Blue German Shepherds: What Are They? (Color & Controversy)

In this article we are going to look at the blue German Shepherd in detail, and how he differs from the traditional German Shepherd black & tan color. Technically, he is not blue, he is more of a dark gray color. Whilst these alternate colors are becoming increasingly popular, they are still rare to find.

There is controversy around the coloring of this pup, just like the White GSD.  It’s not usually considered an accepted color like the black german shepherd, or the more highly recognized black and tan dogs.  Long coated GSD’s are also considered faulty.  Some of the “faulty” dogs are also confused with GSD mixes.

He is fun, he is smart, he is beautiful, and he makes an awesome family pet. Other than his color, and the controversy surrounding him, there is not a noteworthy difference between him. So, without further ado, let’s introduce this guy and see what all the fuss is about!

History of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd’s journey began in the early 19th Century in northern Germany. During that time herding dogs varied from area to area, and a German Cavalry Officer, Von Stephanitz, dreamt of creating a standard dog that was exemplary in his area of expertise. Across four decades, breeding the best canines from each district, Von Stephanitz engineered the German Shepherd that we know and love today.

The German Shepherd is currently ranked by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the 2nd most popular dog in America. His popularity is not solely based on the amount of German Shepherd working dogs in America, but also the many that make for a great family pet.

It is unknown when the first blue German Shepherd appeared, however, according to the AKC, along with the liver color, the color is said to be a serious fault. There is a lot of controversy within the German Shepherd world, with many believing that despite being blue in color, they are still purebred and as such they should not be considered a fault. Whereas many say that the blue color is simply a gene mutation, and as such the blue German Shepherds should never be bred from, and overtime they should be bred out completely.

Blue Color Genetics Explained

The color of the Blue German Shepherd is, in essence, a diluted version of the traditional Black Shepherd. Geneticists often use the term ‘diluted’ when referring to the variations in a color to reflect the ‘watered down’ color version. The ‘Dd’ dilution gene affects coat color in the main, but can also change the color of eyes and noses.

All coat colors and patterns are controlled by a set or group of genes that work together. In standard German Shepherds you will see descriptions and breakdowns that speak of the A genes, which control the black and red colouring in the dog through the release of melanin, and this affects the generic base color and variations.

However, the coloring of the blue German Shepherd is controlled by a different gene, the D gene spoken of earlier. It is a gene that is present in all standard German Shepherds and is responsible for both full color when active, and for diluted when inactive, just like an ‘on and off’ switch. All genes come in pairs, and it takes the presence of the big ‘D’ and little ‘d’ pair to produce the blue German Shepherd. The big D produces full strength coat color and is the dominant gene, and the little d produces a dilute color, which is the recessive gene.

The blue German Shepherd, technically being a dilute Black Shepherd, comes from the following gene pairings:

  • DD – Black traditional German Shepherd
  • Dd – Black traditional German Shepherd
  • dd – Blue German Shepherd

So, for the Blue Shepherd to be created he needs two copies of the dilute gene, one from each parent, in order to have dilute fur. Sometimes he will be bred especially for his color, from two blue German Shepherds, and on the rare occasion he will be born into a family of non-blue parents, but only if they are both carriers of the recessive gene.

In addition to the above, the Blue German Shepherd takes three variations in blue color, they come in blue and black, blue and sable and blue and tan, and again it all is dependent on other different genes, but to avoid confusion we won’t get any more sciencey in this article!

Additionally, the blue German Shepherd can also be a variety of lighter and darker blues. Steel blue is the darker shade, and powder blue is the lighter of the two. It can be difficult to identify a steel blue on his own, but when you stand him next to a black German Shepherd, you can easily tell the difference in color.

According to the AKC the blue color is a serious fault in their genes, and whilst they can still be entered into activity events, they are rarely entered because darker German Shepherds are favored. Many owners who have an unfavourable colored German Shepherd suggest that their pups face color discrimination in events despite being allowed to enter.  There are other similar breeds that will share the blue fault, like the GSD cousin – the Belgian Malinois.

Appearance

Other than the color of his coat, the blue German Shepherd will follow the same characteristics of any standard German Shepherd.

The males will weigh between 65 and 90 pounds, and they will measure 24 to 26 inches in height from paw to shoulder, also known as the withers. The females will weigh between 50 and 70 pounds and will measure 22 to 24 inches at the withers.

In addition to the blue, the German Shepherd’s coat will take one of the following colors:

  • Black and Tan
  • Black
  • Black and Cream
  • Black and Red
  • Black and Silver
  • Gray
  • Liver
  • Sable
  • Bi-color
  • White

As mentioned before, the color ‘blue’ is not blue at all, but it has the appearance of dark gray. Imagine having a black German Shepherd, and accidentally dropping a bag of flour over him, that is what this beautiful color looks like. Despite his beauty, the AKC considers the color to be a serious fault.

Additionally, it is common for the blue German Shepherd to have lighter colored eyes, such as light blue, golden brown or yellow compared to the darker eyes of the other colored German Shepherds. Again, this is controlled by the dilute gene explained above.

Because of his appearance, the blue German Shepherd is often mistaken for a blue Malinois, or with his yellow eyes he can even look similar to a dark gray wolf. It is believed that the wolf was an ancestor of the German Shepherd.

Temperament

The German Shepherd is a favored family pet across the globe, and this is no different for the blue German Shepherd. They are known to be super affectionate with their immediate family and enjoy a cuddle on the sofa. This is particularly true of his master, or the one who he sees as his main caregiver, as the German Shepherd is known to be a ‘one-man dog’.

