The Black German Shepherd: Complete Guide

black German shepherd

One of the most misunderstood dog breeds is that of the black German Shepherd. There are even a lot of myths surrounding the breed. Many mistakenly believe they are a mixed breed and that they a number of problems both physically and temperamentally. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Black German Shepherds are not a mixed breed and there isn’t much of a difference between them and the standard German Shepherd.

A close look reveals they are a true breed of German Shepherd dogs and sometimes have genetic traits closer to the original breed. There are two possibilities to consider as to why these beauties have the solid black coat. One possibility is that they have two recessive genes, or that they have the presence of one dominant black gene. Max Von Staphanitz, the man attributed to developing the breed, says the dog’s color or markings don’t affect the dog in any way other than their appearance. Some owners of the black German Shepherd think their dogs have superior physical and personality traits.

Physical Differences in the Black German Shepherd Dog

In general, the black German shepherd has the same physical traits as others of the breed. They are a muscular build, have a fluffy tail and ears that stand erect. They can have a thicker, double coat and of course, this leads them to be heavy shedders. There are a few differences. OF course, there’s the obvious solid black coat.  Sometimes they are a bit larger than other GSDs and their back may be a bit straighter than most. The thick coat may be a bit longer and sometimes there may be a visible mane around the back of the neck, a skirting on one side or the other of the body, and feathering  on the ears, under the tail, and the back of the legs.   These small differences are not significant, and certainly not enough to create another whole breed.

The black male shepherd has a regal appearance while females tend to be a little more petite with softer, more feminine features. All German Shepherds, regardless of their color differences, have a light and solid bone structure with a head proportional to the body. Their foreheads are rounded, and the nose is usually black. Most notice their teeth with the scissor-like bite.  They can have one of three different coats including a long haired coat, plush coat, or a double coat.

Temperament of the Black German Shepherd Dog

As a breed, the GS has a distinct personality. They are typically loyal, eager, alert, and poised. The black GSD is approachable, but they will quietly stand their ground. This breed exudes self-confidence and courage and they can appear aloof. In general, they tend to have stable personalities. Even though friendship has to be earned, once it’s established, they will be devoted for life. They typically bond well with kids, but only after they are slowly introduced to them and the children understand proper boundaries. For the most part, they need a lot of attention and time spent with their companion or family and they do usually get along very well with other pets in the household including cats. The ability to work well with “their” people makes the German Shepherd a good candidate to work as a service dog for people who are deaf, blind, or otherwise handicapped. They are also very well suited for obedience training.

Black German Shepherd

Having a “job” to do is good for the black GSD. They thrive on the feeling of belonging and being a part. The breed is highly trainable, and they are typically highly intelligent. Since the breed is part of the “herder” breeds, they tend to be great at solving problems too. They can be trained to do almost anything. They are eager to serve as a watchdog, service dog, or a companion and they enjoy participating in outdoor activities with their family such as hiking, swimming, and running. They are not typically an aggressive breed and if they show signs of aggression it’s usually indicative of some sort of problem that requires immediate attention by a professional.

Black German Shepherd & Common Health Issues

The black German shepherd can have a number of common health issues as a result of their breeding. For instance, they often have hip and elbow dysplasia. This is usually hereditary and cannot be prevented. However, there are several treatment options and managing their weight is critical. Managing weight can also help treat arthritis which is common to the breed. Degenerative myelopathy is a neurological disease and it is common enough to the breed that it is believed they are predisposed to the disease. Other possible problems include Von Willebrand disease which is a bleeding disorder that is also inherited and EPI, or Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This degenerative disease of the pancreas is not as common and is easily treated with supplements.

How Popular are the Black German Shepherds?

The Black German Shepherd is not surprisingly in high demand. According to the AKC, they are consistently the second most popular dog breed behind only the Labrador Retriever. If you choose a rarer long black hair GSD, be prepared to wait for it. The same goes for the red, and white GSD as they are rare too. Because they are popular and rare, they usually run a bit higher in price. For those buying puppies from a breeder, make sure they have the parents health-tested and their fee guarantees raising healthy, well-cared for and well-socialized pups.

Taking Care of the Black German Shepherd Dog

As a general rule, caring for the black GSD isn’t much different than caring for other colors of the breed. They are often viewed as a family dog and their care needs reflect that. Here are the main areas of care they will need.

Exercise & Activity

German Shepherds as a breed are typically high energy dogs. They are bred to be workers. This is why they are often service and guard dogs. To remain healthy and happy, they will need lots of exercise.  If a German Shepherd is left to themselves very much they get bored. This is when they start being destructive. They may start chewing things up, bark a lot more, relieve themselves in inappropriate areas and start to show some aggressive tendencies. It’s beneficial to keep an appropriate chew toy around for them. They are a large breed and have powerful jaws so getting a chew story that can stand up to them is important.

 It’s best if they have a fenced yard where they have plenty of room to run and to play. However, it’s not best to just stick them outside in the yard and leave them to themselves. They have a strong bond with their families, and they want to be with them. With or without a nice-sized backyard, they may enjoy frequent walks through the neighborhood or a local dog park.

