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The Sables
 Margit Van Dorssen

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The sable Shepherd
"A museum piece"?

Especially in the southern European countries the sable shepherd is not particularly popular, especially among breeders of the so called Show Lines. I cannot tell you why this is so. Still, I would like to try to get rid of some of the prejudices. My aim is not to turn every reader of these lines into a passionate fan of sable dogs in half an hour. I want to try to explain, in an understandable way, why and how to use the hereditary qualities of the sable dog in your breeding program in a sensible and clever way

Before getting to the actual point, here is a little theory first.

Under the chapter characteristics of the German Shepherd dog we find the following descriptions of the permitted colors:

Black with red-brown, brown, yellow to bright gray marks. Black uni-color, gray, darkly clouded over, black saddle and mask. Inconspicuous, small, white chest marks, as well as bright colored insides are allowed but not desired. The nose has to be black for dogs of all color variations. Missing mask, bright or even piercing color of the eyes as well as light or whitish marks on the inner sides, bright claws and a red tip of the tail are to be assessed as pigmentation weakness. The under-wool shows a light gray color. The color white is not permitted.

I donít want to get deeper into the genetic basics of these colors. This can be studied in publications like for example "Schleger". In this article I will refer to the black and yellows, black and reds or black and browns as black and brown to keep things simple. The sable color is described differently from different points of view.

All of the following variations are to be considered as "sable", whereby more or less bright cheeks and bright inner marks all count to this "sable".

Sable color

  • Gray (Wolf)
  • Gray-black
  • Black-gray
  • Gray-brown
  • Gray-yellow
  • Gray, darkly cluoded over
  • Gray clouded, mask
  • Dark gray, mask
  • Gray, brown-black clouds
  • Gray-brown with black marks on the legs and toes
  • Gray, brown marks on the head and legs, mask
  • Dark gray, dark line on the middle of the back (Aalstrich)
  • Middle gray
  • Bright gray
  • Pale gray  

Up to middle gray all variations are desirable and not to be penalized, except for bright cheeks and pronounced paleness on parts of the legs.

Ork von Arlett

Trying to diversify these color variations will probably lead to many different opinions-as far as the descriptions is concerned. The official, listed variations of the sable color can be found on the German pedigree. Original color categorization made when the dog is tattooed often seems to be incorrect when you see this dog three years later.

Timo vom Berrekasten

An Example:

The gray-bright yellow dog with a dark line on the middle of the back has turned into a deep dark-gray-brown dog. And vice versa, the dark-gray-brown dog has turned into a gray-yellow dog.

This development, which at first sight is not evident, (seems hard to believe) is not so rare after all.

It is certain, that as a rule of thumb, a sable develops his final color up till the age of three.

Ursa von Arlett (10 Monate)

Ursa von Arlett (5 Jahre)



Plato von Arlett (9 Monate)

Plato von Arlett (2,5 Jahre)