Black German Shepherd: 7 Things To Know (2020)

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Black German Shepherd: 7 Things To Know

Description Black German Shepherd

For more than a century, people have valued the Black German Shepherd as a faithful companion in everyday life.

In the beginning the dogs were used as herding dogs and guard dogs.

Due to its versatility and cleverness, it has also proven itself over the years as a guide dog for the blind, rescue dog and drug detection dog (to name just a few possible uses).

Sheepdogs can be used almost everywhere because of their sociable social behaviour and their willingness to work.

They do not only fulfil their duty as service dogs at police or customs, but are also very docile companions as sports dogs.

Character of the Black German Shepherd

Sheepdogs have a calm nature, are curious, eager to learn and have stamina.

They have a distinctive protective behaviour.

They are physically and psychologically highly resilient.

The average life expectancy is ten to twelve years.

The breed standard describes the nature of the Black German Shepherd Dog as self-confident, balanced, with strong nerves, absolutely unbiased and attentive.

In situations without acute stimuli he is also completely benign and easy to lead. They are also ideally suited as a family dog.

Breeding of the Black German Shepherd

In 1899, the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV) was founded in Karlsruhe by Max von Stephanitz.

His dog “Horand von Grafrath” was the first Black German shepherd dog to be entered in the association’s stud book and thus became the progenitor of most German shepherd dogs.

Today the German Shepherd is a dog breed recognized by the International Federation for Cynology (F.C.I.), classified in Group 1 of the herding and driving dogs, in Section 1 of the German Shepherd Dogs with working test under the F.C.I. standard no. 166/23.03.2991/D.

Only German Shepherds are admitted for breeding, which are older than two years and have passed an endurance test, the companion dog test and a protection dog or herding dog test.

Their x-rays must not show any medium or severe form of hip or elbow dysplasia, because genetically pre-stressed dogs are banned from breeding.

Only then will their anatomy and character be assessed and their working dog characteristics tested.

This is to ensure that only absolutely healthy dogs are approved for breeding.

Since 1899, more than two million dogs have been entered in the SV’s stud book.

Unfortunately, the number of puppies has decreased considerably in the last years.

Physique of the Black German Shepherd

Black German Shepherd

The Black German shepherd dog is somewhat over medium in size, elongated and muscular.

The shoulder height of an adult male is between 60 and 65 centimetres, that of a bitch between 55 and 60 centimetres.

An adult male dog weighs about 30 to 44 kilograms, a bitch between 22 and 35 kilograms.

He has a slightly arched head with a long, wedge-shaped muzzle.

His scissor bite is very strong with sharply overlapping incisors.

The eyes are slightly slanted, almond shaped and should be as dark as possible.

It has roundish paws and carries its sickle-shaped tail slightly drooping with the tip pointing upwards.

Two hair varieties are bred: stick hair and long stick hair.

Under the top coat there is dense undercoat, which protects the dog from the weather.

Its coat is black with different sized brown, reddish brown, yellow or white markings.

Plain grey or black Black German Shepherds also meet the standard.

The white shepherd dog does not belong to it. He is led as Canadian or Swiss shepherd dog

Care and education for the Black German Shepherd

Black German Shepherd

The Black German shepherd dog is relatively easy to care for.

He needs a lot of regular exercise so that he can let off steam with his powerful temperament.

Despite his hardness he is sensitive and needs the daily contact to his master or mistress to be happy and full of life.

Unfortunately, the Black German Shepherd tends a little bit to hair, however, the hair is well absorbed and without re-hooking.

The coat care is done with a brush in a few minutes.

The Black German Shepherd Dog Association has more than 2000 local groups also in your area and offers any interested person also help in the education and care of your four-legged friend.

Opinions are divided on the Black German Shepherd Dog.

There is hardly any other dog in the world as well known and popular, but hardly any other breed has so many enemies.

It is perhaps even more true for Black German Shepherds than for other breeds that they are what their masters make of them.

One must always remember this before buying a sheepdog puppy.

Uneducated, left to their own devices or even turned on, a shepherd becomes a plague or even a danger to his environment.