The blue German Shepherd is known for his confident and courageous personality. His guarding tendencies, as long as he is trained and socialized properly, can be utilized in the family environment. However, he can be aloof with strangers, or outsiders of the pack, even if they are welcomed onto the estate. But once they have approved newcomers, he is just as loyal and sweet with them as they are with their own pack.

Exercise & Training

The blue German Shepherd, like any other German Shepherd, is a medium energy dog and requires up to 60 minutes of exercise a day which needs to be high intensity exercise such as interactive games or agility courses.  They are extremely intelligent and excel in protection and military professions.

He also will require mental stimulation throughout the day, such as playing interactive games with his master, patrolling the yard, or taking part in training sessions. Because of his guarding tendencies early socialization is key to a happy hound and household! It is critical for him to be exposed to a variety of situations and range of sounds, as well as other dogs of all shapes and sizes.

You’ll want to make sure that you train properly, especially if you plan to train your GSD with a harness.  They are working dogs, and they like to pull if they are not trained properly.  Same thing with crate training – make sure you have the perfect sized crate.

Health & Nutrition

The blue German Shepherd has the same health tendencies as the normal black and tan variants, and his lifespan is 7 to 10 years.

Unlike other breeds, such as the French Bulldog, the color blue is not indicative of health issues or problematic personality traits. The diluted gene can also produce health issues in other breeds, such as Color Dilution Alopecia in Weimaraners, but the blue German Shepherd is not known to suffer with this issue, or any other diluted color related health issue, either. Overall, the blue German Shepherd is simply a color variation, and their health is exactly the same as a traditional colored German Shepherd.

The National Breed Club for the Shepherd recommends that his parent’s are tested for Elbow and Hip Dysplasia, and they should be given a score of at least fair. Elbow and Hip Dysplasia is an abnormal formation in the elbow and hip joints, and over time this can cause pain in their joints and can often lead to crippling arthritis.

The blue German Shepherd will eat, on average, between 3 to 4 cups of food a day. Because he is susceptible to bloat, it is advised to spread his food across several sittings during the day. Your pooch’s feeding requirements will depend on how big he is, and how active he is throughout the day.

Grooming

The blue German Shepherd often has a medium length outercoat with a dense undercoat. Because he has an undercoat, he is a heavy shedder, and therefore you should brush him 2 to 3 times a week. During shedding seasons you should brush him every day to keep his coat manageable.

He should also be bathed every 6 to 8 weeks to keep him clean, but also to assist with his shedding. Specialist shedding products can be purchased to assist in the management of his coat.

Blue German Shepherds as Family Pets

Blue German Shepherds make great family pets. They are fun, intelligent, trainable, affectionate, loyal and protective to name but a few qualities. If they are socialized from a young age they are great with children. Be sure to include any children in the training process, so that your pup sees them as part of the higher ranking within the pack.

Naturally, all dogs have their own quirks that make them unique, just like all human family members, and a blue German Shepherd will be no different. Generally, however, German Shepherds are intelligent and fun to be around, and would love to spend hours playing in the garden with their family. The best way to see his temperament in action is to view him with his littermates.

Furthermore, if you do get a blue German Shepherd then it might be wise to warn your neighbors, so that they don’t panic and think you have a stray wolf in your yard! With that in mind, be sure to reinforce your fence and make it very high, as German Shepherds are known to jump 6-foot fences with ease, and the blue German Shepherd would be no different.

Price and Breeders

From a reputable breeder a blue German Shepherd will cost, on average, no more than a traditional GSD.  This cost is usually around $1,500 and up.

On the other hand, if you are considering rescuing a German Shepherd, then the American German Shepherd Rescue Association has listed rescue centers dedicated to this breed, and there you may find some blues that need a home. With rescue costs being, on average, between $50 and $350, you will also be saving a life, and saving money that you can spend on extra toys!

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I register my blue German Shepherd with the AKC?

Answer: Yes and no. Yes, you can register him with the AKC for event and title purposes, such as herding and obedience events, or to gain a status title such as a therapy dog or a rescue dog. However, you cannot register to enter him in conformation shows based on his looks, as the color blue is considered to be a serious fault.

Question: Should I get a blue German Shepherd, or is it just easier to stick with the traditional black and tan?

Answer: This depends on what you want from your dog. If you want to enter him into conformation show rings, then you should get a traditional color, simply because you can’t enter the blue German Shepherd. If you would like to enter him into other performance related events, then you can enter a blue, but he will not be viewed favourably compared to the traditional darker colors. Or, if you just want him as a family pet, then the blue makes just as good a pet as a traditional colored German Shepherd, but he just looks slightly quirkier and different.

Final Thoughts

Other than the color of the blue German Shepherd, there is relatively little difference between him and a standard colored German Shepherd. He is the same breed, just a different color.

Despite being considered a faulty color, the blue German Shepherd is proving to be a popular color choice and family pet. They are rare, and as such you can expect to pay a bit more, but don’t be surprised if you have to go put on a waiting list.

However, if it is a show or performance tested German Shepherd that you are after then you should consider getting a darker, or more traditional, colored German Shepherd. Otherwise, you should stick to what color or look you prefer. Nothing else is different about them compared to the traditional German Shepherd color.

Being crowned as the silver medalist in the AKC’s popularity contest means that you can be sure that, as with any German Shepherd, the blue version will make a great family pet, who is affectionate, protective and generally a good all-rounder!

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