Sable German Shepherd: A Complete Breed Guide

Categorized as German Shepherd
A complete guide to sable german shepherd

You’ve just decided to get a dog! This decision is not for the weak of spirit, since choosing a dog that will fit into your hectic life and be an essential part of it forever requires lots of careful deliberation. When I got my first Sable Shepherd just over six years ago, I did lots of research, talked to a ton of people, and read through books.

There are lots of things to consider when it comes to owning a dog like Sable German Shepherds. Allergies, exercise requirements, grooming, training, health, and temperament, are among those concerns. But don’t let the big checklist scare you away from this awesome dog.

I’ve compiled some of my most valuable tips in this article to help you find the perfect Sable German Shepherd for you.

What is a sable German Shepherd dog?

A sable German shepherd is a color variation of the German shepherd breed. Sable is similar to black and tan, but it’s much more striking and visually stunning since it always has black hair, except for the very tips of each strand, which are usually tan. So if you’re looking for one that’ll turn heads, this is definitely the dog for you!

This variation was developed due to a recessive gene that causes black hairs to be mixed into the coat. It’s not an official color variation but is often accepted by various clubs such as The American Kennel Club.

Where Does The Sable German Shepherd Come From?

The Sable Shepherds are a variation of the German shepherd dog, which is itself a European breed that began its history in 1899 with Captain Max von Stephanitz. The captain’s original dog, Horand von Grafrath, proved to have excellent herding abilities and appeared in many exhibitions. In just a few decades, the breed quickly grew in popularity and is now considered one of the most popular dog breeds in Germany.

In 1908, the American Kennel Club officially recognized them as well. The first Sable was spotted not long after that. At first, they were too rare to be registered by AKC, but some were purchased for breeding purposes. The dogs bred well, and today there are Sables among many other German shepherd varieties.

Sable German Shepherd Temperament

The temperament of a sable German shepherd is one of the things that make them such great dogs. Although, in many ways, their temperament is not much different than the other German shepherd species.

Here are a few things that they do have in common with other German shepherd dogs.

Sable German shepherds are known for their natural instinct to protect their families and property. They will guard people and places without them even asking. So there isn’t much that you’ll need to teach this dog how to do as far as protection is concerned.

This breed is known for being very patient and easy-going with children, as well. People that have owned sable German shepherds almost unanimously say that this makes them a great choice for families with children. Because they get along so well with kids, these dogs rarely snap or bite when around them.

Many people think of the German shepherd as a guard dog, but they are often called “Velcro dogs” because you’ll always find them sticking right to their owners. This is no different for sable German shepherds.

While sable German shepherds are suitable for novice dog owners, they do have a few traits that can make training a bit difficult. One thing is that they’re known to have very high energy levels. This might make it challenging to keep them from chewing on things or tearing up your home, for some dog owners, they may be a bit too active.

Sable German Shepherd Appearance

Sable shepherds have the same appearance as a normal german shepherd but with the addition of tan color marbled in with the black. They have dark brown/black fur marbled with lighter shades of brown over their backs and sides. Most of the coat color usually comes in black, with a tan color mixed in. However, there is a range of other colors you might see in a german shepherd dog breed that includes white, parti, blue, liver, red, and gold.

Sable shepherds also have bushy tails and long ears that hang down slightly over the sides of their faces. The dogs’ eyes are large, dark, and expressive, with black “double-rimmed” rims, which increase the dog’s similar appearance to a wolf.

The average weight of an adult male sable dog is around 75 to 95 pounds, and the average weight for a female sable German shepherd is around 55 to 73 pounds. As with all German shepherds, sables range in heights from about 24 inches to 26 inches.

Do Sable German Shepherds Change Color as They Grow Older?

The short answer is yes, German shepherds do change color as they grow and age. The longer explanation involves genetics and breed standards. In other words, most shepherds, including a sable GSD, will not stay wholly black or charcoal-colored; rather, their coats will darken over time.

Grooming a Sable German Shepherd

While sable German shepherds are not high-maintenance dogs, they will definitely benefit from regular care and grooming. This breed requires brushing and combing several times a week to keep their thick coats in good shape.  Due to the fact that they are so heavily furred, sable GSD will shed seasonally; however, this shedding can be reduced by daily grooming.

One of the most common problems with German shepherds and many other double-coated dog breeds is that they shed a lot. In order to reduce the amount of hair that ends up all over your house, you should regularly groom your shepherd. Additionally, there are several other things you can do, including feeding your dog a natural diet and brushing them daily.

There are several grooming products that you can purchase to help reduce your dog’s shedding, such as the Furminator. The Furminator de-shedding tool is actually designed to reduce your dog’s shedding by 90% or more. Additionally, the product also removes dead hair and undercoat from your dog, which helps to reduce the amount of shedding further.

If your shepherd has long fur, you should consider purchasing a clipper and trimming their hair down to a more manageable length. If you do not like the idea of using clippers on your German shepherd, or if you do not have experience doing so, you should probably leave this job to the professionals! 

