How Can You Tell If a German Shepherd Is Purebred: DNA and Other Methods

Getting ready to buy a German Shepherd puppy, but have doubts about how to choose a purebred? That’s right, not every pedigree seller is to be trusted. How Can You Tell If a German Shepherd Is Purebred is our topic today.

A total of three methods of verification can be identified: they are character, appearance, and genetics. Let’s go over them all one at a time.

How Can You Tell If a German Shepherd Is Purebred: DNA and Other Methods

Traits of Purebred German Shepherds

There are many reasons why German Shepherds stand in the front rank of canine royalty, but experts say their defining attribute is character: loyalty, courage, confidence, the ability to learn commands for many tasks, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones.

About the Breed, AKC

GSD character and behavior

According to the breed standard, German Shepherds are highly intelligent, loyal and devoted to their owner. They are also calm and obedient.

The peculiarity of purebred German Shepherds is considered to have developed protective instincts, so they can be wary of strangers, although they do not show aggression unreasonably. The owner is put above all else and may even sacrifice themselves for him.

Purebred German Shepherds do not really like loneliness, although they tolerate it calmly, and need attention, active games and long walks. They are well trained, so they quickly learn new teams.

A girl touching the teeth of a German Shepherd

GSD temperament and socializing

They are not only excellent guards, but also companions and loyal defenders. German Shepherds get along well with children and calmly tolerate their pranks, perceiving the child as part of the pack. Because of their balanced character, stable temperament, easy learning and intelligence, they are actively used as a detective, service, and guard.

According to the purebred dog breeds standard, courage, fighting instinct and endurance should be present in the character of the German Shepherd dog.

If you see any deviations in the behavior of your purebred German Shepherd from the usual norm, then most likely your dog is not purebred.

GSD in police

Endurance and strength

Another important factor is the strength of German Shepherds. This dog’s breed is considered very brave and hardy, which is why good guards grow out of them. This dog’s breed is often used for working dogs and police dogs. For working dogs, they are trained from childhood, developing personality traits. Personality traits are formed with the help of the obedience classes

Having tested the purebred German Shepherd for courage and endurance, as well as the ability to obey commands, you will also be able to determine the purebred German Shepherd.

Dog ownership is important, so the purebred dog breeds shows physical characteristics that are peculiar only to its beard. The other physical characteristics of the German Shepherd consist in strength and endurance, as well as physical characteristics are responsible for the structure of the body.

Signs of the Breed in German Shepherd Puppies

It is quite difficult to recognize the pureblood of a German Shepherd puppy. First of all, you need to ask how many babies were in the litter. In numerous (more than ten) they often lack breast milk, which causes a delay in development, lack of good health and reliable immunity.

Also you should pay attention to the mother. A real breeding German Shepherd is not knitted more than once a year, so as not to exhaust its strength. It is normal if the bitch looks thin or sheds, but the appearance should be healthy, the behavior active.

If the litter does not belong to mixed breeds, all babies are similar to each other, their height and weight are approximately equal. The exception is German Shepherds of different sexes – in most cases, males are slightly larger than females. It is worth taking a closer look at the behavior of puppies and the activity of each.

GSD pups working in police

How to tell if a German Shepherd is a purebred by its appearance

The main external signs of purebred German Shepherd include characteristics:

  • coat of moderate length;
  • there are no feathering near the ears and on the neck;
  • strong backbone;
  • limbs are straight, with large joints;
  • scissor bite;
  • blue eyes at birth;
  • pointed ears and erect ears;
  • dog’s mouth;
  • dog’s cheek;
  • long haired coat;
  • German Shepherds shed regularly;
  • deep and narrow chest;
  • paws with voluminous pads, dark claws;
  • straight tail and front legs.

Making the right choice is quite difficult. It is necessary to inspect the baby, study the features, but do not purchase before he turns five weeks old.

How to distinguish a German Shepherd from a mongrel

It is difficult for novice German Shepherd dog breeders to distinguish ordinary mongrels from purebred dogs. The situation is further complicated by the fact that there are no standards of an unrecognized mongrel mixed breed, and therefore it is impossible to determine them by size, suit and other characteristics.

