Do German Shepherd Puppies Change Color?

Categorized as Appearance and Size
Featured image for an article about do german shepherd puppies change color?

So you’ve set your heart on bringing home an adorable German Shepherd puppy. As you browse through photos and videos of puppies, you might notice quite a bit of variation in their coloring and patterns. This leads to the question – do German Shepherd puppies change color as they grow up?

The short answer is yes, German Shepherd puppies go through dramatic color changes from birth through adolescence before their coats settle on more permanent shades and markings. But the specifics of coat development in this popular breed are quite fascinating. Read on to learn all about what to expect with your German Shepherd puppy’s changing colors.

Here’s a quick answer: Yes, German Shepherd puppies go through dramatic coat color changes as they mature. They shed their soft, fluffy puppy coats between 3-6 months old and develop darker, thicker adult fur which provides more insulation and protection. Their final coat color may look quite different from their puppy coloration, especially in black and tan or sable coats, but some subtle changes can continue up to 2 years old.

Puppy Coat versus Adult Coat

German Shepherd puppies are born with fluffy, soft “puppy coats” that begin shedding around 6 weeks of age. Between 3 and 6 months old, puppies lose their entire undercoat. What grows in is the thicker, coarser outer guard hairs that German Shepherds are known for.

Here’s a rough timeline of the color development:

AgeCoat Changes
Birth – 1 monthImpossible to predict final coat length or exact colors
1 – 2 monthsMost dramatic color changes happen
3 – 6 monthsAdult colors and patterns develop
6+ monthsSubtle changes still occur up to 2 years old

This coat change serves an important purpose – the adult coat protects the mature dogs from weather and debris while working or playing outdoors.

Why Do Puppies Change Color?

The changes in a German Shepherd’s puppy coat color relate to maturity. Adult dogs require different insulation and camouflage than tiny puppies do.

Sun exposure, diet, and genetics also influence a puppy’s developing coat hue. For example, a reddish tinted puppy may fade to tan or cream colors after several months.

Puppies also outgrow some markings while new ones appear in adolescent development stages.

Common Puppy and Adult Coat Colors

While no one can predict exactly how dramatic your German Shepherd’s color changes will be, some general predictions are possible based on common GSD colors and patterns:

  • Solid Black – These puppies are born coal black. Their coats may lighten slightly to grayish hues as adults.
  • Sable – Starts light silver-gray. Darkens dramatically to black and red-tipped guard hairs. Retains “agouti” banded hairs.
  • Black and Tan – Black with red-brown accents. Puppies have more vivid tones that often fade as adults.
  • Black and Red– Born black with reddish markings. Markings may widen or brighten slightly as mature coats grow in.
  • Blue or Liver: Blue puppies keep their bluish-gray tones into adulthood. Liver puppies are reddish brown, fading slightly over time.
  • Panda: 30% or less white markings. Markings stay the same throughout puppy and adult coats.
  • White Swiss Shepherd Dogs: Born white, has white adult coats. Minor cream or biscuit shading happens occasionally.

Now you have a better idea of common GSD coat types and how much change typically happens from puppyhood to maturity!

Following One GSD Pup’s Coat Changes

To give a real-life example of dramatic puppy color changes, let’s follow how the coat transformed on Beck the German Shepherd boy.

Beck’s Coat at 8 Weeks Old

At 8 weeks old, Beck was covered in very soft and fluffy black and tan puppy fur. He had vivid reddish eyebrow marks, cheeks, paws, and belly. His origins were obvious – but that coat hadn’t a chance of withstanding harsh outdoor work and play once Beck matured!

Transition From Puppy to Adult Coat

Right on schedule around 4 months old, Beck began shedding his plush puppy fur. Almost overnight he seemed to lose his richly pigmented reddish markings.

For a couple months Beck appeared to wear a somewhat drab and thin salt-and-pepper coated jacket. However, by 6 months old a lush new double coat was filling out.

Beck’s Glamorous Mature Coat

By 1 year old, Beck’s mature coat was complete. While his babyish eyebrow spots were long gone, his new steel black and tan saddle-back coat resembled his father’s almost identically.

The rich black saddle and neat border of tan and cream colors now enhances Beck’s imposing aura as an adult German Shepherd dog.

Caring for a GSD’s Coat During Color Changes

All dogs need good grooming, but this is especially vital for German Shepherds powering through such dramatic coat transformations. Here are some tips:

  • Brush frequently with a slicker brush to remove loose hair so it doesn’t mat.
  • Bathe as needed with mild, conditioning dog shampoos when they get dirty or smelly.
  • Supplement their diet with omega fatty acids to boost skin and coat health.
  • Protect their sensitive skin from sunburn with canine sunscreen.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes a German Shepherd’s coat color to change so much?

Maturity causes puppy coats to transition to very different adult coats. Mature coats have more protective qualities necessary for adult dog activities.

What is the most common puppy color?

Black and tan is the most common GSD puppy color. However, several other colors and patterns like sable, black and red, solid black, blue, liver, panda, and white Swiss Shepherd colors occur frequently too.

Do white German Shepherds change color?

White Swiss Shepherd puppies remain snowy white into adulthood. An ivory cream or light biscuit shading sometimes develops on their ears or backs. But they always retain their signature white coats.

When is my puppy’s coat fully developed?

A German Shepherd’s mature coat is completely filled out by 18-24 months old in most dogs. You may notice very subtle changes after two years old, but their basic color and pattern remains the same.

The Takeaway on GSD Coat Color Changes

Hopefully this cleared up some of the mysteries surrounding your German Shepherd puppy’s color transformations! While dramatic changes happen through adolescence, you can count on their mature coats coming in around 6-18 months old.

Embrace and properly care for your pup through every awkward fuzz stage. Soon their glamorous and protective adult jacket will grow, showcasing your regal adult German Shepherd!

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.