The Blue German Shepherd – Your Questions Answered

A German Shepherd with blue coloration in front of green vines and white lattice.
Image credit: Official German Shepherd Lovers

German Shepherds are one of the most recognizable breeds, and they are highly valued for their intelligence, courage, and ability to perform reliably and exceptionally well in a wide variety of roles.

The classic black and tan coloration is by far the most common, but breed standards allow for additional colors and various patterns as well.

One such color variety, the blue German Shepherd, seems to stand out from the rest in terms of mystique and beauty.

What is a blue German Shepherd? A blue German Shepherd is a purebred German Shepherd Dog born with a pair of dilution genes that suppress black pigmentation, resulting in gray shades replacing all black skin and fur. Blue GSDs can be solid in color or patterned, and the depth of the blue can vary significantly.

While all German Shepherd colors are beautiful in their own right, there’s something extra special about a German Shepherd Dog sporting a rare blue coat.

If you have questions concerning the cause of the blue coloration, how it appears in the coat, how a blue GSD differs from others, and what to expect with this breed, you’re not alone.

In the following, we’ll address the most common questions regarding the blue German Shepherd, and by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll know whether or not the lovely blue German Shepherd Dog is for you.

Table of Contents

What Is a Blue German Shepherd? 

A blue German Shepherd Dog is simply a German Shepherd with a blue coat.

The entire coat may be blue, or the blue coloration may only appear on portions of the coat that would ordinarily be black, like the saddle, mask, and tip of the tail.

Color on the eye rims, nose, lips, toenails, and footpads may be lighter on dogs with blue coloration. Eye color may differ as well.

The blue color results from recessive diluting genes, so the blue is actually a diluted form of black.

The exact shade of blue can vary greatly, with some dogs appearing nearly black, some a dark gray, and some a lighter gray.

When light hits a blue Shepherd’s coat in a certain way, a bluish hue can be seen, but the average person would describe the coat as being a shade of gray rather than blue.

A blue German Shepherd is in every way a German Shepherd, and there will be no differences concerning temperament, growth, training, exercise needs, or grooming between a blue dog and one sporting a more common color.

The blues are just considered extra special because of their beauty and rarity.

Are Blue German Shepherds Purebred? 

The dilution that causes the blue coloration is a naturally occurring phenomenon in German Shepherds.

So yes, a blue German Shepherd can appear in a litter of purebred pups and will be just as genetically pure as his littermates.

The blue color is simply a coat color variation and does not indicate that any other breeds were introduced to the line.

Are Blue German Shepherds Rare? 

Blue German Shepherds are not nearly as common as the traditional GSD colors, like black and tan and black and cream.

Although the American Kennel Club has recently recognized the blue coloration, it is still considered a fault, and blue GSDs are ineligible for confirmation competitions.

Because blue is not allowed in the show ring, the majority of German Shepherd breeders do not intentionally breed for this color; thus few blue dogs are produced.

However, there is a market for the blue Shepherds, and as they continue to gain popularity, we may see more breeders focus on producing blue pups.

Blue GSD Color 

The blue found in German Shepherds isn’t what most people think about when blue comes to mind.

The blue dog color isn’t an electric blue, a sky blue, or even a navy blue, but rather, it is more akin to a washed-out black or shade of gray.

Blue coloring in dogs is caused by dilution genes that affect all black markings.

You may read elsewhere that German Shepherds can come in a blue and black pattern, but genetically, this is impossible as the dilution affects all black coloring, not just certain areas.

A blue GSD will contain no black hairs, only blue. However, there is still room for lots of variety in dogs who carry this color.

Solid Blue German Shepherd

A steel blue German Shepherd puppy lying on the grass.
Image credit: German Shepherds Rule

Solid blue German Shepherds are rare as they only exist when a what-would-have-been solid black GSD inherits the dilution gene from both parents.

