Sable German Shepherds Were the Originals And Are Still Beloved Today

The first recognized German Shepherd Dog was a German-born GSD named Horand Grafrath. Born in 1895, Horand was the very first dog to be registered under the new breed name “German Shepherd Dog.” Though today most people imagine a solid black and red or black and tan dog when they think of a German Shepherd, Horand and most early examples of the GSD were sable!

Sable German Shepherds

If you’re not familiar with the term “sable” as it relates to coat colors, sable refers to fur that has a lighter-colored root and shaft with black or dark-colored tips. Sort of like if a tan dog’s fur was just lightly dipped into dark ink. In some lights, sable coloring can even shift in color and hue, and running your hand through a sable German Shepherd’s coat reveals their beautiful light undercoat. 

If you are an experienced dog owner who has owned working dogs before and you’re considering a German Shepherd, consider the OG GSD coat color—sable!

Meet 7 Sable German Shepherds from Instagram

Sable German Shepherds come in three common colors: silver sable, red sable, and tan sable. Some people may refer to dogs that are particularly dark as “black and sable” or “black sable German Shepherds,” but all sable GSDs have black tips with light roots. Here are 7 majestic sable German Shepherds to show off the incredible variety of colors and to help you picture what life with one of these dogs might be like. 

1. Sadie

Sable German Shepherds
Source: @Sadie_The_Sable_Shepherd

Sadie is a gorgeous tan sable German Shepherd whose sweet and goofy personality has earned her more than 18k followers on Instagram! Sadie loves toys, playing with other dogs, and standing on tables when her humans aren’t watching. 

2. Ruger

Sable German Shepherds
Source: @GSD_Ruger.AKC

Ruger is a two-year-old silver sable German Shepherd who loves training with his mom! A smart boy who picks up on commands quickly, Ruger is also an adventurer who loves to go on outdoor excursions with his human.

3. Ryder

Sable German Shepherds
Source: @RyderDaGSD

Handsome Ryder with his huge grin is a tan long hair sable German Shepherd living in Oahu, Hawaii. 4.5 years old, Ryder is a big boy, but he doesn’t let that stop him from befriending every dog he meets, big or small. 

4. Jaako

Sable German Shepherds
Source: @Ceraak_And_Jaako

Meet Jaako, a very handsome long-haired red sable German Shepherd whose best friend is an all-white GSD! Jaako loves the outdoors, and he’ll happily spend his time outside in rain, shine, and snow. 

5. Rex

Sable German Shepherds
Source: @TRex_DogNotDino

Rex is a four-year-old sable German Shepherd from Minnesota and a great example of how dark in color many sable GSDs become as adults. While sable GSD puppies are usually born light, their fur darkens as they age, and some can look mostly black when fully grown. 

6. Ghost Riley

Sable German Shepherds
Source: @GhostRiley.GSD

Ghost is a red sable German Shepherd, but he might more accurately be described as a red and sable German Shepherd! Ghost has some patches of fur that are just red, while other areas of his coat are red with black tips. A three-year-old, Ghost shouldn’t get any darker and is a good example of how some sable GSDs only have sable on certain areas of their body. 

7. Luka & Arlo

Sable German Shepherds
Source: @Realm.Of.Fluff

Luka and Arlo are a pair of sable German Shepherds in different colors! Luka is a red long-haired sable GSD, while Arlo is a silver-longhaired sable GSD. Both are stunningly beautiful and have goofy, sweet, playful personalities. 

Sable German Shepherd Basic Info

Coat color is simply an aesthetic quality, and doesn’t impact a dog’s temperament or health unless the coat color is a direct result of a genetic abnormality. When it comes to sable German Shepherds, you’ll find no difference between them and GSDs in other coat colors, other than their looks. 

Sable German Shepherd Temperament 

All German Shepherds come from working lines, meaning that their ancestors were bred not only for looks but for powerful mental and physical capabilities. Today, even German Shepherds not bred specifically for work retain that mental intensity, and are happiest when mentally occupied. Working dogs at heart, few German Shepherds are content with a couch potato lifestyle and can be prone to boredom when not given proper stimulation. For these reasons and more, German Shepherds are not a beginner-friendly breed. 

