If you are a fan of German Shepherds, you might have seen or heard of a rare variant of this breed that has a blue coat. But do blue German Shepherds really exist? And if so, how are they different from regular German Shepherds?
Is Blue a Natural Coat Color for German Shepherds?
The answer is yes, but it is not very common. Blue is one of the many coat colors that German Shepherds can have, along with black, tan, red, silver, sable, white, and even blonde. However, blue is considered a dilute color, meaning that it is caused by a genetic mutation that reduces the amount of pigment in the hair.
This mutation affects both the black and tan colors, resulting in a blue and silver or blue and cream appearance.
Blue dogs have been steadily rising in popularity over the years, especially through the aid of social media. You may have heard about the Blue Bay Shepherd, which recently took the internet by storm and looks like a Blue German Shepherd. It’s actually a wolf-hybrid, but the breeder did use blue German Shepherds in the creation of the breed.
Caused by a Double Recessive Mutation
In German Shepherds, the blue coat color is inherited as a double recessive trait, meaning that both parents have to carry the gene and pass it on to their offspring. If only one parent has the gene, the puppies will not be blue, but they could be carriers of the gene.
If both parents are blue, all the puppies will be blue. The chances of getting a blue puppy from two non-blue parents who are both carriers are 25%.
How Blue German Shepherds Differ From regular GSD’s
Apart from the coat color, a blue German Shepherd is no different than any other German Shepherd.
They have the same temperament, intelligence, loyalty, and trainability as any other GSD.
They also have the same health issues, such as hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and bloat, with one notable exception. Blue German Shepherds, or any blue dog for that matter, have a higher risk of skin problems, such as alopecia and dermatitis, due to the lack of pigment in their hair. This is primarily referred to as Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA).
Blue German Shepherd Price
Because of their rarity and uniqueness, blue German Shepherds are often more expensive than regular German Shepherds. The price of a blue German Shepherd puppy can range from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the breeder, the pedigree, and the demand.
Some breeders may charge even more by claiming that blue German Shepherds are a special or superior breed. This is not true, and you should be wary of such breeders who may be trying to scam you or sell you a poorly bred dog.
Is Blue an Acceptable Color?
According to the official breed standard of the American Kennel Club (AKC), blue is an accepted color for German Shepherds but is considered a serious fault.
The standard states that “The German Shepherd Dog varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred.” The standard also specifies that “Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified.”
This means that blue German Shepherds can compete in conformation shows and be registered as purebred dogs by the AKC. However, with blue being a serious fault, it’s unlikely you’ll see many blue German Shepherds in shows.
They can still participate in other events, such as obedience, agility, and herding as well and be registered by other major organizations, such as the United Kennel Club (UKC) or the International All Breed Canine Association (IABCA).
How rare are Blue German Shepherds?
It is hard to estimate how rare blue German Shepherds are, as there is no official data on their population. However, based on the frequency of the gene and the breeding practices, it is commonly accepted that blue is a rare color when it comes to German Shepherds.
Most GSD breeders do not intentionally breed for blue-coated dogs because of the serious fault with the AKC and the potential for skin issues. Some breeders may even cull or spay/neuter blue puppies to prevent them from reproducing.
There are some breeders out there purposefully working with blue German Shepherds and other rarer-colored dogs purely for pet purposes rather than by strict show standards. So, finding a blue German Shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder can be challenging but certainly not impossible.
Do Blue Merle German Shepherds Exist?
Blue merle has become an incredibly popular coat color/pattern among many dog breeds. You may have even seen pictures of dogs that look like German Shepherds with a blue and gray coat with black patches. Oftentimes these dogs are referred to as blue merle German Shepherds – but they aren’t really purebred German Shepherds.
German Shepherds can not have merle coats since the merle gene doesn’t exist within the breed. In dogs, the merle gene is a mutation that affects the pigment in the hair, causing some areas to be lighter than others. The merle gene is dominant, meaning that only one copy is needed to produce the merle pattern. So people have crossbred German Shepherds with a merle dog of a different breed to create these so-called “Blue Merle German Shepherds”.
The merle gene is naturally found in some other herding breeds, like Australian Shepherds, Collies, and Shetland Sheepdogs. It is likely that the merle gene was introduced into German Shepherd bloodlines through crossbreeding with these breeds. Some breeders may have done this intentionally to create a unique and eye-catching color, while others may have done it unknowingly or dishonestly.
The main takeaway is that blue merle German Shepherds are not purebred German Shepherds but mixed-breed dogs that have some German Shepherd ancestry. And, because they are mixes, they are not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the United Kennel Club (UKC), which are the major organizations that set the breed standards for German Shepherds.