Home GSD Types & Mixes Liver German Shepherd: Highlighting Key Characteristics and Peculiarities

Liver German Shepherd: Highlighting Key Characteristics and Peculiarities

by David W.
Liver German Shepherd

Everyone knows that German Shepherds, also called Alsatians, are one of the most admirable and popular dog breeds in the world. Would you like to have one as your best home guard, friend, and companion? You are sure to encounter black and tan Shepherds as well as those with sable, solid black or white coats. However, what do you think about adopting a solid liver German Shepherd? Yes, it is quite rare, but such a dog looks amazing. 

Since German Shepherds are well-known for their intelligence, strength, and loyalty to their owners, you will get the best option. As for the color, it does not affect the pup’s characteristics at all. However, a liver GSD or, as it is sometimes called, a chocolate GSD, may not be recognized by some breed standards because they normally accept black and tan or black and red. So, if you want your pup to take part in competitions, this coloration of the coat may not be the best choice.

One more concern for new dog owners is that these dogs, like their counterparts of other colors, require a lot of regular exercises and mental stimulation to feel healthy and happy. So, if you are not ready to spend much time with your new friend, the breed may not be the best option.

Continue reading this article if you want to know more about this fascinating variety of German Shepherds and how to take care of them properly.

Liver German Shepherd History and Origin

A liver German Shepherd, like all other types of German Shepherd, originated in Germany in the late 19th century. Captain Max von Stephanitz became famous as a developer of this breed, and his aim was to create a versatile working dog that could successfully carry out a variety of tasks, for example, herding, protection, and law enforcement.

Nevertheless, the unusual coloration of this doggy did not appear from the very beginning. It was a result of a recessive gene known as the b or b allele that influences the production of eumelanin. This substance gives color to the skin and coat and is responsible for producing black or brown colors in dogs, horses, and mice. When the b genes from both parents meet, they produce liver, chocolate, or brown coloring instead of black. If only one of the parents has this gene, the dog will still be black. Such a mutated recessive gene can also be found in Spaniels, Weimaraners, and Labradors.

This German Shepherd dog variety is pretty rare and not too popular. The rarity is caused by two reasons. First, only several genetic combinations can cause this color, which is uncommon. So, a breeder can receive only one puppy of this color in a litter even if both parents have the gene or may not receive any. The second reason is that such Shepherds are not recognized by breed standards and reputable kennel clubs, so their winning prizes at dog shows is disputable. That is why breeders are not interested in propagating this coat color in litters. However, such clubs as the United Kennel Club (UKC), the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA), and even the American Kennel Club (AKC) have recently recognized this coloration. 

However, if you are a devoted enthusiast of uncommon dog colors who appreciates this unique appearance and the pet’s temperament and working abilities, you can opt for such an amazing doggy. Nevertheless, you should prioritize your pet’s health and suitability to your lifestyle if you want to have a great friend and companion. Don’t forget that regardless of the coat color, your potential pet will require proper care, training, and socialization to thrive.

Physical Characteristics of a Liver German Shepherd Dog

These German Shepherds can boast a unique appearance because of their coat color. It is rich and deep brown, sometimes with a hue of red or copper. You can encounter a solid liver German Shepherd or a doggy that has black marks on its ears, legs, and face.

As for the coat texture, it is normally medium-length and thick to protect an animal against severe and changing weather conditions. The hair can be straight or slightly wavy which provides a pup even more charm.

Liver German Shepherd puppy

The color is the only distinctive feature that makes this variety of GSDs different. All the other characteristics are exactly the same as in their traditional counterparts. This doggy has a muscular body and a strong athletic build with a wedge-shaped muzzle. Its ears are pointed and erect, and its tail is long and bushy. The animal has a broad chest and a powerful frame, with a straight back that is typical of a working line. 

As for their physical parameters, liver Shepherds are considered medium to large dogs. Males usually grow to 24-26 inches (61-66 cm) at the shoulders, while females are a bit smaller, standing 22-24 inches (56-61 cm) tall. The weight of an adult male is 65-90 pounds (29-41 kg), and females weigh between 50-70 pounds (23-32 kg).

All other physical characteristics are similar to German Shepherds of other colors. It is the color that makes this pup special and very beautiful. If you are an enthusiast of unusual colors in dogs, this pet is right for you.

Temperament and Behavior

The personality and temperament of these dogs are unique in some way. Like all German Shepherds, they are intelligent, loyal, and courageous. They also display strong protective instincts and can be great guards. In addition, liver GSDs are playful and joyous, which makes them cute companions for children. They are reserved for strangers but very affectionate to their owners. They can easily pick up on the slightest changes in their owner’s mood, so can provide ideal emotional support. These pets are also pretty adaptable to new conditions and environments, so they are a perfect choice for those families who often change their places and move to other locations. 

