==> Not all is black & white...

But black is beautiful!

black and white GSD dog sign

BLACK German Shepherd

black GSD

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.

black GSDIf 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!

This is what a Top dog expert says:
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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.

Black-White GSDs

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).

black GSD pupsThis 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?

black GSD pupsAlso 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

black gsd sticker

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):


black GSDsGlobally, 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?

black slouched GSDThankfully, 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!).

black GSDThe 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.

Temperament Differences?

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 f) - and secondly on the line of pedigree but irrespective of coat color.

One Significant Difference!

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  26 Site Comments, ZERO SPAM Add one


    Thanks, this was an informative article. I enjoyed learning more about the black GSD.


    Hmm,not sure where u have got your info from,but there are actually MANY all blacks here in Australia.
    Also,just as a helpful tip on looking for fleas on an all black- their bellies are still usually quite pink(or in our case,blueish),which makes it VERY easy to see the fleas.


      Thanks so much Helina!
      Maybe I should better highlight all database referrals. I did write above: "Thanks(!) to all the members who have subscribed with dog details..., the popularity of coat colors is pretty clear (for us here):..."

      In other words, what I meant is: The figures for global coat color spread are based on our members' GSDs. If the ones in your neighborhood differ significantly, it would help if you could get your neighbors to subscribe with dog data as well?

      Seems you are also lucky in terms of your dog's belly coat color and the local fleas' nesting preferences on the belly. All our GSDs' bellies were VERY dark such that I could only see LIGHT spots, nothing dark. But I find black coat so beautiful! I can't understand why black dogs (in general, not only GSDs) are the ones that are the "shelf warmers" in shelters...??

      I am glad to hear that in Australia (or at least your state/territory) all-black GSDs ARE appreciated as well! Aren't they wonderful? Why did you get a black one? Is it a rescue? Or local breeder? Do you know of local all-black GSD breeders?

      Initially the plan was to build a breeder and rescue center database also for Australia (but I gave up when I noticed the workload for the USA! - only Canada has a proper database on our site, not sure, I think it was WAY easier to locate breeders and shelters there).

      Do you feel you could help contributing data (for everything) for Australia maybe?

      Oh, and do you keep yours out of the sun all day? How? What's the daily water intake? Does it match our health widget? We all here would be grateful for any tips you can provide?


    Well Tim its pretty easy to see why black dogs are the "shellf warmers" in shelters that that is for 2 main reasons. 1) lots of people view black dogs of any kind as scary and evil. Also what i have found is that the pointed ears of of my shepherd scare people because they auomatically think attack dog and that they are not good family companions. 2) black dogs are NOT photogenic. i know this from first hand experience with my 7 y/o black lab and 16 m/o all black german shepherd. Without the PERFECT lighting they tend to look like blobs and you cant see detail of definition. All in all i think that Black german shepherds are one of the best looking coat colors for GSD, the other being Sable.


      Thanks Brent. Well, I can't see what would make a black dog any scarier than say the tan-black or the white GSD? And evil? Pah! Evil is only in our mind, nothing that is born is evil (I think). When we think and act negatively (scary/evil), then we can MAKE sth evil, sure. Incl. a dog. But if the training is good, we get the most wonderful dog - and family companion.

      And re/ photogenic, isn't this Periodical itself a photogenic love story? ;-) And, wait a sec, where do I have that other pic...

      This one! :-)

      german shepherd car security team

      PS: I know what you meant :-) just not sure if everyone else would...


    Once again, Tim, you have provided an interesting and informative article. You always have something new for us to learn!
    Thank you!


    I am looking for a pure black pup to buy plse help Urgent


      Lynda pl check out our Breeder Directory choosing where you live.

      On that very page (any GSD Breeders page) look top left widget which shows you rescue GSDs available in your region. If lucky you'll find a black GSD there (subject to where you live).

      I wanted a black GSD as well, but a) didn't find one here, and b) I had to accept that it is sort of cruel to have a black GSD in this sunny region, so I did not get one (yet).


