Dark Sable German Shepherd

Dark Sable German Shepherd – 5 Most Popular Questions Answered

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

The Dark Sable German Shepherd is the darker version of the popular Sable color pattern. This particular combination features a dark tan base coat with black tips. This gives their coat that illustrious look that so many people love. This rare coat color is very popular and highly sought after by breeders and dog enthusiasts alike. Here are 5 of the common questions people have regarding this unique and rare pattern.

1. What Are Sable German Shepherds?

The sable on a German Shepherd is not actually a color, it is more of a pattern. It simply refers to the tips of the hairs being black while the base of the hairs are a lighter color.

The pattern doesn’t discriminate and can come in short or long length coats. It also comes in a plethora of colors. The Dark Sable German Shepherd is a dark tan with black tips.

Sable Colors Include:

  1. Black
  2. Gray
  3. Red
  4. Silver
  5. Tan

Any of these colors make for a stunning dog visually. The black tips seem to fade into the base color giving the coat a one-of-a-kind look.

2. What Causes The Sable Color Pattern?

Agouti Color Pattern GSD Eye

The sable color pattern is actually referred to as “Agouti” in the scientific world. It means that the hair has at least two different colors of pigmentation.

Normally this results in an animal’s hair looking dull brown or gray. Domestic rabbits are a good example with their speckled coats that resemble “salt and pepper.” Additionally the coloration causes an iridescent effect which makes the color appear to change at different angles.

Agouti is considered a wild type of phenotype:

The set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.


This means that the coloring of the fur is caused by a mutation in the gene formation. This same “allele” is found in wolves giving them their signature-colored coat.

3. Are Dark Sable German Shepherds Rare?

The Dark Sable German Shepherd shares the same characteristics and traits as a traditional colored GSD. It is not a mix but a variation of the breed standard. It is listed as an accepted color by the AKC.

However, it is rare because both parents must carry one “allele” for the pattern to be produced. An individual parent can also pass it down but both “alleles” must be present.

Exactly just how rare they are is unknown, but the rarest form is the all black version. It lacks the two-tone hairs but still carries the sable genes.

When it comes to overall colors, the Isabella German Shepherd is considered the rarest. They are very hard to find and have a beautiful blue and liver coat. However they are not a true color but a mutation.

4. Do Sable German Shepherd Puppies Get Darker?

Sable GSD Puppy

When Sable GSD puppies are born, they a rich dark brown color. They will then begin to lighten up into a sandy type of color.

The color will gradually change and at 4 to 5 months old, they will start to revert back to the darker color until they reach their full color of black, gray, red, silver or tan sable.

Some people believe that you can predict the pattern by examining certain parts of their body.

Pattern Indicators:

  1. Dark pin stripes in between their toes.
  2. Stripe running down their front legs.
  3. Jet black hair on the belly and chest.

Even then, it is very hard to tell just how dark they are going to be when they grow into an adult. Their color can continue to change up until the age of three. The best predictor is to look at their parents’ coloration. The pedigree is a good indicator of future coat patterns.

5. How Do I Get A Dark Sable GSD?

Color genetics in German Shepherds can be a bit confusing. But in order to produce the pattern one parent must at least carry one Sable allele. In addition, some believe that some black must be present to produce the darker version.

To begin with, each dog carries two “alleles” which determine the outcome of their coat color. There are three possible combinations that they can carry.

  1. Homozygous Dominant (Two copies of dominant allele)
  2. Homozygous Recessive (Two copies of recessive allele)
  3. Heterozygous (One dominant and one recessive allele)

Black is a recessive gene. The others are dominant.

Here is a chart to help explain the genetics:

Parent 1Parent 2Puppies
Homozygous Sable (aw aw) Homozygous Sable (aw aw) Sable and carry the Sable gene (aw aw)
Homozygous Sable (aw aw)Homozygous Black and Tan (as as)Sable but carry the Black and Tan gene (aw as)
Heterozygous Sable that carries Black recessive (aw as)Heterozygous Bi-color that carries Black recessive (at a)50% Sable but carry Bi-color and Black recessive, 25% Bi-color, and 25% Black

You can predict the color outcome if you know the genealogy of the parents. You can find out by performing a DNA test. However, you should never breed specifically to produce a certain color. The effects can negatively affect the health and temperament of your German Shepherd.

In Closing:

The Dark Sable German Shepherd is truly stunning but still the same lovable and intelligent GSD that dog owners love. They will definitely draw attention wherever they go with their beautiful coat. They are extremely loyal and highly trainable. You can purchase one from a breeder starting at around $1500. Although not all breeders offer the rare color variation.

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Have you ever owned or seen this amazing color pattern? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal story!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *