All you need to know about Black German Shepherd – The Ultimate Resource

Black German Shepherd

Black German shepherds have striking, shiny black coats, are highly intelligent, and make great guard dogs and family pets. It’s no wonder they’re so sought after as pets. Keep reading for an in-depth look at the remarkable Black German shepherd.

In this ultimate Black German Shepherd guide, we will take a comprehensive look at its characteristics. How to get one, what color are they, what to feed them, and how to groom them properly. Do Black German Shepherds make good guard dogs and are they good with children? What is their average lifespan and size? What is their history and are they aggressive? How to get them to exercise and what are some known health issues of Black German Shepherds. Let’s delve right into our detailed Black German Shepherd guide.

Article Published on 29th August 2019 » Updated on 14th January 2022

aditi chef editorWritten By Sergey Uhanov Certified Veterinarian.
Sergey Uhanov is a certified veterinarian for dogs over 10 years, breeding 3 dogs. He loves dogs and has his own pet clinic in Israel. He likes to help other people with their dogs by sharing his experience and knowledge.

History, Origins, and Popularity

Where does the black German shepherd originate from?

The German shepherd was bred to help shepherd the larger, stubborn sheep breeds in 19th century Germany. The forefather of today’s black German shepherds was a dog named Horand von Grafhath. A man named Max Emil Frederick von Stephanitz carefully chose this dog to start a new line of working dogs with ideal shepherding traits. When shepherding began to fall out of favor as a profession, von Stephanitz promoted the dogs as police and military dogs. German shepherds soon became renowned for their bravery and intelligence.

How popular is the black German shepherd in the US?

The first German shepherd was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1908. Today, it’s the second most popular dog breed in the United States, just behind the Labrador retriever. The black variation of the German shepherd isn’t new, but it is relatively rare; some estimate that only 6.8% of German shepherds worldwide are completely black.

Short Facts

Breed Type Purebred
Size Males are 24 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder; Females are between 22 and 24 inches
Weight Males 65 to 90 pounds and Females 50 to 75 pounds
Lifespan 9-12 years
Color Black
Temperament Loyal, Courageous, Intelligent, Aloof, Confident
Daily Exercise 1 hour or more each day
Activity Level High
Daily Food Consumption 3 to 6 cups or 1,200 to 2,100 calories
Known Health Issues Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Panosteitis, Degenerative Myelopathy

Personality, Temperament & Socialization

Are black German shepherds aggressive?

Black German shepherds are protective of their families and make great guard dogs, but they are not aggressive. The breed is known for being loyal, courageous and intelligent. They’re also described as aloof, meaning they’ll take their time to get to know a new person rather than becoming instant best buddies. However, once a GSD knows you, they’ll be your best friend for life.

Suitable home environments for a black German shepherd

The ideal home for a black German shepherd has a securely fenced yard. Other than that, they’ll be happy in any home where they have a soft place to lay down to sleep, such as on a folded blanket or a fancy, plush dog bed. Baby gates can partition off rooms if you need to keep the dog out of a certain space, and a crate or cage provides a quiet haven for your dog. Think of the crate as the equivalent of a crib; it’s the perfect place for naptime and where you can keep the puppy or dog safe. Since they’re large dogs, black GSDs might not be the best breed choice if you live in a very small space. If the dog will stay outside much of the time, it’ll need shelter for warmth in the winter and shade in the summer. You can build or buy a doghouse for this purpose.

Are black German shepherds good with children?

Any dog needs to be carefully introduced to small children and requires close observation around little ones. That said, black German shepherds get along great with children and can become a child’s best buddy. GSDs were bred as herding dogs, so they keep a close, protective watch on all members of their group, including children.

Are black German shepherds good family dogs?

Black German shepherds are amazing family dogs! They’re smart, social and love company. These dogs soak up attention from loved ones, and the more people who are around to play with them and interact, the better. They also love exercise and make great pals to take along on family hikes. German shepherds appreciate companionship and won’t do well if they’re always left alone.

Genetics of the Black German Shepherd

Are black German shepherds purebred?

Yes, black German shepherds are a standard coloration of the purebred German shepherd.

Is the black German shepherd the same breed as the German shepherd?

Yes, the black German shepherd is the same breed as the standard German shepherd. It is simply a color that is recognized as a standard variation within the breed. Other colorations include black and tan, blue, gray and sable.

Variations of the Black German Shepherd

The black German shepherd should have a solid black color without any light spots or streaks. They have double coats of fur, with a soft undercoat and a dense guard layer. The main variation is in the length of their fur; it can be medium or long in length.

Differences between the black GSD and the standard GSD

What’s the same?

Most aspects of the black GSD are the same as the standard GSD. That includes their general size, intelligence and temperament.

What’s different?

The main difference between black and standard GSDs is that black GSDs tend to have straighter backs. Pure black German shepherds also tend to have longer manes and can be slightly larger than standard German shepherds.

