Different Colors of German Shepherds, What You Need to know your Puppy’s Changing Coat

German Shepherd puppies have a lot of growing up to do in a brief period. So many changes are taking place, starting around ten days old when your tiny GSD puppy’s eyes open, and they glimpse the world for the first time.

But there are many more changes of colors yet to come, one of which is the transition from the puppy coat to the full adult German Shepherd coat. Your GSD puppy’s coat will change in length, texture, fullness, and color – and likely more than once.

In This article we are going to describe complete information about your German Shepherd Puppy color changing process in different stages.

Table of Contents

German Shepherd Puppy’s Coat Change

If you are new to learning all about German Shepherd dogs, you may not yet know that the classic “black and tan” isn’t the only coat color a puppy can have! Black sable is just one of several adult coat colors that a GSD dog can display.

There are a few desired colors of the German Shepherd Puppy’s Coat, which include: black, tan, and red. According to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, the coat color may vary although strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out off-colors, and blues or livers are serious faults. 

A white dog must be disqualified. Most often, Black and Red colors are seen in Showline, while Back and Tan are seen in Working Lines. ​ All our saddle dogs are RED & BLACK, with their red being very bright and shiny in the sun.

Many times when we are in public we are asked what breed our dogs are and when we say that they are “German Shepherd Dogs”, people are surprised and say, “Wow! But they are so red! We thought that German Shepherds are more pale/cream/tan…” We then smile and say, Yes, many are.. but we like ours better.

What Does the German Shepherd Breed Standard Say About Coat Color?

After watching the videos about German Shepherd Puppy color-changing stages, you may be understandably curious about how the official purebred German Shepherd breed standard addresses all of this coat color variation.

This is especially the case if you are planning to breed your GSD puppy or you want to enter your German Shepherd into dog shows. But even if neither of these is of interest, it is still neat to learn more about all the purebred coat colors.

According to the research, there are different coat colors that are permissible for German Shepherd dogs in the show ring.

  • Black.
  • White.
  • Black and Cream
  • Black and Silver.
  • Black and Red.
  • Blue.
  • Grey.
  • Liver.
  • Sable.
  • White.
  • Bi-color.

We are amazed by all the scientific research that is done in breeding and continue to learn. These are all approved show-ring standard coat colors in case you want to show your GSD.

German Shepherd Puppyhood Last Longer Than You Think

First-time German Shepherd owners are often stunned to learn that a large breed dog like the German Shepherd can continue growing for 24 to 36 months. An adult German Shepherd dog may weigh anywhere from 50 to 90 pounds and stand anywhere from 22 to 26 inches tall (paw pad to shoulder). That is a lot of growth that needs to get done.

Growing too fast can put pressure on a GSD puppy’s growth plates, bones, muscles, and ligaments, causing a painful condition called panosteitis (nickname: “growing pains”). For this reason, genetically speaking, it is advantageous for a large GSD breed puppy to grow in spurts, spacing it out over time.

German Shepherds that will be in the lower weight/height range as adults – often, these are female GSDs but not always – may finish all their growing by 18 to 24 months.

But the most prominent German Shepherds that will grow to 90+ pounds and stand to the full height of 26+ inches may continue growing for up to 36 months.

This is important to know because you may see your dog’s coat color, texture, and consistency changing quite a bit throughout the whole growth cycle.

German Shepherd Puppy Coat Color Changes Step by Step

Every single week of your German Shepherd puppy’s life and growing up stage is jam-packed with changes. The coat is no exception here, as we mentioned in the introduction here.

When your GSD puppy is born, all the puppies are typically good in color. The most common GSD puppy colors are black, grey, or rare white. Kennels Von Lotta, a German Shepherd breeder, and kennel have posted this picture of a litter of infant neonate German Shepherd puppies that were born black.

German Shepherd Puppy Color Changing Process 2 Week to 24 Months

The GSD puppies will start to show some differences in coat color and also coat length. Most German Shepherds grow up to have a medium-length coat, but some GSDs will have a long coat. By the 10-day mark, breeders say it is often possible to tell if a GSD puppy is probably going to grow up to have a long coat.

