Well, don't be scared... this is one of the toughest chapter. I have been consulting a varried sources since years. Today I just felt like I should write on the colors and patterns in GSDs. Many a times I've been hit by querries, as to whether there is only these colors in GSDs that we usually find in localities and dog shows. Nah.... a lot more are there that are not seen in general dog shows, nor in our localities. Some of the pigments have been declared to be conformation fault; some are really rare genes. But, hey... I'm not a scientist, nor do I understand the magic of gene to the fullest extent. Nor again have I come across all these colors. But I can show you some pics of really awesome pigments and patterns that I've collected while exploring the web randomly. I started gathering info about the colours and patterns in GSDs and related pictures in the year 2003 or so, when my CIZAR (pronounced as 'Scissor') was just a li'l boy.
When we think of GSDs, the image that reflects in our mind is a robust dog with errect ears, bushy tail, brown almond eyes and royal gesture and kingly gait, with saddle-black or black-tan markings. However, German Shepherd Dogs come in a wide range of colors... saddle-black or black-tan are the ones that are most commonly found. GSDs can be one solid colour – either solid white or solid black. Besides, there are colors like sable with black mask. The patterns include a varried combinations like black & tan, black & red, black & cream, solid black, solid white (conformation disqualification, although a pure gene - not albino), sable (various colorations). GSDs als come in black & silver, liver (rare - conformation fault) and even blue (rare - conformation fault). This topic of colors and patterns in German Shepherd Dogs should should not be taken for granted. It is one of the most serious point to be kept in the forefront of mind, especially if you are an aspiring breeder or have already started breeding German Shepherd Dogs. Dr Malcolm B Willis wrote two books "The German Shepherd Dog: A Genetic History" and "Practical Genetics for Dog Breeders", which are still a couple of unparallel books about German Shepherd Dog breed and the genetic configuration thereby. Based on the information in these books here is a brief summary of the patterns and color inheritance in GSDs. Colors in German Shepherd Dogs, as in many other breed as well, are actually controlled by some series of genes.
- Golden sable
- Grey sable
- Saddle marked black and tan
- Bicolor - black and tan (bicolor is where the dog has tan only on the legs and face, not on the body)
BLACK SERIES (gene controls the black pigment formation)
- Black pigment includes nose, eyerims and pads
- Liver color
- Liver color - brown black colors, brown nose, eye rims and pads.
WHITE SERIES (The gene that controls 'White' is recessive to all other colors. In order get a white coat color, both parents must carry the white gene - either be white themselves or be carriers of white gene)
- Melanin is produced (Standard GSD's colors have this)
- Partial albinism - chinchilla (not seen)
- White coat with dark eyes and nose (not albino)
- Yellowish coat collar (proposed)
COLOR SERIES (This gene controls the intensity of non-black pigments)
- Cream - Lightest tan
- Tan - Intermediate tan
- Red - Darkest tan
DILUTION SERIES (The gene controls how intense the black pigment will be)
- Dense pigment
- Blue dilution
- Black pigment-blue dilution together begets a blue coat which looks as though it has a dusty or flour sheen.
- A prominent black mask on the face
- Entirely dark coat without the mask on the face
- Brindle (Brindle striping on the legs - The rarest of the rare gene – Almost extinct)
- Clear tan
Just the last time, I came up with a beautiful litter of REVA and REX. That was a small litter of three, one of which, I remember, had a small white patch on the chest. I sat back with the pedigree chart again and spent a lot of time over the web and with some of my books and study materials. There wasn't a trace of white gene in the parental lineage of both the Dam and Sire. I was amazed with the magic game of gene! It may be a recessive trait that expresses itself in the absence of a dominant one or may be something really still obscure to the mankind! Stay tuned... I will be talking more about colors and patterns of GSDs and the Brindle one - the one that we do not find these days.