email!), the popularity of coat colors is pretty clear (for us here):
Globally, 6.8% of German Shepherds are all-black (and a total of 88% are at least partly black). In North America, 7.7% are all-black, and in Europe 3.4%. But in Australia and in Asia next to none are all-black! - All based on our subscribers' dogs who can be assumed to be a fair representation of GSDs worldwide, since we have visitors and subscribers from the largest number of nations of all German Shepherd websites (from 211 nations so far).
Any Physical Differences?
Thankfully, the black German Shepherd in general has not that much been subjected to slouch back breeding, hence it is relatively easy to secure a straight back black GSD from a professional breeder (and all the more from a 'backyard breeder' because they are not focused on producing 'champions' for dog shows, doh!).
The facial features of the black German Shepherd are typically the same as those of the (most common) tan-black GSD, thus slightly different to the early white GSD (namely more rounded/smooth, compare with the white mother above).
Often you can read that black German Shepherds would "grow slimmer, but taller". However, based on our extensive global GSD database we can assure you that there is no such correlation whatsoever.
Often you can read that black German Shepherds would be more family-oriented, balanced, and calm. However, again there is no such correlation whatsoever, meaning any such case is pure coincidence (or rather wishful thinking by the dog's owner).
A dog's temperament primarily depends on the owner's prevailing energy level, training, exercise, and feeding (see the Dog Training Toolkit) - and secondly on the line of pedigree but irrespective of coat color.
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