4 German Shepard Color Variations

German Shepard Color Variations

The German Shepherd was the second most popular breed of dog in the United States in 2019, trailing only the Labrador Retriever. The most popular color variation of the German Shepherd is the Saddle Back, however, there are four main color variations of the breed.

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Saddle Back

The Saddle Back is the most common type of German Shepherd. This variety is named for the saddle-shaped black coloration on their backs. They often also have black markings on the muzzle and tail and are usually red or tan elsewhere. This is the variety most commonly seen in dog shows and competitions. They can be registered by a variety of organizations with the most common for dogs bred in the United States being the AKC. Dogs imported from Germany are often registered by Vereine für Deutsche Schäferhunde and are commonly referred to as a pink papered German Shepherd.


The Sable variety is similar in coloration to the Saddle Back but lacks the distinctive saddle pattern. They are usually born tan and then develop darker colors as they get older.

Solid Color

The solid color German Shepherd is less common but only differs from the Saddle Back in that their coat is one solid color. The most common colors are black and white, though only the black variety is accepted in competitions.


The Panda German Shepherd has an uncommon genetic mutation that results in white coloration on the abdomen and legs and black elsewhere. This variety is somewhat controversial with some breeders, who consider white markings to be a sign of poor breeding.

German Shepherds are a popular breed, best known for the classic black and tan coloration of the Saddle Back. However, the breed also comes in three other less common color variations, many of which are also eligible for registration and competition.