To understand whether a thoroughbred German Shepherd is advertised by a breeder, or it is a mongrel, criteria are needed by which they are not difficult to distinguish. The main ones among them are:

  • Compared to a mongrel, a purebred German Shepherd grows rapidly after birth and gains weight.
  • The purebred German Shepherd have a proportional, harmonious physique, mongrels can rarely boast of slimness.
  • Purebred German Shepherds have a narrow but convex forehead, mongrels have a furrow.
  • The tail of German Shepherds is lowered, has the shape of a saber, in mongrels it is twisted into a ring.
  • Purebred German Shepherd dog is characterized by a strong massive sternum, a barrel chest is found only in mongrels.
  • The coat of sheepdogs is coarse and tough, that of mongrels is soft.
  • After eight weeks, the eyes of the German Shepherds are dark, not convex, the mongrels may have different colors and shapes.
  • The nose lobe of German Shepherds is larger than mongrels.
  • The ears of mongrels in most cases are hanging, which is unacceptable for purebred Germans.

Upon careful examination, even in mongrels very similar to German Shepherd puppies, you can find differences by which it is easy to determine substitution.

How to tell if a German Shepherd pup is a purebred

The difference between a German Shepherd puppy and a crossbreed

Mestizos or a cross between a German Shepherd are obtained as a result of their planned or spontaneous mating with a mongrel or pedigreed dogs – Labrador, pug, husky, Rottweiler, alabai and many others.

Despite the fact that a mixture of two breeds often gives excellent results (exterior, working qualities), mestizos cannot participate in exhibitions and competitions, they cannot be used for breeding. Just look at how mixed breeds can be cute: German Shepherd Chihuahua Mix Puppies, German Shepherd Pomeranian Mix.

It is easier to distinguish a German Shepherd from a half-breed in two months, when signs of a crossbreed appear:

  • weakening of pigmentation of the eyes and nose lobe;
  • bulging eyes;
  • pointed ears;
  • not GSD’s tail;
  • destructive behavior;
  • floppy ears;
  • predisposition to dysplasia.

The question of how to distinguish a real German Shepherd from a mixed one with other breeds disappears if, together with him, the German Shepherd breeder receives a certificate of origin, where the date of birth, color, parents, and deeper ancestors of the German are indicated, indicating their nicknames, regalia, evaluation of rings and tests conducted.

GSD Exterior

To determine the pureblood of the breed, you can control which babies are born and how they increase in weight and height. The average weight of a German Shepherd at birth is 350-500 g. In the future, he adds daily 4 g for each kg of mother, i.e., 100-120 g.

At the age of two weeks, the weight doubles, and by the month real purebred puppies reach 3 kg. The growth of a monthly pet is 20-22 cm, in three months – 40-45 cm. A mixture of breeds does not produce offspring with such a rate of increase in muscle and bone mass.

To determine the pureblood in GSD breed


Despite the fact that outwardly the coat of purebred German Shepherd puppies looks soft and fluffy, in fact it is quite tough, elastic, with a dense undercoat. In a mongrel, it is softer, rarer, and silkier.


Purebred German Shepherd breed are born with a black coat color. It happens that there is a slight gray on it, disappearing immediately after the first molt. It is quite easy to find out by the coat color of a German Shepherd or not.

Only mongrels can have white spots or markings of a different color on the background of a charcoal color. As the purebred puppy matures, a characteristic mask appears on the muzzle, a cheprak on the back. In addition to the black color, purebred dogs are characterized by coal-black, zonal-gray, black with a red tan color.

Head, eyes, ears

If the German Shepherd is thoroughbred, the head is proportional to the body, the forehead is convex, not very wide and not hanging over the muzzle. Unlike mongrels, there is no furrow between the eyebrows. The nose lobe is large, black, a slight hump nose is acceptable. A bump is felt on the back of the head.

Purebred puppies have almond-shaped eyes, set obliquely. The iris is blue or blue for up to two months, later it changes color to dark yellow or brown. The look, unlike ordinary mongrels, is curious and interested.

The ears can be guaranteed to distinguish purebred puppies and mixed with other breeds. For the first, they get up only by six to eight months, for mongrels they stand already at one and a half or remain hanging all their lives.

GSD's portrait

Back and bushy tail

A German is recognized by a strong back without fractures in the lumbar region. The bushy tail is long even in childhood, it looks like an ideal continuation of the vertebral column, there is no shorter hock joints. The shape is saber-shaped. If it adds up to a “bagel”, then the one dog is most likely a mixture, and not a purebred GSD.


