Black German Shepherds are a relatively new breed on the block. These were introduced into the mainstream American market in the 1930s, courtesy of Ernie Loeb, long known as Mr. German Shepherd for his pivotal in importing the breed from then-Nazi Germany. Today, all black GSDs can be traced back to one of Loeb’s imports – Bernd vom Kallengarten with its solid black gene.
Three Reasons for the Name
Unlike other dog breeds, the reasons for assigning the name of black German Shepherds is as clear as day. First, these dogs are so named because of their all-black coloration from the tips of their pointy ears to the ends of their bushy tails.
Second, the German part of the name attests to their German origins. Two Germans were notable in bringing the breed to the attention of the world so much that, today, these are one of the most recognizable and most registered dog breeds in the world. The first German was Max von Stephanitz who founded the Society for the GSD, thus, establishing the breed as a distinct one. The second was Ernie Loeb who imported the abovementioned progenitor of all black GSDs.
Third, these dogs were originally bred in ancient times, records put it as early as the 7th century, as working dogs tasked to herd sheep and assist shepherds in the fields. Thus, the term shepherd in the name has value even today although other tasks have been found for them ranging from household pets to guard dogs and military dogs.
And that’s how black GSDs came to be called by their present-day names.
German Shepherds come in a variety of colors aside from the solid black. The most common of these colorations are the combination red/black and tan/black, both of which have black masks as well as black body markings.
Other color variations include all-white, sable, liver and blue. Take note that in show dog competitions, all-white Shepherds are disqualified while the liver and blue varieties are deemed serious faults in the dog. The black Shepherds are considered highly acceptable in said competitions.
Change of Names
German Shepherds were not always called by said name. Max von Stephanitz was the first person to name the breed as such by virtue of the founding of the Society for the German Shepherd Dog with Horand as the society’s first dog on its register. The English name was the literal translation of the breed’s German name of Deutscher Schaum ferhunde.
During World War I, however, the term “German” was dropped from the breed’s name because of fears that it would stir up anti-German feelings, which were very high in that era. As such, the breed was renamed the Alsatian wolf dog for the French region as well as for its wolf-like appearance.
Eventually, the term wolf dog was dropped from the name because of the negative connotations and the breed was called simply Alsatian for the next 50 years. It was only in 1977 when black Shepherds were once again called by their names for registration purposes.
No matter the name, however, black German Shepherds remain to be one of the most popular dogs because of their intelligence, loyalty and innate abilities.