Black German Shepherd: The Ultimate Breed Guide

Black German Shepherd – The Ultimate Breed Guide

What do you picture when you hear someone talking about German Shepherds? Perhaps you imagine a brave law enforcement K9, or maybe you think of Rin-Tin-Tin - the famous dog with his own Hollywood Star! But almost certainly, when you picture German Shepherds, you see them with Sable colored coats.

But did you know that purebred German Shepherds can also have completely black coats? Most people are surprised to learn that the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) breed standards recognize and register Black German Shepherds just the same as Sable German Shepherds.

While some people argue that the genes of Black German Shepherds are defective, or that they are the result of mix breeding, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is actually a simple case of recessive gene combinations making their appearance - just like with Silver Labradors.

Though Black GSDs are still pretty rare, they have gained popularity in recent years as pet lovers look to add more unique, or trendy dogs to their family. If you’re considering the purchase or adoption of a Black German Shepherd, look no further. We’ve curated the perfect guide to help you decide if this loyal and highly intelligent pup is right for you - We’ve even created an extensive list of names ideas! Read on to find out more.

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Table of Contents

History: Origins of the German Shepherd

Breed Overview: The Black GSD

Temperament: What to Expect from Your Black German Shepherd

Caring for Your Black GSD

Grooming Your German Shepherd

Health Considerations: What to Know about the Black German Shepherd

Final Review: Should You get a Black German Shepherd?

History: Origins of the German Shepherd

The reason most people picture GSDs as police or military dogs is because they were bred to work! As their name suggests, German Shepherds were bred in 1899 to herd and protect sheep in Germany. After several generations, they were brought to America for the first time and have been highly favored ever since - taking the number two spot on the AKC’s list of favorite breeds!

Breed Overview: The Black GSD

Like we mentioned before, despite misconceptions, the Black German Shepherd is not a separate or mixed breed dog. In fact, he’s just a solid colored German Shepherd, with all the same traits and characteristics that are so loveable about classic GSDs.

So, if you’ve ever successfully owned a German Shepherd the Black German Shepherd will be perfect for you! Sought after for their unique coats, and protective nature, the GSD makes an ideal guard dog.

If you choose to add a Black German Shepherd to your family, you will certainly be impressed with how easy he is to train! As historic working dogs, GSDs are known for their intelligence and trainability.

Because the Black German Shepherd is rare, they cost a lot more than the traditional Sable colored GSDs. For example, while a classic Shepherd puppy may cost anywhere from $300 to $700, depending on the breeder, a Black German Shepherd will likely cost $700 to $2000. Breeding litters of all Black German Shepherds is difficult and usually requires two black parents - though sometimes, a black and tan GSD could produce all black puppies.

When shopping around for your Black German Shepherd, it’s important to make sure you are getting a healthy puppy from a reputable breeder. Or, you could adopt one from a local shelter or rescue organization!

Temperament: What to Expect from Your Black German Shepherd

Like most dogs, the Black German Shepherd will thrive with early and frequent socialization with pets and people of all ages. While they are naturally pretty friendly and loving, they may warm slowly to strangers. But, they are incredibly loyal and devoted to every member of their families!

Working dogs love to have a job and the Black GSD is no exception. As a house pet, your Shepherd will likely make up a job of his own - protecting and guarding the family. Ever watchful with those adorably alert ears, the Black German Shepherd will let you know if anything is going on in or around the house. In fact, he won’t be happy if you’re out of sight for too long.

Best suited for families that are home most, or at least part of the day, the Black German Shepherd may suffer separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. This loneliness can lead to excessive barking and other destructive behaviors.

It will also help if you’ve owned large dogs previously, or at least are not a first time pet parent. All German Shepherds are large, powerful, and have great exercise requirements to avoid developing negative habits. They will do best in families that understand and accommodate their specific needs.

Caring for Your Black GSD

From feeding to grooming, we’ve got you covered in all areas of caring for your Black German Shepherd pup!

Dinner Time: Calorie Needs of Your GSD

As mentioned in the Fast Facts section, German Shepherds are prone to developing a potentially deadly condition known as Bloat that causes your dog’s stomach to swell and twist on itself.

To help avoid this, it’s important to develop and stick to a consistent feeding routine as soon as you bring your puppy home. For example, a small puppy may require about 2,500 calories per day, spread over a total of four meals. It’s best to provide food that’s specifically formulated for large breed puppies.

Then, around six months or so, you can reduce the number of meals to two or three. Eventually, as your Black German Shepherd becomes an adult you can switch his food to a large breed adult blend. And you can reduce his calories to about 1,500, divided into two meals per day.