In the right hands, however, he can become a real dream dog.

A very solid basic education is important to keep the dog under control at all times.

In addition, shepherds need a task that challenges them physically and mentally.

This can be found, for example, in the various dog sports disciplines such as obedience, agility or tracking work.

Owners with serious ambitions can do a rescue or avalanche dog training with their shepherd.

Black German Shepherd

Sheepdogs are indeed universally applicable, except perhaps as hunting dogs.

Herein lies the great danger with them, because underchallenged they very quickly start to get bored and get stupid ideas.

In any case, a shepherd is much too bad to spend the whole day in a kennel and to be brought to a dog place only twice a week.

This is the demand on you as a shepherd dog owner – make something out of this magnificent animal.

Your fellow men and your dog will thank you for it! The breeder has to be chosen well.

Avoid mass breeding, in which the dogs are only kept in kennels.

Pay attention to friendly and open-minded parents and a sympathetic breeder.

The friendly relationship between him and his dogs should be clearly noticeable.

Many shepherd dogs have hip problems. HD-free parents are a must, you should have this documented by the breeder.

Also avoid dogs with extremely sloping hindquarters and rods that drag on the ground!

Highlights about the Black German Shepherd

If you are frequently away from home, or for longer periods of time, then a Black German Shepherd is not the right breed for you.

When left alone for long periods, they develop nervousness and boredom and tend to act it out, which you will certainly not like – barking, buying and digging are just some of the effects.

The Black German Shepherd is an active and intelligent dog.

He needs a lot of occupation, wants to learn, play and work.

Daily exercises, both physical (like jogging and playing frisbee) and mental (like training sessions), are essential.

Black German Shepherd

Black German Shepherds can be distant and distrustful towards strangers.

To raise a social and well-behaved dog, expose your Black German Shepherd puppy to many experiences, show him many different places and surround him with people.

Obedience training, starting with puppy school, is very important to get him used to other people and dogs and to teach him basic commands.

These dogs hair, hair, hair – their nickname is even the “German Hairdresser”. Brush him several times a week and get a good vacuum cleaner. You will need it.

Dog boxing training is not only a wonderful way to house-train your puppy, it also helps him to be calm and happy when he is separated from his owner.

This is especially important for the Black German Shepherd, as he often suffers from separation anxiety, or becomes extremely nervous when left alone.

According to his reputation he is a good watchdog – and this is also true – but the Black German Shepherd should never be kept on a chain or tied up just to stand guard.

No dog should; it creates frustration and aggression.

The Black German Shepherd is happiest when he can be in the house with his family and yet have access to a large, fenced garden where he can release some of his natural energy.

To get a healthy dog, never buy a dog from an irresponsible breeder, a mass breeder, or from the pet shop.

Look for a serious breeder who will test his breeding dogs to make sure they don’t have genetic diseases that could be transmitted to the puppies and that they have solid characters.

Personality of the Black German Shepherd

The Black German Shepherd is quite reserved, but normally not aggressive.

He is a shy dog who does not immediately make friends, but when he does, he is extremely loyal.

Black German Shepherd

Within his family he behaves relaxed and open-minded, but if he feels threatened, he can be very strong and protective, this characteristic makes him an excellent watchdog.

This highly intelligent and trainable breed loves to have a job – no matter which one.

The Black German Shepherd can be trained for almost any task, from alerting a blind person that the doorbell has rung to sniffing out an avalanche victim.

Being left alone for a long time does not please the dog very much.

Without the companionship it needs – as well as the exercise and the opportunity to use its intelligence – it quickly becomes bored and frustrated.

A Black German Shepherd dog that doesn’t get enough exercise and is ignored by his family usually lets his pent-up energy out in ways you won’t like, such as barking and chewing.

Like any other dog, the Black German Shepherd needs to be socialized early on – while young, he should meet many different people, sights and sounds, and have many different experiences.

A good socialisation ensures that your Black German Shepherd puppy will grow up to be a versatile dog.


