The Blue German Shepherd and the Liver German Shepherd are stunning dogs to see and a very natural part of the purebred German Shepherd. They have been around since the beginning of the breed, although they are currently disqualified in most show rings due to the technicality of their nose leather not being "black". This discrimination in the show ring has no real foundation or reason, other than ignorance or personal preference. The color does NOT affect the overall health or temperament of a German Shepherd, health and temperament depends on good responsible breeding practices.
Blue is a dilution gene in the GSD, diluting all black fur and skin pigment to a gray or blue color, and located at the "D locus". This is the same gene found in many other breeds such as Dobermans, Chihuhuas, Dachshunds, etc. They typically start out very light and obvious as puppies, but most adults become very dark almost unable to tell them apart from their traditional black counterparts. There are variations within the blue German Shepherds, some are very dark often called "steel blues" and some are very light gray often called "powder blues". At this time it is not identified how to control or produce a specific shade of blue.
Liver in GSDs, is the same gene responsible for Chocolate Labradors and other chocolate variations in some breeds, located at the "B locus". It controls the amount of pigment in the hair shafts. Liver German Shepherds also have varying shades in their coat, from a very dark chocolate color to a brigh red or cinnamon shade.
Both the blue and liver gene in the German Shepherd are "recessive" genes, meaning to be produced, the puppy must recieve one copy of the gene from EACH parent. Many traditionally colored German Shepherds carry one copy of blue or liver to pass on to their pups, but you cannot tell which traditionally colored dogs may carry these genes by looking at them. BLUE or LIVER does NOT affect the look or color or coat pigment or skin pigment of tradtionally colored German Shepherds!! There are however, lab companies who can test dogs to see if they carry the blue and liver recessive genes.
Due to the fact that the blue gene and liver gene are located at different loci on the chromosome of German Shepherd DNA, any one dog can carry for both blue AND liver at the same time. Additionally, any dog can have TWO copies of the blue gene and TWO copies of the liver gene at the same time, thus showing the coat color of an Isabella German Shepherd, which some may refer to as a "double dilute". This same isabella color occurs in Dobermans, Dachshunds, Chihuhuas, Border Collies, Weimeraners, and many other breeds.
HOW TO FIND A BREEDER
First of all, I must say, occasionally we do see beautiful blue and liver German Shepherds in dog shelters and German Shepherd breed rescues around the country. It is always a good thing to save a life and give a dog a second chance, if you are only wanting a companion.
However, some people choose to go to a breeder for various reasons: they want to start with a puppy, or they want to be sure they have a healthy dog with a good temperament, or they may want to produce litters themselves someday. At this time, there still are not many breeders within North America who are purposely breeding to produce blue or liver German Shepherds. But they are out there!
Recommendations for finding a reputable breeder are the same for ALL COLORS of German Shepherd, be it a blue German Shepherd, liver German Shepherd, Panda German Shepherd, long-coat or long haired German Shepherds, or any other color or coat length be it rare or common. Do a lot of research on various breeders, ask them many questions. You should be able to interview your breeder, just as they should be interviewing you.
- Be sure their dogs and puppies are AKC registered.
- Be sure their pups are vet checked before being sold, including a good heart check with a stethoscope.
- Ask to see testimonials from other buyers and/or references.
- Be sure they have their adult breeding dogs' hips and elbows xrayed and evaluated by the OFA, OVC, PennHIP, and/or BVA, to reduce occurances of hip and elbow dysplasia in their offspring. This is widely accepted as the bare minimal health checks required by responsible German Shepherd breeders, before producing litters.
- Ask what other health clearances they may do on their breeding stock (it could include OFA heart certifciation, Degenerative Myelopathy DNA test, MDR1 drug sensitivity DNA test, CERF eye test, and many others).
- Chat with the breeder about what dog events and training they may participate in and title their breeding stock in: such as conformation shows (breeding stock would be show "Champions"), obedience or rally, agility, tracking, Schutzhund, herding, or even real work such as Search & Rescue (SAR) or drug detection.
- Be sure to read the breeder's written contract & health guarantees BEFORE agreeing to purchase their puppy. Good breeders offer guarantees against crippling genetic diseases, including crippling hip and elbow dysplasia, for at LEAST two years after you purchase your pup, some even guarantee against genetic diseases for the dog's entire LIFE. Stay away from breeders who only guarantee the health of the puppy for a few days, or even only for 1 year, most genetic diseases do NOT show up within the first year of life!
- Make sure your breeder will allow you to come to their property or home to visit if you choose to do so! Or if you are unable to visit, the breeder should at least be willing to show you recent photos of their home and property where the pups and their breeding dogs are kept and raised.
- You may also ask the breeder if they are inspected and licensed by their county or state, and what is involved within those inspections. Note, not all states may inspect or license dog breeders, but this is just another topic that COULD be discussed.
- If you are unable to see your pup and the parents in person due to distance, ask to see photos and descriptions of the parents and pups available, including description of temperament & personalities.
- Ask to see a pedigree of at least 3 generations for the puppy(ies) available. It should include all information about ancestors OFA/OVC/PennHIP/BVA hip and elbow clearances, as well as any other Championships and titles.
- You should also feel free to ask for documentation of the parent's hip & elbow evaluations, and titles or championships. A responsible breeder would have no problem providing proof of any information you may ask for. For OFA certified German Shepherds, you can search for them yourself in the public OFA database online, you would need the dog's registration number or full registered name to search for them: http://www.offa.org/search.html Note, dogs with OFA prelims or failing scores may not appear in the database but ALL dogs with PASSING official OFA scores WILL appear in the online database.
- Do not be afraid to buy from a breeder far away, as long as you do your research and feel comfortable that it is a responsible breeder, it would be fine to have a puppy shipped to you via airline or ground transportation. Being that there are so few breeders of blue and liver German Shepherds, this may be necessary for you to get a good quality puppy from a good breeder and good bloodlines.
Kerstone Shepherds - http://www.kerstoneshepherds.net/
Loujuan Shepherds - http://loujuangsd.net/
Sprague's Shepherds - http://www.spraguesgsd.com/
Phenom Shepherds - http://www.pandashepherds.com/
Bahr-S Shepherds - http://bahrsshepherds.com/
Furrari Shepherds - http://www.furrarikennels.com/
German Shepherd Dog Club of America - http://www.gsdca.org/
American Kennel Club - http://www.akc.org/
United Kennel Club - http://www.ukcdogs.com/
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - http://www.offa.org/
DDC DNA testing - http://www.vetdnacenter.com/canine.html
PennHIP - http://research.vet.upenn.edu/pennhip/
Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) - http://www.caninehealthinfo.org/
Blue German Shepherd, sable, Questa von der Graf
Liver German Shepherd, sable, Draco vom Bettendorf, OFA Good Hip & Elbow prelims, MDR1 normal/normal, URO1 UKC rally titled.
Blue & Tan longcoat German Shepherd, Kerstone's Blue Christmas, OFA prelims "Presley"
Liver & Tan German Shepherd, Legacy's SteelCross Tora Tora Tora, OFA Good Hip & Elbow prelims, MDR1 normal/normal