Rare Coat Color: Brindle German Shepherd Complete Guide

German Shepherds are dogs of many colors. Currently, GSDs have eleven dog kennel club-accepted coat colors. Pure white, solid blue, merle, and brindle are coat colors that some regard as faults and, sadly, are slowly coming to extinction. 

This article briefly explains about Brindle-Colored German Shepherds, how the color was achieved, its history, where they can be found, and why do we have fewer sightings of this coat color pattern.

Brindle is a non-standard color for the GSD. Still, another part of the reason is that the brindle gene itself is regarded as unstable genetically. The subject of the brindle coat color pattern in German Shepherd dogs is one of intense debate and controversy.

Table of Contents

What is Brindle German Shepherd?

The term brindle refers to a specific coat pattern or color made up of alternating stripes. Brindle is often referred to as tiger stripes. However, the exact design can look very different depending on the genetics of each dog – to the point where you might even think two brindle coated dogs have two completely different coat patterns.

The color markings are usually darker or slightly lighter than the base coat. It is commonly seen as a black stripe on a reddish-brown or tan base coat. Brindle Colored German Shepherds have four different brindle color patterns depending on their dominant and recessive genes.

A Brindle German Shepherd is always going to be a curiosity among mainstream GSD breeders. This coat pattern is not even listed in the American Kennel Club (AKC) official breed norm registered with the AKC by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America.

Where did the Brindle Coat Color Pattern Come From?

Brindle Colored German Shepherd was one of the generated colour patterns of GSDs. According to some GSD Breeders, the first certified GSD name Horand Von Grafrath, formerly known as Hektor Linkshrein, had 33 sons. After careful observation and analysis, it was found out that two of his sons were brindle coloured.

This is because producing the brindle coat pattern requires a slightly complex genetic process. It is far more complex to breed a dog with a brindle coat pattern – especially a dog for whom brindle is not a standard coat colour – than it is to breed a dog with a basic black or red coat colour.

There are two central colour genes that all canines inherit: eumelanin and phaeomelanin. Eumelanin controls for basic black and all the shades on that spectrum. Which can display as anything from pale blue or silver all the way to stark black.

Phaeomelanin controls for primary red and all the various shades of red, which can range from palest liver or ivory to burnished russet or brown. Eumelanin also controls for nose, eye, and skin color while phaeomelanin controls only for coat color.

The Four Main Brindle German Shepherd Mix  Color Patterns

The disparity in brindle color patterns arises from a change in the underlying coat color gene – the base coat color. There are four main base colors for German shepherd dogs

The Four Main Brindle German Shepherd Mix  Color Patterns


The brindle German Shepherd with a black (recessive) base coat color may look solid black, blue, isabella, or liver because the recessive black coat gene inhibits color in the red spectrum from showing up.

Here, you can see that two of the base colors stem from genetic alterations to the eumelanin gene black and two of the base colors arise from genetic modifications to the phaeomelanin gene red.


The brindle German Shepherd with a tan base color can have a coat ranging from tan to blue, isabella to the liver, or even black with brindle points.

Grey or Silver

The brindle German Shepherd with a gray or silver base color may have very subtle or absent brindle coat pattern markings.

Sable or Brown

The brindle German Shepherd with a sable or brown base color will likely look to be a full brindle.

How Different is a Brindle Colored German Shepherd From Other GSDs?

Brindle Colored German Shepherd puppies are no different from all other GSDs. They are very energetic and need a lot of exercises, just like standard GSDs. Healthwise, they can have inherited diseases and other health issues, too. And just like other GSDs, they can be straight backs or sloped-backs. Their intelligence is equal to other colored GSDs.

Therefore, with proper training, diet, and care, these Brindle Colored GSDs are set to become great working dogs and loving family pets. Unfortunately, some kennel clubs don’t have a strong liking to washed-out colored GSDs and even considered it as a fault. Since brindle is regarded as a washed-out color, Brindle Colored GSDs are disallowed from being included in the conformation rings.

How Much Does a Brindle Pattern German Shepherd Cost?

The cost for Brindle Colored GSD will always depend on the breeder and the demand for this color pattern. The cost will generally be as low as $500 to as high as $1,500. This can go large if the Brindle Colored German Shepherd puppy has papers proving its pedigree, line, breeding history, and running title. Since adopting should be the preference in getting a pet, adoption fees are quite reasonable, ranging between $50 to $500.

How Can We Find a Brindle Colored German Shepherd?

Are you looking for a Brindle Colored German Shepherd? One needs to understand the history of the GSDs to fully grasp the development of this dog breed and how some colors like brindle, was severely affected. 

According to German Shepherd history books, the German Shepherd Dog Club, also known as S.V., decided to reduce many GSD originating colors as they were standardizing the GSD breed. 

For some unknown reasons, the liver, white, brindle, and blue merle were chosen to be eradicated. In an attempt to breed a GSD similar looking dog, the Dutch Shepherd was created and standardly having brindle colored only to be distinguished apart from GSDs. 

Nowadays, Brindle German Shepherd can be found in rescue centers or shelters. These Brindle Colored GSDs are usually abandoned by owners who are into usual colored GSDs. Some are also left by breeders who messed up a breeding program and ended up producing a Brindle GSD with health or physical issues. 

So, interested adoption applicants should be ready to embrace everything and must not expect too much. Looking for an ethical breeder is also a good option for one to have a healthy Brindle Colored German Shepherd puppy. This may take some time, though, and can be costly, but having a GSD puppy with a color pattern that’s believed to be extinct will be worth it.

Is the Brindle German Shepherd a Healthy Dog?

This is a fundamental question to ask before making a lifelong loyalty to any dog, including a purebred brindle German Shepherd dog. The place to start, as we mentioned in the former section here, is with the breeder’s operation.

You want to make sure that the breeder can show proof that all required and recommended parent dog pre-screening genetic tests have been completed, and the results are negative.

But these tests are not the only likely determinant of good health for a GSD puppy of any coat color.

If at all possible, you want to visit the breeder’s operation to see for yourself that it is not a puppy mill and that the kennel is clean, sanitary, and healthy overall for the dogs. It is essential to meet and interact with both parent dogs, as this will give you the best insight into your puppy’s potential personality and temperament in adulthood.

What Do Brindle German Shepherd Puppies Look Like?

Brindle puppy typically appears as black stripes on a red and tan bas merle and harlequin, liver, dilution, greying, and recessive red can affect the strip white markings and ticking can occur on any brindle dog or puppy.

Final Words

Brindle might not be identified as one of the standard GSD color variations, but this should not hinder breeders from continuing to nurture German Shepherds having this unprecedented color pattern. They should be encouraged just like how the United Kennel Club protected the White German Shepherds. 

Is the Brindle German Shepherd dog the lost pattern? The answer will be yes and no. Yes, it will soon become a missing color pattern if GSD breeders and enthusiasts will not do something to promote its beauty and continue breeding them not only for their rare color but also to breed them ethically. No good dog is a bad color according to Von Stephanitz. This should be reminded to all Kennel Clubs when recognizing GSD conformation. Training and proper care are crucial for GSDs whatever coat color they have. Furthermore, what’s more, important is the Brindle Colored GSDs’ abilities and their different roles in society.

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  1. Sally Martin

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