The German Shepherd breed is known for a number of desirable characteristics. Because of this, they…
The Sable German Shepherd (Explained)
German Shepherds come in many coat varieties although people are most familiar with the black and tan coloring. This article is going to examine the sable German Shepherd, how this coloring is created, their typical personality attributes, and how much sable GSD’s normally cost.
What is a Sable German Shepherd?
The sable German Shepherd is a GSD with a distinctive coloring because their hair strands are black at the tips and light at the base. Typically, the lighter color is red or tan, but it can also be gray or silver.
This gives their coat a fascinating ombre effect that appears differently depending on how the hair falls or from which angle you’re seeing them.
What Genetic Factors Contribute to the Sable GSD Coat?
In general, two pigments affect the coat color of dogs. These are eumelanin and phaeomelanin. By default, eumelanin expresses black pigment but differences in the dog’s genes can “dilute” this into other colors, including blue and liver.
On the other hand, phaeomelanin is responsible for the red pigment in dogs’ coats. Genetic differences affect the intensity of phaeomelanin and can appear as anything from a very rich red (Irish Setter) to a light shade of gold (Golden Retriever) or cream (Yellow Labrador).
Sable GSDs have both eumelanin and phaeomelanin but are affected by the A locus called agouti. The agouti protein manipulates how melanin is released in each hair strand.
In sable GSDs, it releases eumelanin to create the black tips and then switches to phaeomelanin to create the lighter-colored base.
What Coat Combinations Usually Breed the Sable Coloring?
Generally, sable puppies can be produced not only by sables but also GSDs that are black, bi-color, or black & tan.
In canine genetics, sable is expressed as aw. Homozygous sable GSDs have the combination aw aw where both the dominant and recessive genes are sable.
On the other hand, heterozygous sable GSDs combine the dominant aw with the recessive gene of either a (black), at (bi-color), or as (black & tan). Genetic testing is the only way to determine whether a dog is homozygous or heterozygous and to check what recessive alleles they carry.
As long as the German Shepherd has a dominant aw, it will don a sable coat. It doesn’t require two sable parents to produce sable puppies.
As long as there is a sable parent, there will surely be sable offspring. However, the genetic combinations of the parents will affect the number of puppies that will be sable in a litter.
Homozygous Sable Parent
The best way to guarantee sable puppies is to have at least one homozygous sable parent.
In such a scenario, 100% of the puppies in a litter will be sable. In cases where one parent is heterozygous, whatever recessive allele that parent carries will also be carried by 50% off the puppies.
Here are some outcomes when you have at least one homozygous sable parent:
Two Sable Parents
Contrary to what you might think, mating two sable German Shepherds doesn’t guarantee a completely sable litter.
When the parents are heterozygous sables, only 75% of their puppies will be sable. The remaining 25% will be either of the two recessive alleles from each parent.
Here are the outcomes when you have two sable parents but neither are homozygous:
Heterozygous Sable Parent
Even if you have a heterozygous sable and cross it with a homozygous black & tan, bi-color, or black, the resulting litter will still be 50% sable.
The remaining 50% will depend on the color of the homozygous parent and the recessive allele of the heterozygous sable.
Here are the outcomes when you cross a heterozygous sable with a homozygous black & tan, bi-color, or black German Shepherd:
Because the sable color is associated with the dominant allele, it isn’t possible to produce sable offspring when neither of the parents is sable.
How Rare is the Sable German Shepherd?
Although sable isn’t quite as popular as black & tan, it isn’t considered as one of the rare German Shepherd coat colors.
In fact, it is quite easy to produce sable offspring as it only takes a single sable parent to produce a litter that’s at least 50% sable.
The sable coat is associated with working line GSDs, which is the reason why it doesn’t seem like a very common color. German Shepherds that are found in households and even working in commercial settings are typically of the show line.
Nevertheless, among the working line German Shepherds, the sable color is pretty common.
Typical Attributes of the Sable GSD
Because sable German Shepherds are usually from the working line, they will have some subtle but significant differences from the show line GSD you might be more used to seeing.
Most notably, they have distinct differences in both physical appearance and drive.
Apart from coat color, working line GSDs have a more compact body that’s built to be even more athletic than their show line counterparts.
Additionally, their backs are straight rather than sloped, which makes them less prone to bone and joint issues like hip and elbow dysplasia.
While both are incredibly intelligent and capable of hard work, working lines have much more energy and are generally much more confident. As such, these dogs will need even firmer leadership and much more opportunities for mental and physical exercises.
As for general care requirements, sable GSDs will be much like any other dog of this breed.
They will shed throughout the year and blow their coats twice a year. That means they need frequent brushing and occasional baths. Other grooming requirements will be the same.
Are Sable German Shepherds Purebred?
Yes, sable GSDs are purebred. They are produced by purebred German Shepherds, which means they are purebred by default. The only time a sable GSD would not be considered purebred is if either one of their parents is a cross or another breed altogether.
Does the AKC Recognize the Sable Coat Coloring?
Yes, the American Kennel Club lists sable as one of the acceptable coat colors of the German Shepherd. So, for as long as both parents are purebred, sable GSDs can register with the AKC and also compete in conformation events.
How Much is a Sable German Shepherd?
German Shepherd puppies are generally priced between $450 and $1,900. However, you can expect sable GSDs to cost much more than that at approximately $2,000 to $5,000, depending on the lineage.
The reason why working line German Shepherds and, consequently, sable GSDs are more expensive is that their breeders are generally more responsible with their breeding practices.
They make an effort to secure the reputation of their pedigrees and ensure they produce healthy dogs with excellent temperaments and long lives.
Sable German Shepherds definitely have a unique and striking appearance. They are beautiful dogs that would make excellent working partners as well as family companions.
However, because they are likely to be working line German Shepherds, they are expected to have even more energy and drive than your typical GSD.
Before you welcome a sable GSD into your home, make sure you’re ready to meet their substantial mental and physical requirements.
If what you’re really after is a German Shepherd with a unique coat color, you might also want to look into even rarer ones like blue, blonde, liver, and panda GSDs.