Liver German Shepherds: Common Questions Answered

What is a Liver German Shepherd?

You are probably familiar with the German Shepherd dog- known worldwide for their intelligence and working ability, they were originally bred to herd and guard sheep. 

They are often used and are famous as police or military service dogs, guard dogs, or assistance dogs. In the right home they can also make good family pets. 

German Shepherd dogs are usually black and tan or sable in color, more recently the Liver German Shepherd has increased in popularity. They dogs are the same breed as the black and tan or sable variation, they have just inherited a different coat color.

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What does a Liver German Shepherd look like?

The Liver German Shepherd can be a liver color (dark brown) all over or they may be a mix of liver and tan or even liver and white. 

They may still have the well-known mask and saddle markings of the German Shepherd, but these will be brown instead of black. The skin around the eyes, the nose, paw pads, and lips will also be brown instead of black and often their eyes will be quite light in color. 

Other than the color, a Liver German Shepherd is no different from the German Shepherd.


9 - 15 years old


Liver, Tan, White


24 - 26 inches


up to 95lbs

exercise requirements:


grooming frequency:








good with children:


Where does the liver color come from?

Dogs inherit genes for coat color from their parents, 50% from their mother, and 50% from their father. Liver coloring is caused by a gene known as the B locus, the recessive form of which, blocks the development of black pigmentation. 

In order to produce a liver puppy, both parent dogs must carry and pass on at least one copy of the recessive B locus gene, meaning the puppy inherits two recessive genes. 

The parents may not be a liver color themselves, if they carry a recessive gene for one color along with a dominant gene for another, it is the dominant coat color that will show. However, they can still pass on the gene for the recessive coat color gene to their offspring. 

A liver-colored parent will have two copies of the recessive B locus gene and will definitely pass one of these on to their pups, whether the liver color shows up in the pups will depend on what genes they inherit from the other parent.

Are Liver German Shepherds rare?

Yes, Liver German Shepherds are quite rare, although they are becoming more popular with pet owners. They are rare because only parents with the right genetic combinations will result in puppies with the liver color. 

Although this may happen by chance, Liver German Shepherds are usually bred by a breeder with a good understanding of genetics as part of a targeted breeding program. 

The number of breeders doing this is limited as the German Shepherd breed standard does not consider the liver color (or other pale, washed-out colors) to be as desirable as the strong, deep colors of black and tan. 

Most breeders want to breed dogs that do well in competitions so will try to conform to the breed standard as far as possible.

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How does a Liver German Shepherd compare to an Isabella German Shepherd?

The Isabella German Shepherd is another color variation, even rarer than the Liver German Shepherd. 

Where Liver German Shepherds have rich chocolate brown as the predominant coat color, Isabella German Shepherds are a paler lilac color. Some Isabella German Shepherds have a silvery coat color. 

The nose, lips, paws, and skin around the eyes of the Isabella German Shepherd can vary from pink or liver to a bluish grey, but never black

The Liver German Shepherd and the Isabella German Shepherd are different color variations of the same breed, so they are the same in terms of build, temperament, health, and behavior. The only difference is in the color. This is true for all color variations in the German Shepherd.

Do Liver German Shepherds always have long coats?

The long coated Liver German Shepherd is certainly a beautiful dog. Like all color variations of the German Shepherd, they can also have long, medium, or short coats. 

Most German Shepherds have a thick undercoat, regardless of the length of their external coat. This means that they do shed and they will require regular grooming to keep in good condition.

Do Liver German Shepherds have any health problems?

There are no health problems that are directly associated with the liver coloration and the Liver German Shepherd is as healthy as all other German Shepherd dogs. 

If well cared for, they tend to be healthy and robust dogs but there are a few health problems that they may be more prone to. These include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Gastric dilatation volvulus
  • Diabetes
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Bladder stones
  • Hemophilia
  • Inherited eye diseases

Anyone considering buying a Liver German Shepherd puppy should talk to the breeder to make sure the parent dogs have had the relevant health tests and screening. 

Owners of German Shepherd dogs should be aware of common health problems and should look out for the symptoms. Like all dogs, Liver German Shepherds will need regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and parasite control to ensure they stay healthy.

What is the Liver German Shepherd’s temperament like?

Like all German Shepherd dogs, Liver German Shepherds are highly intelligent. This makes them very trainable and they excel at many dog sports and working activities. 

They can make good pets if their owners have a good understanding of the breed and ensure all their needs are met. 

German Shepherds are incredibly loving and loyal to their owners. They form close bonds and this can sometimes lead to them becoming overly protective of their family. They are known for being territorial and they have a tendency to patrol and guard their owner’s property. 

They are highly likely to bark when they hear someone approaching- this can be useful if you want to be alerted to potential intruders, not so useful if the FedEx guy wants to deliver a parcel. 

German Shepherds can be suspicious of strangers and need to be well socialized as puppies if they are to grow into confident, sociable adult dogs. 

