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Updated July 20, 2019
Myths and half-truths are commonly associated with many breeds, but the Black German Shepherd is often misunderstood.
Black Shepherds are frequently assumed to be mutts — a mixed breed dog — and some people believe that they have physical or temperament-related problems too.
However, none of these things are true.
In reality, Black GSDs are fantastic family dogs, who aren’t really that much different than standard German Shepherds.
Below, we’ll talk about the genetic differences between the black coated and typically colored German Shepherd dog breeds, the other physical differences, and the best way to care for your all Black German Shepherd.
Lastly, we’ll provide a few tips for owners looking to acquire their own Black German Shepherd puppy.
Black German Shepherds are nothing more than typical German Shepherds with a genetic mutation that turns their coats black.
They also exhibit a few other physical differences that distinguish them from their typically colored counterparts, but they are all members of the same dog breed.
Some people mistakenly believe that Black GSDs are produced when two different breeds are mixed, but nothing could be further from the truth. They are produced by other German Shepherds, including normally colored individuals.
In fact, German Shepherds come in 11 different color patterns. Most are clad in a combination of brown, red, white and gray fur, and they often feature black masks and back markings. Some are even completely white. But, the Black German Shepherd, as its name implies, is a uniformly all black coat dog.
The biggest difference between Black GSDs and standard German Shepherds is their coat color. However, there are a few other physical differences between the two breeds.
For starters, the Black German Shepherd is often larger than the normally colored German Shepherd. They aren’t profoundly larger than normal German Shepherds are, but they may be an inch or two taller and 10 or 20 pounds heavier in extreme cases.
Another important difference relates to the shape of their backs. Typical German Shepherds have a curved back, which is quite distinctive when viewed from the side. Black German Shepherds have a relatively straight back, like most other breeds.
Finally, the all-black German Shepherd often has a straighter coat than a typical German Shepherd. They can still exhibit the feathering and skirting that standard German Shepherd dog breed coats exhibit, but their coats are noticeably straighter than those of normally-colored German Shepherds.
As explained earlier, a genetic mutation is responsible for the unique appearance and physical differences that manifest in the Black GSDs.
This isn’t a terribly unusual phenomenon — most breeds that occur in multiple color variations do so because of genetic mutations.
In the case of Black German Shepherds, the mutation is the result of a recessive gene. To explain this more clearly, we’ll need to back up for a moment and review basic Mendelian genetics.
Dogs receive two copies of every gene in their cells – one comes from their mother, and the other comes from their father. Genes are normally either dominant or recessive, and this determines how they are expressed (“expressed” simply means that the gene becomes active and triggers the physical traits under discussion).
Note that genes can also be incompletely dominant or co-dominant, and some traits are controlled by a collection of genes. However, we’ll ignore these types of genes and traits for now.
Dominant genes are expressed whenever they are present. For example, the gene associated with the sable color pattern in German Shepherds is dominant. That means that if a dog has the sable gene, he will appear sable, no matter what the other gene is.
Recessive genes, by contrast, are only expressed when they occur in pairs. Black German Shepherd dogs are the result of a recessive gene, which means that whenever you see one, you are looking at an animal with two copies of the recessive gene.
However, this also means that normally colored German Shepherds may have one copy of the Black German Shepherd gene. If such an animal breeds with another animal that has the same gene, some percentage of the offspring (statistically speaking) will receive two copies of the black gene.
Accordingly, Black GSDs may pop up in litters produced by normal-looking parents.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that solid black German Shepherds exhibit behavioral or health-related problems. This is simply not true.
These breeds are typically as friendly, smart and loving as their typically colored counterparts, and they don’t exhibit any health issues that aren’t also characteristic of normally colored German Shepherds.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand the common health problems that afflict the German Shepherd dog breed, as they can also occur in Black Shepherds. This includes hip and elbow dysplasia, digestive problems, such as bloat, food allergies, among others.
Additionally, to have the best chance of obtaining a healthy and happy Black German Shepherd puppy, you’ll want to work with a dedicated, conscientious breeder when picking out your pup.
