As outlined in previous posts, genetics plays an important role in the working ability of a dog. Whether or not a dog will make an effective personal protection dog depends largely on its genes and its bloodline. The way in which the colour of a dog’s coat is related to working ability can be complicated. The easy answer is that there is simply no correlation between the colour of the coat, and the working ability of the dog. The genes that control coat colour are in no way connected to the genes that are important to the nerves and temperament of the dog. For example, if a German Shepherd puppy with a black coat is born from a litter sired by an experienced import working line German Shepherd, you cannot look at the colour of the coat and assume that the puppy is worthless. Having black German Shepherd puppies in a litter is an increasingly rare occurrence, but it is still very possible. In fact, the breeder in such a situation might consider themselves lucky to have a working line puppy with the added bonus of a rare and beautiful black coat.
The gene for black coats in German Shepherds is what is known as a recessive gene. When a puppy is born, its DNA carries two sets of every gene; one from each parent. Of course, even though every puppy has two genes that control coat colour, it can only have one type of coat. To illustrate this fact, and how it ties into coat colour, we will give an example of a sire who has one gene that says “black and tan coat”, and another that says “solid black coat”. The dam will have the same: one gene for black and tan, and the other for solid black. When their litter is born, one puppy receives the sire’s gene for black and tan, but receives the mother’s gene for solid black. Because the solid black gene is a recessive gene, that puppy’s coat will never be black, despite carrying the genes for both types of coats. If another puppy receives the gene for solid black from both parents, its coat will be black. The only way a dog’s coat can be solid black is if it receives that gene from both parents. If you crunch the numbers, there is only a 25% chance that a puppy from that litter will have a black coat, but there is a 50% chance that you will have a black and tan puppy that still carries one solid black gene. The gene for black coats can remain dormant through generations of black and tan German Shepherds.
Where this becomes a problem, is when breeders start breeding selectively for black coats for their beauty and aesthetic value. In order to ensure that every puppy will have the desired coat colour, they will only breed two black German Shepherds together. Due to the rarity of black German Shepherds, this means that they are breeding from a very limited gene-pool, and the quality of the dogs will suffer.
The bottom line is: if one is looking to purchase a top quality canine protection for their home and their family, they should not be concerned with the colour of a dog’s coat. The most important thing when considering a purchase is to ensure that the dog is bred for working ability, from only the best and brightest working line dogs.