Blue German Shepherd: Color, Genetics & Purebred Status

Blue German Shepherd Dog Feature

German Shepherds are known for their tenacity, intelligence and loyalty. It is what makes these black and tan dogs such good police dogs!

This color combination may be the most common, but is it the most beautiful?

Blue German Shepherd owners would argue that their dog’s glistening dark blue coat is far more beautiful. The rarity of this coat even adds to their uniqueness. Blue shepherds are as hard-working, loyal, and protective as their black and tan siblings. But, they happen to be a bit more unique with a dark slate blue coat.

In this article, we will discuss the history and origin of these blue dogs and what to expect if you bring one home. Many of the care aspects for the Blue German Shepherd will be the same as their tan counterparts. However, there are a few unique characteristics that owners need to know.

Breed Characteristics
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What Is A Blue German Shepherd?

Blue and Tan German Shepherd

Blue German Shepherds are the same breed as the traditional German Shepherd Dog, they are just a different color variation. The “blue” coat color is actually not blue, but more of a dark grey color.

The blue fur of this dog is commonly viewed as a serious fault as it is not recognized by the official breed standard. Therefore, many breeders will not choose to breed blue variation puppies. This makes finding them more difficult and expensive.

Regardless of what the Blue German Shepherd’s breed standards may be, they are just as smart, loyal and energetic as their darker siblings. Many find their color to be quite beautiful and they make great family pets as long as they have proper training and socialization.

The only downside to owning the blue color variety is that they will not be successful as a show dog, nor will many competitions allow them to compete.

Are Blue German Shepherds Purebred?

Until recently, the Blue German Shepherd was not considered purebred by the American Kennel Club. But this decision was recently reversed so they can receive purebred accreditation.

The American Kennel Club identifies them as purebred. However, their blue color is considered a serious fault and makes them unsuitable for showing.

There is some controversy in the German Shepherd world regarding the blue color. The American Kennel Club says this color variation, along with the liver color, is a serious genetic fault. As a result, they are not a show-worthy dog as judges prefer bolder coat colors.

Those who agree with the American Kennel Club say that this color is a genetic mutation, and the Blue German Shepherd should not be bred.

However, many disagree with this statement. They say that the Blue German Shepherd is still purebred and should not be considered faulty.

History and Origin

There is no certainty as to when the Blue German Shepherd first appeared. Since they are a color variation of the traditional German Shepherd dog, it is likely the Blue German Shepherd was present during the early development of the breed, but their presence was simply not recorded. This would have been done to set black and tan as the breed standard.

German Shepherds were originally bred in the 19th century in northern Germany as a herding dog to protect flocks of sheep from predators. This part of their history likely contributes to them having such high energy and being very hardworking.

They are very intelligent and take direction well, which is why many are employed as members of police forces, airport security and service dogs.

The creation and standardization of the German Shepherd can be traced back to a German man named Captain Max von Stephanitz. Max was looking for a working dog who possessed both “utility and intelligence”. He believed that dogs should be working but there was no current breed that had the endurance, power, wit, and trainability that he desired.

He eventually found these qualities in a medium sized, wolf-like dog who he later named Horand von Grafrath. Every German Shepherd, regardless of color variation, can trace their lineage back to Horand. The same is true for the Blue German Shepherd.

Blue German Shepherd Appearance

Blue German Shepherd Dog Carrying A Stick

Blue German Shepherds have a characteristic blue tint to their coat. This blue coloring is not light like the sky, but rather is a shade of navy that is almost black. Some are not entirely blue and some have spots of tan, black, or sable within the blue fur.

The blue coloring may not be obvious at first, but once your dog steps into the sunlight, their blue coloring will shine beautifully. There is no arguing how beautiful the blue hint is.

Some people describe them as a black Shepherd with flour sprinkled on its coat.

In contrast to their striking blue fur, these pups often have light colored eyes. They can have bright yellow or amber eyes, and some even have icy blue eyes. These bright eyes stand in stark contrast to their dark coat.

The rest of their features are the same as a standard German Shepherd:

  • Alert upright ears.
  • Medium length doubled layered coat.
  • Muscular athletic build.

Blue German Shepherds are a large breed but are not towering in their size. Males usually stand 24 to 26 inches tall and weigh 70 to 90 pounds. Females are a bit smaller, standing at 22 to 24 inches tall and 50 to 70 pounds in weight.

