Black German Shepherd: The Ultimate Breed Guide

It would be best to start off by pointing out that there are many myths and half-truths commonly associated with certain dog breeds, but the black German Shepherd dog is certainly at the top of the list of the most misunderstood dogs in existence. Some think that the black GSD is a crossbreed, others think they are a result of genetic defects in the breed, and many more believe that they have physical and temperament issues.

First of all, none of these things are true since, in reality, a black German Shepherd is a fantastic dog breed by most standards, and that they aren’t too different than most German Shepherds. Over the next few minutes, we’ll try to dispel many of the myths surrounding the handsome black GSD, and we’ll take a look at some of the distinctive features that set them apart from standard German shepherds and other dogs in general.

History of the Black German Shepherd

As the name suggests, the Black German Shepherd originated from Germany a few centuries ago. In the 1800s, there were many types of herding dogs in Germany. A German cavalry officer known as Captain Max von Stephanitz believed that dogs needed to be bred for working.

The strength and character of existing herding dogs at the time was impressive, but he believed the perfect herding dog had not been seen yet. He attended a dog show in 1899 where he bought Hektor Linksrhein, a dog who later became the first-named GSD.

The German Shepherd breed grew in popularity quickly and was even used by German soldiers in both world wars. The breed has now grown to become one of the most popular in the world ranking 2 out of 194 according to the American Kennel Club. Black German Shepherds are part of the breed and are as a result of having two bi-colored German Shepherds mate, or mating two black German Shepherds.


Black German Shepherds Genetics

Believe it or not, but a genetic mutation is the reason why the black German shepherds have physical and appearance differences with standard German Shepherds. The mutation is caused by a recessive gene and I should probably expand on that. You see, dogs have two copies of genes in their cells – one from the father and the other from the mother. Genes can either be dominant or recessive, which determines how they affect the characteristics of the dog.

In this system, dominant genes take control whenever they are present regardless of what the other gene is. For instance, if the gene that causes the Sable color in a German shepherd is dominant, the dog will appear Sable even if the other gene is not.

In contrast, recessive genes can only be expressed when there are no dominant genes. This means that the recessive genes must occur in pairs to trigger any physical traits in the animal. Whenever you see a black Germany shepherd, know that you’re looking at a dog with two copies of a recessive gene.

Black German Shepherds Breed Overview

The black GSD falls in the category of large breed dogs. Males weigh about 65-95 pounds and stand up to about 26 inches tall. The females are slightly smaller, weighing anywhere between 55-75 pounds and grow up to 24 inches tall. They have a dome-shaped head and a long, square muzzle along with long ears that sit erect on their heads. They also have long necks which sit low when prowling or running.

To put it bluntly, Black German Shepherds are a purebred that just has a different coat color, that’s all. People love them for their loyal and protective nature and also because they are very intelligent and easily trainable, making them popular with the police, military, and search and rescue operations.

Black GSDs can easily be identified since they appear all black from the moment they’re born, unlike other German Shepherds where you have to wait about 8 weeks for their true color. Furthermore, litter sizes range anywhere between 3 and 9 puppies.

Since they are a lot rarer than standard German Shepherds, black German Shepherds are usually more expensive. Compared to a standard GSD where you can pay $300-$600 for a pup, the black Germany shepherd is pricier and you may have to pay between $900-$2000.

In regards to their general health, let me just say that this is a quite healthy breed that suffers from very few genetic issues. What’s more, Black German Shepherds have a pretty good life span and you should expect your buddy to hang around for 10-13 years under normal circumstances.


Black German Shepherds Temperament and Personality

When it comes to personality and Temperament, Germany Shepherds are some of the most misunderstood dogs. Sure, they can be amazing guard dogs or working dogs trained to protect, but they can also be just as tame and loving as other dogs. They are also incredibly family orientated and can be a devoted member of the family.

They are stable, loyal, and courageous and will never leave your side. When properly trained and socialized from their puppy days, they will happily watch over your baby while she’s sleeping or have fun in the yard playing ball with the teenagers.

Even when playful, they know their primary job is to protect and they do it well when needed. They are watchful and always alert, barking to let you know when something is wrong. At the same time, they take time to know strangers, but once they accept you, they will be your friend forever.

Being a family orientated breed, black German Shepherds don’t like being left alone. They may become incredibly anxious and stressed, which may result in barking and destruction.

Having said that, bear in mind that these dogs are strong and powerful when fully grown – not really suited for first-time dog owners who don’t know their needs.

Key Differences German Shepherds and Black German Shepherds

It goes without saying that the main difference between standards GSDs and black GSDs is the color of their coat, but there are other small differences. For starters, black German Shepherds are usually larger than standard GSDs. Not by a huge difference, but you can expect a black German Shepherd to be an inch or two taller, as well as 10-20 pounds heavier than the standard GSDs.

Another key difference relates to how their backs are shaped. Standard German Shepherds normally have a curved back that can be seen clearly when viewed from the side. On the other hand, black German Shepherds have a straight back resembling most other breeds.

