Can Purebred German Shepherds Have White On Them?


German Shepherds come in many different colors. There are even rarer all-white varieties. Some dogs are also known to have white markings. These white markings may cause the owner to wonder if they are purebred, as they are not typical. So, can purebred German Shepherds have white on them?

Purebred German Shepherds can have white on them. This is known as “white spotting.” It’s common for puppies to have small white markings on their chest, paws, or the tip of the tail, but they often disappear when they get their first adult coat. On rare occasions, the white markings will remain.

Despite many misconceptions, German Shepherds can have white on them and be from parents of the same breed (not mixed breed). This article will explore all about the white markings of purebred GSDs, different coat colors, and how to tell if your German Shepherd is purebred. Here’s a rundown of what we’ll cover:

Read on for more insights into German Shepherds with white markings!

Can German Shepherds Have White Markings?

German Shepherds can have white markings known as “white spotting” and refers to white areas on the dog, not necessarily spots. White markings tend to be determined by the genes on the S locus. They are caused when the dog’s skin cells can’t produce any pigmentso the fur becomes white. 

White spotting usually features on the German Shepherd’s extremities. The white areas tend to be at the tip of the tail, end of the muzzle, the breastbone, or paws. They occur when the cell’s pigment doesn’t migrate fully in the developing embryo. This is known as residual white. 

The white area is referred to as the “trim” pattern. The cause may be unknown or may be due to a minor illness in the mother. The below animated video goes into a ton of detail about white spotting. You may find it helpful as it explains it really well:

Dog Colour Genetics: White Spotting, Ticking, and Roan

Often, the white markings will blend into the dog’s adult coat. This transition occurs when the pup is around 4-6 months old and sheds his soft fluffy coat. This process can occur quickly or may take a few months. You may also see changes in the pattern.

My German Shepherd girl is definitely a purebred as she is from a leading UK breeder and is UK Kennel Club registered. Nonetheless, she had lots of white markings across her chest as a puppy, but these soon blended into her thick adult coat. Below is a picture of her at 3-months old.

German Shepherd Pup with White Markings on chest. Can German Shepherds Have White Markings?
My 3-month old German Shepherd “Willow”
showing off her white chest markings!

Can German Shepherds Have White Paws?

German Shepherds can have white paws. Just like a dog’s white chest markings, it’s also known as “white spotting” caused by the same locus S gene. The white coloring indicates an absence of pigment in the dog’s hair follicles or skin. It usually appears on the tips of the paws. 

The locus S gene, localized with the MITF gene, is associated with white spotting in dogs’ coats. This study determined that the variant was associated with one or more spotting patterns in many dog breeds, including the German Shepherd.

As far as paws are concerned, white spotting can occur on one paw, all four, or any combination.

What is a Panda German Shepherd?

Some German Shepherds have a lot more white markings than mere “white residual spotting.” These are known as Panda German Shepherds. So, what exactly are they?

Panda German Shepherds are purebred German Shepherds that exhibit a rare genetic mutation caused by the KIT gene. They tend to have symmetrical markings of white forelock, muzzle, chest, belly, collar, and the tip of the tail. The amount of white coloring can vary from dog to dog.

They are a typical looking German Shepherd, other than their color, and have the same temperament and traits.

The first-ever recorded Panda mutation occurred quite recently in a female GSD, in the year 2000. Although these dogs look like they have Irish spotting consisting of white muzzle blazes and Border Collie type markings, they are very different. This is due to being caused by the mutated dominant KIT gene. The gene causing Irish spotting is yet to be identified.

Check out the below short video to learn more about the Panda Shepherd;

Panda Shepherd – Facts and Info

The University of California, Davis campus, offers DNA testing for the Panda pattern. This allows German Shepherd breeders to establish if any white patterning is caused by the KIT gene mutation.

Can a German Shepherd With White Markings Be a Show Dog?

Black German Shepherd Puppy with white marking on chest. Can German Shepherds Have White Markings?