Training Your GSD

It’s a good thing for any family dog to be able to understand and obey basic dog training commands. Given the large size of the black shepherd though, training them is even more important. Remember they are smart and are all about pleasing their owners which makes them very easy to work with and train, even for those who are a first-time owner. For those who begin early, there shouldn’t be any problems. Ideally, get the dog when they are a pup. The most important thing to remember is to be firm, consistent, and loving. It’s not difficult to establish dominance over the dog without using harsh training methods. If you are not comfortable doing the training yourself, or if you run into any trouble don’t hesitate to contact a certified trainer. Do this as early as possible as it will be easier and cheaper.


Especially if you start with a pup, you will need to guide your pet through the socialization process. They learn appropriate behaviors by interacting with humans and other dogs. Expose them to other animals and people early on and frequently. They will get used to it and will learn acceptable behaviors from their owners. In the wild, canine breeds learn appropriate social behaviors from their mother. However, you will have to guide them through the process. While the dog is still young introduce them to as many other dogs and people as you can. He will learn not to be afraid of them and he’ll learn the proper ways to interact with both humans and canines. Failing to socialize a German Shepherd when they are young usually means enlisting the help of a professional trainer later. This is not only harder on the dog, but it’s also harder on your budget.

Feeding and Diet

All dogs of all breeds need to be fed a nutritious and healthy diet. For GSDs, it’s essential because they are susceptible to so many health problems. Feeding them a nutritious diet can mean the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy pet. Using the proper dog food for them can save a lot of money in veterinary bills. By selecting the right food for them, you might be able to avoid or minimize some of the most common difficulties they have such as digestive problems, coat and skin issues, and osteoarthritis.

Choosing a Dog Food

Feeding them a high-quality food with biologically appropriate ingredients can usually help prevent digestive problems. Premium dog foods are usually fortified with probiotics to help with their digestive system. This also helps encourage healthy elimination. Using a dog food rich in fish oils can help minimize inflammation, reduce joint pain, eliminate dry skin, and improve their coat’s condition. Ingredients to look for in dog foods that include these beneficial oils include salmon, salmon oil, flaxseed, and menhaden fish meal. To help protect their joints choose foods with chondroitin or glucosamine (or both). Also, make sure to get a food specifically designed for large breeds. Your veterinarian can help suggest an appropriate, healthy diet for your black GSD.


Due to the double coat of the black German Shepherd, they will shed a lot. So, the beautiful black hair that makes them popular is going to end up on your clothes and belongings! Brushing the dog at least once a week with a de-shedding brush to help reduce shedding.

How to Find a Black German Shepherd Puppy

All German Shepherd pups are born with a solid black, gray, or white coat. Some of them will stay all black or all white, but most will develop the common coat patterns by about eight weeks of age. This just means you’ll need to wait until at least this age before making the purchase. Otherwise, you might bring home an all-black puppy who starts to develop other coat colors later. The only time this is an exception is if the pup is the child of two black GSDs. Since the black trait is recessive, if both parents are black they cannot produce anything but black pups.

There aren’t any tricks to finding a black GS pup, but here are a few tips to help you with the process.

  • It may require some legwork and some waiting since the black German Shepherd is somewhat rare.
  • Remember that because of their rarity, they are usually more expensive than coats of other colors.
  • Most breeders will work with different colored dogs, but they may not advertise all black Shepherds. Stay in contact with the breeder because even if they don’t have one currently, they may have them in the future.
  • You may ask to be put on a waiting list as many breeders maintain them. It’s not likely that you can make a few calls and just go pick up the new puppy. Be prepared to be patient.
  • If you see friends or others post pics of a black German Shepherd, ask them about where they got them. They may be able to refer you to a breeder.
  • Always deal with reputable and honest breeders and be wary if it seems like a really good deal. Unscrupulous breeders try too hard to produce them and often do not care for the dogs properly. This can mean pups with temperament problems or lots of joint issues.
  • Make sure breeders provide you with the right paperwork. Reputable breeders will provide paperwork which contains registration information about the pup’s parents and documentation for hip dysplasia screenings.
  • If it’s possible, try to meet the pup’s parents. By meeting the parents and making sure they are friendly and well-behaved, it’s more likely your pup will be friendly too.

Final Thoughts

A black German Shepherd is a large breed herding type dog. They make great companions and good working dogs. The males will be a bit larger at 24 to 26 inches in height where females usually range from 22 to 24 inches. Males also weigh as much as 90 pounds and females usually max out around 75 pounds. The lifespan of this breed is usually between nine and 13 years of age. They are typically loyal, active, very trainable, and intelligent dogs who love both stability and companionship. As a general rule, they need about an hour of exercise every day and should consume 20 calories of food per pound of body weight. It’s not uncommon for male black German Shepherds to consume 1800 calories in a day. Like most breeds, they can make great pets. Just be sure you are familiar with the traits characteristic of the breed and that you can provide them a warm, loving home and you’ll enjoy many years together.

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