Regardless of their height or weight, these dogs are muscular and known for their broad chests and sculpted bodies. They have strong muscles throughout their entire body.

German Shepherds have a thick double coat that stretches from their nose to the tip of their tail. They can either have medium length or long fur that beautifully covers their entire body. They have a dense undercoat in addition to their thick outercoat, so these pups are heavy shedders and are well suited to cold temperatures.

German Shepherd Eyes
Blue colored German Shepherds normally have lighter-colored eyes.

Blue Color Genetics

Why do some German Shepherds have blue fur and others do not? This is the result of genetic differences.

There are many genes associated with canine coat and eye coloration. These genes work together to produce the overall coat color. Some of these genes control the amount of black seen on the fur and others control how much white, red or tan is being expressed. That is why puppies from the same litter can have very different colors.

There are two pigments that make up a dog’s coat color:

  1. Eumelanin which makes the coat black.
  2. Phaeomelanin which makes the coat red.

Eumelanin, the black pigment, can be modified by a genetic mutation to produce other colors such as blue, liver, or Isabella. These mutations prevent eumelanin pigments from producing its full black coloration.

The gene most responsible for the blue coloration of Blue German Shepherds is called gene “D” for dark. The D (dilute) locus is responsible for the diluted pigment that lightens the coat from black to blue.

This gene is present in all German Shepherds. The difference is how this “D” gene is expressed. The capitalized letter represents a dominant gene while a lower-case letter represents a recessive gene, or a non-dominant gene:

DdTan and Black

Blue German Shepherds are rare because of their genetics. Recessive genes appear less often than dominant genes because a puppy has to be double recessive to be blue. This is also the reason why Merle coated dogs such as the Mini Australian Shepherd are also rare.

Are They Different From Regular German Shepherd Dogs?

The Blue German Shepherd is the same as a traditional black and tan Shepherd, just a different color. The overall coloration of the blue is much more diluted in comparison to the regular solid colors. It can produce color combinations such as:

  • Blue and tan.
  • Blue and sable.
  • Blue and black.

The Blue German Shepherd stems from a genetic mutation that affects only the color of their fur and eyes. It has no effect on their intelligence, temperament, working ability, or health. The majority of the information about what to expect from owning a regular German Shepherd is the same for Blue German Shepherds.

It is true that some dogs have health-related risks because of a different coat color. Good examples of this include Silver Labradors that are more likely to develop alopecia and white GSDs that are more likely to be deaf.

However, there are no current studies to show that Blue German Shepherds would have any increased risk of developing a health condition specifically because of their blue coloring.

If you find a blue puppy, know that this dog will have everything to offer a German Shepherd does. Their exercise requirements, shedding levels, nutrition, overall health, and temperament are all identical to their darker colored siblings!

Health Concerns of Blue German Shepherds

Tan and Black German Shepherd Dog
Notice the darkness of the black spots on the back, tail, and face of a black and tan GSD.

All German Shepherd dogs, including the blue, are pre-disposed to some health concerns due to their genetics. But, there has been no evidence to show Blue German Shepherds suffer more frequently or with any different health concerns in comparison to their standard siblings.

Two of the most common health conditions are elbow and hip dysplasia. Both of these conditions are very painful and can result in osteoarthritis at an early age.

Genetics cannot be changed once a puppy is born. However, making sure a puppy does not walk and play too much, and maintaining a lean body weight as an adult can help. As your dog ages maintaining a lean body weight will decrease the workload placed on the bones.

If bringing a puppy home, then make sure to feed a diet specially for large breed dogs. These kibbles are formulated to assure that the puppy’s bones will not grow faster than their muscles can adequately support.

Other health conditions that German Shepherds have been proven to be pre-disposed to include: gastric dilation volvulus (bloat), epilepsy, hemophilia, diabetes, cataracts, perianal fistulas, degenerative disc disease and environmental and food allergies.

It is crucial to ask a breeder about the history that their breeding stock has of these conditions before buying a puppy.

Temperament and Personality

In 2020, the German shepherd was the third most popular dog in the United States!

The intensely loyal Blue German Shepherd has become a family favorite to the few families who are lucky enough to have one. These dogs bond extremely closely with their family members and become very protective of those whom they love.

They are loving and affectionate with family members but lack this same friendliness when interacting with strangers. Their protective instincts prevent them from becoming too cozy with newcomers and they are quite slow to warm up. They feel this same sense of uneasiness when interacting with new dogs.