There are often misunderstandings about whether German Shepherds having white markings on them can enter dog shows. However, this is a difficult question and depends entirely on the breed standard of the individual country.

The AKC and CKC breed standard do not refer to dogs with white markings, and all-white German Shepherds cannot enter the conformation ring. In the UK, white GSDs and those with white markings are permissible but undesirable. The FCI doesn’t allow all-white dogs but allows those with small amounts of white on them.

Let’s take a look at the individual kennel clubs. Firstly, this is what the American Kennel Club breed standard says:

“The German Shepherd Dog varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified.”

AKC: German Shepherd dog

The white German Shepherd was banned from the conformation ring in the late 1960s by the AKC. However, they are still allowed to be registered as purebred. They are also still permitted to participate in events, such as herding trials, tracking, and obedience. I have a separate top article all about white German Shepherds that you may find interesting.

There is no mention in the American Kennel Club or Canadian Kennel Club breed standard of dogs with white markings. However, the consensus is inconspicuous white markings would not disqualify the dog from conformation.

The UK Kennel Club also recognizes the all-white German Shepherd, but state they are highly undesirable for conformation. However, the breed standard does refer to dogs having white on them:

“Light markings on chest or very pale colour on inside of legs permissible but undesirable.”

UK Kennel Club: German Shepherd

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (World Canine Organization) does not allow white German Shepherds. However, they also refer to dogs having white markings. They state, “Unobtrusive, small white marks on the chest, as well as very light color on insides, are permissible, but not desirable.”

What Colors are German Shepherds?

There are many varieties of coat color in the German Shepherd breed. These are the main ones:

  • Black
  • Black and Tan
  • Black and Cream
  • Black and Silver
  • Black and Red
  • Sable
  • Grey
  • White
  • Bi-color

Rarer colors are liver and blue.

How Can I Tell if my German Shepherd is Purebred?

If noticing white markings on your German Shepherd or when choosing a new puppy caused you to wonder if the dog was purebred, there are some other things you can look out for and do. So, how can you tell if your German Shepherd is purebred?

To tell if your German Shepherd is purebred, look at the dog’s physical characteristics and compare them to the breed standard. Common things to identify are the coat, build, height, length, ears, and tail. Also, look at the behavioral characteristics of the dog. Furthermore, you can get a DNA test.

When comparing your dog to the German Shepherd breed standard, examine him from top to toe. Here are the physical characteristics of the GSD:

  • Coat. Double-coated. There is a short-haired and a long-haired variety.
  • Build. This should be a strong proportioned build.
  • Height. 24-26 inches (60-65cms) for males. 22-24 inches (55-60cms) for females. These are approximate and can vary.
  • Weight. 65-90 pounds (30–40 kg) for males. 50-70 pounds (22–32 kg) for females. Again, these can vary.
  • Length. Longer than they are tall, the ideal proportion is 10 to 8.5.
  • Head. Noble, strong, with a masculine or feminine appearance, according to gender.
  • Ears. Pointed and erect. Check out this article, Why Do German Shepherds Have Pointy Ears?
  • Tail. Long and bushy.

Here are the behavioral characteristics of the German Shepherd:

  • High-energy
  • Intelligent
  • Loyal, protective, and brave
  • Form a strong bond with their owner
  • Aloof with strangers

If you are still unsure, you can arrange a DNA test to identify your dog’s breed. The Wisdom Panel 3.0 dog DNA testing kit (from Amazon) checks for more than 350 dog breeds. The test is a simple cheek swab that you can do at home.

Final Thoughts

Don’t worry if your purebred German Shepherd has white markings. They add character, and many will disappear or blend in with the adult coat.

Inconspicuous areas of white are considered okay for a conformation show.

German Shepherds can also have random white hairs on their muzzle and ruff, especially as they get older, a bit like you and me!

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Sources:

Sharon Waddington

I am the owner of World of Dogz. I have a 5-year-old female German Shepherd named "Willow" and I've worked with dogs for almost 30 years. I love spending time with my dog and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise of all things dogs on this site!

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