The German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Known for their intelligence, loyalty, and working abilities, these dogs make excellent companions and service animals. However, most people are only familiar with the standard black and tan variety of the German Shepherd. There is a rare color morph of this breed that is steadily growing in popularity – the Blue German Shepherd.
Here is a helpful table summarizing some key information about Blue German Shepherds:
|Blue German Shepherd|
|Origins||Developed from German Shepherd breed; blue color caused by recessive dilute gene|
|Controversy||Not recognized by AKC; some believe blue color indicates inferior breeding|
|Appearance||Gray, blue-gray, silver coat; amber or blue eyes; gray nose/pads|
|Temperament||Same as standard German Shepherd – intelligent, loyal, energetic|
|Exercise Needs||60-90 minutes daily|
|Grooming||Moderate shedding; weekly brushing recommended|
|Training||Respond very well to training; need early socialization|
|Health Issues||Prone to hip/elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and some heart conditions|
|Price||$1,500 – $2,500 from reputable breeder|
|Good for||Active individuals/families; those interested in training dogs|
|Considerations||Require time/commitment to train & exercise; not for first-time owners|
What is a Blue German Shepherd?
A Blue German Shepherd is a purebred German Shepherd dog that has a unique dilute coat color. Rather than the typical black and tan pattern, Blue German Shepherds have varying shades of gray, blue, or silver fur. Their eyes also have a striking light blue or amber hue.
While some breeders originally thought the dilute color was due to mixed breeding, it is actually caused by a recessive gene. When two dogs carrying this gene are bred together, some of the puppies will inherit the double recessive trait and develop the dilute coat color.
The Origins of Blue German Shepherds
As with the origins of all German Shepherd dogs, the Blue Shepherd traces back to Captain Max von Stephanitz, a German cavalry officer known as the father of the breed. In 1899, he came across a dog named Hektor Linksrhein who exemplified his idea of the perfect working dog. Von Stephanitz purchased Hektor, renamed him Horand von Grafrath, and founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde to establish breed standards.
Horand became the center of the breeding programs and sired many litters of German Shepherd puppies. Genetic analysis shows that all German Shepherds alive today trace their ancestry back to Horand. This includes dogs with the recessive mutations that cause the dilute coat colors like blue.
It is unknown exactly when the first Blue German Shepherd was born, but it was likely sometime in the early 1900s. Breeders at the time saw the diluted color as undesirable and attempted to breed the trait out of the gene pool by not allowing blue dogs to be registered. However, some breeders kept producing blue puppies from occasional recessive carriers.
The Controversy Over Blue German Shepherds
There is considerable controversy within the German Shepherd breeding community about Blue German Shepherds. Because the diluted color is caused by a genetic mutation, some breeders believe blue dogs represent inferior breeding stock.
The American Kennel Club’s official breed standard states:
Color of the German Shepherd Dog varies, but black with tan/liver/silver markings is preferred. All other colors including solid black, sable, white, blue and liver are considered disqualifying faults.
As a result, blue puppies cannot be registered as German Shepherd Dogs with the AKC. However, the United Kennel Club does allow registration of Blue German Shepherds.
Opponents argue that coat color has no bearing on working ability or temperament, and that discriminating against blues limits the gene pool and potential health issues from excessive inbreeding. As blue German Shepherds gain popularity as family pets, there are calls for the AKC to remove coat color from the breed standard.
Blue German Shepherd Appearance
A Blue German Shepherd has the same body structure and proportions as a standard German Shepherd, with a few key differences:
- Coat color – Rather than black and tan, blue German Shepherds exhibit a dilution of color that results in a gray, blue-gray, or silver tone. Some may appear almost black.
- Coat pattern – Most have black tips or dark mottling on their fur, lending a “salt and pepper” colored coat. Solid blue coats are possible but less common.
- Eye color – Blues frequently have amber, gold, or light brown eyes rather than the dark brown eyes of most German Shepherds. Some have striking blue eyes.
- Nose and pads – Blues tend to have gray noses and foot pads instead of black.