Highly intelligent, courageous, and loyal, German Shepherds are highly protective of their families and homes. Understimulated or poorly handled German Shepherds tend to transfer this instinct into resource guarding, so you should educate yourself before buying a GSD to avoid this kind of behavior. 

Sable German Shepherds

A confident dog breed, German Shepherds are game to try almost anything and make wonderful companions for active families. Athletic and high-energy, German Shepherds also enjoy doing obedience training, canine sports, and working dog drills. As a family dog, German Shepherds can be very loving, but they aren’t the most affectionate breed. Some are excellent with children while others can become overstimulated and reactive. 

As mentioned previously, the best owner for a German Shepherd is someone with working dog experience and the ability to spend most of their time with their dog. 

Sable German Shepherd Size

Sable German Shepherds are large dogs, standing 22–26 inches in height and topping weights of 50–90+ pounds

Sable German Shepherd Health

The sable coat color does not impact a dog’s health, but like all German Shepherds, sables are prone to several health problems. While a high-quality diet, proper exercise, and regular vet visits can help to maintain your dog’s health, some health issues are genetic or inevitable as the dog ages. Some health concerns to look out for if you own a German Shepherd Dog include:

  • Joint issues (e.g. hip and elbow dysplasia) 
  • Back and spine problems (e.g. degenerative myelopathy)
  • Allergies
  • Bloat
  • Epilepsy

Where To Buy Sable German Shepherd Puppies

Sable German Shepherds

Before you contact a German Shepherd Dog breeder about one of their puppies, I recommend starting your search at your local shelter or a breed-specific rescue. There are countless purebred dogs in shelters awaiting forever homes, not to mention the millions of mixed-breed dogs. Even if you don’t find a purebred sable German Shepherd at the shelter, you might meet a different dog breed that steals your heart instead! 

You can also work with one of the many reputable German Shepherd rescue groups. The American German Shepherd Rescue Association has a comprehensive list of recommended German Shepherd rescue groups where you can find resources no matter where you live in the U.S. 

If your heart is set on purchasing a sable German Shepherd puppy, it’s very important to do thorough research. One of the best places to start your hunt for reputable and ethical German Shepherd Dog breeders is in online forums and German Shepherd Dog owner groups. Getting recommendations from other dog lovers who have hands-on experience with breeders can help you make the right choice, and avoid unethical or inexperienced breeders. The German Shepherd Club of America also keeps an updated list of available GSD puppies from affiliated and approved breeders. 

Sable German Shepherd FAQ

Don’t leave without getting answers to all of your questions! Here are a few specific and commonly asked queries about the sable German Shepherd and their answers. 

What is the average lifespan of a sable German Shepherd? 

Like all German Shepherd Dogs, the average lifespan of the sable GSD is estimated to be between 12–14 years

Are sable German Shepherd dogs rare? 

No! While you might be used to seeing black and red or black and tan GSDs, the first examples of this breed were sable, and many individuals today have the same coat coloring. 

How much do sable German Shepherd puppies cost? 

Because sable is not a rare coat color, sable German Shepherd puppies shouldn’t cost more than GSDs in other coat colors. The average price for a German Shepherd puppy from an ethical breeder is around $1,000–$3,000, while rescued GSDs typically have an adoption fee of $150–$700

Do sable German Shepherds shed? 

Yes! German Shepherds come in short and long-coated varieties, but both have thick double coats that shed year-round with periods of accelerated shedding as the seasons change. Considered heavy shedders, German Shepherds benefit from regular professional grooming and de-shedding treatments. 

Do sable puppies get darker as they age? 

Yes. At a young age, most sable German Shepherd puppies are light in color, and may even lack the black tips of adults. As they grow and mature, their coats darken, and some even look like solid black German Shepherds when fully grown. 

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