No other colors exist in the coat, just a shade of blue. This blue coloring can vary with some appearing nearly black and others looking more dusky gray.

While this is an accepted color with the American Kennel Club, in the show ring, the blue color would be considered a serious fault.

Steel Blue German Shepherd 

A steel blue long-hair German Shepherd sitting in a snow-covered chair.
Image credit: Bluebeargsdx

The steel blue color is the deepest blue shade found in GSDs, and in adult dogs the color can be so dark that it is often mistaken for black.

Other blue GSDs will be a more moderate steel blue, ranging between a deep blue and a dark gray.

Powder Blue German Shepherd 

A powder blue long-hair German Shepherd puppy lying on the grass.
Image credit: Sam Kennel

The powder blue color is much lighter than steel blue.

German Shepherds born with a powder blue color will often be quite dark at birth and lighten gradually as they grow.

The final color is a beautiful gray shade that appears to have been dusted with powder, hence the name.

Blue and Sable German Shepherd

A blue and sable short-hair German Shepherd.
Image credit: Spoiledshepherds

The sable coat can vary from gray to reddish but is characterized by hair with bands of color that are lighter at the base, gradually becoming darker towards the black tip.

A sable coat is often described as being similar to that of a wolf. 

When sable is paired with the blue dilution genes, all black on the coat, including the ends of individual hairs, is suppressed to a shade of blue, resulting in a strikingly gorgeous dog.

Steel Blue Panda German Shepherd 

A blue panda German Shepherd puppy being held up in the air.
Image credit: K9 Pines

Panda German Shepherds are quite rare and absolutely unique in appearance.

GSDs born with this pattern have a standard breed pattern and color, but approximately 35% of the coat is masked by white.

The white typically appears on the face and muzzle (reminiscent of a panda’s face), neck, belly, legs, and tip of the tail.

A steel blue panda German Shepherd will have the unusual white coloring, but in areas where black would have appeared, a steel blue color is present instead.

What Does a Blue and Tan German Shepherd Look Like? 

A young blue and tan German Shepherd with a pink harness and leash.
Image credit: Smek Shepherds Ckc

A blue and tan German Shepherd will look identical to a black and tan GSD, except that instead of black, a shade of blue will be seen.

This color combination can occur in conjunction with a bi-color pattern, a classic saddle pattern, or blanket markings.

Isabella German Shepherds 

An Isabella long-hair German Shepherd resting on a bench.
Image credit: WINATY’s German Shepherds

Isabella German Shepherds are more lilac than blue in terms of color.

This coloration occurs when a puppy receives two recessive “d” genes (responsible for dilution) and two recessive “b” genes (responsible for brown and liver coloration).

Basically, an Isabella GSD is a dilute liver without any black coloration at all, not even on the eye rims, lips, foot pads, or nose.

Most Isabella German Shepherds will have bluish-green eyes and lighter nose colors.

Blue GSD Genetics 

How Are Blue German Shepherds Made? 

The blue coloration of a blue GSD is determined at conception.

If a puppy’s parents each carry one recessive gene (lower case “d” as opposed to the dominant “D”) at the D locus, the site that determines if color will be full or dilute, and the puppy happens to inherit a “d” from both parents, he will turn out to be blue.

The “dd” combination suppresses the dominant, deep black color to varying degrees without removing all pigmentation entirely.

This suppression, or dilution, is expressed over the entire body wherever black would have been present, and no true black will be seen at all. 

Are Blue German Shepherds Born With Blue Eyes?

Like nearly all puppies, a blue GSD will have blue eyes at birth.

While most puppies will gradually change eye color, usually to a shade of brown, between the ages of 4 and 16 weeks, many blue German Shepherds will retain their pretty blue eyes throughout life.

This is not always the case, however. Some blue GSDs will transition to another eye color, though it is almost always lighter in shade than a non-blue GSD’s eyes.

Amber, green, gold and light brown are all possible, as are varying shades of blue.