Otherwise, blue German Shepherds have the same large muscular frame, erect ears, domed forehead, and long muzzle as any other German Shepherd. Males stand 24-26 inches tall and weigh 75-95 pounds. Females stand 22-24 inches and weigh 60-75 pounds.
|Coat||Double medium or long dense coat with thick undercoat|
|Color||Blue, gray, silver dilute colors, sometimes with black tips|
|Eyes||Amber, gold, light brown, or blue|
|Muzzle||Long and square cut|
|Tail||Bushy, hangs below the hock|
|Male Height||24-26 inches|
|Male Weight||75-95 pounds|
|Female Height||22-24 inches|
|Female Weight||60-75 pounds|
Blue German Shepherd Temperament
The most important thing to understand about Blue German Shepherds is that their temperament and personality traits are identical to any other German Shepherd colors. Coat color has no correlation to behavior in dogs.
German Shepherds of all colors have a reputation for being intelligent, loyal, protective and highly trainable. However, without proper socialization and training, these dogs may become wary of strangers or aggressive.
Blue German Shepherds exhibit all the same characteristics that make German Shepherds excellent working dogs and family companions:
- Energetic, active, and athletic
- Highly intelligent and trainable
- Loyal and bonded to family members
- Protective instincts make great watchdogs
- Confident, courageous, and eager to work
- Aloof with strangers but not aggressive when properly socialized
- Fantastic scenting and tracking abilities
With early socialization and training, the Blue German Shepherd thrives as an affectionate and dutiful member of the family. Their natural protectiveness and intelligence can be honed into an excellent working or service dog as well.
Caring for a Blue German Shepherd
While coat color doesn’t affect personality, Blue German Shepherds do have some unique care needs. Below are some key considerations if you’re interested in bringing one of these uncommon dogs home.
The Blue German Shepherd has a dense double coat that sheds moderately year-round. During spring and fall shedding seasons, extra brushing is needed to keep their coat tidy. Using a de-shedding tool can help remove loose hair.
Bathe only when necessary, as shampooing too often can dry out their skin. Check ears weekly for dirt buildup and wax, and brush their teeth regularly. Trim nails as needed if they don’t wear down naturally.
As a large energetic breed, these dogs need a high-quality diet with adequate protein and fat. Feed them 2-3 cups of dry kibble formulated for large breeds, divided into two meals per day. Avoid overfeeding, as German Shepherds are prone to weight gain.
Blue German Shepherds have a great deal of energy and need 60-90 minutes of vigorous exercise daily. Take them on long walks, jogs or hikes, play fetch, or give them a job to do. Access to a securely fenced yard is ideal. Without enough activity they may develop behavioral problems.
This intelligent breed thrives on mental stimulation. Obedience training and canine “jobs” help occupy their active minds. Use positive reinforcement and be firm but patient with training. Socialization is extremely important to prevent shyness or aggression issues.
Blue German Shepherds are prone to the same genetic health conditions seen in standard color German Shepherds, including hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, bloat, and some heart conditions. Reputable breeders should screen for these issues before breeding.
Finding a Blue German Shepherd Puppy
Due to the dilute gene’s recessive nature, blue German Shepherd puppies are fairly rare. It can be challenging to find reputable breeders producing high-quality blue German Shepherd litters.
Never buy a puppy from an online ad or retail pet store. Work with responsible AKC or UKC registered breeders who health test their dogs. Expect to pay $1,500 to $2,500 or more for a Blue German Shepherd puppy.
Be prepared to wait, as few breeders have blue puppies available. Get on waitlists with multiple breeders, and be wary if they can provide a puppy immediately. Patience pays off for the right healthy pup.
Is a Blue German Shepherd Right for You?
Before seeking out one of these rare blue beauties, consider if the German Shepherd temperament and activity needs fit your lifestyle. This is not a casual pet for first-time dog owners. German Shepherds require experienced handlers willing to commit ample time for training and exercise.
If properly socialized, trained and cared for, a Blue German Shepherd can be a wonderfully devoted companion. Their unusual color simply adds visual appeal to an already exceptional breed. While controversial, Blue German Shepherds’ rarity ensures they will continue turning heads well into the future.