Isabella German Shepherd – Debunking the rarest GSD color

The Isabella German Shepherd a truly beautiful dog which he is but this is also one of the rarest German Shepherd colors. This shepherd has a dilute coat color also known as Lilac that is not common in many dogs.

For started all German Shepherds are adorable and very intelligent dogs and perhaps one of the most popular breeds.

These dogs are brave and protective by nature which has been coupled with his loyalty which has made the GSD a very loved dog.

They are also widely used as working dogs and especially by the police and the military.

You may also be interested in the Isabella French Bulldog.

So, how did the Isabella German Shepherd come to be?

If you are looking for more information about this canine, you have come to the right place. We are going to look at all that you need to know about the Isabella GSD from his looks to his behavioral traits and you will also learn how you can take care of him.

So, let us get right into it.

Lilac gsd

About the Isabella German Shepherd

When I first heard of the Isabella German Shepherd, romance, beauty, and loyalty came to my mind. The second thought that came into my mind is that he had to be an expensive dog.

So, what is an Isabella GSD? This is a rare German Shepherd color that not many dog lovers have heard the chance to own or even see.

This canine friend is not any different from the standard German Shepherd or any other color. The biggest difference in the color of their coat.

These dogs result from the dilution of the liver and blue genes.

The rarity of this dog has also been partly because breeders have suppressed the creation of this dog due to the penalties that are imposed by Kennel Clubs on this dog and so he cannot be showcased in dog shows.

The breed standards do not accept the liver and blue colors of Alsatians.

Let me explain how you get certain colors in German Shepherds

The Isabella or lilac color comes from the dilution of the loci and the liver color in any dog.

Color genes are found in certain locations or loci in chromosomes and they are the ones that dictate what color or pattern is going to be on a dog’s coat.

There are several loci found in a dog with some loci being dominant over others.

In German Shepherds, the agouti or A-locus gene is responsible for their colors. They also dictate the base color for most of the dogs and the color only shows up if there are no other dominants loci.

There are 4 types of agouti-locus in doggos and they are also known as alleles. These are responsible for four different German Shepherd colors and these are;

  • Fawn and Sable GSD coloration
  • Wild sable expression
  • Bi-color or black
  • Tan/tri-color and black colors

Getting into details about each one of them and others is beyond the scope of this guide.

But let us talk about how you get an Isabella Alsatian.

A liver German Shepherd
A liver German Shepherd

Dilution Loci and the liver

I have mentioned about loci a lot.

So, we have said that the A-locust is responsible for the base color but it may be transformed by another locus.

For example, a recessive liver gene found in the B-locus is responsible for the chocolate or brown color in our furry friends.

This then suppresses any black color in German Shepherd with all black hairs turning liver with the tan hairs being unaffected. The pads, lips, and nose turn pink or brown and the eyes turn amber.

When this happens a GSD that would have otherwise been black and tan turns liver and tan.

Unlike the liver GSD, the Blue GSD inherits 2 D-locus recessive genes. The blue genes dilute the black color and you are left with a blue expression.

Dog with a D-locus dilution has various blue shades that can range from steel blue to light gray.

Learn more about the Incredible Blue German Shepherd.

An Isabella German Shepherd has a double dilution involving a pup that inherits 2 recessive genes that suppress the D-locus genes and 2 B-locus genes. As a result, the German Shepherd will have no black hair.

It also suppresses the chocolate-brown pigmentation because there are no more black hairs that they can act on. Most Isabella GSDs often have blue-green or sea-green colored eyes.

Isabella German Shepherd



The Isabella German Shepherd is not recognized by any of the major kennel clubs as this is not an accepted German Shepherd color.

Lilac German Shepherd Pros and cons


 These are a great family and working dogs

 They are highly committed and loyal pooches.

 German Shepherds are very intelligent and thus highly trainable.


 These dogs all-year-round just like any other German Shepherd.

 They have a high exercise requirement that may be too much for some people.

 The Isabella color in German Shepherds is associated with some health complications.

 They can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods.

