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"Take this trouble from me: Make sure my shepherd dog remains a working dog, for I have struggled all my life long for that aim." - Captain Max von Stephanitz

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The Colors
Solid Black

Black and Tan or Red

(saddle)

Bi-Color

Dark (black) Sable

Tan Sable (left)  and Red Sable (right)

   The very first registered German Shepherd Dog was sable in color. Sable GSDs have been around from the very beginning. The color is not very common in the German show lines and generally do not do as well in the SV style show ring. In the past several years there have been some sable dogs being bred into the show lines as well as some sable working line dogs who are receiving their V ratings in the SV style show ring.

    Regardless of your color preference, be sure to always look at other aspects of the dog before making a purchase! Never choose a dog or puppy based on color alone. Color should only be considered after looking at health, temperament, working ability and structure.

    The Black and Tan/Red "saddle" type color came from genetic variations of the sable colors.

    The Bi-Color is another type of color characterized by being mostly black with some tan or red points around paws, face, and underside.

    The Solid Black is from acquiring both the recessive genes from the sable dog.

    Sable German Shepherd coat colors are easily identified by multi-colored individual hairs all over the body. Sable GSD's may also be masked by dark or black guard hairs with ranging shades of tan/red undercoats.

 

   

GSD Color Genetics

    The basic body color of the German Shepherd is controlled by the genes. The order of German Shepherd coat colors dominance is as follows: golden sable, grey sable, saddle marked black and tan, bicolor* black and tan, and black.

   Additionally, know that the black gene is recessive to all the other colors in GSD's. Solid black German Shepherds bred to solid black German Shepherds will only produce blacks. The sable colors are dominant over all the other colors and patterns in the German Shepherd Dog breed.

 

Breaking it down:

"aw" is sable and most dominate

"as" is black and tan "saddle" type

"at" is Bicolor

"a" is black and most recessive

 

With those in mind, anytime there is a "aw" present the dog will be a variation of Sable. The variation is determined by what other gene is carried (ie. "s", "t"). Anytime there is a "as" without a presence of a "aw" the dog will be a saddle-type color black and tan variation. If there is only a "at" present, the dog will be Bicolor. All of these dogs have the ability to carry the recessive "a" (blk) gene meaning they can produce pups that are solid black.

 

The Sable "aw" color can bring darker pigmentation to the "as" black and tan "saddle" color, whom have a tendency to fade in pigmentation as breeding proceeds.

Conformation

    Conformation and soundness is huge part of our breeding program. You cannot have a sound dog without having first sound conformation. We utilize the working lines to keep the conformation correct as to what was lain down by the founder of the German Shepherd, Max von Stephanitz. Below are pictures of correct and incorrect conformation. One has huge propensity for Hip Displasia and what has brought the GSD its bad name with hip displasia, while the other is sound and still used for what Captain Max strived for in his breeding.

The breed standard.

The lines of "f" and "h" are parallel.

Notice these lines in the other conformation pictures.

f

g

h

Below:

Correct conformation of our female Salvej od Elitni and the grandsire of our male Max, Sando Vom Haus Iris

Below:

Incorrect conformation of "showline" shepherds. You can see the "roach" (curved) back of the dog on the left, and "ill" or "un-sound" hocks of the dog on the right. The "f" and "g" lines of the hind limb are not parallel which leads to greater torque on the hip and hock joints which leads to unsoundness of the dog.

The German Shepherd Dog has a natural slant to the back made possible mainly by the length of "f", "g", and "h", with the parallelism of "f" and "h", however the dog often will stand more upright naturally (seen below our female, Antjie). It is through positioning of "h" perpendicular to the ground that the slant will be seen, as well as the soundness of the hind quarters can be more easily evaluated. Many breeders in the show ring have tried to increase the slant or have the dog stand in a slant in an everyday posture. This goal has led to weak and unsound hindquarters. These weak and unsound dogs are unable to be the working dog Captain Max von Stephanitz sought to breed. We at SGR strive to keep sound conformation in all our breeding stock and puppies.

Above: 

Our upcoming female from straight Czech working lines, Sandy od Roubenky, displaying the natural sloped stance without placement. The Shepherd slope came about naturally as the breeding persisted, however it has been taken to be the main attribute in many showlines today.

Above: 

Antjie von Amselstrauch displaying the natural upright stance. It can be seen that the "f" and "h" lines are still parallel however are not standing perpendicular to the ground.

Sable Color Changes

Pictures (Left to Right): Sage- tan sable; Desivy- red sable; Czar- dark(black) sable