Breeders state that the color-related coat changes can often be particularly dramatic in the first two months (8 weeks) of your puppy’s life. When we say “dramatic,” this may also mean your puppy’s coat starts dark, gets light, and then gets dark again.

3 Months to 6 Months

If your GSD puppy’s coat includes bi-color, black, and tan, sable, brindle, or some variation thereof, the period of life from three to six months is usually when those colors will start to come in and show themselves. Because the German Shepherd’s puppy coat can shed out in stages, this can also result in some pretty dramatic coat color changes.

7 Months to 18 Months

While the color and pattern differences are likely to get more subtle after the six-month mark, you may see another whole color transition take place between the age of seven months to 18 months.

19 Months to 24 Months

Once your German Shepherd dog reaches the age of two years (24 months), it is much less likely you will see any future coat color changes. If you do continue to see coat color changes, it is worth checking in with your dog’s breeder and with your canine vet. Sometimes a GSD dog’s coat color can change due to diet, excessive exposure to sunlight, and specific health issues.

Because nearly all GSDs are displaying their permanent adult coloration by 18 to 24 months, continued changes or a sudden recurrence of color changes should always be investigated further. Now you know what to watch for as your little fluffy German Shepherd puppy starts to display their full and fabulous adult coat color and design.

German Shepherd Different Colors


Color black is just what it sounds like – an excellent black dog. In a classic German Shepherd genetic table – black is a recessive gene, and to produce a solid black puppy, BOTH parents must carry a black gene.

Black German Shepherd

Owners of Solid Black dogs are incredibly proud of the color of their dog, and many call it “rare,” as not always you can produce a Solid Black dog. Solid Black puppies are born completely black and have no tan anywhere on their body. Small patches of white can be present at birth (on the chest or the paws), but they will disappear as puppy grows.

Black and Red

The red color and deep black as the highest quality of color German Shepherd in Show World. The darker – the better and when you see the “RED,” you know it.

Black and Red German Shepherd

Black and Cream 

We are not exactly sure what “Black & Cream” means, But this color is scarce. Anytime we see a dog that is pale tan with a saddle pattern – we think it might be just that. It is an off-color as far as we are concerned.

Black and Cream German Shepherd

Black and Tan

Tan is similar to “Red,” but not as intense, not as deep and bright. This is a classic color of a Working German Shepherd Dog with a saddle pattern, and we see most of the “Black & Tan” dogs on the images from the past.

Black and Tan German Shepherd


Blue is not an original color by the German Shepherd Breed. This is a serious fault. We have done some research on the internet and found that blue German Shepherd Dogs “are distinctive as their coats are a blue/gray color and they also have blue eyes. There are actually three variations of a blue German Shepherd Dog as they come in blue and tan, blue and sable, or blue and black.”

Blue German Shepherd


Gray” is a color of a Sable dog, but when you do some research, you recognize that “Gray German Shepherd” is a washed-out, pale “Blue” or a washed-out “Black and Cream” or just any washed-out color with very minimal black.

Gray German Shepherd


Liver German Shepherd is a dog that is the color of a dark brown. The nose of a liver GSD is brown leather as well. This is off-color and is a fault as far as a breed standard goes.

Liver German Shepherd


The sable is a classic pattern of a German Shepherd and is described by a gray coat that looks very similar to the coat you would expect to see on the wolf. Even with a sable, you can see variances in the color of the pigment. Sometimes you will hear people say they own a red sable. 

Sable German Shepherd

Sometimes you will hear them say that they own a gray. The hairs on a sable dog refer to the banding of color on the dog’s hair. The dog’s fur is tipped with varying amounts of black on the ends, with the rest being different shades of red, gray, etc. So you can find black sables, tan sables, silver sables or red sables. This is how much the coat of a sable can vary.


The white German Shepherd is a dog of solid white color. This is a major fault as far as breed standard goes, and a white dog will be disenabled from a show ring.

White German Shepherd


The bi-color is a classic pattern when the saddle part of the dog covers with black most of the body leaving markings on the feet and sometimes on the face like having eyebrows.

BI-Color German Shepherd

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