The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) breed is fiercely loyal, incredibly intelligent, and is known for being a hard worker and an excellent companion for the family.
You’ve probably seen the beautiful black and tan GSD, but did you know that there are Black German Shepherds?
They are rare, but all-black shepherds do exist, and maybe you have questions!
- Is the Black German Shepherd dog part of the recognized German Shepherd breed?
- Do Black German Shepherds have the same temperament as the traditional variety? What makes them different?
- Are Black German Shepherds expensive? How do you know if a puppy is 100% black?
If you are looking to get a Black German Shepherd Dog or learn more about the breed, you are in the right place.
We have created the ultimate breed guide outlining everything you need to know about all-Black German Shepherds.
Is the Black German Shepherd a Purebred German Shepherd?
First and foremost, the Black German Shepherd is recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), who includes them within the German Shepherd breed standard.
So, the purely Black German Shepherd Dog is a purebred German Shepherd – their coat color is just entirely black!
Let’s take a look at where the Black German Shepherd came from.
History of the Black German Shepherd
German Shepherds, including Black German Shepherds, are indeed from Germany.
The German Shepherd Dog Breed
During the 1850s, Europeans pursued standardizing working dog breeds to define and establish a specific dog breed with desirable traits, such as intelligence, speed, and strength.
Germans were able to breed excellent herding dogs, but they varied in size and appearance from region to region.
The Phylax Group was formed in 1891 to standardize dog breeding further but only lasted a few years before disbanding.
The German Shepherd breed was born under German cavalry officer Max von Stephanitz, a former member of the Phylax Group, at the end of the 19th century. Von Stephanitz was passionate about continuing to standardize dog breeds for work.
Von Stephanitz was introduced to a dog named Hektor Linksrhein at a dog show in 1899. Hektor embodied all of the traits Von Stephanitz looked for in a working dog: strength, intelligence, beauty, and loyalty. So much so that Von Stephanitz purchased Hektor right then and there.
Von Stephanitz changed his name to Horand von Grafrath, who became the first registered German Shepherd Dog.
German Shepherds rose in popularity until World War I when Americans and other countries thought of the breed as taboo. During World War II, the German Shepherd was associated with Nazi Germany, further increasing its decline in popularity.
However, soldiers who worked with German Shepherds began bringing them home as they proved to be excellent dogs – loyal, hard-working, and intelligent. The name “German” was dropped, and “Alsatian” was used for many years as the breed’s official name.
The German Shepherd’s popularity grew again, and eventually, “Alsatian” was dropped, and the breed was recognized as the German Shepherd Dog again.
The Black German Shepherd Dog Breed
As the German Shepherd Dog breed evolved, multiple coat colors became recognized by the American Kennel Club as acceptable.
For a German Shepherd dog to be completely black, both parents must have the recessive gene that creates the black coat color or two black parents themselves. So, a German Shepherd parent that is black and tan, but has the recessive solid black gene, can have an all-black puppy. But the other parent must also have the recessive gene for there to be a black puppy.
The German Shepherd that’s widely recognized as the “classic” picture of the breed is the tan and black or saddle coat color GSD.
However, other colors are considered purebred German Shepherds, including all-black. The AKC breed standard does not recognize white German Shepherds.
Description of the Black German Shepherd
The pure Black German Shepherd is stoic, majestic, and muscular. While the Black German Shepherd is quite similar to the standard black and tan variety, there are several physical differences.
There are similarities between the “classic” GSD and the Black GSD, including,
- Erect ears
- A fluffy tail
- A double coat
- Extensive shedding
There are also quite a few noticeable differences when comparing the Black German Shepherd versus the standard version, including,
- Their solid, all-black coat
- A longer coat with a flowing mane, skirting and feathering
- A straighter back
- A larger size
Black German Shepherd dogs’ long muzzle, erect ears, dark eyes, and chiseled facial features show the breed’s confidence, alertness, and grace.
Their muscular build shows off graceful curves, although their back is typically straighter than the standard GSD.
The Black Shepherd sports a medium-length double coat that can be longer than the general variety. The outer layer is dense and straight, with a shorter undercoat that is smooth.
How Large are Black German Shepherds?
It’s worth mentioning again, in detail, that Black German Shepherds are typically larger than the standard GSD version. Black German Shepherds can be up to 26 inches tall and weigh 88 lbs, surpassing the classic variety.
Black GSD puppies will reach their full-grown size between 18 months to 2 years old.
Black German Shepherds Coloring
Not all Black German Shepherds are born with a completely black coat. There are quite a few color variations, including the classic black and tan.
If you are looking for Black German Shepherd puppies, wait until they are at least eight to ten weeks old to bring him home.
Black German Shepherd puppies can be born white, grey, or black and usually don’t get their true coat until they are around two months.
You do not want to come home with a Black GSD puppy that does not have that full black color you are looking for, especially since this variety is costly!
Do your research and work with your breeder to ensure that your GSD puppy is indeed a solid Black German Shepherd if that is what you want.