Their owners also need to be aware that their tendency to be territorial and protective may need to be carefully managed. German Shepherds can have a calm and gentle temperament, but some can be quite lively and boisterous especially when young.

Are Liver German Shepherds good with children?

This will depend on their individual temperament. If a Liver German Shepherd has been raised with children and knows them well, then they can be great family dogs. However, if they are not used to children then they may become anxious around them. 

All dogs should be carefully supervised around children and should have somewhere in the home where they can escape from all the noise and activity. 

If you are looking to get a Liver German Shepherd as a family dog, look for a puppy from calm and confident parents. Ideally, the pup will have been raised in a home environment and will have been socialized with a variety of people, including children, from early on

What is the lifespan of a Liver German Shepherd?

The average lifespan of a Liver German Shepherd is 9-15 years old. A dog’s lifespan can be influenced by a number of factors. 

These include whether the dog has any inherited diseases, the size of the dog (larger dogs don’t tend to live as long), whether the dog has had good nutrition and healthcare, and whether the dog has had adequate exercise throughout its life. 

Dogs who have been allowed to become obese don’t tend to live as long. Stress is also an important factor and it is important to provide mental stimulation and keep stress to a minimum if you want to prolong your dog’s life.

How much exercise does a Liver German Shepherd need?

German Shepherds are active dogs and they do need a considerable amount of exercise, especially as young adults. It is important not to over-exercise young pups as this can affect their growth, take advice from your vet on this. 

Senior dogs may not require as much exercise as they did when younger but they will still need regular activity to keep them physically and mentally healthy. 

As a guide, adult German Shepherds will need a minimum of 2 hours of exercise every day. This should include a combination of lead walks, off-lead running opportunities, play, and training. 

German Shepherds often excel at activities that they can take part in with their owner- for example agility, working trials, obedience, scent work, and tracking. 

It is preferable to spread out their exercise and training throughout the day. If German Shepherds don’t get adequate physical exercise and mental stimulation they can develop behavior problems through frustration and boredom.

What are the nutritional requirements of a Liver German Shepherd?

Like all dogs, Liver German Shepherds require a good quality diet if they are to thrive. They need the right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber. 

This can be provided with a good quality commercial dog food- either wet or dry- with a high-quality protein source as the main ingredient. 

The amount of protein and calories a dog requires changes throughout its life so it is important to choose the right food for your dog’s life stage. 

Some owners prefer to prepare their dog’s food themselves- feeding meat and poultry, fruit, veggies, and sometimes carbs like potato or rice. It is vital to do this under the guidance of a canine vet or nutritionist to ensure all your dog’s nutritional needs are met.

Is the Liver German Shepherd recognised by the American Kennel Club?

Yes, a Liver German Shepherd can be registered with the American Kennel Club and can take part in AKC events and activities as a purebred German Shepherd.

However, although the Liver color is listed as a recognized coat color, the breed standard for German Shepherds specifies that stronger, richer colors are preferable to the paler Liver or Isabella.

How easy is it to buy a Liver German Shepherd?

It is not always easy to buy a Liver German Shepherd as they are so rare. They are not commonly found in rescue centers and only occasionally do Liver puppies appear in regular litters of German Shepherd dogs.

If you want to buy a Liver German Shepherd the best advice would be to find a reputable Liver German Shepherd breeder. Ensure the breeder has a good understanding of the genetics of the breed and has all parent dogs health screened. 

Meet both parent dogs if you can and ask the breeder as many questions as you can regarding how the puppies are brought up.

Suggested reading: How to find a reputable dog breeder

How much dog Liver German Shepherd dogs cost?

Because Liver German Shepherds are so rare, you can expect to pay a premium when a puppy becomes available. 

They tend to cost more than standard colored German Shepherds, with prices ranging from $500 to $1500 and even up to $2500 for an exceptionally well-bred puppy with sought-after bloodlines.

Do you find Liver German Shepherds in rescue centres?

It is uncommon for Liver German Shepherds to end up in rescue centers, although not impossible so it is worth keeping an eye out. 

You may find that German Shepherd rescue organizations occasionally have a liver dog that needs a new home. If you specifically want to rehome a Liver German Shepherd dog you could register your details with a rescue organization and ask them to contact you if one comes in. 

Pet adoption websites are also a good place to look. Search facilities enable you to view thousands of listings for dogs in need of a new forever home, and you can filter the results by breed, location, and age. There are also email alert options you can set up to notify you when new animals that fit your criteria become available.

Liver German Shepherds for rehoming are likely to be adolescent or adult dogs, it would be extremely unlikely to find a Liver German Shepherd puppy in a rescue center as they are so valuable and sought after.

Should I get a Liver German Shepherd Dog?

If you can meet the needs of a German Shepherd dog then they can be a great addition to a household. If you enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors and are prepared to spend time training and socializing your dog then the Liver German Shepherd could be perfect for you.

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