For anyone lucky enough to meet a Šarplaninac in person (as we were when we were in a local pub, of all places) chances are good that the dog will be “iron gray” the breed’s most common color that is also known as “Murdjo.”
There are, however, variations and shadings in the breed, and the breed standard in the United Kennel Club, which recognized the Šarplaninac (aka Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog) back in 2009, indicates that all solid colors are acceptable, including a brown that’s so dark as to be nearly black. As you can see from the photo, however, this breed can also appear in white, a color known as “Merdjan.” In fact, one of the original founding dogs for the registry was a white dog. Puppies born white stay white, but otherwise, puppies are born dark and then lighten up. Sometimes, a dark puppy will lighten to blond, but then grow dark again.
When we featured the breed as a Purebred of Interest on our Facebook page, we learned that even though one can get a white dog from gray or Karabash colors, it’s very rare. Grays are more common and have been selected for over many generations. We also learned that among the owners whose dogs are actual working dogs, a good Šarplaninac can’t be a bad color.
Our image was posted on our Facebook page back in 2009 by Barb Kozar, and it is too lovely not to share again. She has also written about color and share some wonderful photographs on her website which you can read here.