What Is A Lemon German Shorthaired Pointer? They Do Exist!

Dogs with unusual coat colors are an endless source of fascination to pet owners, breeders, and researchers; few colors are rarer than lemon German Shorthaired Pointers (GSPs). 


A lemon German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) is a GSP with a pale light brown coat color, pinkish-brown nose, and paw pads. All lemon GSPs have an eebb genotype.

While the American Kennel Club does not recognize lemon German Shorthaired Pointers, there does not appear to be any characteristical differences in the breed based on coat color.  However, owners should be aware that GSPs in lemon coloring might indicate the possibility of crossbreeding. 

The sheer exoticness of rare colors like lemon GSPs is sure to attract people and serve as conversational ice breakers for owners of these highly prized dogs.

However, if you’re going to use your pup as a conversation starter, you should know what you’re talking about! This article explores all facets of what makes a lemon GSP, lemon. 

So, why is color and coat pattern so vital that the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not list lemon GSPs as purebred canines? Does it affect factors like their health, longevity, or temperament? Or are breeding standards a little too focused on its appreciation for beauty?  

What Colour Is A Lemon German Shorthaired Pointer?

Lemon GSPs have a pale, almost muted brown color. Color fanatics would describe the color as “buff” or “pale fawn,” but those with a romantic inclination are more likely to liken the color to that of freshly churned butter

Lemon GSPs have pale pink noses; occasionally, the pink nose of a lemon GSP will have a slight liver brown tint to it. The nails of lemon GSPs are white, while the skin underneath the coat is pink. 

Lemon GSPs most commonly have smoky green eyes, although other light colors, including hazel and blue, are often seen.

The genes causing the muted coat color also washes out the color in other areas; thus, it is impossible to have a lemon GSP with black or chocolate brown eyes. 

The Difference Between Lemon And Orange German Shorthaired Pointers

People will often become muddled when attempting to decide if their GSP is an orange or lemon color. 

Orange GSPs are a more vibrant shade of golden-brown than the muted fawn of a lemon GSP. However, it’s often tricky to decide what shade of brown your GSPs coat is if you don’t have lemon or orange GSPs to compare to. 

The most significant difference between orange and lemon is the pigmentation at the dogs’ points.

Orange GSPs have black points, i.e., black noses, black paw pads, black eyelashes, and black pigmentation around their eyes, and they can have dark brown and yellow eyes. 

Lemon GSPs lack the black pigment at the points and thus always have a pinkish-liver colored nose, eyelashes, skin around the eyes, and paw pads. 

Both dogs can have white toenails, but a lemon GSP will never have black toenails, unlike the orange GSP which can occasionally present with black toenails. 

Genetic Profile Of Lemon German Shorthaired Pointers?

The pigment responsible for the color of GSPs is melanin, of which there are two types.

Eumelanin is the melanin pigment responsible for black and brown dog coat colors. In contrast, the melanin pigment phaeomelanin causes the light brown (red) pigment seen in orange and lemon GSPs.

Eumelanin causes the dog to have black pigment in the coat, nose, and paw pads. By contrast, phaeomelanin causes red pigmentation of the coat but does not change the color of the nose or paw pads.

The Genes Controlling Eumelanin And Phaeomelanin

Every dog, human, cat, and other creature produced by sexual reproduction, always inherits two genes coding for the same trait.

One gene is inherited from the father, while the other is passed down from the mother. All mutations of a specific gene will be found at the same loci (i.e., position) of an allele. 

The presence of eumelanin or phaeomelanin in dogs is controlled by four genes found on the E (extension locus). GSPs only carry two types of E genes, the black (E) gene, and the red (e) gene. 

The dominant black (E) gene codes for eumelanin, while the recessive red (e) gene codes for phaeomelanin. 

GSPs with one or two dominant black genes will have black or brown-based coats, while those with reddish coats will have two copies of the recessive red gene.

In the Ee genotype, the dominant black gene overrides the effects of the recessive red gene. It takes two copies of the recessive gene to lighten your GSP’s coat color. 

The Genes Modifying Eumelanin Expression

The B (brown) locus modifies the expression of black melanin, making it appear brown. Thus, a black dog with one or two copies of the dominant dark brown (B) gene will stay black.

GSPs homozygous for the recessive light brown (b) gene will be brown- or liver-colored with light brown points. 

The recessive light brown gene does not affect the red phaeomelanin. 

Orange GSPs are homozygous “ee” but will always have at least one copy of the dominant “B” gene, which keeps their points black. Whereas a lemon GSP is always homozygous for both recessive genes. 

The Phenotypes And Genotypes Of Different GSP Colors

The phenotype refers to the color of your dog, whereas the genotype describes all the genes your dog is carrying, both the visible dominant genes and hidden recessive genes.

GSP ColorDescription of ColorB LocusE Locus
BlackBlack coat and black pointsBBEE
BlackBlack coat and black pointsBbEe
BlackBlack coat and black pointsBBEe
BlackBlack coat and black pointsBbEE
OrangeLight brown coat with black pointsBBee
OrangeLight brown coat with black pointsbbee
LiverDark brown coat with dark pointsbbEE
LiverLight brown coat with black pointsbbEe
* LemonLight brown coat with pinkish-brown pointsbbee

What Coat Patterns Occur In Lemon German Shorthaired Pointers?