Do Blue German Shepherds Have Blue Tongues? 

The tongue of a blue German Shepherd will be pink, though blue spots or splotches on the tongue are fairly common.

These patches of tongue color usually appear after the dog is fully mature and are often seen in herding breeds, such as Shepherds. 

The majority of the time, the spots are nothing to be concerned about as they are merely patches of extra pigmentation, but they occasionally could point to a serious health issue, such as oral cancer, so it’s worth getting checked out just to be on the safe side.

Is a Blue Bay Shepherd a German Shepherd?

A Blue Bay Shepherd may look quite similar to a blue German Shepherd, but Blue Bays are not pure German Shepherds. 

The Blue Bay Shepherd is a new breed still in the developmental stages.

The first litters were produced in 2011 from the pairing of wolf dogs to blue Old German Shepherd Dogs (different than today’s GSDs).

The hopes of the breeder behind Blue Bays was to produce a large breed dog with a wolf-like appearance, deep blue coloration, robust health, high trainability, gentle and affectionate disposition, and a loyal, eager-to-please nature.

Judging by the dogs produced thus far, she has been hugely successful in her endeavors.

You can read all about the Blue Bay Shepherd here.

Blue German Shepherd Size 

Because a blue German Shepherd is simply a purebred GSD who happens to have a rare coat color, a blue GSD will grow at the same rate and to roughly the same size as any other German Shepherd. 

Males typically are slightly taller and heavier than females.

The breed standard states that there should be definite differences between the sexes with males having a masculine appearance and females showing feminine features.

How Big Are Blue German Shepherd Puppies? 

At birth, blue German Shepherd puppies will weigh about 1 pound each, and by the end of their first week of life, their weight has usually doubled.

By the time they are ready to leave their first home at approximately 8 weeks old, males will weigh around 15 – 20 pounds and females should be between 10 and 18 pounds.

Fun fact: German Shepherd Dogs can have anywhere from one to 15 pups per litter, though the average is about 8.

How Big Are Fully Grown Blue German Shepherds? 

American Kennel Club Standards dictate that GSD males stand at 24 – 26 inches tall at the withers (highest point of the shoulder) and weigh between 65 and 90 pounds.

Adult female GSDs will be slightly smaller at 22 – 24 inches tall and weighing between 50 and 70 pounds.

Of course, some blue German Shepherds will not conform exactly to breed standards and my fall well below or far beyond these specifications.

The bulk of the growth will occur during the first year, especially in terms of height.

However, full size may not be reached until the age of 24 months, and some GSDs will continue to grow well into their third year of life.

Blue German Shepherd Temperament 

A blue German Shepherd exudes an air of confidence and dignity. If ever there was a dog of whom it could be said has strength of character, the GSD is it. 

Courageous and brave are words often used to describe a German Shepherd Dog, but this breed is so much more than that.

They are often reserved in their behavior and take their assigned tasks and roles seriously, but they can be playful at times as well. 

GSDs are incredibly intelligent and tend to remain watchful and alert at all times, rousing from sleep at the slightest sound.

It’s been said that these dogs can learn practically anything, so training is a delight and should continue through adulthood to satisfy their mental stimulation needs.

(See our Mental Stimulation Guide here.)

Once commands and jobs are learned, they will not easily be forgotten, and the desire to please their owners is evident in their obedience and eagerness to learn.

A certain aloofness is to be expected with this breed, but shyness should not be seen in well-bred GSDs.

They’ll be friendly, gentle, affectionate, and extremely loyal when it comes to their families, but when meeting new people, German Shepherds are typically quite reserved.

When push comes to shove, the German Shepherd won’t hesitate to bravely face danger head on, and they can be quite formidable when in protection mode.

Proper training and socialization are critical to ensure that aggression is only seen when absolutely necessary.

