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German Shepherds are one of the world’s most popular breeds, but they’re best known for their signature black & tan coats. Many are also familiar with the sable working line GSDs as well as solid-colored black or white ones. However, many don’t know that there are actually liver-colored German Shepherds.
This article will tell you all about liver German Shepherds, how they differ from other German Shepherds, and how their unique coat coloring is created.
What Is A Liver German Shepherd?
Liver German Shepherds are exactly the same as the GSDs you know and love, the only difference being a unique coat color. Most often, they are a solid brown color but they also come in combinations of liver & tan and liver & white.
Typically, the noses of liver-colored GSDs are also different. They are often pink or brown rather than black. Additionally, their eyes are lighter in color. Many describe their eyes as amber rather than brown.
What Coat Combinations Usually Breed The Liver Coloring?
Dogs have thousands of different genes, but only 8 affect the color of their coats.
The brown color is associated with the B locus, which comes in two forms: the dominant brown (B) and the recessive brown (b). B produces the color black while b is responsible for the liver color.
However, the presence of b doesn’t necessarily produce a liver-colored dog. When a dog has the combination Bb, it would take the color of the dominant allele (the capital letter).
In that case, the dog would still be black but would pass down the recessive b to its offspring. To produce the liver color, the dog should have the combination bb.
Since the liver color replaces the black in the GSD’s coat, they are often the offspring of solid-black or black-saddled German Shepherds. The only way to guarantee a liver-colored litter is to mate two liver-colored GSDs.
However, having one liver parent or two parents with the b allele will also produce some liver-colored puppies. The only way to determine the latter is through DNA testing before mating.
Here’s a table of combinations where Black is either a solid black parent or one with a black saddle:
How Rare is the Liver German Shepherd?
Liver German Shepherds are rare for two reasons. First, there are only a few genetic combinations that produce them. Since it takes at least 1 liver-colored parent or two parents carrying the allele to produce liver offspring, they are understandably uncommon.
Second, legitimate breeders don’t have much incentive to propagate this color because dog clubs consider it to be an undesirable trait.
For reputation and prestige, kennels prefer to breed dogs that have the potential to become excellent show dogs or at least conform to the best traits as described by the breed standards.
Are Liver German Shepherds Purebred?
Yes, liver German Shepherds are purebred. However since they’re different from the usual appearance of their breed, many believe that liver-colored GSDs are not purebred.
However, they are definitely pure as long as they are the offspring of two purebred German Shepherds. No GSD can be considered a mixed breed unless at least one of its parents is actually a mix.
Does the AKC Recognize The Liver Coat Coloring?
Yes, the liver color is listed in the American Kennel Club’s list of recognized German Shepherd coat colors. This means any liver GSD can be listed in the AKC purebred registry and may participate in the organization’s events.
However, the GSD breed standard notes that having a liver coat color is actually a serious fault. According to the AKC, German Shepherds with strong, rich colors are more desirable than those with pale, washed-out ones.
Although a dog would not be automatically disqualified for this characteristic, they are not likely to win conformation events.
Typical Attributes Of The Liver GSD
Liver German Shepherds are light-colored where the typical GSD would be black. The liver coloring might cover their entire coat or just the saddle.
Their nose, paw pads, lips, and eye rims might also have a light brown or even pink color. Additionally, their eyes are noticeably lighter and typically have an amber-hue.
Apart from their unique coloring, nothing else sets the liver GSD apart from other German Shepherds. They have the same build, intelligence, and general temperament. Their requirements for everyday care, grooming, and training are also no different.
How Much Does A Liver German Shepherd Cost?
In general, German Shepherds are sold between $450 and $1,900 per puppy. On average, GSD’s cost approximately $1,200. Although you might think that liver German Shepherds might be priced at the lower end of the price range because of how they’re viewed by the AKC, the opposite is true.
Liver-colored GSDs are actually quite expensive because they are so rare. If you find reputable breeders that specifically endeavor to produce this color, you can expect their puppies to be even more expensive because of their more responsible breeding practices.
Nevertheless, GSDs are among the most common breeds in animal shelters. Once in a while, you might encounter a liver German Shepherd available to rescue.
Opting to adopt rather than buy from a breeder will enable you to have the uniquely colored dog you want at minimal costs. You’ll also get to save a life and make space for more rescues at your local animal shelter.
Owning a liver German Shepherds is special because they look incredibly unique. Apart from appearance, however, they’re the same as any other GSD. They will require firm leadership, plenty of physical exercise, and regular mental stimulation. You need to make sure you’re ready to meet those responsibilities before committing to welcoming a liver German Shepherd into your life.
If you’re keen on getting a uniquely colored GSD but aren’t sure that liver is for you, check out the Blue German Shepherd.