Coat colors and inheritance in the GSD is very complex and controlled by several seriesof genes. Following is a very brief description and summary of the various gene series inthe GSD responsible for color based on information from "The German Shepherd Dog: AGenetic History" and "Practical Genetics for Dog Breeders", both by Malcom Willis.Both of these books should be considered as required reading for any serious fan andeven more importantly for breeders. Another suggested resource is "The GermanShepherd Today" by Winifred Strickland and James "Jimmy" Moses.
THE AGOUTI SERIES
The basic body color of the GSD is controlled by the genes. The order of coat colorsdominance is as follows: golden sable, gray sable, saddle marked black and tan, bi-color* black and tan (bi-color is where the dog only has tan on the legs and face, not on the body), and black.Additionally, know that the black gene is recessive to all the other colors in GSD's. Solid black German Shepherds bred to solid blacks German Shepherds will only produce blacks. The sable colors are dominant over the other colors and patterns in the breed.
THE BLACK SERIES
This gene controls the black pigment formation on the GSD, not the hair color. TheGerman Shepherd coat colors order of dominance is exactly as follows: Black pigmentincluding nose, eyerims and pads; Carrier for liver color; Liver color - brown black colors, brown nose, eye rims and pads. Note: most GSDs are considered black pigment including nose, eyerims and pads.
THE WHITE SERIES
White coat color in the German Shepherd Dog is recessive to all other colors. In order toget a white coat color in the German Shepherd, both parents must carry the white gene(either be white themselves or be carriers.) The order of dominance is as follows:Melanin is produced. (Standard GSD's colors have this); Partial albinism (not seen);White coat with dark eyes and nose (not albino); Yellowish coat collar (proposed).
THE COLOR SERIES
This controls the intensity of the non-black coloration. The order of dominance is asfollows: Lightest tan (cream); Intermediate tan (tan); Darkest tan (red).The intensity of the color series determines whether GSD's with color (i.e. not all- black or all-white recessives) will be black & cream,black & tan or black & red.
Coat Lengths in GSD's