Be sure to check with our Complete Guide to Socialization (with included checklist) to ensure that you’re giving your dog all the experience he needs to be well adjusted, confident, and trustworthy regardless of the situation.

Overall, you can expect a blue German Shepherd to exhibit the same traits as any other GSD – a loyal, stable, obedient family dog with the capacity to defend loved ones when necessary.

Are Blue German Shepherds Friendly? 

When thoroughly and properly socialized as puppies with continual reinforcement provided into and through adulthood, blue German Shepherds will be quite friendly with their family and known acquaintances. 

However, this may not be the case when meeting new people.

Blue German Shepherds are not exactly unfriendly toward strangers, but they aren’t particularly outgoing either. 

A well-bred GSD will not be naturally hostile or aggressive, but aloofness is something the breed is noted for.

This is not a dog who will happily bounce up to a stranger, lick his hand, and fall on the ground for a belly rub. 

Rather than making the first move to befriend a stranger, a GSD is more likely to confidently remain still while allowing a stranger to approach and offer friendship. 

The attempts at offered friendship will likely be received with grace and dignity, but it may be quite a while before a blue German Shepherd views the newcomer as a special friend.

Once a firm bond has been established, however, a GSD’s loyalty is practically unsurpassed.

Are Blue German Shepherds Affectionate Dogs? 

With their families, blue German Shepherds are quite affectionate and loving.

They have a strong desire to be near their loved ones as much as possible and are usually quite gentle with children.

Some GSDs will enjoy cuddling, others may prefer to quietly remain by your side, and others may demonstrate their love through their unending devotion.

No matter the means by which they demonstrate their affection, make no mistake that a blue German Sherman is totally committed to his family and would stop at nothing to keep them safe.

However, they are typically slow to warm to strangers and will be rather aloof with those outside their close circle of friends and family.

Strangers should not expect to be shown any more affection than perhaps a polite wag of the tail in greeting.

Are Blue GSD Aggressive? 

A well-bred blue German Shepherd Dog should not be aggressive.

That said, any dog has the potential to be aggressive under certain circumstances.

Dogs who have been bred irresponsibly were not properly socialized when young, or who routinely suffer abuse may show signs of aggression, either spontaneously or after warnings have gone unheeded.

As a fiercely loyal dog, the blue German Shepherd may respond aggressively when a situation warrants it, such as whenever he feels his family is in immediate danger.

This is why GSDs are so valued as guard dogs. They will willingly put their lives on the line in order to protect and defend the ones they love.

Is a Blue German Shepherd a Dangerous Dog?

A blue German Shepherd who was bred responsibly, raised in a loving manner with plenty of training, and was socialized to a wide variety of people, situations, sights, sounds, and other animals should not be a dangerous dog by any means.

A blue GSD may look intimidating to those who don’t know him, but he should possess a stable, trustworthy, predictable temperament.

There is one considerable exception.

If you are an intruder or have bad intentions toward a blue German Shepherd’s family, then, yes, you should consider this dog to be dangerous.

Most GSDs won’t hesitate to do whatever is necessary to keep their home and family safe.

How Much Are Blue German Shepherd Puppies? 

Though prices can vary greatly, most blue German Shepherds cost between $1,500 and $3,000.

Those with impressive pedigrees may be closer to $5,000, and those from show-quality or protection-dog lines might be much more expensive.

On average, breeders will ask slightly more for blue-colored GSDs because they are not as common as the traditionally colored dogs.

Blue German Shepherd Cost (Adults) 

Adopting an adult blue German Shepherd will cost significantly less than purchasing a puppy… if you can find one up for adoption.

Shelter prices are cheapest with many only requiring a fee around $100. 

Breed rescues tend to charge more, often $400 or so, to cover the medical expenses and care costs while the dog was rehabilitating.

Sometimes breeders will offer for adoption an older blue German Shepherd who has aged out of their breeding program.

Usually, these older dogs will be priced under $1,000. 

