Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Black German Shepherd: Facts, Origin & History (With Pictures)

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

black german shepherd in forest

Black German Shepherds are rare, but they aren’t unheard of. These dogs are completely black, though it can range in intensity—some are very black, while others are more of a grayish black. Their overcoat and undercoat should both be black and about the same shade.

Height: 22–26 inches
Weight: 50–90 pounds
Lifespan: 9–13 years
Colors: Black
Suitable for: Police officers, military, families looking for extremely devoted dogs
Temperament: Intelligent, confident, devoted

It’s important to note that black German Shepherds only differ aesthetically. They don’t have any personality or temperament differences from normal German Shepherds. Many people think they look unique, though, and this high demand may make them cost more than other German Shepherds.

When choosing a German Shepherd, we don’t recommend just considering the dog’s color. Instead, you should also consider their health and temperament. It’s far more important to choose a puppy from a quality breeder that does the proper health testing than getting a pure black puppy.

Black German Shepherd Breed Characteristics


Divider 2

The Earliest Records of Black German Shepherds in History

The earliest records of the black German Shepherd can be traced back to the breed’s development. Unlike many breeds out there, the development of the German Shepherd was carefully recorded. The breed originated in Germany in the late 19th century, primarily through the efforts of a German cavalry officer named Captain Max von Stephanitz.

This man was enthused with the herding dogs of Germany and sought to combine them into the one “best” herding dog—so he created the German Shepherd.

Before he carefully interbred dogs together to create the breed as we know it today, there were a lot of different colors these dogs could come in, and one of them was probably black. However, we don’t have specific documentation on coloration, so we don’t know exactly when black German Shepherds came into the mix, but it was probably rather early.

black german shepherd
Image Credit: YamaBSM, Pixabay

How Black German Shepherds Gained Popularity

There are many reasons the black German Shepherd has become more popular. For one, many find the black coloration striking, which attracts many dog owners to look for black German Shepherds specifically. They’re very beautiful. On top of this, black German Shepherds have been featured in several different movies and TV shows. This has increased their popularity, too.

Black German Shepherds have also ridden on the back of the German Shepherd breed as a whole. These dogs are very intelligent and known for their trainability. Therefore, they are often adopted by those looking for a more hands-on breed that can perform tons of different things. They have a very strong reputation for being loyal protection dogs.

The rise in the online sharing of dogs may also have driven this coloration into fame. Many online personalities have shared pictures of black German Shepherds. Social media accounts featuring these dogs have led many others to being aware of them, creating a higher demand for the breed.

Formal Recognition of the Black German Shepherd

Most major kennel clubs recognize black as a known color of German Shepherds. Therefore, these dogs can compete in shows and competitions that any other German Shepherd competes in. This has helped them remain quite popular, as breeders can specialize in black German Shepherds without giving up the ability to compete.

Black German Shepherds are evaluated with the same criteria as any other German Shepherd. With that said, the exact markings allowed on a German Shepherd vary. Some allow tan markings, which are somewhat common, while others do not.

Divider 2

Top 5 Unique Facts About Black German Shepherds

1. Black is a long-standing color variation

While many dog breeds have had colors added to their standard over time, German Shepherds have always come in black. This coloration likely developed very early in their history, as it was common enough to include it in their first breed standard.

2. The color is rare

The black gene is recessive, which means that a puppy must inherit the recessive “a” trait from both parents to be black. If the puppy only inherits one, they won’t be black (though they can pass the trait onto some of their offspring). Therefore, it’s possible for two non-black German Shepherds to have black puppies.

black german shepherd puppy lying on the floor
Image Credit: YamaBSM, Pixabay

3. Black German Shepherds are very popular for working roles

These dogs are often considered “scarier” than other German Shepherds, so they are prized for police and military work. They are considered to have a higher “presence.”

4. Their whole coat is black

Some dogs have differing upper and lower coat colors. However, all layers of the black German Shepherd are black.

black german shepherd dog wearing a harness in the woods
Image Credit: YamaBSM, Pixabay

5. There aren’t any temperament differences

Black German Shepherds have the same temperament as regular German Shepherds. Some people associate black German Shepherds with being more aggressive or less friendly, which is not accurate. Temperament and behavior are primarily influenced by genetics, socialization, and training, rather than coat color.

Divider 2

Do Black German Shepherds Make Good Pets?

Black German Shepherds can make good pets for the right family. They’re known for their loyalty and ability to bond with just about everyone. However, they can be one-person dogs, which may not make them great for families with lots of people.

These dogs are extremely intelligent and trainable. They need mental stimulation, though. Otherwise, they can quickly become bored. When trained well, they can perform just about any task with ease. They’re really very easy to train.

Black German Shepherds are also very versatile dogs as long as they are socialized well. They can perform practically any task, including just being an average family dog. Their intelligence makes them able to adapt to just about any home environment.

As you might guess, these dogs are extremely protective. They were bred to protect flocks in Germany, and they carry those protective instincts with them today. Many people like the idea of a protective dog. However, these instincts must be trained to be utilized, otherwise, your dog may just be fearful and aggressive towards every new person. Therefore, socialization at a young age is vital.

Furthermore, German Shepherds are very active. Therefore, they require regular exercise to thrive. They don’t do well in families that don’t have a lot of active hobbies. If you’re looking for a cuddle bug, this dog isn’t it.

german shepherd dog training
Image By: Luca Nichetti, Shutterstock

Divider 2

Final Thoughts

For the most part, black German Shepherds are just like any other German Shepherd. They have the same temperament and abilities. Their color difference is purely aesthetic. However, many people do like the interesting aesthetic, which is one reason why they are increasingly popular.

German Shepherds are one of the most popular dogs out there. However, they require a lot more work than people realize. They need a lot of mental stimulation and exercise to thrive otherwise, they can easily become bored and destructive. They need to be socialized very well as puppies, or they can develop over-protective tendencies later on.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: marketalangova, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database