Lemon GSPs can be found in one of four coat patterns. These patterns are:

  1. Solid
  2. Ticked
  3. Patched
  4. Roan

The AKC has provided examples of dogs with different coat patterns. The amount of white in a lemon GSPs coat can range from minimal (e.g., one white toe) to maximum white (e.g., only the ears are a lemon color, the rest is white).

How Did The Lemon GSP Get Its Color?

There isn’t much to find about the subject, but some GSP enthusiasts suggest that the lemon coloring results from mixed breeding, and in particular, a lemon GSP might have been crossbred with another Pointer somewhere along the line. But, with no concrete evidence to confirm or deny this theory, there is no way to be sure. 

Nevertheless, this might not be far from the truth; the AKC recognizes that at least some Pointers are lemon and lemon & white (among other colors). So, if we think about why the AKC and the UKC disqualify lemon or lemon & white GSPs, it could be that the lemon coloring suggests crossbreeding. 

Is Lemon An AKC Approved Colour For German Shorthaired Pointers?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) permits only solid liver, and liver and white pattern combination GSPs to be registered and compete in breed competition. 

The AKC Doesn’t Recognize Lemon GSP’s

A PDF document that sets out the breed standards for GSPs was approved on August 11, 1992, disqualifies any GSP with black, red, orange, lemon, or tan colors, as well as solid white GSPs. However, there appears to be an inconsistency between the obviously outdated document and the website

On the website, under the colors tab, the AKC only allows for standard markings of ticked, patched, or a combination of both in the following colors:

  • Black
  • Black & White
  • Liver
  • Liver & White
  • Liver Roan
  • White & Liver
  • Black Roan

It is worth mentioning that the same document mentioned above also disqualifies GSPs with china or wall eyes, a flesh-colored nose, and an extreme overshot or undershot. If the Club still stands by these standards, why is there no updated version that includes the black coloring? 

Regardless of the contradiction, and in their defense,  the AKC is not the only purebred dog registry that disqualifies lemon GSPs. The United Kennel Club (UKC), an international dog registry, lists the following coloring as faults:

  • Albinism
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Lemon

GSPs with flesh-colored noses and red, orange, lemon, or black coats will be disqualified from all AKC-run breed competitions. Most breeders actively work on eliminating the “exotic” GSP colors from their breeding lines. 

Non-standard GSPs are still permitted to compete in non-breed specific field trials.

Is it really necessary to adhere to GSP breed standards? 

According to the AKC, breed standards are important to ensure that GSPs (and all other purebred canines) carry the characteristics of their breeding purpose over to the next generation. 

The closer the canine conforms to the requirements, the more reliable their heritage is. If you crossbreed two different breeds, you’ll never be sure what you’ll end up with because physical attributes are not the only thing that can change; temperament is another characteristic that can fluctuate due to mixed breeding. 

Reputable GSP breeders also conform to breed standards to provide a health history to potential owners. If you are after a purebred GSP, this is something you want to have because the linage of your puppy can determine their overall health (we’ll discuss this in more detail below). 

Can AKC Breed Standards Also Be Harmful?

The RSPCA has another point for us to consider on breeding standards; they state that such requirements can also be detrimental to certain breeds. They press on the topic of canines with exaggerated looks. 

To provide us with an example, they refer to flat-faced dogs such as French Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, etc., as an example of such extreme features that have the potential to cause severe discomfort or pain. According to the RSPCA, the only reason these breeds are still being created and allowed to suffer this way is to conform to breed standards. 

Another thing that the Society mentions – and many people aren’t even aware – is that purebred pups are sometimes euthanized because of non-compliance with breed standards. If this happens purely for health reasons, it could probably still be seen as an act of kindness. 

However, it appears that a simple thing like the wrong coat color may be enough reason to euthanize seemingly healthy puppies. When profit overrules the value of life, how ethical are breed standards of certain breeds really? 

Do Lemon GSPs Have Potential Hereditary Issues?

Recently, there have been various discussions on the topic that crossbreeds present with fewer health concerns because mixing breeds sometimes removes the hereditary problems that purebred dogs have to endure. 

According to Dr. Sarah Wooten (DVM), there is no proof that crossbreeds are healthier or that all purebred dogs have hereditary issues. However, with her years of experience in animal medicine, she believes that mutts are healthier, more robust, and tend to live longer. 

So, if the rumors on the lemon GSP are correct and crossbreeding is behind its unique coat color, you might have a healthier dog. But, if you are unsure about your dog’s heritage, you can easily draw the short tail here. 

Lemon GSP is typically just as healthy as their liver counterparts except for a difference in sun sensitivity. GSPs with light-colored noses and eyes are more likely to burn when exposed to the sun. 

It’s similar to the way paler-skinned people burn more quickly than darker-skinned people. Repeated sunburns can cause cancer, making the lemon GSP slightly more susceptible to cancer than black or liver GSPs. 


Lemon GSPs are enchantingly gorgeous dogs; their pale-eyed stare and muted color bring to mind the faded elegance of sepia-toned photography.

While not approved by the AKC, people remain helplessly fascinated with the exotic coloring of these stunning dogs. 


An Owner and a huge fan of GSP's! I have owned my GSP for 7 years now and learned so many things along the way to share with you all about German Shorthaired Pointers!

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