The Black German Shepherd: A Complete Breed Guide


black GSD looking

The Black German Shepherd is a striking canine that is sure to catch your eye when they cross your path.

Though this gorgeous pup is sought after by German Shepherd lovers, there has been some stigma surrounding the breed when it comes to their unique appearance.

In this article we’ll give you a complete breed guide of the Black German Shepherd, and what makes this canine so special.

How rare is the Black German Shepherd?

If you’ve been considering the purchase of a Black German Shepherd, you’ve probably discovered the difficulty in finding these dogs with common breeders, and how much more expensive they are than other German Shepherd puppies.

This is due to how rare this coat color is in German Shepherds, and German Shepherd breeders being aware of this fact.

Exact statistics on how rare this coat color is in German Shepherds are forever changing due to breeders being able to create Black German Shepherds with specific breeding, but it’s said that there’s about a 10% chance of getting a Black German Shepherd with normal breeding.

Due to this and the wolf-like appearance of the Black Shepherd, this canine is in high demand.

What’s Different About the Black German Shepherd?

black GSD in grass

This is where things get a bit tricky. When you search through German Shepherd websites focused on Black Shepherds, you will likely find conflicting facts on each page about their specific qualities.

We’ll cover each of these statements according to breeders of Black German Shepherds, and let you decide what you think is true!

First, you’ll often see statements on the size differences of Black German Shepherds and other Shepherds with more common coat colors.

Breeders that specialize in the black coat color claim that these dogs are actually larger than the other common coat colors, and that they can be up to a few inches taller than other German Shepherds.

Many claim that Black german Shepherds are larger due to their unique genetics, while others believe that this is just a result of specific breeding of larger German Shepherds.

Another claim you’ll often see is that Black German Shepherds tend to have a straighter back than other German Shepherds. This is another claim that is often criticized, and can’t be proven by fact. This may also be a result of specific breeding for these unique factors.

Last is the claim that Black German Shepherds have longer and more luxurious coats. While breeders claim that this is a trait that is unique to the Black German Shepherd, others claim that the only thing that is different in a Black German Shepherds coat is the color, and not the length of their coat.

long hair black GSD

No matter the conflicting reports that you will see when researching this fascinating breed, is the fact that their appearance is striking. There may be several myths surrounding this breed, but their beauty cannot be denied.

Genetics Behind The Black German Shepherd

There are two ways that you can end up with the stunning Black German Shepherd.

The black coat color is achieved by either breeding two Black German Shepherds, or by breeding two dogs that happen to both have the recessive gene for the black coat color.

Many previously thought that a Black german Shepherd could only be created by breeding two Black Shepherds, but it has since been proven that this is not the case.

Though it’s a small chance, it’s possible if both parents carry this recessive gene!

History of the Black German Shepherd

The History of the Black German Shepherd is no different than the other colors of this breed. They have the same history that originated in Germany with a desire to create the perfect working dog.

The German Shepherd first came to light when Captain Max Von Stephanitz laid his eyes upon a striking dog named Hektor, which was a German Shepherd attending a dog show.

With being on a desperate hunt for the ideal working dog, he was blown away by the poise and power this dog possessed. The Captain then purchased Hektor (later named Horand von Grafrath), who later became the first named German Shepherd.

As the cavalry officer began to breed the German Shepherd, their popularity grew. The GSD soon made its way to the US when used in war, where it became clear just how impressive of a working dog this breed was.

Today the German Shepherd is still a well-known breed in many prestigious working positions. GSD’s are known to work in the military, accompany police officers, are used as service dogs, and are still excellent herders.

Aside from their incredible working ability is their love of being family dogs. This breed is loyal, loving, and makes a wonderful companion to any family.

Appearance of the Black German Shepherd

The Black German Shepherd’s striking appearance is likely why this canine has become so well known. Their wolf-like appearance stops people in their tracks, and their dignified demeanor demands respect. It’s no wonder the Black GSD is in demand.

black GSD puppy with stick

While some Black German Shepherds are born another color (white, grey, or black), they always display their true black color by eight weeks of age. Because of this, it’s recommended to not commit to a puppy until they reach the eight-week mark if you are looking for a specific black coat color.