The Black German Shepherd’s Temperament
The Black German Shepherd’s coloring does not affect their temperament at all. Their striking black color and stoic stance might lead people to think the breed is hostile, as with the standard GSD, but they are not prone to aggression.
Black German Shepherd dogs are just as confident, loyal, and intelligent as the classic version. They have the same desirable traits that make them wonderful family pets and protective guard dogs. They are fearless but poised and approachable.
The breed is highly intelligent and follows commands, taking on the role of a working or herding dog or companion with ease and grace.
German Shepherds’ temperament keeps them at the top; the dogs are highly desirable across the world, in many different settings.
And Black German Shepherd dogs are just as confident, loyal, and intelligent as the classic version. They have the same desirable traits that make them wonderful family pets and protective guard dogs.
All GSDs are efficient, strong, hard workers, including solid Black German Shepherds. Their stable, calm temperament allows them to excel as a perfect family pet and a service dog or a police dog.
There’s a good reason the German Shepherd Dog is the second most popular dog!
With an innate sense of smell, powerful build, and ability to be easily trained, Black German Shepherds, as with all other GSDs, are wonderful police dogs. They make excellent search and rescue dogs and can sniff out narcotics effectively.
They have been an invaluable asset to soldiers and military forces due to their obedience and bravery. GSDs have worked as messenger dogs and warned soldiers of imminent danger.
The Black Shepherd is a working dog, and its protective watchdog instinct can be formidable. These are dogs used to herd and protect livestock, and they will do the same with their human pack! In the case of your family coming into danger, have no doubt this dog will defend you.
However, as a companion dog, you want her to recognize that not all people are a threat. Make sure you socialize your black GSD from a young age to get on well with people in adulthood.
Are Black German Shepherds Good for Families?
The Black GSD is an excellent family dog that is loyal, playful, funny, and active.
As with any dog, proper socialization and training can make all of the difference. Because GSDs are instinctually protective and aloof, it’s of utmost importance to take the time to train your pup. Lucky for you, Black Shepherds are easy to train as they are smart and willing to learn.
From there, you truly have a loyal canine friend for life.
The Black GSD is great for children and teenagers. They are also good with other pets.
If you love the outdoors and enjoying hiking, a Black German Shepherd dog will be exploring right alongside you.
How Much Exercise do Black German Shepherds Need?
GSDs need at least one hour of exercise a day. The GSD is a herding dog, after all!
With the ability to jump up to 5 feet in the air and run maximum speeds of 30 mph, the Black GSD is born to live an active, playful life.
They are capable of learning all kinds of tricks – catching frisbees and fetching toys. Black Shepherds enjoy swimming, running, and hiking.
There are plenty of ways to make sure your Black Shepherd Dog gets enough exercise every day, and it’s important for their overall health.
Training Black German Shepherds
Begin training your Black German Shepherd puppy as early as 8 weeks. Here are several training tips to make sure your Black Shepherd dog is properly trained.
Proper socialization is incredibly important for your puppy and must be done by the age of 16 weeks to be effective.
To understand and act accordingly around strangers, Black Shepherds must be around your friends, family, and other dogs at an early age.
Guard dogs are wonderful, but if your Black Shepherd thinks everyone and everything is threatening, that is an issue.
House and Crate Train
Crate training helps Black Shepherds learn to be alone and actually helps expedite housetraining.
Begin with small increments, 5-10 minutes, to do tasks around the house or yard work.
Your Black Shepherd puppy should have no problem adjusting to the crate or becoming housetrained. As with any training, be sure to stay consistent, encourage your pup, and know that it will happen!
Your Black Shepherd puppy will likely easily pick up on commands such as sit, stay, and down, as well as leash-walking.
The earlier you start with your puppy, the better.
Another option that works wonders for many pet owners is signing your dog up for an obedience class.
Recall practice is simply training your Black Shepherd to come when called.
Which isn’t always simple, but always worth it. It will take time and a lot of patience, but it’s an important skill for your pup to learn.
Make sure to be positive and stay consistent, and you will see results!
Any dog, including GSD puppies, can get bored and decide to chew, bark, or show out in other unwanted, destructive manners.
By teaching Black GSDs impulse control, they can remain calm, stay on task, and not display reckless, spontaneous behavior.
Start by making your puppy sit and stay before anything he may get excited about, such as dinner time or playtime. That simple act can go a very long way in teaching your Black Shepherd impulse control.
Obedience classes are also a great option for teaching your pup impulse control. Just be sure to reinforce what he’s learned at home!
Taking Care of Your Black German Shepherd
Properly training Black German Shepherd dogs is not a lot of work behaviorally. Still, they require grooming, bathing, and regular veterinarian visits for check-ups and making sure no health issues arise.
Black Shepherds with longer hair should be brushed more frequently, up to one time a day. Shorter hair dogs only require brushing one to two times a week.
Generally speaking, Black German Shepherds only need to be bathed every 4-5 months.
The breed’s double coat, with its natural oils, protects them from indoor and outdoor elements, such as dust and sun exposure.
Bathing your Black GSD too often can result in dry, irritated skin.
