They say a German Shepherd will never disappoint you. One moment, they are relaxing in their master’s lap, and the next minute, they are working tirelessly side by side for hours on end.

Truly the delight of dog lovers, Liver German Shepherds are devoted, loyal, amazingly beautiful, unique, agile, and protective…you name it!

And for some of you who don’t know about the origin, traits, and other features of the rare Liver German Shepherds, this article is going to fill you in.

What is a Liver German Shepherd?

A Liver German Shepherd is a color variation of the German Shepherd dog (GSD) that has a unique liver- or tan-colored coat; amber, reddish-brown, or light brown eyes, and either brown or pink lips. Their color variations include solid brown, liver and tan, or liver and even white. Not only the brown color appears on the skin, lips, and eyes, but also on the nose (brown or pink), footpads, eye rims, and nose.

In a liver-colored GSD, all the areas that appear black, tan, or red in other GSD varieties turn to a shade of brown. Therefore, their coat comes in different combinations, ranging from a light brownish color to a darker one that looks reddish.

Besides color, every other aspect of these liver dogs is similar to standard German shepherd varieties.  It’s because their color variant genes only affect the appearance of the coat/fur and not the other qualities, such as intelligence, behavior, health, coat patterns, and energy levels.

Liver German Shepherd Puppies

Liver German Shepherd puppies are born black but change to tan color when they are about 6 months old. In some cases, puppies have liver-colored fur and skin, green or blue eye color, white toenails, and pink footpads.

Similarly, when they are 6 months to 2 years old, the sable color may become lighter or darker. Afterward, the color won’t change for the rest of your dog’s life.

Generally, Liver German Shepherds come in 3 main color variations:

  1. Liver and tan
  2. Liver and white
  3. Solid liver

Talking about other features of a Liver Shepherd puppy, in the first week, their weight doubles its birth size; and after two weeks, they weigh around 16 to 19 lbs. Later on, with each month for the first 12 months, these puppies will gain 5 – 10%.

What Causes the Liver Color in a German Shepherd?

The liver color in the German Shepherd breed is caused by the recessive gene called ‘B locus’ or the liver gene.

A GSD puppy gets liver color when both of its parents possess at least one B locus gene. This gene is then transferred to the puppy in its DNA material.

Sometimes, it’s also possible that neither of the puppy’s parents is liver colored, but still they both have the liver recessive gene. This gene stays in their chromosomes but doesn’t dominate other genes, which is why it doesn’t change color.

However, there is a good chance that the gene will get dominant in the puppies, changing their color. The liver gene is transferred down from the parent dog to the small puppy. Apparently, the material is a natural gene that is found in the gene pool.

Dogs possess different locations in their chromosomes where some of the genes are dominant while others are dormant. Now, when the recessive B locus gene dominates the black color gene, the coat color becomes liver

The liver color is also referred to as dilute liver color. This means that the black color in the standard German Shepherd is diluted, and the GSD appears to be browner.

Therefore, you can have:

  1. Solid liver
  2. Bi-color liver
  3. Sable liver
  4. Liver and tan saddle back

How Long Do Liver German Shepherds Live?

The Liver German Shepherds have an average life expectancy of between 9 to 13 years, the same as other German Shepherds. Research shows that the German Shepherds’ lifespan is up to 11 years, whereas another study confirmed this with a 10.95 years median.

However, you can increase the life expectancy by taking care of their health and adopting from reputable dog breeders that have screened the puppy for all the diseases and have an AKC certification for the dog.

That said, the longest that a Liver German Shepherds has lived is 18 years.

Are Liver German Shepherds Purebred?

Yes, they are purebred. Other than color, the Liver Shepherd breed has similar features to all other pure dog breeds.

They have muscular and sturdy working bodies and are often trained for agility sports, sniffing, searching, and other purposes in law-enforcement agencies.

Why is the Liver German Shepherd Rare?

Liver German Shepherds are known as one of the rarest German Shepherds because of the strict conditions under which they come into being. In order to have a Liver German Shepherd, its parents both need to have at least one liver gene.

They are also rare because the AKC guidelines seem to be confusing about the Liver German Shepherds, and therefore, reputable breeders are not much inclined to breeding them, which makes these dogs quite rare and expensive as well. So, if you want a liver GSD, you will have to search for one and pay a higher price.

Does AKC Recognize Liver German Shepherds?

Yes, AKC recognizes Liver German Shepherd.

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

This statement means that if the liver GSD has a solid liver color, then the AKC will recognize it. Following is the list of standard colors the American Kennel Club accepts German Shepherds in.

Are Liver German Shepherds Prone to Health Problems?

Bred under the conducive environment of Germany, German Shepherds are generally healthy dogs. Talking specifically about Liver German Shepherds, though they have a recessive gene that changes their color, it doesn’t affect their health.

Therefore, they have the same health issues that a standard German Shepherd is prone to. Though they are healthy, there are some common health issues that a GSD can have.

Some of them are:

  1. Bloat
  2. Hemophilia
  3. Epilepsy
  4. Musculoskeletal issues
  5. Corneal dystrophy
  6. Aortic stenosis
  7. Hip dysplasia
  8. Pericardial effusion
  9. Degenerative myelopathy

Following is the list of the diseases that are primarily accounted for deaths in this breed.

Cancer37.1 %
Bloat Or Gastric27.6%
Old Age And Other16.5%
Kidney Failure8.2%
Immune Mediated Disease7.6%
Addison’s Disease5.9%
Heart Disease And Stroke3.5%

If they are properly cared for, they will live a disease-free life.

Now that we are discussing the causes of death of German Shepherds, we’d mention the German Shepherd of Joe Biden that died in the year 2021 because of age. The dog had lived for 13 years and at that age started to exhibit muscle weakness, lethargy, and loss of weight.

Are Liver German Shepherds Family Dogs?

Yes, Liver German Shepherds are good family dogs. Belonging to the herding group, these dogs are used to living in packs and staying near to their owners. In addition, Liver German Shepherds are loving, loyal, and protective dogs that get along with kids easily. They often get attached to the lady of the house just like any other German Shepherd dog.

Although the B locus gene affects their coloration, it does not affect temperament, behavior, or any other GSD characteristics.

Are Liver German Shepherds Hypoallergenic?

No, Liver German Shepherds are not hypoallergenic. Just like standard GSDs, they are also heavy shedders, and you’d see their hair here and there more often.

Does The Color of Liver German Shepherd Change With Age?

Yes, Liver German Shepherd dogs will change their coat color consistently from the time they are born until they are adults—about 2 years old. A color change is the most noticeable in the first 8 weeks after birth. And after the age of two years, these dogs stop changing their color. 

Where Can I Get a Liver GSD Puppy?

You can get a Liver German Shepherd puppy from any reputable breeder. However, we advise you that before adopting a puppy, make sure that the breeder has all the relevant data regarding the development of the breed.

Importantly, the breeder should provide you the pre-test result as per the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) guidelines.

According to the CHIC, all GSDs puppies should be tested for the following:

  1. Hip dysplasia
  2. Autoimmune thyroiditis
  3. Cardiac issues
  4. Eye problems
  5. Temperament test
  6. Elbow dysplasia
  7. Degenerative myelopathy

Pros and Cons of Owning a Liver German Shepherd

They are great watch dogsThey shed a lot of hair
Highly intelligentRequire time and attention
Easy to trainHave high food requirements
Require minimal bathingHave a dominant nature
Attractive in appearanceRequire more physical exercise
Good family dogsHave a high need for socialization and stimulation
Good protection dogs and have a strong bite force and running speed. 

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