Black German Shepherds are generally healthy, but like all other breeds, they are susceptible to certain health problems.

Black German Shepherd

Not all Black German Shepherds get one, or all, of these diseases, but if you decide to choose this breed, you should be informed about the possible diseases.

If you buy a puppy, make sure you find a good breeder who can show you health certificates for both parents of the puppy.

Health certificates prove that a dog has been tested for a certain disease and has been cleared of it.

For Black German Shepherds, you should expect to see health certificates from the Orthopadic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dyslapsy (with a score between adequate and better), elbow dyslapsy, hypothyroidism and Willebrand-Jürgens Syndrome; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) that the eyes are normal.

You can confirm health certificates by checking the OFA website (

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a hereditary disease in which the femur is not firmly attached to the hip joint.

Some dogs have pain and lameness on one or both of their hind legs, but it is possible that a dog with hip dysplasia will not show any symptoms at all.

Arthritis can develop in an aging dog.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, as well as the Hip Improvement Program at Pennsylvania University, perform x-ray techniques for hip dysplasia.

Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be used for breeding.

When you purchase a puppy, ask the breeder to provide proof that the puppy has been tested for hip dysplasia and that it has no other problems.

Elbow dysplasia: This is a hereditary condition that is common in large breed dogs.

It is believed to be caused by the different degrees of growth of the three bones that make up the dog’s elbow, which leads to overstretching of the joint.

This can result in painful lameness.

Black German Shepherd

Your vet may advise surgery to correct the problem, or offer a medication to control the pain.

Gastric torsion: Often referred to as flatulence, this life-threatening condition affects large dogs with a deep chest, such as Labradors, especially if they only eat one large meal a day, eat quickly, drink large amounts of water, or exercise excessively after eating.

Flatulence occurs when the stomach is bloated, or filled with air, and spins.

The dog cannot burp or vomit to get rid of the excess air in its stomach, and the blood flow to the heart is also difficult.

The blood pressure drops and the dog goes into a state of shock.

Without immediate medical treatment, the dog may die.

Expect a twisted stomach if your dog has a bloated belly, drools enormously and chokes without vomiting.

He may also be restless, depressed, lethargic, weak, and have a fast heartbeat.

If you notice these symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately.

Degenerative Myelopathy: Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord, in particular the part of the spinal cord that communicates information to the brain concerning the hind legs.

Dogs with DM behave as if they don’t know where their hind legs are and they cannot move them properly.

The disease progresses until the dog can no longer walk.

Most of the time there are no treatment options and the dog is put to sleep.

In a few cases, however, the disease is due to a lack of vitamin 12 or vitamin E, and if this is the case, vitamin supplements may be able to stabilise the condition.

Black German Shepherd

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: EPI is a genetic disease of the pancreas that destroys the cells responsible for the production of the digestive systems.

As a result, the dog can no longer digest and absorb food.

The first signs are flatulence, loss of appetite, weight loss and a change in stool.

The dog becomes very thin and very hungry. EPI is diagnosed by a simple blood test and the treatment is also simple: the dog’s food is supplemented with macretic enzymes.

With proper monitoring of medication, most dogs recover.

Allergies: Some Black German Shepherd dogs suffer from a variety of allergies, from contact allergies to food allergies.

Allergy symptoms in dogs are similar to those of humans.

If your Black German Shepherd dog scratches and licks his paws, or rubs his face often, assume that he has an allergy and take him to the vet for a check up.


Originally bred for the all-day herding of flocks, the Black German Shepherd is built for movement.

This means that he has a lot of energy that he has to dissipate through daily exercise.

Should you leave him alone for a longer period of time, without exercise, be prepared for trouble.

Boredom and inactivity leads to behavioural problems – chewing, digging and barking.

The Black German Shepherd Dog must absolutely train his body (by jogging, romping in the dog park) and also his brain (by tasks like agility or in obedience competitions).

Like many guardian breeds, the Black German Shepherds are also called Beller.

The barking itself does not necessarily have to become a problem, but this changes when the dog is bored.

Learning the command “Quiet! /Still!” should be part of the obedience training of every Black German shepherd dog.