    My qustion is, Does anyone have similar characteristics in there Black bred GS's We own two GS siblings, there father was Pure
    Black and mother Pure White, our dogs are very light
    with dark markings. The male is very big with Wolf
    like Teeth and big ears and long snout, he has long
    legs and his body like his sister, is not Slanted, its big
    shoulders back like a wolf. His twin sister never
    grew as big as her brother, but she retains similar markings, there nature is Fierce like there parents, and are very affectionate, but will not let anyone
    pat them without trying to warm them off with teeth showing snarls.. Like a wolf! ive owned alot of GS breeds, but this breed is the most intelligent and aggressive ive owned.


      Deb, do you have photos?
      PS: to link them here, leave out the http:// (else it's going in SPAM) ;-)
      I can then look at them by copying the rest of your url.


        Hi Tim,

        I have owned all colors of GSD except black and sable. I can tell you that only one was very aggressive toward strangers and she was all white however after talking to many people I found out that the breeder over bred her dogs and also they all seemed to have aggression issues. That was my mistake for not doing my homework...it was my first GSD. I since have had an all black and she had the best and most laid back temperamnet of any dog but she was very protective of the family when she needed to be. Ive had a tan with little black and she was a rescue and very sweet, I now have a 100 lb 2 year old male Red and black...very loving and playful but forgets how big he is and a 14 week old all Black GSD from a Security/police Dog breeder and se is friendly and relaxed like my other black one was. your best bet would be to get your dogs in some sort of intense and extensive treatment. When they are vicious/aggressive its tough to take them places because there is always that possibility that something could happen-
        Plus GSD are already a nervous breed so its so important to get the dogs mellowed out at a young age.


        Thanks Cori, I can only add, socialization is everything. All the more with the GSD breed!! But the coat color has no impact on temperament, the family line has. So then when the dog is bred, you can't change the genes, now all you can do to shape behavior is socialization. The right way. Oddly, exactly GSD owners - who'd need it most! - don't get this. They keep their dog to themselves (and then when the adult dog problems amass, they post HELP! requests on websites...) :roll:


    I have an all black German shepherd and I was just wondering how rare they are and if there is more white ones. Mine is a beauty. I love the German Shepherd Dog and have had 5 of them over my 73 years, but never a black one. Thanks!


    Just found your site. Love it! We are on our 4th gsd. This one is solid black. He is only 10months now, but a sweet heart. All of our shepherds have been sweet, smart and loyal. Its all in the "upbringing". Our 12 year old black and tan is helping to train the new guy. He is still a great dog. At 126 lbs he is impressive. But getting older like the rest of us. Looking forward to reading you in the future.


    I am am from Africa, and I love slant Gsd or all black straight back. I just turned 18years, I have been gathering all my life saving to buy a Gsd aside Africa. so anyone should help with this, and help with the cheapest price to buy and send it here. when I was between 7 to 14yrs, I cry seeing people with dogs when my poor parent could not buy me one.


    Thank you SOOOO much for your article! I found it very enlightening. Sadly we had a Black Shepherd but, one neighbors kept phoning 5here pilice saying I had a wolf! To prove their stupidity I even showed his AKC papers to which they voaimed,"they must be fake!". We ended up having to find him a new b owner but, my family has never gotten over the loss. We trained as a family and I trained him with a trainer for Search and Rescue. He was amazing! But, every time he barked at someone on out driveway (our neighbors would intentionally meet just where they could be seen by him), they would phone The police.We are beginning the search for a new pup. We live in O.H. and are having bad luck. Do you have any adv8ce? Our original Dog, "keno" was found through our Search and Rescue trainer. He has now gone out of business and moved. Thank You again!!!


      What odd neighbors, huh? I would decisively have told them: "My dear, if this purebred German Shepherd Dog was a "wolf", he would have eaten you alive many times over!"
      And then I'd let it sink in (which differs for different people, I'd judge by her facial expression when she understand/swallowed the news). And THEN I'd add: "YOU really ought to be grateful to have him in this neighborhood, 18 months ago this very DOG saved another old lady's life by bravely intervening when the old lady was attacked by some roughneck trying to get at her purse!"

      You have to vary this according to your facts, but I would not ever let anyone judge anything without influencing his/her very judgement. ;-)


      I will be breeding my solid black female with a solid black stud. Amazing pedigrees. I live in elyria, lorain county ohio.


