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German shepherds are the second most popular breed in America, according to behavioral specialists, USA Dog Behavior. However, you may be stunned to know that most of them boast a blend of black and coffee colors. If you have seen a gorgeous jet black, German shepherd-type dog prancing about at the dog park, you may wonder if it actually belongs to a separate breed. The answer is that this beautiful dog, with markings accepted by the German Shepherd breed standard, is simply bred to show off this stunning panther-like color, much the same way that a Boston Terrier might be bred to show off a beautiful brindle coat, or a poodle might be bred to display snow white fur. Despite the black shepherd belonging to the German Shepherd breed, it does have a few cool differences that make it stand out. Like the standard shepherd, it is a loving, loyal dog that gets on with kids, dog nannies, and new people too. The differences lie more in the physical sphere.

Physical Differences to Observe

In addition to being ebony-hued, black German shepherds are often larger, weighing up to 10 to 20 pounds more, and being an inch or two taller than the more oft-seen variety. Unlike other shepherds, their back is also straight, doing away with the gentle downward slope (called ‘topline angulation’) that is so characteristic of coffee/black-coated shepherds. To understand how black shepherds obtain their dark coat, think of how people with blue eyes are born. As is the case with blue eyes, the black coat in shepherds arise from the combination of recessive genes. That is, two black shepherds can only ever have black pups. However, if either the male or female ‘parent’ has a standard color, they may still have one recessive gene that can result in black pups if they are bred with another dog with recessive genes.

Health Conditions in Black Shepherds

Black shepherds are subject to the same health conditions that affect other German shepherds. These include hip and elbow dysplasia, blood disorders, epilepsy, osteoarthritis, and digestive issues, to name a few. If you are looking at bringing a black shepherd home, do so from a responsible breeder that has evaluated and tested both parents against issues like hip dysplasia. Even if you have to be placed on a waiting list to receive your black shepherd, the wait will definitely be worth it. Seeing a dog battling the pain of allergies, arthritis, and hip issues is devastating indeed. Health should always come first in any black German shepherd breeding program.

Because black shepherds are high energy and sociable, it is important to ensure that yours gets plenty of physical activity and social interaction throughout the day. If you are a busy New Yorker and are away from home for various hours straight, New York Dog Nanny can help provide all the company and activity your black beauty needs, with lovely walks in the park and time spent socializing with other dogs. With a nanny on his side, your pooch will be in the perfect mood for cuddles when he sees you at the end of the day. Black shepherds may be active and playful, but they also love hugs and kisses and are ultimately big babies at heart.

This article was written by Jane Wood. To contribute to our blog, please send your request to

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