Is a Blue German Shepherd a Good Family Dog? 

A blue German Shepherd can be a wonderful family dog.

GSDs are affectionate and gentle with all family members, tolerant and patient with children, and obedient once trained. 

Because they were originally bred to herd sheep, some blue German Shepherds may be inclined to corral or “herd” children during play.

Careful training, however, can prevent this from becoming an issue.

A blue GSD will naturally keep a watchful eye on all family members, alerting quickly to any perceived threat, and courageously defending loved ones if the need arises.

A German Shepherd Dog resting on the grass with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth.

However, a GSD will often form a particularly strong bond with one family member, usually the main caregiver.

Each member should be aware that this is a possibility and not a failure on their part. It’s simply how GSDs are wired, going back to their earliest working days.

A blue German Shepherd will do particularly well with active families who have at least one person at home frequently.

GSDs need plenty of daily exercise, at least two 30-minute periods of activity per day, but they also need companionship.

Being alone frequently may lead to loneliness and frustration issues, which often result in destructive behavior. 

Also, believe it or not, these big, brave dogs can struggle with separation anxiety just like smaller breeds can.

The less he is left alone, the better.

Are Blue German Shepherds Good With Babies? 

Generally, blue German Shepherds are very good with babies and small children, though supervision is always advised.

GSDs are quite intuitive by nature, and most seem to sense how helpless and defenseless babies are.

It is likely that little ones are viewed as full-fledged members of the pack who need extra protecting, so don’t be surprised if your blue GSD seems to keep a vigilant watch over any children and babies in the home. 

Are Blue German Shepherds Good With Small Dogs? 

Most blue GSDs will do quite well with small dogs, particularly if they have been raised together.

Stories and videos abound that feature a German Shepherd playing with or protecting a Chihuahua or other small dog.

Here again, socialization and training are critical.

Under-socialized or untrained GSDs won’t know how to respond appropriately to small dogs and may cause injury – either unintentionally or purposely.

However, a relationship is a two-way street.

Much will depend on the attitude and behavior of the little dog, and due to the size difference, supervision is highly recommended.

Are Blue German Shepherds Good With Other Dogs?

The majority of blue German Shepherds get along quite well with other dogs, provided that they have been correctly socialized and the other dogs display a friendly attitude.

Many GSDs live in multi-dog households with no problems whatsoever and are willing to make new canine friends when out in public. 

Because of their size and strength, care should be taken when meeting new dogs, just in case the situation becomes volatile. 

Are Blue German Shepherds Good With Cats?

Although blue German Shepherds still retain a strong herding instinct, many will live quite peaceably with pet cats, especially if they have been raised together.

However, all bets may be off if a stray cat dares to strut through the yard, and a chase may result, but this is typical dog behavior, and an obedient, well-trained GSD can be stopped easily before any harm is done.

Is a Blue German Shepherd a Good Guard Dog? 

As German Shepherds naturally possess guarding and protective tendencies, a blue German Shepherd can be an excellent guard dog.

Training will be required, of course, but the dog’s instincts make patrolling, standing guard, and keeping watch practically second nature.

If you’re not interested in a guard or protection dog, know that blue GSDs settle quite easily into the role of family watchdog as well.

They won’t hesitate to alert you whenever someone approaches the house or if they sense imminent danger in any form.

The rest of the time, they’ll be perfectly content to relax with the family and be a reliable companion.

Are Blue German Shepherds Easy to Train?

Thanks to their high intelligence, blue German Shepherds, like other GSD color varieties, train easily and are keen on pleasing their owners. 

German Shepherds were bred to work, and while you may not have a flock of sheep to herd, your GSD nonetheless needs a job to do.

Learning commands, new tricks, and simple tasks satisfies their need for work and you wind up with a well-behaved dog.

Considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds, a blue German Shepherd will catch on quickly to all kinds of training.

