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Panda German Shepherd: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

panda german shepherd

Height: 22 – 26 inches
Weight: 49 – 88 pounds
Lifespan: 9 – 13 years
Colors: Black and white
Suitable for: Active families, those with previous dog-owning experience
Temperament: Protective, devoted, intelligent

Panda German Shepherds are like ordinary German Shepherds, except they have a rare genetic mutation that causes white spotting. They don’t always look exactly like a panda. Their spotting can take many different forms.

However, the white markings are prominent enough that the “panda” name stuck.

This genetic mutation may have occurred early in the breed. However, the first recorded instance was in 2000. A female spontaneously developed this gene. At first, it was assumed that the dog had been crossbred.

However, genetic testing by UC-Davis revealed that a genetic mutation had occurred. This gene was named the CD117 gene. Another DNA test proved the female’s lineage, and her AKC registration helped determine that she was a purebred German Shepherd.

This gene is dominant, which means that any dog with a single version of the gene will end up with the coloration. However, it appears to be embryonic lethal. If a puppy inherits two Panda genes, it will not develop correctly and will not survive long enough to be born.

There is some controversy about this coloration, as it is not in the breed standards. It is considered a fault.

Many breeders also claim that the gene is caused through crossbreeding, despite the scientific evidence. Others claim that dogs are from inferior stock, though there is no evidence of this either.

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Panda German Shepherd Puppies


Panga German Shepherds are scarce. They aren’t regularly available due to the rarity of this gene. This gene didn’t exist in the population until 2000. Its low acceptance by breeders has led to very few people breeding this specific coloration. However, a few kennels specialize in this breed – or at least produce a few on the side.

However, even with breeders producing these dogs, it is still challenging to find one. You can expect to pay thousands of dollars to receive one of these dogs. You’ll likely need to be on a waiting list for a couple of years. In general, you can only find these dogs at breeders. They are nowhere near common enough to show up at rescues or shelters. You likely aren’t going to find a local friend or family member who has available puppies.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Panda German Shepherd

1. Panda German Shepherds are purebred

You’ll see many traditional breeders claiming that this coloration is the result of mixed breeding – usually with Collies or a similar dog. However, genetic testing has shown that this is a spontaneous coloration. In other words, dogs with the Panda gene are completely purebred. Their common ancestor had a rare genetic mutation that changed her color.

2. The Panda gene can be lethal

This gene is dominant. However, if a puppy receives two of the genes, then it will not develop correctly. Therefore, this gene is considered to be lethal in the womb. Luckily, this can be avoided by not breeding two Panda dogs together.

3. Panda is a relatively new coloration

This color is relatively new. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that a female German Shepherd spontaneously mutated and had the Panda gene. Before then, the coloration didn’t exist.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Panda German Shepherd 🧠

The German Shepherd is a working dog – first and foremost. This applies to the Panda German Shepherd as well. The panda gene only affects the dog’s coloration, so they will act exactly like a usual German Shepherd.

These dogs are very active. They were made to work for much of the day, so their exercise needs are pretty high. We only recommend them for active families. You can expect them to need at least two hours of moderate to intense physical activity every day. This equates to about 10 miles of walking – if the only exercise you do is walk.

German Shepherds are also extremely smart. They aren’t the most intelligent breed out there, but they are brighter than most. For this reason, you’ll likely need to provide plenty of mental stimulation as well.

This can be accomplished through the use of training and puzzle toys. Some games, like hide-and-seek, can also challenge your dog’s mind.

Without the proper mental stimulation, your German Shepherd will attempt to find their own fun. Usually, this seeking results in destructive behaviors. When your dog is bored, your wall may suddenly look like a rather lovely chew toy.

The German Shepherd is exceptionally eager to learn and easy to train. They are very devoted to their owners and bond closely with them, though they aren’t the friendliest around strangers.

They can become protective of their people if they are not socialized properly. These dogs make excellent guard dogs for this reason, but they still require training to perform this task correctly. Training is vital for them to be accepting of strangers.

Are Panda German Shepherds Good for Families? 🏡

They can be. German Shepherds are known for being very devoted to their families. They can be good with children as long as they are socialized with them at a young age. Otherwise, they may be a bit unsure of smaller children’s erratic behavior.