Are black GSDs born black?

The answer to this question is, “no,” all German Shepherd dogs are not born black. However, some German Shepherd puppies will change color as they grow.

German Shepherd dogs are born one of three colors, and may or may not change color as they grow, depending on the color of their parents and their genetic lineage.

All German Shepherd puppies are born either black, grey or white.

Over time, the puppies will start to show their true colors, but only black German Shepherds will stay black, and white German Shepherds will maintain their white color.

Grey puppies will generally change color to blue or sable Shepherds, while black puppies can become change to be a number of different varieties of Shepherds such as black and tan or black and red.

It is important to note that a pair of black German Shepherd dogs can produce a mixed litter of black and black-tan puppies.

If you are looking for a black German Shepherd, you will want to make sure that your wait until the puppies are at least 8 weeks old before you pick your puppy.

Otherwise, you may end up with a dog that changes color.

Can a German Shepherd turn black later on?

While many German shepherd puppies are born with dark fur that gets lighter as they mature, a true black German shepherd is born with black coloration, and their fur stays black as they grow. If a puppy is born with white or brown fur, it will never turn black.

Can a German shepherd be all black?

All-black German shepherds are an accepted color variation within the breed. They are rare and highly prized for their striking appearances.

Can a standard GSD produce black GSD puppies?

Yes, a standard GSD can carry the recessive black gene and produce black GSD puppies. The odds of producing black GSD puppies are highest when both parents are black.

Can a black German shepherd have white puppies?

If both dog parents carry white genes, it is possible for a black German shepherd to have white puppies.

Do black German shepherds change color?

A true black German shepherd does not change color. It is born with black fur, and the fur stays black. The only exception is the natural graying that happens with old age that’s typically seen on the muzzle and eyebrows of a dog.

How To Tell What Color A German Shepherd Puppy Will Be

German Shepherd puppies will change coat color and pattern up to around 2 years of age.

However, you can tell much sooner what color your puppy will be, just by being observant.

Since all German Shepherd dogs are born one of three colors, you will need to watch closely as they start to grow if you want to determine which color they will be.

Black and Tan puppies will start to show patches of tan coloring around 8-weeks of age. However this coloring will be subtle, and you need to look closely in some cases to see the changes.

How to know if it will stay black or become sable

Sable German Shepherds will start out black but will start to show hints of grey around 8 weeks old.

If you are wanting a black German Shepherd for your family, you will want to wait for puppies to start showing alternate colors in their coat, before selecting your puppy.

This will ensure that you will actually bring home a black puppy, and not a black and tan or sable puppy instead.

Black or white German Shepherd puppies will not change color. White German Shepherds are born white and will remain that color throughout their life.

Black German Shepherd puppies will remain black, but remember, as we mentioned above, black parents can also have black and tan puppies, so it is important to watch closely to make sure that your black puppy will stay black.

When does color changing stop?

German Shepherd puppies will continue to change their coat color and pattern until they are about 2 years old. Until that time, your German Shepherd will alter in color and arrangement of color.

However, these changes will not dramatic and will not completely alter the color of the puppy.

Once you have determined that your puppy is the desired color, you can rest assured that while their color and pattern will change slightly, you will not have to question the color of your pup.

Check the parents

If you are looking for another more scientific way to determine the color of your German Shepherd puppy, you should meet its parents.

Unlike other breeds, you can be fairly certain in determining the color of your German Shepherd puppy based on the color of its parents.

Black and tan parents will produce black and tan puppies. White parents will produce white puppies. You can also be fairly certain that sable parents will produce puppies of the same color.

The only time that this theory can be questionable is with black parents. Two black parents can produce black and tan puppies.

The black and tan coloring is a recessive trait for black German Shepherds, so if the combination of genes is right, two black parents can have a combination of black and black and tan puppies.

Because of this possibility, if you are looking for a black German Shepherd, it is a good idea to wait until around 8-weeks of age before you select a puppy from a litter from two black German Shepherd parents.

Selecting too soon may cause you to end up with a black and tan puppy instead.

Care & Grooming

Do Black German Shepherds shed?

Black German shepherds shed just the same as standard GSDs, only requiring a brushing every few days to maintain their coats. They have heavier shedding periods twice a year when they need to be brushed more often. An undercoat shedding rake is the best brush for German shepherds during peak shedding times. Their fur doesn’t tend to tangle or mat, and dirt falls off of it, so they only need occasional baths as long as they don’t have any skin problems.

Are Black German Shepherds prone to ticks?

Ticks can transmit serious diseases, like Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, which is also known as “tick fever.” Black German shepherds need a lot of exercise, and all that time spent outdoors can expose them to ticks. These pests can attach anywhere on a dog’s body but tend to burrow between the toes and around the ears, neck, and chest. Owners of black German shepherds need to check over their dog on a regular basis, especially after the dog has been in grassy or wooded areas.

How often do you have to cut the nails?

