Typically in most of the terrier breeds including the Schnauzers and the standard terriers, there are just a very few color variations within each breed, with most being limited to two or three variations. The German Pinscher is very unique in that aspect with several allowable colorations not only possible but highly desirable, plus at least two additional color variations that have now been lost.
The two color variations that have been historically described for the German Pinscher that were not recovered when the breed was redeveloped after World War II include a solid black coloration and what was originally a rather common coloration, the salt and pepper or silberpinsch color. These colors, interestingly enough, are still found within the closely related Schnauzer breed. The solid black and the salt and pepper coloration likely were not reproducible since the dogs used for the recovery tended to be more Doberman coloration or the standard black and tan or brown and tan coloration and did not carry the genes necessary for the all black or silver and black variety. In the late 1960s the man most responsible for the salvation of the breed after World War II, Werner Jung, did try to re-introduce the silberpinsh coloration by breeding German Pinschers back to a Standard Schnauzer, however the results were not promising and the pups tended to favor the Schnauzer so the breeding was stopped. In a few references from the late 1800s there is also a description of a Harlequin coloration in the German Pinschers but this was not officially recognized by the German Pinscher Club. There was an effort by those that favored the harlequin and merle color to establish a separate breed registry and it is recognized by the name of Harlequin Pinscher by the FCI although there are no active registrations.
The current colorations allowed by the American Kennel Club and most other official Kennel Clubs include the black and tan, with the tan being a rich color, not a faded or yellowish color, and a blue coloration with the same red to tan markings. There are several variations of fawn or red which can range from a color known as Isabella, which is a true rich, golden fawn color through to a dark red with mixed black hairs know as stag red. This is more of an even distribution of black and red hairs like a roan pattern. On the black or blue and tan dogs the tan to red coloration can only be noted on the lips, cheeks and lower jaw of the muzzle, then as two small patches above the eyebrows on the face. The throat may have some tan extending down, but the chest can only have two separate and not joined triangles of tan over the tops of the front legs. The forelegs and feet and the inner side of the back legs up to the bottom of the underside of the tail can also be tan, however the upper side of the body and tail must be solid black. No white marking are permissible on any color, although a few white hairs throughout the coat are not considered a disqualifying fault.