Housebreaking, basic and advanced commands, tricks, search-and-rescue work, assistant dogs, police and military work – you name it, a GSD can handle it.

Their versatility in terms of training is one reason they remain so popular today.

Consistency and reward-based training will yield the best results, and it will help if you’ve had at least some experience with dog training as this super smart breed will likely grow bored if you neglect to keep sessions challenging and interesting. 

Where to Find Blue German Shepherd Puppies for Sale 

Many German Shepherd breeders have at least one breeding dog that carries the recessive dilution gene, but remember, a pup must inherit one “d” from each parent, so blue puppies are still rare. 

Most breeders focused on producing show-quality GSDs will not breed specifically for the blue color as it is considered a serious fault, so don’t waste time checking with more high-end breeders.

However, some hobby breeders have fallen in love with the color and strive to produce blues consistently. 

The following list will get you started in your search for a blue GSD, though you should resign yourself to the likelihood of being placed on a waitlist until a puppy becomes available and that you may have to travel quite a distance to meet the breeder.

Also, be sure to check with the AKC Marketplace for German Shepherd breeders and available puppies.

Blue German Shepherds for Adoption 

Opting to adopt an older GSD is a wonderful, rewarding experience.

However, there are a few things to consider before you decide to adopt from a shelter. 

Sure, dogs are often placed in shelters because of a change in circumstances where the owner is no longer able to care for the dog.

More often though, German Shepherds are dropped at shelters due to behavioral issues. 

Granted, blame for any issues usually lies with the owner, but over time, these problems can become deeply rooted and difficult for the dog to work through.

Other dogs may have suffered abuse and/or neglect and may be full of fear or distrust.

Responsible shelters will not place an unstable dog into an adoptive home until issues have been overcome, but due to the pressures of overcrowding or tight budgets, some dogs may slip through the cracks. 

Be certain you are willing to face any challenges with your adopted GSD before committing to adoption.

If you’re a bit concerned about potential problems, adopting from a German Shepherd rescue organization may be a better idea, as they are better equipped to help troubled dogs and maintain higher standards for adoptable dogs.

How Do I Find a Blue German Shepherd Rescue? 

Due to the relative rare status of blue German Shepherds, you may have trouble finding a rescue who is ready for adoption.

However, there are always GSDs in other colors who would love a forever home, so go into your search with an open mind and try not to make a decision based solely on color. 

The first place to look is the American German Shepherd Rescue Organization (AGSRO).

While AGRSO doesn’t actually rescue Shepherds, they do provide funding and keep an updated list of GSD shelters by state, including contact information.

Is a Blue GSD Right for Me?

If you are interested in a truly gorgeous companion who will be somewhat aloof at times but playful too, will faithfully protect your home and family, train easily, and be quick to obey, then a blue German Shepherd may be your dream dog. 

A blue GSD will be strong, large, and formidable when fully grown and will need plenty of exercise and activity to be happy.

If you are confident that you can meet these needs on a regular basis, then this may be the ideal dog for you and your family.

Related Questions:

Why Is My German Shepherd’s Skin Blue?

It is perfectly normal for the skin to be blue wherever blue coat color is noted.

As with the coat, the blue skin coloration is the result of the dilution gene suppressing the black pigmentation, which causes either dark blue (almost black) or light blue (dusky gray) coloring to appear in place of the black.

What Is the Rarest Color of German Shepherd? 

While blue, liver, Isabella, gray, and white German Shepherds are rare, the panda German Shepherd is the rarest of them all.

The unique panda coloration, consisting of white markings over existing patterns, first appeared in the year 2000 and is the result of a genetic mutation.

Most often appearing as a white, black, and tan combination, the white pattern may also be found along with other colors, such as sable.

Image credits: Official German Shepherd LoversGerman Shepherds Rule, Bluebeargsdx, Sam Kennel, Spoiledshepherds, K9 Pines, Smek Shepherds Ckc, WINATY’s German Shepherds