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Are Black German Shepherds Aggressive? Solving the Myth

Last Updated: December 10, 2023

As a new dog owner and with your dog breed choice set for the mighty German Shepherd, your next crucial decision is most likely your future furry friend’s coat color. You think that the solid black German Shepherd is elegant, but you’ve heard horror stories about the aggressiveness of all-black German Shepherds. So, are black German Shepherds aggressive?

Black German Shepherds do not have a natural inclination to aggression. They are smart, friendly, and loyal dogs like other coat color German Shepherds. If a black German Shepherd is aggressive, the breed’s natural prey drive has not been tamed with training, and that’s not a dog coat color issue.

Unfortunately, dog owners are often misled by unfounded myths regarding the black German Shepherd’s temperament. In this article, I’ll tell you all you need to know about black German Shepherds and resolve the black German Shepherd aggression myth for you.

Let’s get started!

A Black German Shepherd Lying in the Grass. Are Black German Shepherds Aggressive?

Why Are Some German Shepherds Solid Black?

Some German Shepherds have a solid black coat color because they inherit a dominant black coat color gene from both of their parents. The black coat is the phenotype or the physical representation of the genetic code for coat color that they receive from their parents.

Despite the wide variation you see in dog coat color, only two basic pigments determine the color of canine coats. The Eumelanin pigment is responsible for the black color, while the Pheomelanin pigment is responsible for the red color.

However, gene activity affects the intensity, distribution, and variation in these pigments on your dog’s coat. This is why you’ll see German Shepherds with other colors and color patterns different from black and red. 

But all these colors have red and black as basic colors, and genes manipulate and dilute them to create coat color variations.

Genes have physical locations or DNA sequences that are known as loci (singular locus). The K-locus (Dominant black) is responsible for your solid black German Shepherd. 

Genes also have variants known as dominant or recessive alleles. A dominant allele overrides a recessive allele when it comes to phenotype or the physical representation of a genetic code, such as coat color.

Because genes are passed from parents to the offspring, your black German Shepherd dog needs both parents with one or two dominant black coat color alleles to turn solid black.

As an example, if we use ‘K’ to represent a dominant black coat gene and ‘b’ to describe a recessive brown coat gene, this is what could happen:

Case 1

Diagram showing dominant alleles in dog coat color genetics

In case 1, one German Shepherd parent carries two dominant alleles for black coat color and the other one dominant allele for black coat color and one recessive allele for brown coat color. Even if both parents had a single dominant allele for a black coat and a recessive allele for brown, they could still produce an all-black German Shepherd.

Case 2  

Diagram showing dominant alleles in dog coat color genetics

In case 2, both German Shepherd parents carry two dominant alleles for black coat color. As you can tell from the ongoing, there is no mention of temperament control by dog coat coloration genes. 

We can now use coat color genetics in dogs to understanding to explore our main question: Are black German Shepherds dangerous and aggressive?

Watch Our Video On Black German Shepherds…

Are Black German Shepherds Aggressive?

Black German Shepherds are not aggressive. There is no conclusive scientific evidence suggesting that a dog’s coat color determines its tendency to aggression. And the black German Shepherd is no exception. 

Studies that have tried to find out whether coat color predetermines dog aggression have reported diverse outcomes. 

For example, a study among Australian Labrador retrievers found no difference in aggression between chocolate, black, and yellow Labradors. However, an earlier study in Spain found that solid color (blonde and black) English Cocker Spaniels were more aggressive than multi-colored dogs. 

In science, outcomes must be consistent in multiple studies with similar subjects (in our case, dogs) to be considered conclusive. And that’s not the case here. 

In fact, the mentioned studies both found that owner-related factors were more conclusive predictors of dog aggression and not the coat color. These factors include:

  • Lack of training
  • First-time dog ownership
  • Spoiling your dog

So, why are black German Shepherds considered an aggressive breed if this has nothing to do with their coat color? Is it a myth or the truth?

Black German Shepherd. Are Black German Shepherds Bigger?

Black German Shepherds Are Aggressive: Truth or Myth?

The perception that German Shepherds are aggressive is a myth primarily created from using German Shepherds in aggressive dog roles in movies and films and as military or police dogs.

Films like the 2017 Megan Leavey, where a German Shepherd Rex acts as a military dog, even have statements alluding to the German Shepherd’s aggressiveness (“He’s the most aggressive dog I’ve ever treated”).

Specifically, the striking color of the black German Shepherd, coupled with its large breed size, often receives social attention and negative attitudes from people who may associate its physical features with aggression. 

If these attitudes happen together with confrontational or fleeing behavior, they can elicit aggression in black German Shepherds. But that happens with dogs from any breed; they can get aggressive when people behave in certain ways toward them.

Some other myths exist about the breed. However, to get all the facts, head here, Black German Shepherds: 9 Cool (Important) Facts You Didn’t Know!

As earlier stated, however, black German Shepherds are intelligent, courageous, and loyal dogs, just like the standard black and tan German Shepherds or those of other colors. 

Check Out These Cute Black GSD Puppies…

Black German Shepherd FAQs

These three commonly asked questions will come in handy to complete your knowledge of the rare black German Shepherd Dog.

Are Black German Shepherds Bigger?

There is no information from kennel clubs or German Shepherd clubs that suggests the black German Shepherd is larger than other coat color variants of the breed. 

Despite this, you will read info suggesting that the black German Shepherd dog is one to two inches (2.5 to 5.0 cm) larger than German Shepherds of other colors.

That would mean that males will grow to be 26 to 28 inches (66.0 to 71.0 cm), different from the standard 24 to 26 inches (61.0 to 66.0 cm). Females will grow to be 24 to 26 inches (61.0 to 66.0 cm), different from the standard 22 to 24 inches (55.8 to 61.0 cm). 

But as already said, these size differences are not corroborated by the German Shepherd breed standards.

Are Black German Shepherds Good Family Dogs?

Black German Shepherds are good family dogs, though you will not find them in lists of the top ten best family dogs. They love to be around the family, and their friendly and eager-to-please qualities will make them good companions. 

Like all other dogs in the breed, black German Shepherds are loyal, and their protective instinct will make them do anything to defend their family members.

Read More: 10 Reasons Why Black German Shepherds Are Good Family Dogs.

As excellent guard dogs, black German Shepherds can be unfriendly and standoffish with strangers. However, they will extend the friendliness they show to family to strangers with proper socialization and training.

Do Police Use Black German Shepherds?

According to the National Police Dog Foundation, police use black German Shepherds, as well as other K-9 German Shepherds with other coat colors, including black and tan, black and red, sable, or black with tan markings. Also, these German Shepherds can have long or short hair.

During my policing career, I loved seeing black dogs perform their duty. This color is definitely on my list for my next pup. You can read more on my About Us page.

Final Thoughts

Social myths about dog breeds are beliefs people have about these dogs that are unfortunately unfounded. Such is the myth about black German Shepherds’ aggression. 

If you’ve heard about this myth and are wondering if black German Shepherds are dangerous, go by the facts and give this friendly, smart, loyal, and eager-to-please dog a chance. 

You’ll be surprised at how great family dogs black German Shepherds can be. Because, as a matter of fact, coat color does not determine dog aggression.

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Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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