The Many Colours of German Shepherd Coats: Beyond the Classic Black and Tan

the many colours of Gsd coats Dog blog with head image of black Gsd

What colour is a German Shepherd Dog?

Black and tan: This is the most common colour for German Shepherds. The dog’s coat has what is fondly known as a black saddle along and across it’s back with tan markings on the face, chest, and legs.

Black and Tan German Shepherd Dog laid on grass facing to the left

Bi-colour: Bi-colour German Shepherds have a coat that is mostly black with tan markings on the face, chest, and legs. However, the black and tan colours are more clearly defined than in a typical black and tan coat.

Young Gsd sunning on a sandy surface

Sable: Sable German Shepherds have a coat that ranges from light tan to a darker reddish-brown colour. The tips of the hair are black, giving the dog a “sable” appearance.

A young sable German Shepherd Dog looking out over a fence type area

Solid black: Solid black German Shepherds have a coat that is completely black, with no tan or other markings.

Solid Black German Shepherd dog sat on grass

Black and Red: German Shepherds with a black and red coat have a mostly black coat with red markings on the face, chest, and legs.

A Black and Red Colour German Shepherd Dog laying down in long grass., Logo of in the bottom left corner.

Black and Silver: This colour combination is less common, but some German Shepherds have a black and silver coat. The dog’s coat is mostly black with silver markings on the face, chest, and legs.

Black and silver Gsd

Blue: Yes, there is a Blue coat colour variation in German Shepherd dogs, although it is relatively rare.  The Blue coat colour in German Shepherds is caused by a recessive gene and is characterised by a greyish-blue hue. In fact sometimes, when the sunshine’s on the coat, it looks quit wolf like in colour. I have owned a Blue German Shepherd myself, and he was wonderful. He had a very placid temperament and was so easy going, he was a gentle giant. (figuratively speaking of course.)

Blue Gsd head shot staring towards camera

White:  Yes, there is a white German Shepherd dog, but the white colouration is considered a fault in many breed standards. White German Shepherds have a solid white coat with black noses and dark eyes. Some may have light or cream-colored markings on the coat, but this is also considered a fault in some breed standards. White German Shepherds were originally bred in the United States in the early 20th century, but they are not recognised as a separate breed from German Shepherds. While White German Shepherds can be loving and loyal pets, it’s important to note that their breeding and genetics can result in health issues and other genetic conditions. If you’re considering owning a German Shepherd, it’s important to research reputable breeders and ask about health testing and genetic screening for potential health issues. Please also refer to my blog post titled “Is a White German Shepherd Dog the same as a Swiss Shepherd Dog?

White German Shepherd dog laid down looking towards camera

Important note..

It’s important to note that while these are the most common colours, there are variations and combinations within each colour category. Additionally, not all colours are recognised by all breed standards, breed clubs etc.

**Disclaimer does not provide veterinary advice, nor does it claim to be an alternative to seeking professional advice. All content is therefore for informational purposes only.

Great reference points for the German Shepherd Dog Breed “Standards”?

View the German Shepherd Breed “Standards” by clicking on this link to

The Kennel Club UK.


BAGSD Ltd (British Association For German Shepherd Dogs Ltd)

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