To maintain the health of your dog’s skin, keep an eye out for signs of dryness or irritation and ease them by brushing with a w moisturizing shampoo and conditioner on their coat.

It’s also a good idea to check your dog’s ears and brush their teeth on a regular basis. Long ears can become easily infected if wax and debris are allowed to build up.  The same goes for your dog’s mouth.  Regular brushing will help keep their teeth in top shape and ward off bad breath as well as diseases like gingivitis or periodontal disease.

Sable German shepherd puppy

Food and Dietary Requirements

If you’re looking for dog food to feed your sable german shepherd, it’s highly recommended that you look for food with high-quality protein as the first ingredient.  Ideally, this will be meat like chicken or beef.

The next few ingredients should be whole grains such as brown rice, barley, and oats.  If you have to choose between one of these and a grain like corn, it’s better to go with the whole grain. Corn is considered by many veterinary nutritionists to be one of the least healthy ingredients in dog food.

Protein and fat are essential nutrients for your dog.  The next several ingredients should provide your dog with a good amount of protein, minerals, and fiber content.

As far as a feeding sable German shepherd is concerned, the general rule of thumb is between 5/8 and 3 3/4 cups of food up to three times per day s for a sable German shepherd puppy and 2 1/2 to 6 1/4 cups for an adult sable GSD (1).

It’s recommended to change your dog’s food at least every three months minimally.  This helps prevent any food-related allergies and sensitivities that your dog may have. Dogs with very sensitive digestive systems may need to be switched to a hypoallergenic diet that is made specifically for them.

Exercise and Training Requirements

Just like the regular German shepherd, a sable German shepherd requires ample exercise on a regular basis. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you provide your sable German shepherd with opportunities for mentally and physically challenging activities. You should also make sure they’re given plenty of opportunities to run around and play off-leash in areas where other people can see them.

A well-exercised and trained dog is a happy dog; by investing time into training them, you will not only strengthen the bond between you and your dog but will also help to ensure that they grow into a happy, well-behaved adult dog.

When your sable German shepherd puppy reaches about four months old, it’s a good idea to enroll them in further training courses like obedience classes or agility classes.

Sable German Shepherd Health Concerns

Sable German shepherds are generally a very healthy breed overall; however, there are some health concerns that may affect them more frequently than other breeds:

1. Bloat

Also known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), or stomach torsion, is one of the deadliest conditions in dogs, affecting both German shepherds and other large breed dogs.  This condition occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists.  

The twisting can cause the blood supply to be cut off, which leads to the death of tissue and possibly the whole stomach within a matter of hours if it’s not treated quickly.  Symptoms are generally noticeable as early as 20 minutes after eating and include restlessness, an enlarged abdomen, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, or any combination of these.

2. Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in dogs, and German shepherds are at a higher risk than most breeds.  The most common form of heart disease in dogs is called dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM.  It’s caused by an enlargement of the heart and affects not only German shepherds but also other large breeds.

Some symptoms of DCM are a poor appetite, weakness or lethargy, panting or difficulty breathing, behavior changes (such as depression), collapse, pale gums, increased heart rate, coughing, and fainting.

3.  Hip Dysplasia

Thought to be caused by genetics and environmental factors, hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that affects German shepherds more than most breeds.  Medical treatment for hip dysplasia usually consists of veterinary-approved glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplements. You should also limit their daily exercise and avoid high-impact activities such as jumping.

How Much Do Sable German Shepherd Puppies Cost?

A sable German shepherd puppy in good condition can cost anywhere from $800 up to over $1,500.  If you are looking for a show-quality dog with a pedigree, you may be able to spend even more than that.

Where Can I Find Reputable Sable German Shepherd Breeders?

Reputable breeders usually don’t advertise themselves as such, but you will be able to find legitimate breeders by shopping around at different dog shows and dog events. You can also seek the advice of your veterinarian, pet store owner, or local dog club.

Here are some tips to assist you in finding the right breeders:

A reputable breeder will be able to provide you with the history of where the puppies came from as well as how they’ve been cared for. Reputable breeders will also be able to provide you with information on the parents of your puppies and allow you to meet them and see for yourself how they are cared for.

If a breeder does not seem like they know what they’re talking about, then walk away from that situation. You should also ask to see where the puppies were born and meet any other dogs that may be living on the property as well.

If a breeder refuses to allow you to see where their puppies were born and raised, then this is a sign of an irresponsible breeder who doesn’t know what they’re doing and should be avoided at all costs.


At first glance, the sable German shepherd may not be the right dog for all households. Choosing a dog is as much about compatibility as it is about personality. You need to think through all aspects of your life, including where you will keep the dog, what your plans are for the dog, and whether or not your current lifestyle will allow you to provide the love and care that the dog deserves.

Here are some of my favorite German Shepherd supplies

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful and useful as you raise and train your German Shepherd.

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