German Shepherd Pigment: HOW RED SHOULD THEY BE?

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

So many times when people buying puppies from me preface the purchase of a German Shepherd puppy with the statement “I really want this puppy to have rich reds”.  I think it might be a good thing to discuss this issue a bit.

First of all, the German Shepherd is a very unique dog.  It is one of the top three most intelligent dogs in the world.  It is more multiutility than any canine on earth. Though some dogs may be better at some individual task, no dog on earth is as capable at a multiplicity of tasks as this amazing breed.  There is just so much more to the breed than pigment.  You might buy roses based on color.  You might even purchase a toy dog largely on outward appearance.  But not a German Shepherd.   In the next blog I will discuss the term “temperament” when it comes to the German Shepherd.  But, certainly buying one of these magnificent beasts based on pigment is a critical mistake.  In fact, people who do, and don’t appreciate the multifaced metrics you must consider might end up being unhappy owners. They might insist on a certain pup based on color and end up with a dog with drive they can’t handle or might settle on a litter without considering other important variables such as confidence, dog aggression, timidity.

How red should a German Shepherd puppy be?  First of all, although you can tell a good deal about the final pigment from a puppy, it is clearly not definitive.  For example, Ulk Arlett, the 1995 world sieger, didn’t really red out until 4 years old.  The Arlett kennels had actually sold him to someone, I believe in Italy, only to buy him back later.  But one way to determine the potential pigment in a puppy is to lift up the tail and look underneath.  If you see red/orange/rust there, that is a good indication.

But, although one thing we breed for is pigment, it is clearly only one characteristic.  Conformation, health and termperament are equally important.  The old Rin Tin Tin black and tan has somewhat been replaced by black and red (more mahogany).  But, the amount of pigment varies quite a bit.  It is nice to get some rusting, but don’t expect a distorted deep red.  Most of the pictures you see of World Sieger champs, those done by Urma and others, are all enhanced.  Some of the pictures I get are clearly doctored.  I know because the tongue of the dog is a rose red and the person’s hand which is holding the dog is pink and the grass is way too green.  It makes us expect our pups to also be that red.

So, bottom line, with German shepherd puppies, while we would like some browning/rusting on the lighter parts of the shepherd (chest is usually lighter), on the legs, mane, and maybe face, we shouldn’t expect really rich deep reds, which rarely if ever exist.  And look for balance.  Don’t exclusively look for red or you may get what you want in pigment but not what you will want as a dog.  I would take wonderful conformation, health, temperment and moderate pigment in a German shepherd puppy over a beet red mess anyday.

I hope this is a help to you.  Visit our German Shepherd K9 University by clicking on “GSD K9 U“.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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