If you are interested in a Black German Shepherd of your own, then you will want to find a reputable German Shepherd breeder which is a task that should not be taken lightly. Reputable breeders are largely focused on improving and preserving the breed.
Reputable breeders are also widely known as ethical breeders and care about the health and temperament of their dogs. They do not skimp when it comes to the dogs receiving high-quality food or medical care.
They will also screen potential buyers to make sure they are a good fit for the puppy. A contract will often also need to be signed that includes things pertaining to spaying and neutering, health guarantees, and agreements that the owner will return the puppy to the breeder if they find they can no longer take proper care of it.
Reputable breeders will never sell their puppies through a pet shop either. So, always be aware of where the puppies are coming from.
If you are ever unsure about a breeder, then your veterinarian is the first place you can go for advice. Vets are constantly working with reputable breeders, and they will know who can be trusted. However, if you are new at your veterinarian’s office or you don’t know them very well, then you may want to consider other places to start.
All German Shepherd puppies are born with solid black, white or gray coats. Some dogs remain all black or all white, but the majority will begin developing a typical German Shepherd coat pattern by the time they are about 8 weeks old.
So, if you are looking for a German Shepherd puppy that has a black coat, you’ll want to wait until the dog is at least 8 weeks old (and preferably a week or two older), before making your purchase. This way, you won’t bring home an all-black puppy, who begins developing other coat colors as time goes on.
The only exception to this rule occurs in puppies that were produced by two Black German Shepherds.
Because the black trait is recessive in German Shepherds, Black GSDs can’t produce anything but.
Generally speaking, Black German Shepherds are just like normally colored breeds, and they have similar care requirements as a family dog.
German Shepherds of all colors are active, high energy dogs, who were bred to work. They serve well as service dogs and guard dogs. This means that they’ll need plenty of exercise to remain healthy and happy.
Bored GSDs typically become destructive, who may chew up your prized possessions, vocalize and bark excessively, exhibit aggressive tendencies or relieve themselves in inappropriate places.
Ideally, you’ll want to provide your Black German Shepherd with a fenced yard in which he can play. However, this doesn’t mean you should leave him outside all day long, as they bond strongly with their families, and they won’t be happy if sequestered in the backyard all day and night.
You may also find it necessary to take your dog on frequent walks or visit the local dog park regularly. This will allow him to burn off a little more energy, get some much-needed exercise and enjoy the mental stimulation unfamiliar places provide.
It’s also important to make sure that your Black German Shepherd has a good chew toy or two. This will not only allow your dog to exercise his primal chewing instincts, but it will help him fight off boredom too. But because the breed has large, powerful jaws, you must select a strong and durable chew toy for safety’s sake.
We’ve covered several great options in our guide to the best indestructible dog toys, but Goughnuts Maxx 50 Stick is probably the best choice for German Shepherds. Made from an extremely tough material, the Maxx 50 Stick will likely hold up to your dog’s teeth, and it’ll also work for games of fetch.
All family dogs should receive basic dog training commands, but given their large size, it is especially important to make sure you train your Black German Shepherd. Fortunately, these are very smart dogs who love to please their owners. This makes them quite easy to train, even for first-time owners.
As long as you start training your German Shepherd early (you can begin house-training as soon as you get your pup, and obedience training can commence a few weeks later), you should have no problems.
Just be sure that you are consistent, firm and loving while doing so. You must establish dominance over your dog, but never use harsh training methods to do so.
If you are not comfortable training your dog personally, or if you are having trouble doing so, be sure to reach out to a certified trainer. The sooner you do so, the easier (and cheaper) the process will be.
SEE ALSO: Are German Shepherds Good With Kids?
Dogs learn how to behave through early and frequent interactions with humans and other members of their species. In the wild, canines learn many of the social dos and don’ts from their mother, but you’ll typically have to guide your new pet through this process yourself.
Essentially, this simply requires you to introduce your Black GSD to as many people and dogs as possible while he is young. In doing so, he’ll learn that these people and dogs needn’t be feared, as well as the proper ways to interact.
