While black and tan is the traditional color of the German Shepherd, this breed can come in many different coat colors. Some of these colors are more commonly seen than others, while some, like brindle coat color, are hard to come across within the GSD breed.
But, how rare is a brindle German Shepherd? Brindle-colored German Shepherds are now extremely rare. Some GSD breeders believe that the brindle color patterns were common among the first working GSDs developed by Max von Stephanitz. The brindle coat color pattern is now rarely seen in GSDs and most dog clubs don’t recognize it as a color.
Keep on reading to learn more about the brindle German Shepherd dog and whether it’s in any way different from a traditional GSD.
What Is a Brindle German Shepherd?
The brindle German Shepherd isn’t a crossbreed but a rare variety of the German Shepherd dog breed. Brindle is a coat pattern that is often described as “tiger-striped”, though in dogs the brindle pattern isn’t as pronounced as in tigers.
While brindle was a common coat color in early working German Shepherd dogs, it became extremely rare over the years. Since brindle GSDs are hard to come by, the American Kennel Club and other dog clubs don’t recognize brindle as an official German Shepherd coat color.
Brief History of Brindle German Shepherd
The German Shepherd dog breed was developed in Germany by Max von Stephanitz whose dream was to create a perfect working dog. In 1899 he attended a dog show where he spotted a dog named Hektor Linksrhein.
Stephanitz was so taken by Hektor’s strength, intelligence, and loyalty that he purchased him immediately and changed his name to Horand von Grafrath. Horand, who was a sable German Shepherd dog, became the center of the new breeding program and managed to sire a total of 84 puppies.
Interestingly, Horand sired two brindle-colored sons who then passed the brindle gene on their offspring. However, the brindle allele is recessive to the dominant black allele which is the main reason why there are so few brindle-colored German Shepherds in existence now (source).
Characteristics of a Brindle German Shepherd
Brindle German Shepherd dogs look exactly like standard colored German Shepherds except for their coats. This breed is best known for its wolf-like appearance and alert expression.
A brindle GSD looks a lot like a Dutch Shepherd. They are longer than tall, deep-bodied, and well-muscled dogs that exude strength and agility.
Regardless of color variations, all types of German Shepherd are large-sized dogs.
Height and Weight
Full-grown brindle German Shepherds are between 22 and 26 inches tall and weigh from 50 to 90 pounds. Females are smaller than males.
While brindle typically appears as black stripes on a red base there are four distinctive brindle coat color patterns in German Shepherd dogs. They are:
- Black: Also known as reverse black brindle German Shepherds, the black brindle GSDs have a recessive black color that may appear solid black, blue, liver, or isabella. This is because the recessive black color genes prevent the color in the red spectrum from showing.
- Tan: Brindle German Shepherds with tan base color can have a coat that ranges in color from tan, blue, isabella, liver, or even black with brindle points.
- Grey: Brindle grey GSDs have a grey base color. The brindle coat pattern may be very subtle, absent or appear like brindle points.
- Sable: Brindle sable German Shepherds have the most solid coat color among the four types of brindle patterns. They will have a brown base color and darker coat color on their heads and backs.
Brindle GSDs have a thick and double medium-length coat. The coat consists of two layers – the soft undercoat and a slightly wavy outer coat of a wiry texture.
Coat color has no effect on a dog’s temperament, so a brindle-colored German Shepherd will possess all temperament traits that are associated with the GSD breed.
The German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds. They are highly trainable, obedient, loyal, and eager to please which makes them ideal for experienced and newbie dog owners.
These smart dogs love to have a job to do and can be trained to do almost anything, making them great assistance dogs.
German Shepherds are very territorial and protective of their people and make terrific guard dogs. A GSD won’t hesitate to keep you and your family safe and guard your property.
When properly trained and socialized from a young age, brindle German Shepherds make fantastic pets to active people and families with children.
Are There Any Health Issues with a Brindle German Shepherd?
Brindle coat pattern hasn’t been linked with any specific health problems, and brindle-colored GSDs are generally healthy. However, they too have a higher risk of developing certain health issues that are common in the GSD breed. Those issues are:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Degenerative myelopathy
The brindle German Shepherd has an average life expectancy of 9 to 13 years.
Brindle German Shepherd Care
Compared to other breeds, the German Shepherd is a high maintenance dog with high exercise and grooming needs. If you decide to bring one of these dogs home, here’s everything you’ll need to do in terms of care:
Brindle GSDs have medium-long double coats that shed all year round and also go through shedding season. Brush your dog three to four times a week during the off shedding season, and once a day in the spring and fall to control the shedding.
Bathe your dog once every three to four months, or more often if they get smelly and dirty.
Don’t forget to trim your dog’s nails once a month or when you hear them clicking against the floor.
Check their ears weekly for dirt and waxy buildup and clean as necessary. Brush your dog’s teeth using a dog toothbrush and toothpaste to prevent plaque buildup and the onset of periodontal disease (source).
German Shepherds are one of the easiest dogs to train thanks to their intelligence and eagerness to please. Use positive reinforcement methods to train your brindle GSD basic commands and obedience.
Training a German Shepherd is a lifelong process, so don’t stop once your dog learns basic commands like sit, stay, and come. These dogs can get bored easily if not properly stimulated so teach your dog tricks and more complex commands to keep their mind occupied.
Socialization is an important aspect of training and should start as soon as you bring your GSD puppy home. Expose your pooch to different people, children, pets, places, situations, sounds, and smells to build their confidence and help them grow into friendly and well-mannered dogs.
Brindle German Shepherds are working dogs that need around 60 to 90 minutes of vigorous activity every day. They love all sorts of activities and will enjoy running, jogging, hiking, swimming, agility, or other dog sports.
Besides regular exercise, you should also play with your brindle GSD. Games such as Frisbee, hide and seek, flyball, and tug-of-war will keep your dog entertained and exercised.
An ideal diet for a brindle German Shepherd should be formulated for a large breed dog with high energy. Make sure that the food you choose is made from high-quality ingredients and contains proteins, fats, and fiber.
Since German Shepherds have a higher risk of developing bloat, stick to a regular feeding schedule and avoid overfeeding your dog. Adult dogs should have two meals a day, while a three months old German Shepherd puppy should be fed three to four times a day.
To minimize the risk of bloating do not exercise your GSD at least one hour before or after a meal.
Where to Get a Brindle German Shepherd?
Brindle German Shepherds are extremely rare, but you can always consider adoption before going through a breeder.
Brindle German Shepherd Breeders
Since the brindle coat is the result of a recessive gene, brindle German Shepherds are hard to come by. Locating a breeder that deals with brindle-colored GSD dogs are like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Brindle German Shepherd Price
Traditional German Shepherds cost from $1500 to $3000 when purchased from a reputable breeder.
Since brindle German Shepherds are incredibly rare, no one knows how much they cost. But if you manage to find one, expect to pay a lot more for it than for a standard GSD.
Adoption is always a great way to welcome a dog home, so check your local shelter and rescue groups. If you decide to adopt, know that there is a chance that you’ll come across brindle-colored German Shepherd mixes.
While they aren’t purebreds, these dogs also deserve a loving home and can be a great alternative to a brindle German Shepherd.
The brindle German Shepherd isn’t a crossbreed, but a rare color variety within the German Shepherd breed. However, this coat color isn’t officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, so brindle GSDs can’t compete in dog shows.
Brindle-colored German Shepherds are so rare that you are more likely to find a brindle German Shepherd mix. Either way, you’ll get a loyal, devoted, and active companion for life!