Black German Shepherds like to chew and their strong jaws manage to destroy most materials.

If they choose the wrong object to gnaw on, they can damage their teeth, swallow something harmful, or even suffocate.

Give your dog safe chewing toys and bones to keep yourself busy when you are not playing with him and also to protect him and your belongings.

Black German Shepherd coat colours

Black German Shepherd

Originally, the Black German Shepherd was bred to herd herds in harsh climates and his half-length double coat is perfect for the job, it protects the dog from rain and snow and is resistant to burrs and dirt.

The coat types of the German Shepherd are as variable as its colour; some Black German Shepherd dogs are long-haired.

The ideal Black German Shepherd, however, has a half-long double coat.

The outer coat is dense and has straight hairs that lie close to the body, and is sometimes wavy and wiry.

The coat comes in a variety of colours and patterns, including black; black and cream; black and red; black and silver; black and tan; blue; grey; chocolate; sable and white.

However, the American Kennel Club does not recognize the color white for this breed and does not allow German Shepherds to participate in dog shows, although they are allowed in other competitions.

Sometimes jokingly referred to as the “hairy German”, this breed hairs all year round and changes its coat about twice a year – losing a lot of hair at once, like in a snowstorm.

If you want a Black German Shepherd dog, be prepared for hair on your black trousers, on your white couch and basically all over the house.

There is no magic antidote to hair. Just accept it.

However, brushing two or three times a week will help more hair to be removed by the brush than through and on your furniture.

A powerful vacuum cleaner won’t hurt either.

Too frequent bathing deprives the coat of its natural oils that keep it healthy, so only bathe it when the dog really needs it. It should not be done too often; besides its bad reputation as a hairdresser, the Black German Shepherd is very clean, neat and odourless.

The claws should be trimmed monthly and his ears checked weekly for dirt, redness, or bad smell, which may be an indication of infection, then they should be wiped weekly with a cotton swab dipped in gentle, PH neutral ear cleaner to avoid problems.

Black German Shepherds love to chew and this habit also helps them to keep their teeth clean.

Give them robust, safe chewing toys for dental care, or even bones, and they fight the build-up of tartar, especially on the back molars.

If you also brush his teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste, you’ll help him keep his gums and teeth in good shape.

Children And Black German Shepherds

Black German Shepherd

As long as he is well trained and has had a lot of contact with children, especially at puppy age, then a German Shepherd is a great companion for children.

Some people even say that he is a mixture of a babysitter and a policeman and that he is gentle with the children of his family and at the same time he protects them.

This is a big dog that can accidentally knock over crawling children and even small children.

Being true to his reserved character, he does not greet strange children with a wagging tail, but is usually reliable.

The Black German Shepherd can also live peacefully together with other dogs and animals, as far as he has already learned this in puppyhood.

It can be more difficult to get a full-grown Black German Shepherd dog used to a household with other animals, if the dog is not used to living with other dogs or cats.

You may need to hire a professional trainer to help you, or get advice from the rescue organisation if you have taken the Black German Shepherd from there.

History of the Black German Shepherd

The Black German Shepherd is a relatively new breed, dating back to 1899, and it owes its existence to one man: Captain Max von Stephanitz, a career captain of the German cavalry, with the aim of creating a German breed that would become an unsurpassable herding dog.

Black German Shepherd

Centuries before Stephaniz’ appearance, farmers from Germany and the rest of Europe relied on dogs to drive and protect their herds.

Some dogs were legendary for their talent and shepherds travelled for days to breed their bitches with a respected sire.

However, as von Stephanitz noted, the herding dogs of the region had not yet been formed into a breed of their own.

In 1898 von Stephanitz retired from military service and began his second career, which was to become his passion: he experimented with dog breeds to create a superior German herding dog.

Stephanitz studied the breeding techniques of the British, who were known for their extraordinary herding dogs, and travelled through Germany, visiting dog shows and observing German-like herding dogs.

Von Stephanitz saw many good herding dogs, sporty dogs, intelligent, or even capable.