    I have a black gsd as wellvas a black and tan. Both are well behaved, affectionate dogs...the best companion dogs my husband and I have ever had. But the stigma of black dogs in rural Mexico where we live is often very frustrating. I have had people shout that my black gsd is "the devil's dog" and that all black dogs should be put down. We have even had people throw stones at her on our walks. Such a shame that ignorance can bias people so strongly against what is a wonderful pet but based on what I have encountered here, i can understand why they are often the last dogs to be adopted in shelters


    Thank's Tim for the great info. on the Black GSD's! Stryker, will be 19mo.'s old on the 9th, and time for a weight up-date (guess 75-80lbs.). His AKC name is "Blue Sable",and he's tan/black, his Dad is black,Mom is like him, as is his brother's/sister's. The picture you posted of the 3 in the car showed, how beautiful they too are! Happy New Year from all of us in Julian,Ca. Jim&Stryker, the funny boy.


    Hi Tim,
    This is amazing, I love the black GSD's! Sugar's Mom is a black long hair, no undercoat, Sire is black and tan short hair w/undercoat of course. Thanks to heaven Sugar has her Mom's coat, though she does have the tan face markings, and belly. Both she and Promise are German bred, but Sugar is the first one I've seen without the undercoat,(and a beautiful straight back!)
    To my understanding there are the three coats in GSD's, (shorthair w/undercoat, longhair w/ undercoat and longhair without) My last GSD was longhair w/undercoat, and grooming was a 24-7 undertaking! How can we send pictures?


      Hey Candie, yes sure please do, just use Krystal's facebook page to post all the photos you have :-) facebook.com/mygsd.org. There's also the new fb comment section here right above our own comment section, did you see? So you can post your pics right here on the site, and your friends can see it via fb too.

      You reminded me though, I wanted to get an upload feature working here... give everyone an avatar... etc. I will look into that now.
      The easy photo upload from the phone that we had a few years ago stopped, primarily attracted spammers :-(
      So I gonna look for sth better now. Thanks so much for reminding me, and I'd LOVE to see pics of your beauties!

      Hey, what did you think of the Puppy Diary, did you go through it?


    In 2004 I paid premium price $1500 for my solid black GSD and he was the most wonderful loving dog in his short 4 years of life.Ike was losing his coat,I couldn't keep any weight on him and his belly was swelling. His diagnosis was Cardiomyopathy,an enlarged heart. He survived 1 year after he was diagnosed.

    He was brought up inside with my 5 children,the youngest were 4 and 2 and the 3 were together all day.He understood every single word of english and responded to my requests for what I told my youngest to do like pick up your toys it's bed time,he would help them pick up.

    I was sitting on the kitchen floor trying to coax my 2 into coming out from under the table,ofcourse Ike was right next to them.they playfully said "no" and Ike would look at them in shock then back at me but he stayed under the table with them to go along with their game.I grabbed a packet of biscuits and said to my son to come out,he scrambled out and took the biscuit running into the lounge room.I then told my daughter to come out and she did,taking a biscuit and bolting into the lounge room.Then lastly Ike looked at me like "pick me pick me it's my turn" and I said come on and Ike bounced over and took the biscuit and bolted into the lounge room joining the kids in their pop up tent. Many times I couldn't find my daughters bottle and Ike always got up when he saw me searching to find the bottle and would run to give it to me.

    It took me 4 years before I could get another dog after Ike passed as I couldn't recover from his loss....I now have another Black GSD "Stet" and he is magnificent. I wished I didn't wait so long as the children missed out and it is priceless having a GSD when they are such a young age,they are like one of the playfull innocent loving children.

    The night before Ike died he sat at their bedroom door and wathed both my youngest sleep.He did not lay down for hours,I took photos and had a feeling he knew he was leaving.I would love to look at the photos and hang them up but my nose bleeds every time I look at them and I sob uncontrollably.He is buried im my yard under the clothes line where he would sit next to me and pick up anything I dropped and hand it over.I stand next to his spot to hang my washing and leave him a sock or face washer to let him know I am thinking of him.


      What a wonderful, warm story. Of an almost inconceivable perfect dog. Thank you, it is a joyful read.
      I only added a few line breaks so that more people can read this.


    Can these black GSD live in climate of kolkata, India? Please answer and also is there any way to keep a husky in hot and humid climate?

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