Make sure you take your Black Shepherd for regular vet visits. You can prevent any health problems, ask questions, and get prescriptions for essential medications such as heartworm or flea prevention.
Black German Shepherds and Shedding
All German Shepherd variations shed, and the Black Shepherd is no exception.
While their black coat is shiny, flowy, and gorgeous, it will come out and maybe even in heaps, no matter the season.
If you are wondering, Black GSDs are not hypoallergenic.
Black German Shepherd Diet
Your Black German Shepherd deserves the best.
Black Shepherds need premium-quality food, and adults required 20 calories per every pound he weighs. Your pup needs fat and protein to ensure proper growth.
Before starting your Black Shepherd on any diet, consult your veterinarian.
Are Black German Shepherds Prone to Health Issues?
In general, the German Shepherd Dog breed is susceptible to certain health issues.
Due to inbreeding from the start of the German Shepherd breed, the German Shepherd suffers from common problems like hip and elbow dysplasia, leading to arthritis.
The University of Zurich conducted a small study and found that almost half of the police dogs suffered from degenerative spinal stenosis. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals determined 19.1% of German Shepherds have hip dysplasia.
Preventing hip dysplasia in German Shepherds is possible through a healthy diet and limiting jumping and other exerting exercises. How a German Shepherd is bred also comes into play.
According to studies, the German Shepherd breed is prone to develop degenerative myelopathy; however, a low-cost DNA saliva test can test for the neurological disorder.
German Shepherds’ cerumen-producing glands are hyperactive, so the breed is less likely to suffer from frequent ear infections.
Degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disease, occurs with enough regularity specifically in the breed to suggest that it is predisposed.
Black Shepherds are not exempt from this, as the variation has their fair share of health problems, including hip dysplasia. GSDs are prone to the following illnesses:
- Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
- Von Willebrand’s disease
- Heart disease
- Spinal diseases such as Degenerative Spinal Stenosis and Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy
- Eye diseases
- Digestive difficulties
The Black Shepherd’s lifespan is 10-13 years with proper care.
Be sure to feed your GSD a proper diet, give them daily exercise, and regularly visit your veterinarian.
The American Kennel Club ranks the German Shepherd second out of 196 dogs. They are quite popular and for a good reason!
In 1919, the UK Kennel Club began accepting registrations for the breed and had a total of 54 dogs. That number expanded to over 8,000 in 1926. Popularity grew as soldiers shared how intelligent and capable GSDs were, and Rin Tin Tin became a household name.
In the United States, the first German Shepherd Dog registered was Queen of Switzerland. Unfortunately, due to careless breeding, her offspring suffered from defects, resulting in the breed to lose popularity during the late 1920s.
In 1937 and 1938, the German Shepherd made a comeback after Sieger Pfeffer Von Bern became Grand Victor in American Kennel Club dog shows.
Unfortunately, the breed experienced another dip in popularity after World War II due to anti-German sentiment.
Slowly, the breed’s popularity grew, and became the third most popular dog in 1993, then the second most popular in 2009. The GSD has held its position for over ten years.
The Modern Black German Shepherd
Von Stephanitz had a clear vision for the German Shepherd Dog breed and worked hard to maintain those desirable traits, solely focused on breeding a working dog.
Today, German Shepherd dogs are criticized for the lack of strict breeding designed to eliminate defects. Also, the German Shepherd’s role as a working dog is criticized.
Due to careless breeding, critics note the genetic problems such as color-paling, hip dysplasia, monorchidism, weakness of temperament, and missing teeth, along with folded or bent ears that do not entirely turn up when adulthood is reached.
How much is a Black German Shepherd Puppy?
German Shepherds have litter sizes anywhere from four to nine puppies. Most are not all-black, however.
Therefore, a classic tan and black GSD puppy will cost you anywhere from $300 to $1,000.
Black German Shepherds are extremely rare, making up only 6.8 % of the German Shepherd population.
Rare means expensive.
People will likely pay double the price for a Black Shepherd, between $700 and $2,000.
Where Can I Get a Black German Shepherd?
Do your research and make sure you are purchasing your Black German Shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder.
Talk to fellow German Shepherd breed owners, your vet, and do your due diligence online.
If you are getting a puppy, make sure they are at least eight weeks old to ensure they are truly 100% Black German Sheperd.
If you are getting an older dog, be sure to ask plenty of questions:
- Was the dog trained as a puppy?
- What’s the dog’s temperament?
- Do you have the dog’s papers confirming he is a purebred German Shepherd?
Is it Time to Bring Home a Black German Shepherd?
Black German Shepherds are easily trained and low maintenance. They make intelligent, loyal, confident, and playful pets.
However, a Black German Shepherd is expensive, needs proper socialization and training, and requires an active lifestyle with plenty of exercises.
If you think that sounds like a good fit, the Black Shepherd may be the perfect addition to your household!
The Black German Shepherd Dog is recognized by the American Kennel club as purebred and is quite rare with its luxurious all-black coat.
A Black German Shepherd is expensive but has all of the desirable traits von Stephanitz envisioned from the beginning: hardworking, loyal, energetic, and intelligent.