When they are raised around small children, they are pretty friendly and pleasant.

Panda German Shepherds are extremely intelligent, so it is often easy to teach them how to behave around children.

Their high intelligence and activity level makes them great for families with active children. They can learn to play hide-and-seek and a variety of other games that most children will love.

If you’re looking for a dog to protect the whole family, the German Shepherd will be a great option. These canines attach themselves equally to everyone in the family, unlike some other breeds that seem to be oriented around one person.

Due to their larger size, most German Shepherds will not be fearful of younger children. Smaller children don’t easily injure them, so they usually won’t fear them if they are adequately trained.

Do Panda German Shepherds Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

They can. Some German Shepherds get along perfectly fine with other dogs. Others can be pretty protective of their space and people, which can make adopting another dog difficult.

It mostly depends on how well socialized your German Shepherd is. If they are around other dogs a lot, then they will likely get along with them. After all, they’ll learn that other dogs aren’t a threat to them. Their presence will be “normal.”

However, if your dog is not used to other canines, they may interpret them as a threat.

Usually, German Shepherds are not good with cats or other small animals. Their prey drive is too high, so they tend to chase anything seen as a prey animal.

Socialization helps with this a little bit, but you will never eliminate their pretty drive. They’re dogs. It’s what they were bred to do!

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Things to Know When Owning a Panda Shepherd

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

For the most part, these dogs don’t require any specific dietary needs beyond the typical dog. Most do just fine on high-quality commercial food.

Of course, some dogs may have specific health conditions that need to be managed through diet. However, this won’t apply to most German Shepherds. If your dog has a chronic condition, ask your vet if they should be consuming a specific food.

These are large dogs, so it is crucial to choose a puppy food specifically designed for larger breeds. Puppies growing into larger dogs often need less of certain nutrients to ensure that they grow correctly. A typical puppy food won’t work for them and may lead to health problems later on.

For instance, large dogs need less calcium than smaller puppies. If they consume too much, they may be at greater risk for hip dysplasia and similar conditions.

German Shepherd puppies won’t stop growing until they are around two years of age, so they should stay on this specifically formulated puppy food until that time.

It is not necessary to choose a food that says explicitly “German Shepherd” on the bag. Besides their nutritional needs as puppies, German Shepherds do not need any specific nutrition. Often, this is simply a marketing ploy. Most breed-specific recipes have very few differences from regular dog food. Some don’t have any differences at all.

Panda German Shepherd Exercise Requirements 🐕

German Shepherds are highly active. They have high exercise needs and are only recommended for active families. Panda German Shepherds have the exact needs as any other German Shepherd, as their genetic mutation only affects their coloration.

You should plan on exercising your German Shepherd for at least two hours a day. This exercise can involve walks, playtime, active training, and a variety of other activities.

Often, we recommend combining mental stimulation with physical exercise. Combining the two will help you meet all your dog’s needs at once. Consider things like agility training or even just training while you walk.

You should spread the exercise out throughout the day. German Shepherds likely won’t want to exercise for two hours straight, though many of them likely could. Instead, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you spread it out into two or three sessions.

A lack of exercise can cause all sorts of problems. Destructive behavior is often the result of too little exercise. Your canine may become bored and decide your couch leg looks very tasty.

Training Needs for Panda Shepherds 🦮

German Shepherds are extremely easy to train. In many cases, these dogs were specifically bred to train efficiently and quickly. They’re intelligent and very devoted to their owners. Unlike some other breeds, they will often respond to commands in real-life situations with ease. Their need to please often overrides everything else.

However, these dogs do need training. If they are not trained, it is easy for them to get bored. This boredom can cause destructive behavior. Due to their high intelligence, they must be mentally stimulated throughout the day. Training is the easiest way to do this, though you can also make use of puzzle toys.

Furthermore, these dogs are highly protective of their owners. They can become aggressive if they are not socialized as puppies. Puppy classes are highly recommended, as they can provide socialization alongside the training your puppy needs.

As with many dogs, proper training is key to having a well-behaved German Shepherd.

Panda Shepherd Grooming ✂️

German Shepherds have a reasonably thick coat. They also shed quite a bit, so their grooming needs can be pretty high.

They often won’t need regular professional sessions if you keep up with their grooming at home. However, you will need to stay on top of their coat care. Otherwise, you may need to pay a professional to help you catch up.