Of course, your vet is the best resource for any specific nutrition questions!

Black German Shepherd puppies have erect ears

Let’s Get Active: Exercising Your Black German Shepherd

Like we’ve said, Black German Shepherds will live best in homes that allow them to be active. As a large, working breed your GSD requires at least one hour of vigorous exercise each day. But, they’ll probably thrive with about two hours. This is a serious commitment if you live in a city, where there aren’t many open spaces to roam. As a whole, German Shepherds love to swim, run, hike, and they could spend hours playing brain games. This is why they are so favored by law enforcement and the military. Black German Shepherds are no different. They are incredibly active and intelligent and will get into trouble if they aren’t properly entertained. Consider this need when deciding if you’d like to add a GSD to your family.

Black German Shepherds require a lot of exercise

Daily Training: How To Make the Most of Your Black GSD

Because of their high intelligence and eager to please nature, the Black German Shepherd is very easy to train. Like we mentioned earlier, the most important part of training entails early and frequent socialization to many different people, places, and things.

If your puppy has never met a man in a hat, he may feel threatened by them later on. This could cause excessive barking, and even growling and aggression if a man with a hat comes over to your home. To avoid these problematic behaviors, make sure you use those puppy months to your advantage.

Introduce your Black German Shepherd to the mailman, the neighborhood kids, the group of cyclists that bike by your house every morning. And when he responds appropriately, reward him with love and praise in the form of petting and toys or small treats.

Negative training methods like punishment are proven to cause deeper behavioral issues. So sticking to positive, rewards based method is always best. Not only will it build trust and provide clear boundaries, it will make your Black German Shepherd puppy very happy!

Grooming Your German Shepherd

All GSDs have a double coat that usually sheds heavily twice per year. During this time, daily brushing may help the process along. But during the rest of the year, your Black German Shepherd should only require a good brushing once or twice a week.

When it comes to keeping clean, try to spot clean dirt or mud, and only give your GSD a full bath every couple of months. Bathing him too much strips his skin and coat of their natural oils and dries them out.

Ears should be checked at least once a week, more if your Black German Shepherd swims often. Because they stand erect on their heads, instead of flopping over like most dogs, the GSD ears tend to get dirtier than others. But no worries, you can simply wipe them clean with a damp cloth!

And of course, because grooming can be stressful to some dogs, start gently brushing and bathing your puppy as soon as you bring him home. This will help your Black GSD grow accustomed to the process and accept it as a normal part of his life- instead of something to be feared.

Black German Shepherds are healthy

Heath Considerations: What to Know about the Black German Shepherd

In addition to the Bloat that we mentioned in the feeding section, large dogs are also more prone to issues with their hips, elbows, and joints. For example, Hip/Elbow Dysplasia is very common to German Shepherds. This condition is caused by abnormal development and leads to pain and disability. It can usually be treated with medication, physical therapy, or surgery in extreme cases. And you may be able to avoid it altogether by checking the hip scores of your puppy’s parents. All reputable breeders will have this information available.

Osteoarthritis is also common in large breeds as they age. This condition causes the joints to deteriorate over time, leading to pain and disability as well. However, it can be managed successfully with medications and supplements.

The best way to help your Black German Shepherd live a long and healthy life is to keep up with his annual vet visits. Preventative medications and vaccinations are an integral part of raising a happy, healthy pup!

Final Review: Should You Get a Black German Shepherd?

They are easy to train and will love you for life! With proper socialization and boundaries, the Black German Shepherd will become a loyal and obedient companion to the whole family.

They require lots of attention and don’t like being alone. And they’ll do best in active families that love taking them on adventures - hiking through the woods or swimming in a pond. Of course, they also love a good brain teaser and will strive to solve any puzzle.

One of the smartest breeds to exist, the German Shepherd is a favorite to many! So what do you think? Has he won your heart?

Black German Shepherd Fast Facts

Fact Detail

Life Expectancy:

10 to 13 years


22-26 inches, 50-90lbs; depends on sex


$700 to $2000


Very fast learners, eager to please


Loyal, Active, Obedient, Smart

Health Considerations:

Elbow/Hip Dysplasia, Arthritis, Bloat

Activity Level:

Very Energetic; High exercise requirements

Energy Requirements:

1300+ calories per day; about 20cal/lb body weight

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Looking for more information?

Click the links below for additional resource guides:

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Breed Guide: German Shepherd Rottweiler Mixes

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