Liver German Shepherds are highly trainable, but they need a lot of attention, exercise, and socialization. If you are not ready to provide them with a lot of time and care, this variety may not be for you because, if not cared for properly, such a doggy can develop some behavioral problems. They can become aggressive if they feel that something can threaten them or their owners. Your pup can also suffer from separation anxiety when it does not see you for an extended time. It can become rather destructive and start digging and chewing if uncontrolled. You should pay attention to these issues while training your dog. Desensitization can help a lot.

Being untrained and excited, these Shepherds can be rather vocal, and excessive barking can become another problem. It can also be reduced by proper training and positive reinforcement. In addition, these pups can become fearful of new situations, objects, or people if they are not socialized. 

At their teenage age, these dogs can display dominant behavior and start snarling, growling, and biting. They want to behave like leaders of the household and their pack. 

Proper training, socialization, and positive reinforcement can help prevent and manage all these issues. You will need to start as early as possible. If you don’t know how to do it, it is better to work with a professional dog behaviorist or trainer.

Health Concerns and Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy

Like German Shepherds of other colors, these dogs can be prone to some common health issues. So, regular vet visits and monitoring for potential health conditions can be pretty helpful. You may also need to take a thorough look at the dog’s parents’ lineage to understand the risks of potential genetic issues.

Liver GSD

Here are some common conditions your liver-colored German Shepherd can be prone to. However, it does not mean that your pet will necessarily suffer from them. Most of them, even if they are genetically predetermined, can be prevented or managed via proper care and regular vet check-ups. So, here are the issues you must be aware of:

  1. Hip and elbow dysplasia: It is a mostly genetic condition that makes the bones rub against each other in the joints and lead to arthritis, pain, and stiffness. The risks are higher for dogs that are overweight or don’t receive enough exercise. 
  2. Degenerative myelopathy: It is a progressive degenerative disease that affects the spinal cord and leads to weakness, loss of coordination, and partial paralysis at an older age.
  3. Bloat: This is a life-threatening condition that affects dogs of large and deep-chested breeds. The stomach fills with air and twists. It does not allow for blood flow to this and other organs and can be fatal.
  4. Allergies: They can be provoked by various factors like dust or pollen, some foods, or other environmental and individual conditions. The dog may suffer from skin redness, itching, and swelling, and this condition can lead to severe skin infections.

Even if your liver Shepherd is absolutely healthy, it can be prone to eye disorders and different digestive issues. That is why it is vital to have a trusted veterinarian and schedule regular appointments with them. Proper nutrition, exercise, and preventive measures can also be helpful in reducing the risks of these conditions’ development. Consider buying a puppy from a responsible breeder who can provide you with a certificate of screening for the most common genetic issues.

You can also learn more about proper nutrition and preventive care. The main points to think about are the following:

  • feeding a balanced diet according to your dog’s age, weight, and activity level;
  • providing regular exercise with at least 30-60 minutes of walking, running, and playing games in a fenced yard per day;
  • learning more about good dental hygiene and practicing it in combination with appropriate chews and toys; 
  • preventing parasites like ticks, fleas, and heartworms by using high-quality medication recommended by your vet;
  • maintaining a proper weight and avoiding obesity because the latter can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and joint pain;
  • seeing a veterinary regularly since well-scheduled check-ups can monitor your dog’s health and catch the earliest signs of any issue;
  • socializing and training to control your pet’s mental health and well-being with the help of obedience classes and opportunities to socialize with other people and animals.

If you follow these tips, your beautiful German Shepherd will remain healthy and happy for all its life.


Providing your doggy with a balanced and highly nutritious diet is essential for all German Shepherds despite their colors. Choose high-quality food with mostly meat ingredients. Avoid artificial preservatives, by-products, and fillers. Take into account your pet’s age and activity level. Active dogs need more calories, and puppies need more nutrients.

If you buy dog food, pay attention to the feeding guidelines on the package that relates to age and weight. Always monitor your dog’s weight because the diet may need adjustments if your pup is underweight or overweight. A visible waist and easily felt ribs are signs of a healthy dog.

Liver GSD puppy

Make a distinct feeding schedule, giving preference to smaller meals instead of one large meal. Two times per day is optimal to prevent bloats and other digestive problems. Your German Shepherd also needs continuous access to fresh water.

Never feed your doggy with table scraps or human food. It can result in weight gaining and various digestive problems. You can talk to your vet if you don’t know which treats and products are individually appropriate for your pup. You should also consult a specialist if you want to switch to another type of diet. Be careful to do this gradually over a period of some days to prevent digestive issues.