You should brush your German Shepherd a few times a week. This is necessary for their overall well-being. Otherwise, dead hair, dirt, and debris can quickly build up in their coat. Brushing can remove much of this hair and work to keep the dog’s coat nice and clean.

Otherwise, you’ll likely end up needing to bath your dog more often – which is much harder than give them a quick brush. Bathing can also cause skin sensitivities and itchiness. Dogs were not meant to be bathed very often.

Most German Shepherds do not mat. However, some with long hair might develop a few tangles. This predisposition makes brushing them even more critical.

Panda Shepherd Health and Conditions ❤️

German Shepherds are often relatively healthy, but this can vary from dog to dog. Some lines are healthier than others. Dogs bred as working animals tend to be the healthiest, as they were made with a practical purpose in mind.

Those bred for shows are not always healthy, as confirmation tends to be highest on the breeder’s list.

Luckily, many health tests can be performed on German Shepherds before they are bred. These health tests ensure that only the healthiest dogs are bred together. Be sure to ask the breeder you are purchasing from for this health testing information.

Ask for the parent’s CHIC number so you can independently see the results of important health tests. If a dog doesn’t have one, the breeder has not done the proper health testing before producing the litter of puppies.

German Shepherds are prone to quite a few health conditions. Hip dysplasia is prevalent, especially amongst dogs with sloped backs. The high amount of inbreeding at the beginning of the breed’s existence likely causes this disease.

Hip and elbow dysplasia can cause arthritis-like symptoms when the dog is relatively young. It develops as the dog grows, so it usually appears very early in the dog’s life. Some dogs don’t show symptoms until they are around three, though.

Degenerative myelopathy is quite common in these dogs as well. It occurs with a high enough frequency that this breed is likely predispositioned to it. A test is available, so a breeder that does appropriate health testing will likely be able to prevent it from popping up in their puppies.

You can also purchase the test for your puppy yourself and request that it be done before you finalize the adoption. This step is often unnecessary if the breeder provides health testing for both of the parents, though.

German Shepherds also have a higher-than-average occurrence of Von Willebrand diseases. This condition is an inherited bleeding disorder. Treatment is possible, but there is no cure. Most of the time, the dog will be on life-long medications and supplements.

Minor Conditions
  • Cardiac heart defects
  • Panosteitis
  • Pannus
Serious Conditions
  • Von Willebrand disease
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia

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Male vs. Female

There is little difference between the two genders of this breed. Often, males are a bit larger, while females are smaller. In many cases, this will be true for those with the Panda coloration.

Males will weigh around 65-90 pounds, while females will weigh 50-70 pounds.

There is little temperament difference between these two dogs. Both genders will require the same training and socialization. There is no evidence that one gender is more aggressive or territorial than the other. It matters far more how the dog was raised.

It is sometimes easy to tell the genders apart based on their size alone. However, there is some overlap between them, so this isn’t always accurate. Some females and males will be about the same size. It can vary a lot from dog to dog.

Beyond the size difference, there is no significant difference between gender.

We recommend not setting your sights on a single gender when looking for a Panda German Shepherd. Often, these dogs are so rare that there usually isn’t a male and female available. You often can’t choose the gender if you’re set on this specific coloration.

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Final Thoughts: Panda Shepherd

Panda German Shepherds are a bit controversial. This coloration results from a sudden and rare genetic mutation that occurred in a single female in 2000. The mutation caused her to have white spotting, hence the “panda” name.

Despite the strange coloration, these dogs are purebred. They will act and look exactly like your usual German Shepherd beside the white spotting.

Currently, this coloration is not recognized by any kennel club, even though it results from a natural mutation. It will likely not be recognized for some time, as it is rare, and breed standards don’t get changed all that often.

While these dogs look different, it is essential to remember that they have the exact needs of an ordinary German Shepherd. In other words, you’ll need to exercise them plenty each day, brush them many times a week, and commit to socialization.

We only recommend these dogs for active families. Previous experience with dogs is beneficial. Either way, plan on enrolling your Panda German Shepherd in obedience classes ASAP. Group lessons are preferred for the socialization aspect.

Featured Image Credit: Reza Abdollahi, Shutterstock

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