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Brindle German Shepherd

The Brindle German Shepherd (Explained)

The tan and black-saddle coat is what the German Shepherd is most recognized for. But not many realize that they come in many other coat colors—some more common than others. There are uncommon colors like silver and blue. Even more rare are others, including the brindle German Shepherd.

What Is A Brindle German Shepherd?

A brindle German Shepherd has a coat that is best described as tiger-striped or marbled. Theoretically, the base color could be tan, black, or sable. Even more rarely, it could be silver, blue, or liver. However, these dogs are so uncommon that there’s not much known about how they’re really supposed to look.

What Genetic Factors Contribute To The Brindle Coat?

For all dogs, coat coloring is determined by two pigments called eumelanin and phaeomelanin. By default, eumelanin appears as black but can be modified by certain genes to become blue or liver.

On the other hand, phaeomelanin controls the color red. Depending on the individual dog’s genes, this can appear as a deep red, tan, yellow, or gold. 

Eumelanin and phaeomelanin will determine the German Shepherd’s base color. However, the brindling or striped patten will only appear if the dog carries the K locus. This is related to the A locus, which is responsible for the sable GSD coat.

What Coat Combinations Breed The Brindle Coloring?

The only way to breed the brindle coloring in purebred GSDs is to have at least one brindle parent. Even so, a brindle puppy is not guaranteed.

This is because the brindle allele (Kbr) is recessive to the dominant black allele (Kb). So, not only should one of the parents be brindle but also the other parent should at least carry the recessive Kbr allele.

Here’s what happens when you mate a brindle GSD with a solid black GSD that doesn’t carry the brindle allele:

Solid Black + Brindle

To produce brindle puppies, not only should one parent exhibit the brindle coat but also the other parent should at least carry the Kbr allele:

Black and Brindle Gene

For the best chance of producing brindle puppies, both parents should exhibit a brindle coat:

How Rare Is The Brindle German Shepherd?

Brindle German Shepherds are now incredibly rare. GSD enthusiasts believe that the brindle coat was common among the working dogs that the breed founder, Max von Stephanitz, developed.

Some believe that it was purposely bred out of the GSD gene pool as a means to distinguish it from similar dogs like the Dutch Shepherd, which is most commonly brindle.

Whether it was bred out of the breed or because of the gene’s recessive nature, modern dog clubs no longer recognize brindle as a German Shepherd color. This makes it even rarer than colors produced by genetic abnormalities. In fact, enthusiasts of the breed say they are already extinct.

According to the Aringsburg Kennel, no brindle GSD has been registered with a kennel club since 1922. Without at least one purebred brindle German Shepherd, there’s no chance of reproducing this coat pattern in a purebred.

Typical Attributes Of The Brindle German Shepherd

Although brindle German Shepherds have not been observed in recent times, there’s no reason to believe they would be different from any other GSD.

Their brindle coloring should not affect any other physical attributes and would definitely have no effect on their health or temperament.

Knowing this, a brindle German Shepherd would definitely be a rare-looking companion. However, the requirements for its care and rearing would be the same. They would need high-quality food, regular grooming, early socializationplenty of exercise, and tons of opportunities for mental stimulation.

Are Brindle German Shepherds Purebred?

Brindle German Shepherds that were produced by two purebred parents are technically purebred. However, because this coat coloring is so rare in this breed, you’re not likely to find one.

If you do find a German Shepherd-looking brindle dog these days, it’s very likely to be a mixed breed. GSDs crossed with Dutch Shepherds, Basenjis, or Boxers could produce offspring that would look very much like a purebred brindle GSD.

Does The AKC Recognize The Brindle Coloring?

The American Kennel Club does not recognize the brindle coloring in German Shepherds. In fact, it doesn’t even list it as a possible coat color.

This means that enthusiasts trying to recover the brindle coat will produce dogs that won’t be recognized as German Shepherds by the AKC and, very likely, many other dog clubs as well.

How Much Is A Brindle German Shepherd?

German Shepherds of standard colors are currently sold at $450 to $1,900 per puppy. On average, GSD’s cost around $800. Since brindle German Shepherds have not been seen in decades, there’s really no telling how much one could cost if they’re ever reproduced these days.

Despite not being recognized by the AKC, a brindle GSD that can be proven to be purebred would definitely cost much more than a typical puppy of the same breed.

Its rareness will definitely contribute to its value. So, don’t be surprised if they cost upwards of $3,000 each if you ever find one.

Final Thoughts

It’s not likely that you’ll find a purebred German Shepherd with a brindle coat. However, enthusiasts of the breed believe in reviving this variation if only to ensure that the breed stays true to its history.

Since you’re interested in rare German Shepherds, you should also check out the Panda GSD, which is produced by a genetic mutation. Another unusual GSD variation is the blonde German Shepherd, which breeders do not yet know for sure how to reproduce. 

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