Lastly, a black German Shepherd will have a straighter coat compared to its standard German Shepherd counterpart. They still will exhibit the skirting and feathering you find in standard GSDs, but the coats are noticeably straighter.


Caring for Black German Shepherds

Feeding & Diet

Just like any other dog, black German shepherds need a healthy, nutritious diet for good development. It all starts from when they’re puppies. Most owners feed their black GSD puppies 4 meals a day and switch to 2-3 meals a day when the dog gets to 6 months old. Black German Shepherds are susceptible to many diseases, and the difference between a healthy and unhealthy dog usually boils down to what you feed them.

For instance, black German shepherds frequently experience digestive issues, as well as skin or coat issues. They may also suffer from hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis, both of which can be avoided by selecting the right food. Foods made from quality, biologically appropriate ingredients help reduce the occurrence of digestive problems. Most premium dog foods are fortified with probiotics that improve the dog’s digestive performance.

Foods with high omega-3 fatty acids content also help prevent inflammation which improves the dog’s coat condition, reduces joint pains, and helps eliminate dry skin. Flaxseed, menhaden fish meal, salmon, and salmon oil are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids and should be included in most meals you feed your black German shepherd dog. Since black German shepherds are big dogs, you should ensure that their food is designed specifically for larger breeds. Manufacturers usually make specific foods for large breeds.

A black German shepherd uses around 20 calories per pound of bodyweight, so if your dog weighs 90 pounds, you will need to feed him around 1800 calories every day. The composition of the diet is also important. It’s advised that a fully mature German shepherd requires 1.19 grams of protein and 0.59 grams of fat per pound of body weight.

It is important to always check the ingredient lists on your black German shepherd’s food to ensure you are feeding him the right foods. Most manufacturers also include a feeding guideline with recommended daily amounts based on the dog’s weight.


Black German Shepherds are traditionally active, high-energy working dogs. They require more than an hour of exercise daily to keep them happy and healthy. Without this, they may become bored which may result in destruction, endless barking, and aggressive tendencies.

Ideally, you should provide your black GSD with a fenced yard to play in or take him to a park with enough space to turn on their active side. However, find a good balance between playtime and bonding time. At the same time, take your dog on regular walks to provide the mental stimulation they need to stay happy. A chew toy or two is also important to allow your black German shepherd to exercise primal chewing instincts.



Black German Shepherds are large, which makes basic obedience training vital to ensure that your dog is stable and well rounded. Luckily, black GSDs are highly intelligent and always looking to please their owners, which makes them extremely trainable even for first-timers.

You will also need to start training them from when they’re just pups and maintain firmness and consistency while doing so. The goal is to establish dominance over your pet but never use any harsh training methods. Instead, use positive reinforcement and rewards. Furthermore, praise your dog physically and verbally for good behavior, and shower them with endless pets and scratches behind the ears.


A black German shepherd learns how to behave through frequent interactions with people and other dogs. Essentially, this involves introducing your dog to all sorts of people; tall people, short people, those wearing hats, those wearing hoodies, old people, kids, all of it. Expose them to all sorts of noises too from cars, loud machines, and any others they’re constantly exposed to.

In doing this, your dog will learn that people, sounds, smells and other things found in the world are not to be feared and will teach them how to interact with different people and situations. This is vital for any dog that’s required to interact with people on a daily basis.


Black German Shepherds come with a medium or long coat and are known to shed quite heavily. The same black hair that makes then popular will coat all your belongings in no time if you don’t groom properly.

At the very least, you will need to brush your dog once or twice weekly using a de-shedding brush in order to reduce the shedding.

A trip to the grooming salon is also needed 2 to 3 times a year for a bath and dry package. A professional groomer will advise on the appropriate schedule for your dog.

Common Health Problems

A) Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy (CDRM) – also known as canine Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), this disease affects the spinal cord resulting in nerve cell failure, which causes hind leg paralysis.

B) Hip Dysplasia – this is caused by abnormal development of the hip which leads to the weakening and deterioration of the dog’s hips. This is a common issue in large dog breeds like the Black GSD and can be mild or severely disabling. It can be managed through medication and alternative therapy, but surgery is often needed.

C) Osteoarthritis – this is a painful degenerative joint disease that may result in the loss of movement in your dog’s joints. Treatment is available through medication or surgery.

D) Cauda Equina syndrome – this affects the back and may result in stiffness, lameness, and pain in the back, hips, and tail.

Bear in mind that a good diet is the first step in avoiding most of these diseases. You should also visit your vet on a regular basis for checkups and vaccinations.


Black German Shepherds are majestic dogs that can really improve the quality of your life. With good training, socialization, and a healthy diet, you can have a well rounded, stable, and courageous protector that doubles as a perfect companion for you and your family.

Bred as working dogs, they are energetic and always looking for things to do, which makes them ideal playmates for children and reliable task-performing dogs.

Caroline Jones

Caroline has been a dog lover since she was only 6 years old, when her parents got her a rescue Boxer. Since then her love for dogs has lead her to study Dog Behavior & Welfare. She now educates people on how to properly raise and care for dogs, through her online site, Bark Friend. Now, she's a proud owner of a beautiful German Shepherd.

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