General Characteristics and appearance of the Isabella German Shepherd

Isabella German Shepherd summary table
Height GSDs can reach a height of between 24 to 26 inches for the males and 22 to 24 inches for the females
Weight These dogs can weigh between 77 to 95 pounds for the males and 55 to 73 pounds for the females
Lifespan 9 to 13 years
Breed Type Mixes and more
Purpose Herding and companion dog
Suitable For owners that have experience with large dogs
Grooming requirements moderate
Color Variations lilac
Health concerns hip and elbow dysplasia, pannus, and allergies
Temperament intelligent, loyal, loving, friendly, Energetic, Affectionate and can also be destructive when neglected.
Other Names Isabella GSD, Lilac German Shepherd or Isabella Alsatian

Size of the Lilac GSD

Isabella German Shepherds are classified as medium to large-sized dogs.

Male Lilac GSDs can reach a height of anywhere between 24 to 26 inches and weigh between 77 to 95 pounds while their female counterparts can reach heights of between 22 to 24 inches and have weights of between 55 to 73 pounds.

This does not apply to the mini German Shepherd that can be much smaller.

See our guide on Miniature German Shepherds.

Lilac German Shepherd physical appearance

It is no secret that Alsatians are super attractive dogs and this applies even to the Lilac GSD.

These dogs have an athletic and muscular appearance and are also lean but sturdy.

According to the breed standards of a GSD, the nose should be black but this is not the same for a Lilac German Shepherd. Because of the gene dilution, Isabella GSD’s nose is going to be lighter.

A liver GSD will have either a reddish or brown nose while a blue one will have a grayish nose.

This adorable pooch may also have sea-green or blue-green almond-shaped eyes with a long muzzle.

Isabella GSDs Guide

Coat appearance and shedding

The Lilac German Shepherd can have either a long or medium coat which can be relatively straight or coarse.

Their double-coats help to protect them against the elements and they can thus withstand harsh weather conditions.

Other German Shepherd colors;

Black White Black and silver
Silver Cream and black Black and tan
Red Sable Gray Sable

Learn more about German Shepherd Variations.

Unfortunately, just like any other double-coated dog, the Isabella German Shepherd sheds throughout the years.

Temperament and personality of the Isabella German Shepherd

German Shepherds are extremely confident dogs that are also very patient. These are some of the qualities that make them great working dogs.

They are also very well natured with a strong instinct to protect their owners.

People that have owned a GSD before know how loyal and loving they can be.

Isabella German Shepherds also have a high prey drive and should be socialized and trained at an early age. Socialization is also important because they can be wary of strangers and doing this can greatly reduce it.

These pooches do not tolerate being left alone for extended periods as they easily suffer from separation anxiety. This can also lead them to become destructive as they look for a way to entertain themselves.

Isabella German Shepherds


Family compatibility

Although Alsatians were bred to be working dogs, over the years they have adopted more family roles.

This dog makes a great addition to families, especially active families.

They also get along well with children being kind, gentle, and playful with them. This applies even to other animals that they have raised together.

Family Member Compatible
Young Children Yes
Teenagers Yes
Seniors No
Other Pets Yes

Isabella color has a very interesting history

This color may have existed as early as 1492.

The Spanish queen, Isabella, proclaimed that she would not change her gown until Spain prevailed during the Siege of Granada.

This made her dress change to a reddish color that had black and white

Other historians claim that Isabelline may have come from the Zibellino word that described the color of popular animal pelts in the early 17th century. This color was pale-golden.

This term, Isabelline, may have first been used in 1600 to refer to a color of a certain trending fashion of dresses.

People would soon interchange the word Isabella and Isabella to describe the same color.

In 1859, the use of this word in bird plumage and some bear species became more prominent.

It is worth noting that this can be used in specific breeds. You may often see Isabella German Shepherds instead of Lilac German Shepherd although they refer to the same color.

Isabella fawn, silver-fawn, and silver beige are other terms that can be used instead of Isabella but are not used to describe GSDs.

Lilac German Shepherds

Frequently asked questions

What is an Isabella German Shepherd?

An Isabella German Shepherd is also known as a Lilac German Shepherd and it results from the recessive gene dilution making him have a washed-out color known as Isabella. These dogs are somewhat rare one should always get them from a reputable and responsible breeder.