German Shepherds are slow to trust, but this can be somewhat combatted with early socialization. Some dogs may outgrow this wariness, but many will be uneasy around strangers for their entire life.

They also have the need to work and to please their owner engrained into their personalities. This can at times cause them to feel anxious and potentially destructive when not given the appropriate amount of mental and physical stimulation.

Their need to work means they protect their family from what they see as potential threats. This personality trait can result in German Shepherds feeling possessive of immediate family members, especially small children.

Possessiveness can result in excessive barking, growling, or even biting if the dog feels their family is in danger. In some instances, this trait can be beneficial. However, for the majority the time this can be an undesirable trait.

These undesirable traits can be managed when appropriate training and socialization are in place at an early age. Those who do not put the time into training their German Shepherd can end up with an aggressive and dangerous pet.

The best of their nature is seen with owners who invest the proper amount of time, energy, and effort into proper training and socialization of this breed. German Shepherds are incredibly smart, loyal, affectionate, caring, and faithful companions.

Training A Blue German Shepherd

Blue German Shepherds are natural born athletes and crave activity of all types. Running, hiking, swimming, and playing with toys are all favorite workouts. They are skilled at agility training, dock diving, obedience trials, herding, and tracking as well.

An incredibly athletic dog, they need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day. They need to have physical exercise every day to maintain good physical and mental health.

Without enough exercise, your Blue German Shepherd will begin to chew, bark, or dig in order to express their frustration.

It is also important that pet German Shepherds are given jobs to do within the home. Good jobs include retrieving the mail or being an emotional support animal for children or the elderly on the weekends.

Giving them a job to do will help them feel accomplished and is very satisfying for them. If a German Shepherd does not get enough satisfaction, they tend to feel anxious and can be destructive to the home.

German Shepherds are naturally intelligent as well as athletic. You may have heard the phrase “A tired dog is a good dog”, and with the Blue German Shepherd a combination of physical and mental exercise will help you to achieve this.

When it comes to training, they quickly learn how to do whatever is asked of them. Like all dog breeds, positive reinforcement is the best way to teach. A few treats and plenty of praise can go a long way.

One on one training with a German Shepherd is typically not difficult. However, the difficult part of training is to make sure that they have enough socialization with new dogs, people, and places at an early age. Dogs who do not have proper socialization can become aggressive and unpredictable.

Puppies, Breeders and Price

Blue German Shepherd Puppy
Blue puppies have an overall lighter fur coat than tan puppies.

The blue variation of a German Shepherd is very rare. You will not commonly see one of these blue beauties walking around because not many breeders produce blue puppies. Most German Shepherd owners are looking for the stereotypical black and tan variety.

If you do have your heart set on a Blue German Shepherd, you will likely end up on a waiting list due to the small number of breeders who produce these puppies. In addition, you can expect to pay a large price tag due to their rarity.

Blue German Shepherd puppies can cost $1,200 to $1,500 while standard black and tan puppies can be purchased for $300 to $700. The price difference will vary from breeder to breeder. It is important to remember that expensive does not always equal better genes.

If you are purchasing a puppy from a breeder make sure to ask plenty of questions regarding their parents’ health.

Avoid supporting unethical breeders by doing extensive research, visiting the house where your puppy is being raised and meeting one or both of your puppies’ parents.

A good breeder is easy to get into contact with, is honest about all health conditions of their dogs, is able to show you how they choose which dogs will breed and which will not breed. Trust your gut! If any breeder doesn’t fit your criteria.

Breed Summary

The Blue German Shepherd is no different from their standard tan and black siblings, they are just a different color! Blue German Shepherds have two recessive genes that dilute their black fur to a navy blue.

Loyal and beautiful this is a dog that could fit into almost any household, as long as they are active. Couch potatoes and German Shepherds are a recipe for disaster! This breed needs someone who enjoys the great outdoors as they need at least 60 minutes of mental and physical exercise every day.

These dogs are known for their protective, serious nature; but they also know how to be loving and snuggly with their beloved human companions.

This breed is at their happiest when they are working! Give them a job, and they will quickly become your most devoted worker. Training needs to begin at an early age to assure that they have proper socialization.

If you are lucky enough to find the rare Blue German Shepherd, hold on tight. These dogs are a treasure to be prized because of their golden personality and stunning appearance. Let us know if you have seen one in the comments.

Learn More About German Shepherds

Miniature German Shepherd: Everything You Need To Know
Top 20 Best German Shepherd Mixes

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