Black German shepherds need to have their nails trimmed or ground down at least once a month. A minor trim every week or two is a good way to keep your dog well-groomed. Nails that get too long can cause pain and structural issues. Also, the dewclaws, which kind of resemble thumbs on the dog’s wrists, can get caught on things and tear if they aren’t trimmed regularly. There’s also a chance that the dewclaws could become ingrown and infected without care. You can learn to trim your dog’s nails using simple tools or take them to a groomer or vet for a trim.


How much does a Black German Shepherd eat on average?

Adult black German shepherds eat about 3 to 6 cups of food per day, ranging from 1,200 to 2,100 calories. Just how much to feed a dog depends on factors like its age, activity level and any medical conditions it has. The best dog food for German Shepherd is high in protein and lower in fat. Owners of a German shepherd puppy need to be careful with its diet and follow a vet’s guidance. Usually, German shepherd pups switch from puppy food to adult food sooner than other dog breeds. That’s because puppy food can encourage rapid growth, which can make hip dysplasia more likely to occur or worsen in black shepherd dogs.

Exercise & Training

How often do you have to exercise a Black German Shepherd?

Black German Shepherds love to exercise and make great companions for people who want to get off the couch and move. Ideally, you should walk or jog your black German shepherd for several miles every day. You could shorten the walk by mixing in some energetic play sessions.

Is a Black German Shepherd easy to train?

Black German shepherds are highly intelligent dogs that love to learn. That’s no surprise given the breed’s success in serving as police and guide dogs. Regular training sessions help them stay mentally stimulated, which is important for keeping these clever canines out of mischief. Plus, a well-trained and obedient dog is easier to care for and keep safe. You can train your black German shepherd at home if you follow some basic steps, or enroll your pup in obedience school. Training can be fun for both the owner and the dog.

Known Health Issues

The average life span of a black German shepherd is 9 to 12 years. You can expect to spend the most time and money at the vet during the first and last years of a dog’s life. Every dog breed has specific health problems that occur more often in that breed than others, such as the issues described below.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia most commonly affects large and giant breed dogs, including black German shepherds. The hereditary condition is the result of an abnormally developed hip joint where the ball and socket don’t make a snug fit. It can become debilitating and lead to lameness over time. A responsible black GSD breeder will avoid breeding dogs with known hip-joint problems. Also, paying attention to your dog’s diet, exercise and weight can help to lower the odds that they’ll develop hip dysplasia symptoms even if they are born with the condition.

Are Black German shepherds prone to bandworms?

Black German shepherds are curious dogs and can become infected with parasitic worms during their explorations in the outdoors. Also, some worms can be passed down from a mother dog to her puppies. The best way to prevent worms or get rid of them ASAP is to follow the deworming and heartworm prevention timetables recommended by veterinarians. It’s also wise to keep an eye on the dog’s stool for any signs of parasites and take your dog for regular vet visits. The vet can test fecal and blood samples for the presence of worms.

Are there other diseases Black German shepherds are prone to?

In addition to hip dysplasia, black German shepherds are prone to skeletal issues, like elbow dysplasia and a condition called panosteitis, which is an inflammation of the long bones. Panosteitis affects large-breed dogs that are still growing. One condition that occurs in German shepherds more than other breeds is pituitary dwarfism. If that condition is detected early, it can be treated with hormone replacement therapy. Older German shepherds and other large breed dogs can develop degenerative myelopathy, which is a progressive disease that causes the dog to gradually lose control of its hind legs. Fortunately, with knowledge and proper care, many conditions can be managed and the dog will live a happy, long life.

Where to Get a Black German Shepherd

Prices: How much is a Black German shepherd puppy?

Since black German shepherds are so much rarer than standard German shepherds, they cost nearly twice as much. While a standard German shepherd puppy might cost $300 to $700, a black German shepherd puppy could have a price tag of $700 to $2,000.

Where to find Black German shepherd puppies

To get a healthy dog with a good temperament, take your time choosing a reputable breeder or rescue. You could ask a trusted veterinarian or dog groomer for leads if you aren’t sure where to start looking. The American Kennel Club is another reliable resource.

Breeders of Black German shepherds

The American Kennel Club can connect you with nearly 1,900 German shepherd breeders, many of whom breed black GSD puppies. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America also connects people with GSD breeders. One dog breeder who specializes in black German shepherds is The German Shepherd Man.

Rescued Black German shepherds

Rescuing a black German shepherd that’s in need of a home can be very rewarding. A good place to start your search is with the American German Shepherd Rescue Association’s list of affiliated rescues.


Sergey Uhanov, a certified veterinarian, has authored all of the content here. With over 20 years of experience in dog care and breeding three dogs of his own, he has a deep passion for these furry friends. Sergey owns a pet clinic in Israel where he provides care and treatment to dogs. He enjoys sharing his expertise and knowledge to assist others in caring for their dogs.

Read More About Me >