Isabella is a royal name dating back to the middle ages. It has a beautiful feminine quality about it that reminds us of romance and nobility. The name means “devoted to God” and originates from the name Elizabeth. Many royals have represented the name including Isabella of France who was referred to as the “She-Wolf” of France. So, what is the Isabella German Shepherd and where does it get the name? This rare version of the GSD is a beautiful and extraordinary specimen that will definitely make you look twice when you see one.
What Is The Isabella German Shepherd?
The Isabella German Shepherd is a rare color variation of the GSD combining blue and liver to create a beautiful lilac coat.
It is extremely rare because a German Shepherd must inherit both recessive genes to adopt the elusive hue.
The beautiful coat is usually accentuated with a lighter colored nose that is generally pink or liver. It can also be a dark gray.
This is one of the best ways to recognize a Lilac German Shepherd.
In addition to the nose, the eyes will be a light amber and slightly paler than a liver GSD.
History Of The Name Isabella:
There are several accounts and conflicting views when it comes to the origin of the color “Isabella.” The first account takes us back over five decades ago to 1492 and the “Siege of Granada.”
At the time, Queen Isabella of Spain asserted that she would not change the gown she was wearing until Spain was victorious. During the siege, her dress coloration changed to dull reddish hue with some black and white. This legendary moment in history linked the word “Isabella” with the color.
Another account , since debunked, dates back to 1604 and the Siege of Ostend. This legend stated that Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain affirmed that she wouldn’t change her undergarments until the siege was over. It lasted for three years and by the end, her “shift” was supposedly discolored from her periods.
The very first recorded account of the color “Isabella” was actually prior to that in 1600. It was used to describe the coloration of one of Elizabeth I of England’s gown. It’s first use in print was in 1859 by the author Henry Baker Tristram in his journal “Ibis.”
Since then, the coloration has been associated with many other animals. The pale fawn color, also referred to as “Isabelline,” is often used to describe the plumage of birds even appearing in some of their names. It is also used to describe the coloration of horses and of course dogs like the Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd and Weimaraner.
The history of the first Isabelline German Shepherd is unknown but considering the first GSD goes back to the late 1800’s, it likely originated sometime in the 1900’s.
How Does The Isabella German Shepherd Get Its Color?
Explaining how the Lilac German Shepherd got its coloration is a bit complicated. To understand it, you will need to first understand how dogs genetically inherit their coat colors and patterns.
Every variation of coloration in dogs, including Isabella, is determined by two basic pigments which are black and red. The black pigment is called “Eumelanin” and the red pigment is called “Phaeomelanin.”
Each of these two pigments is altered by the genes inherited from the dog’s parents. The genes can turn black pigment into other colors including blue, Isabella, and liver. This happens when the gene dilutes black by preventing the complete production of eumelanin.
Phaeomelanin on the other hand is red with a base coloration of gold or yellow. Similar to eumalenin, the dog’s genes can alter the color creating a wide range of red shades that include cream, deep red, gold, orange, yellow or tan.
The main difference between these two pigments is that phaeomelanin only affects hair coloration while eumelanin affects the color of the eyes and nose. On rare occasions, no pigment is produced resulting in a white hair dog.
The Alphabet Of Loci:
The genes that change the two basic pigments of black and red are called loci. There are a total of 8 loci that affect a GSDs coat coloration.
|A||Agouti||Creates coat patterns by controlling the amount of black pigment. Responsible for the base coat color.|
|B||Brown||Produces the brown colors including chocolate and liver. Two recessive (bb) genes are necessary for isabella. Also responsible for the color of the nose and footpads.|
|D||Dilute||Lightens coat colors turning black into blue or gray and brown into isabella. Two recessive (dd) genes must be present for lilac.|
|E||Extension||Creates the signature black mask in certain dog breeds like the GSD.|
|H||Harlequin||Causes black patches or spots on white dogs and merges with the merle locus for varying combinations of colors and spots.|
|K||Dominant Black||Determines whether or not the dog has a solid coat color. This includes black, brindle and fawn.|
|M||Merle||A mutation that creates the merle pattern which are patches of diluted or solid color. Cannot dilute phaeomelanin.|
|S||Spotting||Responsible for “piebald” or white spotting on a dog’s coat. This is extremely rare. The Panda German Shepherd is a good example.|
The Lilac German Shepherd is rare because in order for the coloration to exist, two recessive (bb) alleles and two recessive (dd) alleles are needed.
These unique color combinations and patterns are what make dogs so beautiful and interesting. Parents can be tested to determine the possible outcome of the puppies.
Isabella German Shepherd Health:
Some will say that dogs with a color dilution are just as healthy as dogs with a normal coat.
In fact, DogGenetics.co.uk states that the prevalence of CDA in dogs is not directly related to their coloration.
However, some studies have found a direct correlation between the coloration of a dog’s fur and their health. This of course may vary depending on the coloration.
The study done back in 2018 analyzed 33,000 labs and found that chocolate colored Labradors had a lower life expectancy than black and yellow labs.
In addition, they also had more of a chance of getting ear infections and skin disease.
Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA):
Either way CDA, or Color Dilution Alopecia, is a real thing that many different dog breeds deal with including German Shepherds. It is most common in blue or fawn coat dogs that have a color dilution.
It is most often associated with blue Doberman Pinschers. The generic recessive condition is inherited from the parents and causes bald spots with hair loss or thin hair. It can also cause dry, flaky, itchy skin.
It is hard to diagnose at birth since puppies will look like they have normal coats. The signs and symptoms usually won’t appear until around the age of 6 months old.
The exact cause of CDA is still somewhat of a mystery but the consensus is that the hair follicles aren’t typical and something causes them to be unable to produce new hairs. As of now the condition is not curable.
How Much Does An Isabella German Shepherd Cost?
While the Lilac German Shepherd is considered a rare colored coat, they still aren’t in demand quite as much as the traditional black and tan GSD.
Therefore, the cost is similar to other German Shepherds running anywhere between $1500 and $3000 for a new puppy.
Keep in mind this is only the base cost and you will need to calculate the yearly costs to get a good idea of how much you will spend each year taking care of a GSD.
That being said they aren’t easy to find and only a few reputable breeders exist in the U.S.
One of those breeders is K9 Pines. They are located in Saluda, NC and offer the beautiful lilac colored German Shepherds.
The Lilac German Shepherd is an exquisite animal and one of the most beautiful colorations of coats you will ever see. Aside from their coat, they are the same intelligent, loyal and loving German Shepherd that dog enthusiasts love. They are fun to be around, full of energy and high maintenance. Like their traditional cohort, they do better with someone who has an active lifestyle that can spend a lot of time taking care of and training their GSD.
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Have you ever owned or seen a German Shepherd with this beautiful lilac coat coloration? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal story!