These dogs can have small spots of brown or white on their chests, paws, or tails, but every other part of their coat will be black.

Just like other German Shepherd colors, the Black German Shepherd can have a short or long coat. Their fur can be short and coarse, or be feathered and soft. Either way, they do have a double coat that can result in a large amount of shedding.

Black GSD’s can reach up to 26 inches in height, and can weigh anywhere from 50-90 pounds depending on if they are male or female.

Since the German Shepherd is quite large, they generally keep growing until about 18 months of age. The majority of their growth will happen during their first year of life, and they will continue to fill out during the following 6 months.

The German Shepherd’s build is usually quite muscular, but remain fairly sleek and lean when they remain at their ideal weight. They typically have that same characteristic slanted back like other German Shepherds, though some claim that the Black GSD has a straight back.

Last is their signature erect ears that stand at attention, along with their piercing almond-shaped eyes. Though some German Shepherds will have floppy ears as a puppy, they almost always become stiff and upright once they’ve reached maturity.

Grooming Your Black German Shepherd

The Black GSD’s coat does not usually require much maintenance, but will need to be brushed frequently in order to reduce the amount of stray fur found around your house.

Since Black German Shepherds have thick double coats, they will benefit from being brushed every other day, or even twice a week for GSD’s with shorter hair. For German Shepherds with longer and feathered hair, they may need to be brushed daily in order to avoid tangling of their fur.

When it comes to bathing, try your best not to bathe your Black German Shepherd any more than once a month.

Dogs have natural oils on their skin to help keep their skin hydrated and protected, and frequent bathing can strip the skin of these oils. Bathing your Shepherd once every month or two should suffice, unless they participate in messy outdoor activities.

Personality and Temperament of the Black German Shepherd

black GSD looking away

Though the Black German Shepherd can have a daunting appearance, they have the ability to be loyal and loving companions.

The German Shepherd certainly carries protective qualities, but these behaviors can be easily controlled when socialized at a young age.

The German Shepherd is a respected breed in the dog world for a reason. They are dignified, loyal, territorial, and take their “profession” seriously.

Whether they spend their days working alongside police or playing with their human siblings in the backyard, they put their heart into what they do.

Due to how loyal the GSD is, they are often seen in prestigious positions. They are quick to learn new commands, and their intelligence makes them the perfect breed for several working dog positions.

Though the GSD is known for being a “guard dog,” you can easily decrease the chance of aggression by training and socializing them at a young age.

When properly socialized, Black German Shepherds can be welcoming to other humans and dogs.

When it comes down to their personality, this breed can be downright goofy. They absolutely love to play with their favorite humans, and often carry a puppy like attitude throughout their lives.

Their happy go lucky personality is just one of the many reasons why the German Shepherd is so well loved.

If you are looking for a loyal, outgoing, goofy, and protective furry friend to bring into your family, the Black German Shepherd is the one for you.

Training & Socializing Your Black German Shepherd

Early training and socialization is extremely important for any German Shepherd. The earlier you begin their training and socialization process, the smaller the chance of them developing aggression or any other unfavorable qualities that come along with protective breeds.

Your training process should start from the moment they enter your home.

The best time to start their training and socializing is between 8-12 weeks of age, but can of course be started at any point in their lives.

It’s best to introduce them to basic obedience training from the time they are young, and continue to implement these tricks and commands throughout their lives.

black GSD puppy in grass

An “educated” dog is a confident dog, and confidence helps to minimize the likelihood of aggression toward the unknown.

Socialization is just as important as obedience training, as proper socialization helps to teach dogs how to properly interact with other humans and animals, and help them feel more confident in other settings outside of your home.

Since the German Shepherd can become extremely protective over their humans and home, it’s important to teach them from the start of puppy-hood that not all people and animals are bad.

By showing them what a non-threatening interaction looks like, this can help them understand what it feels like to be in a hostile environment.

Socialization not only makes your dog a welcomed furry member of society, but can also help them learn when it’s time to actually protect you and your home.

Feeding Your Black German Shepherd

Determining your dog’s feeding schedule can be a bit confusing, so we’ve put together a chart that will help you determine how many calories your German Shepherd requires.

An adult German Shepherd (older than 1 year) will require 20 calories per pound of body weight, and you can figure out this amount by checking the calorie count on your choice of quality dog food brand.

Here is a calorie chart for reference:

Weight in PoundsCalories Required Each Day
50 lbs1,000 calories each day
60 lbs1,200 calories each day
70 lbs1,400 calories each day
80 lbs 1,600 calories each day

When feeding a German Shepherd puppy (1 year and under), experts recommend to double the number of calories needed per pound, as they require more calories to keep up with their rapid growth and energy expulsion.

Health Risks of the Black German Shepherd

Though the black color of their coat does not threaten their health in any way, the Black German Shepherd still faces the same medical threats as other German Shepherds face.

black GSD running with stick

Some health conditions that threaten German Shepherds include:

  • Hip dysplasia: Hip dysplasia refers to an abnormal formation of the hip joint that can cause rubbing and grinding of the hip joint itself. This can be incredibly painful as it progresses, so dogs with this condition often experience pain and lameness. Hip dysplasia is known as an inherited condition, so it’s important to get a medical record clearing them of hip dysplasia in each parent when purchasing a German Shepherd puppy.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a degenerative condition of the joints that leads to pain, inflammation, and breakdown of the joints over time. This can cause limping, swelling, pain, and even lameness as this condition progresses. Since this is so common in large breed dogs, it’s best to speak with your vet about starting your adult German Shepherd on joint supplements.
  • Gastric bloat: Gastric bloat is a common condition in dogs with deep chests. During gastric bloat the stomach twists on itself, trapping the contents of the stomach and cutting off blood circulation.

    Symptoms of bloat include retching without any vomit production, distended abdomen, abdominal pain, lethargy, weakness, pale gums, and collapse.

    This condition is always fatal if left untreated, so it’s important to seek medical help immediately if your dog shows any of these symptoms.
  • Canine degenerative myelopathy (CDM): This is a disease of the spinal cord that causes nerve cells to degenerate and fail, which leads to hind limb paralysis.

Tips To Help You Choose A Reputable Breeder

black gsd pup blue collar in grass

Now that we’ve covered all the must-know facts about the Black German Shepherd, let’s cover some helpful tips to guide you through your purchase process. Since the Black German Shepherd is rare, it’s possible that some breeders will exploit this fact.

Some tips to keep in mind during your purchase process include:

  • Keep in mind that Black GSD’s are more expensive, so if you find a black pup that is oddly cheap, you may have reason to question it. (If you don’t care about coat color, then ignore this!)
  • Only take home a Black German Shepherd once they have reached 8-9 weeks of age, as their color can change before this time frame.
  • If you are choosing to purchase from a breeder that claims to breed Black German Shepherds only, then ask to see their parents so you can confirm this fact.
  • Always ask for medical documents that clear each parent of any hip dysplasia or inherited medical conditions before you purchase a puppy.

    In addition to medical documents for each parent, always ask for medical records clearing your possible puppy of any health concerns.
  • Always ask to see the area in which the puppies are being kept. You of course want to see an area that is clean, orderly, and has access to clean food and water.

Final Thoughts

The Black German Shepherd is a stunning canine that definitely lives up to all the hype. When raised in a loving and fulfilling home, the Black German Shepherd can be a wonderful addition to your family!

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds and other large breed dogs for almost 20 years now. Over the years I've worked with veterinarians, K9 unit police officers, breeders, and dog enthusiasts. I firmly believe that there are no bad dogs, and I'm a strong advocate for responsible and ethical dog breeding. Read my story here.

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