What he did not see was a dog that had all these qualities.

One day, in 1899, von Stephanitz visited a dog show when he noticed a wolfish dog.

He immediately bought the dog, called Hector Linksrhein. Later he renamed him Horand v Grafeth, the powerful physique and intelligence impressed von Stephanitz so much that he founded a club – the Verein für deutsche Schäferhunde – to establish a breed from Horand’s successors.

Although he had originally intended the breed to be a herding dog, von Stephanitz saw the benefit for such dogs dwindling due to Germany’s ongoing industrialization.

He was determined that his breed should continue to function as a working dog, so he decided that the future of the dog lay in working with the police and military.

Using his contacts with the military, von Stephanitz convinced the German government to use this breed.

During World War I, the Black German Shepherd Dog served the Red Cross as ambassador, rescuer, guard, carrier of the supply, as well as guard.

Although the Black German Shepherd came to the USA before the war, the breed only became known in the USA after the war.

Black German Shepherd

Allied soldiers noticed the courage and intelligence of the dog and a large number of the dogs returned home with the soldiers.

One of these dogs was a five day old puppy in France, which was freed by an American NCO, from Los Angeles, from a dog box destroyed by the bomb.

The sergeant took the puppy home, trained him and turned him into one of Hollywood’s most famous four-legged stars:

Rin Tin Tin, who appeared in 26 films and helped to make the breed more popular in America.

Although the Allies were impressed by the German dogs, they did not like the German roots of the dogs. During the war all Germans were stigmatized and in 1917 the American Kennel Club (AKC) changed the breed to Black German Shepherd.

In England the dog was renamed Alsatian Wolfhound, after the German-French border area of Elsas-Lorraine. The AKC then, in 1931, again used the original name “Black German Shepherd”; only in 1977 the British Kennel Club followed suit.

Von Stephanitz remained very involved in the development of the breed and in 1922 he was alarmed by some of the dog’s emerging characteristics, such as its weak temperament and tendency to dental caries.

He developed a system of strict quality control: before each individual Black German Shepherd dog was bred, it had to pass numerous tests regarding its intelligence, temperament, athleticism and good health.

The American breeding of the Black German Shepherd, however, was not so regulated.

In the USA, dogs were bred to win dog shows and breeders paid more attention to the dog’s appearance, gait and movement.

After the 2nd World War, the American and German bred breed of the Black German Shepherd Dog diverged dramatically.

The American police authorities and the military even began to import German Shepherds as working dogs, as the domestic Black German Shepherds did not pass the performance tests and were plagued by genetic diseases.

In recent decades, some American breeders have again paid more attention to the dog’s abilities and less to its pure appearance, importing working dogs from Germany to include them in their breeding program.

In the meantime it is possible to acquire American bred Black German Shepherds, which correspond to the reputation of the breed to be a capable working dog.

Temperament / Activity

Black German Shepherd

At the end of the 19th century, only the stock-haired, wolf-like type from the Black German shepherd dogs was purely bred, because it corresponded to the taste of the time and the stock-haired dog with a functional building appeared to be the most efficient.

The determined breeding with Thuringian and Württemberg shepherds created the Black German Shepherd.

From the beginning, the service dog for police and military was the main focus of breeding efforts.

In both world wars, Black German Shepherds earned high respect from soldiers of all nations at the front.

The Black German Shepherd, also called Alsatian abroad, stormed the rankings of the most popular dog breeds all over the world.

Like any other “fashionable breed”, he also has to suffer from the marketing.

But dogs from responsible breeding are still excellent service dogs, reliable sports and family dogs.

The Black German Shepherd dog needs close contact to his reference person, a lot of exercise and occupation.

Every Black German Shepherd dog owner will find the right occupation for himself and the versatile, work-loving and easy to handle dog:

Tournament dog sport, agility, disaster dog, avalanche dog, protection dog, herding dog etc.

Under no circumstances may the shepherd dog, left to its own devices, be misused as an “alarm system”.

Because mistakes in posture and education always have a negative effect on the born working dog.

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