If you fail to properly socialize your Shepherd while he’s young, you’ll often need the assistance of a professional trainer later. This will be harder on your dog as well as your wallet.
All dogs require a healthy, nutritious diet, and this is especially true of Black GSDs (as well as typically colored German Shepherds). This breed is susceptible to a variety of health ailments, and the difference between a healthy pet and an unhealthy pet, which requires a lot of expensive veterinary care can often boil down to the dog food provided.
For example, this dog breed frequently experiences digestive problems, as well as common skin and coat issues. They can also suffer from osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia. But if you select the right dog food, you may be able to avoid some of these issues.
Dog foods that are made from high-quality, biologically appropriate ingredients will usually help reduce the prevalence of digestive problems.
Many premium dog foods are also fortified with probiotics (beneficial bacteria that live in your dog’s intestines), which can improve your dog’s digestive performance and encourage proper elimination habits too.
Foods that are rich in fish oils often help prevent inflammation. This can improve a dog’s coat condition, help eliminate dry skin and even reduce joint pain.
Flaxseed, salmon, salmon oil and menhaden fish meal are full of omega-3 fatty acids, and they’re frequently incorporated into dog foods to help treat these and other issues.
Additionally, foods containing chondroitin, glucosamine or both, (also found in joint supplements for dogs), can also help protect your dog’s joints. This can help reduce pain and increase your dog’s mobility, which will help ensure he is able to get around well as he ages.
Black GSDs are big dogs, so they should be provided with a dog food designed specifically for large breeds. Be sure to check out our comprehensive review of the best large breed dog food, and more specifically, the best dog food for German Shepherds.
But if you just want a quick recommendation, it is hard to go wrong with BLUE Wilderness Large Breed Recipe.
Made with all of the things your dog needs, like high-quality proteins, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, BLUE Wilderness Large Breed Recipe will not only keep your dog healthy but please his palate too.
Additionally, BLUE Wilderness leaves out all of the artificial additives and grains some other recipes contain, making it even more impressive.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Recipe is another great option. It isn’t specifically designed for large breeds, but it is a very protein-rich, grain-free recipe that features seven fantastic proteins and five different probiotic strains. It’s also a little cheaper than BLUE Wilderness, while still being of similar quality. We compare both of these top foods in our Taste of the Wild vs Blue Buffalo review.
While all Black German Shepherds (as well as normal-looking German Shepherds) are wonderful dogs in most respects, they have a double coat and will shed quite heavily. This means that the medium to long black hair that makes them so popular will often coat all of your belongings.
You can learn a few tricks for reducing the amount of hair your Black German Shepherd sheds by reviewing our comprehensive guide on German Shepherd shedding. However, at the very least, you’ll want to brush your dog weekly with a de-shedding brush to reduce the amount of hair you find clinging to your clothing, furniture, and carpets.
The DakPets Deshedding Brush is a great choice for the double-coated GSD, as it is well-built, durable and reasonably priced. You can even select from three different colors, and it is backed by a money-back guarantee, for worry-free shopping.
Now that you know what Black GSDs are and the things you’ll need to do to care for one, you are probably wondering how you can find your own Black German Shepherd puppy.
There’s no fool-proof formula for finding and acquiring your new family dog, but the following tips and tricks should help the process along.
Black German Shepherds are a herding breed type and are ideal working dogs and companions. As they grow, you will find that the males are slightly larger at between 24 and 26 inches while the female Black German Shepherd typically grows anywhere between 22 and 24 inches.
Their weight can also vary with males coming in at up to 90 pounds and females up to 75 pounds. They have a long lifespan of 9-13 years and are active, loyal, courageous, obedient, trainable, and highly intelligent dogs that thrive on companionship and stability.
Since they are such an active breed, Black German Shepherds require up to 60 minutes of exercise each day and should eat up to 20 calories per pound of body weight each day. Male Black German Shepherds often consume up to 1800 calories a day.
Like most other breeds, Black German Shepherds can make wonderful pets. You just need to ensure that you are ready to provide them with a suitable home and that you understand the traits that are characteristic of the breed. Do these things, and you’ll surely love your new dog and enjoy spending many years together.