TYPES OF COATS AND COLORS OF COATS. FIRST........IS COLOR REALLY IMPORTANT? Here at Central Coast German shepherds I am constantly hearing clients asking for specific color on their German shepherd puppies. We strive for rich color pigment but that's not what's most important.
Although pigment is important, this obsession with specific colors, and the economic pressure of demand risks forcing pigment to the top of the list of German shepherd characteristics in the breeding programs of German shepherd breeders. This is not in itself bad unless it leads to a demotion of other critical characteristics such as phenotype, gender specific traits, temperament, working drive, or other breed standard requirements. We don’t want this to color our breeding programs, as it were.
This is what happened with many lines in which the gene pool was markedly damaged by over-emphasis of show characteristics even to the disintegration of the health of the breed with increased degenerative spine issues, joint dysplasia etc.
What are we doing? We had better beware if a breeding program puts overemphasis simply on coat colors that causes damage to the characteristics of the breed. Are we so vain that we choose our dogs based largely on color? The German shepherd is a working dog, a marvel of intelligence and ability, one of the top three most intelligent dogs in the world.
They are a marvel to see jumping gracefully over the jumps and rounding the blinds at blinding speed. I have witnessed what happens with overemphasis on outward appearances with the over-angulation (American Show Lines) and designer colors. Let’s hope that current fads don’t taint the breeding program and strategy of our breeders and that we remain dedicated to what this breed is all about, a balance of grace and power, of beauty and integrity, courage and loyalty, intelligence and a strongly built carriage.
Let’s be very careful that our focus on specific colored German Shepherd Puppies doesn’t upset the genetic balance. We do strive for deep pigment in color however, we do not risk the health, intelligence and structure to get that color. As we work to obtain those beautiful colors, we put even stronger emphasis on proper breeding practices to maintain and improve on what the fabulous German Shepherd was meant to be.
Coat Description Your GSD has an outer coat that is straight, coarse and dense with flat hair that lies close to his body. The undercoat is thick and softer than the outer coat. The neck area has a longer and thicker coat compared to the rest of the body. Some German shepherds have slightly wavy hair with a wiry texture for the outer coat. Bred to do herding and police work, his coat can handle the cold nights. If your shepherd lives in the home with you the coat will not be as thick as a coat for a dog that remains outside most of the time. Plan on brushing your shepherd often. The German Shepherd sheds lightly, but constantly throughout the year so he requires weekly and even daily brushing, especially during the twice-a-year seasonal shedding (Spring and Fall). Brushing will help avoid mats and distribute his natural oils & keep the coat and skin healthy. During the seasonal shedding period he will blow (shed) the entire undercoat getting ready for the new coat to come in. Plan on using a de-shedding comb (such as a Furminator) twice a week for 1-2 weeks during the shedding seasons to remove the majority of the undercoat and reduce shedding up to 90%.
Coat Lengths The German shepherd is available in four coats -- short with an undercoat (stock), medium with an undercoat (Plush - German) long with an undercoat and long without an undercoat. The short and medium-length coats are the preferred show coats. The short coat is as described, short. The medium or plush coat is longer and fuller than the short coat. Besides the longer hair, the long coat has long tufts or feathering on the ears, back of the legs and the tail. The long coat without the undercoat has the same feathering, but the outer coat is soft instead of coarse and he may not have a undercoat at all. The long coat without the undercoat is quite easy to maintain and has less shedding due to the lack of undercoat however, the undercoat is one of the traits that the german shepherd was bred for. That undercoat protects him from the harsh cold temperatures.
Coat Colors The classic look for American German shepherds is black and tan with a black saddle OR in Germany, Black and Red with a black saddle. A blanket-black is when the saddle markings extend to the dog's elbows. A bi-color look is when the saddle covers the whole body except the feet and sometimes the face. Other combinations include blue and tan as well as liver and tan. Blue dogs have a gray, dusty look to their color. The blue can be a powdery light color to a steel-blue color. Liver is a brownish color varying from a light shade of brown to a chocolate brown. Solid-colored German shepherd dogs include black, white, blue and liver. Sable is a blend of colors.
Considerations For showing, the AKC prefers dogs with strong, rich colors. Pale shades, livers and blues are considered a fault and white shepherds are disqualified. The ideal coat for showing is medium in length with a dense outer coat. Daily brushing is essential for the long-haired shepherd and during seasonal shedding. When shedding is low, the stock coat or medium coat may get by with a weekly brushing. Brush puppies daily so they become accustomed to the grooming process.
If you are considering purchasing a German shepherd, beware of breeders who claim to breed unusual or designer colors. Even though the blue and liver shades are recessive, the varied colors for German shepherds are not unusual but not necessarily desired traits to comply with the standard of the breed.
Our German Shepherds Our German Shepherds will typically have the Plush Coat (medium length). They will be of the desirable deep Black and Red pigment. Occasionally we will have a Long Coated puppy. It takes both parents to carry the recessive long hair gene to produce a puppy with long hair. It was once a undesirable trait to obtain a long hair german shepherd however, the long hair, double coated (with the undercoat) is now very desirable.