What is the cost of an Isabella German Shepherd?

Getting an Isabella German Shepherd Puppy could cost you around $1500 but the price could change depending on your location and breeder.

Isabella German Shepherd puppies

Generally, Lilac German Shepherd is known to have a litter of about 8 puppies.

These puppies can take anywhere between 12 to 18 months to reach full maturity but retain the puppy playfulness even after they are 3 years old.

You should expect to pay upwards of $1500 for a single Isabella German Shepherd puppy. The cost can differ from one breeder to the other and depending on the location.

Breeders largely avoid breeding Lilac German because of show ring penalties and a handful breed this German Shepherd color.

You should be careful when looking for a Lilac GSD breeder and only work a breeder that has undisputed proof that he qualifies and reputable. Other Isabella GSD owners and your veterinarian can help direct you to a good and reputable breeder.

Avoid getting this dog from puppy mills or backyard breeders.

You should also avoid breeders that try to sell you this dog in the context that they are rare like a plague.

An Isabella German Shepherd Puppy

Grooming a Lilac GSD

The grooming requirements for a Lilac German Shepherd is the same as for any other GSD color.

This dog sheds frequently and may blow out his coat twice every year. You should brush the coat to minimize shedding and to keep it looking healthy.

Bathing an Isabella German Shepherd should only be done when it is necessary like when he goes to play in the muds or when he decides to rolls in his poop.

Over bathing, this pooch could irritate the skin as it strips the coat of its natural and essential oils.

The canine’s teeth should also be frequently brushed to remove plaque and reduce infection risks.

Isabella GSD

Exercise requirements of an Isabella German Shepherd

This furry friend makes for an excellent running and hiking partner because he is full of energy.

However, when he is still in his puppyhood, you should not expect him to become an instant champ as it takes time for his joints to become strong enough.

Once he reaches his adulthood, he should be able to go for daily jogs and runs with no issues.

About 90 minutes of physical stimulation should be enough for this doggo coupled with some play sessions.

They will also be happy to go for swims and participate in other competitive sports such as dock diving.

Being a big boy does not mean that you should not get him toys. These can help keep him busy when he is home or when you are busy.

Lilac GSD dietary requirements

The Isabella German shepherd requires a high-quality protein-filled diet. Their diets also need to provide them with enough energy to keep them going.

A raw meat-based diet is a great option for a lilac GSD.

But you should note that some raw diets do not provide this pooch with other essential nutrients such as minerals and vitamins and you, therefore, need to supplement them if this is what you decide to be feeding him. You must consult your vet before doing this or making any changes in the dog’s diet.

Even if kibble is your option you should make sure that it is high quality and it goes according to the AAFCO regulations.

Puppies should be fed 3 to 4 times a day while adult Isabella German Shepherds should only be fed twice in a day.

Lilac gsd


This dog is known for his intelligence, work ethic, and is very trainable. It should be no surprise that training this canine is easier than other breeds.

Positive reinforcement and reward-based training methods are the best ways you can use to train your Lilac German Shepherd.

Socialization is also very essential when you are raising this dog and you should be consistent by introducing him to different animals, people, and environments.

Some of the Isabella German Shepherd health concerns

These dogs are as healthy as any other German Shepherd color.

The only thing that can make them more susceptible to health complications is breeders that breed them based on the demand and interest that people have on Isabella GSDs. In the process, they could end up catering more for their money needs other than breeding Isabella German Shepherds that are healthy.

Go to a reputable breeder to avoid health issues that are caused mainly by inbreeding and other bad breeding practices.

However, even a well-bred Lilac GSD is also predisposed to some health issues such as;

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Pannus

Breed summary

The Isabella German Shepherd also is known as the Lilac German Shepherd is a rare GSD color variation that makes him very unique.

These dogs are known to be protective, confident, loyal, loving, and intelligent which not only makes them great working dogs but also great companions and family dogs.

There is hardly anything bad you can say about a well trained and socialized Lilac German Shepherd.

If you show them that you care, they will shower you with love and affection.

So, was this guide helpful to you?

Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

There you go, WOOF!

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