German Shepherd Types of Coats

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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We all became fond of the German Shepherd dogs from movies like Finding Rin Tin Tin and I’m Legend. This reputable, all-purpose breed has many desired traits, but what massively stands out is its furry and sheen coat. Thanks to genetics, German Shepherds will come in various coat types.

While they’re primarily double-layered, the variations are in the length of their coats, which ranges from short to medium to long. As for the color, black and tan are the most common, as well as the most desirable colors. Still, other colors, such as sable, liver, and blackish-red, exist but aren’t as sought after.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the different German Shepherd types of coats. We’ll also tell you how to maintain your dog’s coat, so your pooch is healthy and happy.

Different German Shepherd Coat Types

Take a look at the three types of GSD coats.


German Shepherds have two layers growing independently: a topcoat and an undercoat.

The undercoat is fast-growing with short, soft hairs. Alternatively, the topcoat grows slower and is made up of wiry, shiny strands.

You’ll notice that GSDs shed all year. However, they do their heaviest shedding in the fall and spring.

German Shepherds fall into three categories when it comes to hair lengths, which are:

two German Shepherd Dogs sitting on green grass at autumn background

Short Coat

This is the most common coat type in modern GSD breeds. It’s characterized by a topcoat of short, dense hairs that lies flat on the dog’s body.

The great thing about short-haired GSDs is that they qualify for both the work and show lines!

Maintaining your dog’s short coat means brushing twice a week. Then, during their seasonal shedding, increase brushing to four times per week.

Medium Coat

This is the most desired coat length for GSDs as the longer top coat makes the dog look more astounding.

For this reason, medium-haired GSDs are more likely to win dog shows. Unfortunately, some breeders take advantage of this and raise the price drastically for these breeds.

Medium-haired GSDs need grooming about 2 to 3 times a week. Then, bath them no more than three times per year. Washing them more frequently can strip the dog’s coat of natural oils and subject them to dry skin.

Long Coat

Long-haired GSDs are loved for their fluffy and adorable coat, which hangs over them but doesn’t quite sit flat.

Sadly, these dogs may lack the guarding undercoat, which disqualifies them from joining dog competitions. The silver lining is that you can get a long-haired GSD at a very reasonable price.

If your GSD is single-coated, they’ll shed consistently throughout the year. This means frequent brushing 3–4 times per week is a must to reduce the shedding as much as possible. Plus, it’ll also help keep their fur from getting tangled and knotted up.


We automatically associate German Shepherds with the classic black and tan color combination. Yet, it may surprise you to know that they come in a wide range of colors.

Take a look.

Black and Tan

You can safely call this the default German Shepherd color. It’s the most common, accredited color combination in the United States and Canada.

GSDs in this color combo have tan legs, bellies, and necks. To complement their tan color, they have black saddles, backs, and tails.

Dogs that fall in this category easily secure a spot in almost all dog competitions and shows.

Black and Red

In Germany, another vibrant strawberry blonde superstar shines in show lines. The German Shepherds look similar to the black and tan dogs, substituting the tan color with a reddish hue.

The good thing is that breeders still value this color combination and consider your Shepherd pure.

Although blackish-red GSDs can compete in the American and the Canadian show lines, the odds won’t be in their favor.

White or Black

Sometimes your doggo might have a one-colored coat in either black or white. This solid color is a product of recessive genes, which makes these dogs extremely rare.

Unfortunately, the scarcity of solid color dogs doesn’t add to their value. On the contrary, a white dog will immediately get disqualified from any dog show.

A sable German Shepherd Dog sitting down on the ground looking at the camera waiting for an order or command.  He is wearing a collar and tag. Taken outside during autumn.


Dogs with a sable-colored coat have multi-color hair strands ranging in black, brown, red, and silver.

They’re significantly rare and appraised among breeders. Hence, a sable GSD is more expensive to own.

A drawback of this color is that it doesn’t stand out in show lines in the US.

Liver and Blue

A general rule of thumb is that the deeper the coat color, the purer the breed!

Since blue and liver-colored dogs lack the signature dark black markings, they’re considered non-pure. Conversely, a light blue-colored dog is the result of diluted black color genes, which is why show lines immediately eliminate them.

The Ideal Coat: Working Line vs. Show Line

German Shepherds are intelligent and loyal. Plus, they’re easy to train and good at performing various tasks, thus making them great show dogs.

They’re also hard workers and good at following instructions. That’s why they’re often used to help out in certain situations, like police work.

Working Line

Shepherds in the working line typically have coarse, long hair. This ideal coat can help them withstand the changing weather when they’re out on the job.

As for color, sable or black coats are preferred because they allow the dogs to blend effortlessly with their surroundings.

Show Line

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs that qualify for shows should have a double-layered, medium-haired coat that hangs close to the body.

They also emphasize the importance of rich coat colors, ideally the black and tan combination. Meanwhile, washed-out colors, like blue, liver, and white, must be excluded.


We’re all familiar with the classic blackish tan color of German Shepherds. Yet, it might surprise you to know they come in various colors as well.

They also come in different lengths and textures. However, regardless of your German Shepherd type of coat, this is a marvelous breed. They’re intelligent, obedient dogs that make great additions to any home.

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.