Training and Care 

Training and socializing are important for all German Shepherds. Your doggy needs to learn basic manners and commands. You will also develop a stronger bond with your pet by training it. Socialization will help your dog feel secure with other dogs, people, and environments. 

Even if your liver GSD is intelligent and loyal, it can be destructive, aggressive, and badly behaving without appropriate training. Therefore obedience training is essential. Since German Shepherds are highly protective, they often become hostile to strangers and other animals. So, they need adequate socialization to become calmer and learn new experiences without excess anxiety. Thus, training and socialization are crucial in letting your pet thrive and feel happy.

Training Tips

Therefore, your liver German Shepherd is highly trainable and can enjoy mental stimulation and physical activity. You can follow these tips to make these qualities even more prominent.

  1. An early start: Ideally, you can begin socialization and positive reinforcement when your puppy is at least eight weeks old. Potty training is the first stage.
  2. Positive reinforcement: Treats, praise, and extra playtime work very well for establishing closer bonds between your pet and yourself. Never use punishments because they are counterproductive.
  3. Consistency: It is the main principle that involves using the same commands and rewards in similar situations by all the members of your family.
  4. Mental and physical stimulation: This can include such activities as fetch games, agility, and obedience training to help your doggy thrive.
  5. Short sessions: Because of short attention spans, the sessions should be frequent and short, for example, 10-15 minutes a few times per day.
  6. Socialization: It includes exposing your pet to various people, situations, and other animals starting from a very early age to reduce the possibility of fearfulness or aggression.
  7. Patience and persistence: You need to spend time and effort on training your liver Shepherds properly without giving up if you think that the progress is not fast enough.

You can avoid many mistakes and misunderstandings if you work with a professional dog trainer. They will develop a training plan that can meet your doggy’s individual needs and help you follow them.


Grooming your doggy is important for its health and well-being. Liver-colored Shepherds have a very dense double-layered coat. It is very active and a heavy shedder all year round. So, you need to brush it regularly to remove loose hair and avoid matting. You have to do it at least once a week or even every day during the shedding season. 

Long haired liver German Shepherd Dog

Frequent baths are not necessary. You can bathe your pup only if it is very dirty, or when an unpleasant odor appears. Then, you need a specific dog shampoo. Be careful about splashing water into its ears.

Another procedure that is important is nail trimming. Long nails can cause walking difficulties and discomfort. Utilize a special dog nail trimmer and cut the nails carefully not to injure your pup.

Dental care is also essential. It prevents gum disease and tooth decay. Provide your pup with dental toys and chews. Brush its teeth regularly after the consultation with your vet.


Your liver GSD is very active, and it needs a lot of exercise. Take it for quick walks or jogs several times per day. Your doggy will also require mental stimulation, so engage it in interactive puzzle games, obedience training, or agility. Your pup will also be grateful for such outdoor activities as swimming, hiking, or playing fetch. 

These dogs are very social, so they usually like playtime with their owners and other dogs. You will have to supervise and control it for more effective physical and mental stimulation. 

If you are not sure where to start or how to exercise your doggy properly, talk to a professional dog trainer or your veterinarian. They will help you meet your pup’s individual needs.


How much does a liver German Shepherd cost?

The cost of your liver Shepherd puppy can vary between $450 and $1,900, or even reach $2,500, depending on many factors, such as your breeder’s reputation, location, and experience. As well, it is influenced by the dog’s lineage, health, age, and current demand for such puppies. You can also consider adopting an adult dog from a shelter, and it can be a more affordable option.

How long do liver German Shepherds live?

The life expectancy of these dogs is almost the same as that of other German Shepherds. It is typically 9-13 years. However, it can vary depending on genetics, exercise, health, and diet. If you provide your pup with regular veterinarian check-ups and responsible care, it will live a longer and healthier life.

Are liver German Shepherds purebred?

Sure. These Shepherds are purebred. The liver color is caused by a recessive gene taken from both parents. This color is pretty rare in this breed, but your pup can still be registered with kennel clubs and organizations to participate in dog shows. However, you need to ensure that your dog is purebred by choosing a reputable breeder who can provide you with all the necessary documentation about the pedigree and health checks.

Final Thoughts

Therefore, the liver-colored German Shepherd is a purebred variety characterized by a liver coloration of the fur. It is a result of a recessive gene received by a puppy from both parents. These dogs live 9-13 years like other Shepherds, need proper care, training, and exercising, and require your time and effort to be healthy and happy. Purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder to avoid mistakes.

Before adopting this doggy, you need to carefully consider your time and conditions because it will require all your patience, dedication, and commitment to become your best friend and companion for life.

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