The limbs of the service dog are straight, parallel to each other, the elbows are pressed against the sternum. Sometimes puppies of German Shepherds are called fat bellied. The “heels” and claws are equally colored black. The fingers on the paws are closed into a single lump, so the trace from them resembles in appearance a half of a nut.

The cases when the Germans have dewclaws are not so frequent. They are considered a vestige, a legacy of the breed from their ancestors (wolves) and are removed as a vice.

Often, because of the paws of German guard dogs, they are compared with the Belgian Malinois.

German shepherds have very strong paws

How to Properly Measure a German Shepherd Puppy?

To determine the growth of German Shepherd’s puppies, adhere to several rules:

  • They do not use a tape measure or a tailor’s meter, but a rigid measuring bar.
  • Make at least three measurements and calculate the average value.
  • They teach the dog to take a stand in advance.
  • Measuring instruments are tightly applied to the animal’s body, but not pressed into the skin.

Measurements are carried out up to the withers, the highest point on the body of the German Shepherd’s. It consists of five vertebrae located between the shoulder blades.

Height at the withers is the distance from the fulcrum to the point of convergence of the shoulder blades and neck. Height is not measured from the nose, because different dogs have different head position and can give distorted data.

A Choice with Full Responsibility

Choosing a future German Shepherd’s is not easy. You should not rely only on the first impression, you need to carefully consider the baby, familiarize yourself with all the documents for him, compare external signs with the requirements of the standard.

In case of difficulties, they seek help from experienced dogs’ handlers or breeders and together with them determine the best little German Shepherd’s.

German shepherd breed standart

What does the German Shepherd owner say?

Usually breeders immediately warn their customers about the pedigree of the German Shepherd, it is also prescribed in official documents. But it happens that breeders may try to deceive you.

To prevent this from happening, the differences between purebred GSD and non-purebred ones will be given below. Such differences are visible even at a very young age of a purebred German Shepherd.

Chapter FAQ

How can I tell what kind of German Shepherd I have?

The German Shepherd has been and remains the most popular and sought-after dog breeds. The reason for this is a magnificent exterior, a powerful, harmonious physique, high intelligence and excellent service qualities.

The demand for German Shepherd puppies is huge, so unscrupulous American kennel club in pursuit of quantity and profit allow mating with individuals belonging to mestizos. In such a situation, it is important to be able to accurately identify a purebred German Shepherd and know how to distinguish it from a mongrel.

What color is a purebred German Shepherd?

Usually, the coat is mostly brown with black markings on the muzzle and trunk long haired coat. However, representatives of the mixed breed can be completely black, white German shepherds, or reddish-brown. These standards, except for black, are not recognized as the breed standard, but still occur dog’s coat.

How much does a purebred German Shepherd cost?

Purebred dogs themselves are not cheap, especially if they have a noble coloring characteristic of purebred breeds. The price tag for a German Shepherd puppy starts from $ 1k and the price of a dog with a rare color coat can exceed 10k-20k dollars.

For example, look at Sable German Shepherd, which has incredible coloring that reminds you of a wolf. Or here is our post about some pretty rare blue-eyed German Shepherds.

Dog owners note that the price of a puppy depends on many factors, including how the breeders kept the puppy. It is also recommended that a reputable breeder be referred to kennels rather than private breeders.

How can I tell what my German Shepherd is mixed with?

To determine which breeds are mixed in your German Shepherd’s, you should contact a specialist, or veterinarian with DNA test, or with dog breed identification app with DNA test.

They will be able to more accurately and correctly formulate a list of breeds that your animal combines. As a rule, it is easy to distinguish non-purebred German Shepherd from purebred ones, especially if you have carefully read all the points marked earlier.

But on your own, you can only guess which breeds the animal still contains, knowing certain characteristics peculiar to certain breeds, only veterinarians will tell you the truth 100% with help dog’s DNA test. Such a dog’s DNA test will help to tell which breeds are mixed in the family pets.

So does the author of this video How to Check Pure German Shepherd Dog Breed by @DogmalNew:


German Shepherd owner should remember that each dog has its own peculiarity, with accuracy you yourself cannot determine which breeds are present in your dog. German Shepherd owner should do a dog DNA test in case of any suspicion.

Such a DNA testing will help you make sure that your dog is purebred, as well as a dog DNA test kit will show the presence of other DNA tests breeds of other dogs.

Malena Parker

I run this blog and I want to share with you useful information about the life, health, and care of a German Shepherd

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