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Liver German Shepherd: Pictures, Facts & History

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By Nicole Cosgrove

a liver german shepherd dog

Height: 22–26 inches
Weight: 45–88 pounds
Lifespan: 9–13 years
Colors: Solid brown, liver, tan, white
Suitable for: Families who are active, people who spend a lot of time at home
Temperament: Loyal, intelligent, reserved, energetic, protective, loving

When you think of the German Shepherd, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? While it might be their loyal and protective natures, chances are their appearance is also first and foremost. German Shepherds are quite handsome with their black and tan coats, but did you know that there are other color variations of this breed out there? One of the rarer ones is the Liver German Shepherd.

Instead of the traditional black and tan coat, the Liver German Shepherd has beautiful liver-colored fur that can be a solid brown, liver and tan, or liver and white. Other than the difference in color, these dogs are still the same as regular German Shepherds. If you think a Liver German Shepherd might be right for you, take a look at what you should know before acquiring one of these lovely dogs.

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Liver German Shepherd Puppies – Before You Buy…


Liver German Shepherd puppies look a little bit different than their adult counterparts. While adult Liver German Shepherds entire bodies are brown — including nose and feet — puppies will usually have pink paws and sometimes even a pink nose. Adults have amber eyes, but when they’re born, the Liver German Shepherd might have blue or green eyes that change to red-brown at approximately six months.

Liver German Shepherds are an incredibly rare color variation, so you may have a difficult time finding one. The chances of finding one of these pups at a shelter are slim; you will most likely need to go to a reputable breeder (an excellent place to look is on the American Kennel Club site). If you do come across one of these beauties at a shelter, you’ll end up paying between $50 and $500. If coming from a breeder, the price will go up, and you’ll be looking at spending anywhere from $500 to $1,500.

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5 Interesting Facts About Liver German Shepherds

1. Liver German Shepherds color variant is caused by a recessive gene.

These dogs get their coloring from a recessive gene called the B Locus. This gene dilutes the black coloring (and only the black) typical of German Shepherds, which in turn makes their coats much lighter. For a German Shepherd to end up as a Liver German Shepherd, both parent dogs must have the B Locus gene, and at least one gene must be passed onto their offspring.

liver german shepherd in the snow
Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock

2. The American Kennel Club considers the color of Liver German Shepherds to be a fault.

The American Kennel Club has certain standards when it comes to show dogs. When it comes to the Liver German Shepherd, they consider its color to be a fault (i.e., something in its appearance thought to be unfavorable to the type of breed). The AKC states, “The German Shepherd Dog varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified.”

3. Isabella German Shepherds and Liver German Shepherds are not the same.

Many get the Isabella German Shepherd and the Liver German Shepherd confused due to their similar coloring. They are not, however, the same. Isabella German Shepherds are even rarer than Liver German Shepherds and are often referred to as double dilutes or dilute livers because they carry two of the B Locus genes. However, they also have two of a blue recessive gene that changes their coloring further.

4. Liver German Shepherds are escape artists.

Before you leave your Liver German Shepherd alone, you’ll want to make sure it’s in a secure area. Why? Because these dogs can both burrow underground up to a few feet and jump at least 5 feet!

woman and a liver german shepherd dog
Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock

5. Liver German Shepherds are some of the most energetic dogs around.

These dogs are known for being incredibly full of energy — you’re likely looking at around 1 1/2 hours of playtime a day. If your pup isn’t given enough time to work that energy out, they could turn to destructive behavior. Take them for multiple long walks or give them lots of time to run around in the backyard with you.

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Final Thoughts

The Liver German Shepherd is a uniquely beautiful German Shepherd that will catch eyes on the street. While they are incredibly rare and can be challenging to find, if you manage to locate one, it will make a great addition to the family. Though the B Locus gene changes the color of the German Shepherds coat, it doesn’t change the temperament or anything else about the dog, so if you’re knowledgeable about this breed you’ll know what you’re getting into regarding training and care.

If you do decide you want one of these pups as a pet, you can give adoption shelters a go, but you’ll likely end up going to a breeder and spending a fair amount of money. A great place to start looking for a reputable breeder is the American Kennel Club’s website. As with all animals, be sure you have the time and energy to devote to a new pet before you get them!

Related Read: Old German Shepherd Dog: Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Featured Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock

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