In this article we are going to take a look at the white colored German Shepherd. Since the continued defamation of the white German Shepherd, fanciers stepped in and bred them purposely in the hope of securing their genes and achieving their own breed status. These breeders, who having bred three generations of the white German Shepherd, have now successfully renamed them as the White Shepherd. Ultimately, they are the same dog, but the White Shepherd is just a purer lineage of white German Shepherds that can be evidenced.
Whilst some kennel clubs have recognized him as a breed in his own right, others have not and simply state that he is still, ultimately, a white German Shepherd. The Black German Shepherd Dog is treated in the same fashion. Throughout this article, unless speaking of specifics, the white German Shepherd and the White Shepherd will be referred to as the white German Shepherd, as they are ultimately the same pup.
The white German Shepherd is one of the rarer colors, and as such is seen to be somewhat of a collector’s canine! Despite being considered a fault by some of the world’s leading kennel clubs, he is still very much sought after. Regardless of his color or name, the white German Shepherd makes a great family pet, he is a gentle, protective and sweet canine, and everyone thinks he is adorable! So, let’s find out more about him.
The German Shepherd’s journey began in northern Germany as a herding dog. Each area had their own herding dog, and in the 19th Century the best dogs were bred to create the German Shepherd that we know and love today. The first recorded German Shepherd, born in 1895, was called Horand von Grafrath and his grandfather, called Greif, was a white Thuringian Shepherd, and it is from Greif that the white gene originates. Since then white German Shepherds have appeared in litters, either sporadically via gene carriers or bred purposefully. Ever since, scientists and fanciers alike have sought to understand both the gene and the dog himself.
Since 1933, most notably during the World Wars, the Nazi state tarred the white German Shepherd’s reputation. They mistook him for an albino dog, and he was thereafter labelled as being a carrier of faulty genetics. It was even falsely claimed that he was the causation of all German Shepherd illnesses and should therefore be eliminated from the gene pool. Despite this claim having no scientific basis, the white German Shepherd is still unable to complete in many conformation shows and is still frowned upon by many German Shepherd breeders.
Since the German Shepherd establishment in 1895, white fanciers have purposefully bred and refined the breed in order to protect them from being eliminated entirely. Whilst the white German Shepherd was originally just a naturally occurring color variation of the German Shepherd, in certain circles he is now also considered to be a separate breed in his own right. There is still much debate within the community surrounding this; there are those in favor for the White Shepherd, who simply call him the White Shepherd, and then there are classic breeders who still prefer to call him white German Shepherd. However, he is slowly but surely, despite some resistance, earning his way towards securing full ‘White Shepherd’ status.
The United Kennel Club (UKC) in America were the first to recognize the White Shepherd as a breed in his own right in 1999, and ever since then he has been gaining popularity. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has stated that the German Shepherd, who is currently the 2nd most popular dog in America, is the only label that is going to cover the white colored pup. As the AKC does not recognize the White Shepherd as a separate breed, it is difficult to ascertain how popular the white colored pup is.
The white gene is a recessive gene, meaning that a white pup would have to inherit the white gene from both of his parents. If he inherits this gene from both parents, then he will only ever be white. If he only inherits this gene from one of his parents, then it is more likely that he will be one of the other recognized colors dependent on what other genes were inherited.
The white gene is likened to an ‘on and off’ switch, in that if both the parents are white, it will act as an off switch to all other color possibilities, and the entire litter will be white. It is also true that if two non-white dogs’ produce a litter, they too could have a small number of white pup’s, but only if they both carry the white gene.
A common misconception is that the white German Shepherd is albino. An albino dog is a consequence of a genetic defect, which results in colorless hair and pale features, such as pink eyes and very pale skin. Whilst albino Shepherd’s do exist, as they do in every dog breed, his color is simply white, and he most commonly has dark eyes and black features.
His white coloration is not indicative of health issues. In many breeds pigmentation related health issues, such as deafness, can be common; this can occur in breeds such as the Dogo Argentino or the English Bull Terrier. The white German Shepherd is simply a color and has no correlation with any other health characteristic or breed detriment. It’s similar with the long coat GSD.
Registration of the White GSD
Many dog owners across the world like to enlist their pooch with kennel clubs for several reasons. Benefits could include gaining official certificates, eligibility to take part in competitions and local events, and to achieve recognition titles such as a therapy dog or search and rescue dog status to name but a few. If registering your white German Shepherd is important to you then there are 2 ways in which you can do this.
Firstly, you can register him with the AKC as a German Shepherd, who just happens to be of the white color. It is important to remember that the AKC still considers the white color to be a fault, and therefore he is disqualified from competing in conformation show. However, he is still eligible to compete in performance related events such as herding and obedience. Be aware though that German Shepherd fanciers prefer the traditional or darker colors of the breed, and as such it is claimed that the white German Shepherd’s would likely be discriminated against in performance tasks.
Alternatively, you can register him with the UKC as a White Shepherd, who recognize him as a breed in his own right, and as a result of this allow him to compete in conformation shows unimpeded, and any other event linked to the White Shepherd. However, in order to be registered as such, you must be able to prove that he is of third generation white pups.
It is a personal opinion as to which kennel club you choose to register your pup with, as many people view the AKC as the traditional and superior kennel club. However, in regard to the white German Shepherd, dependent on your reasoning for joining a kennel club, there are clearly limitations to joining the AKC. If showing your Shepherd for conformation purposes is an important factor for you, then if you can, you should register him with the UKC. Or if you prefer the kudos that comes with the AKC then you should consider getting a darker colored German Shepherd.
The white German Shepherd males will weigh between 65 and 90 pounds, and they will measure 24 to 26 inches in height from paw to shoulder. The females will weigh between 50 and 70 pounds and will measure 22 to 24 inches in height. The specific White Shepherd sits comfortably in the middle of each measurement, however, according to his breed standards he cannot deviate by more than 2 inches either side.
The white German Shepherd has a long tail, large erect ears and commonly their eyes are either dark brown or black in color. They are powerful and impressive in appearance and they are longer than they are tall. The specific standards of the White Shepherd, as per the UKC, can be found here. Regardless of him being a white German Shepherd or a technical White Shepherd, effectively you are looking at the same dog who has the same appearance characteristics as well as other traits. Ultimately, the only difference will be on his paperwork dependent on who you register him with.
The white German Shepherd, has a double coat with the under coat being dense and fine in texture, and the outer coat being thick and straight. This double coat keeps him warm and protected from the elements. Pure white is the preferred color, however, cream through to light biscuit is accepted in the White Shepherd. His skin should be grey, and whilst pink is accepted, it should not be as a result of albinism. All of his features such as the nose, lips, eye rims and pads are to be black in color.
Because of his fluffy white coat, he is often mistaken for the rarer Berger Blanc Suisse. The berger actually looks like a white belgian malinois which also looks like a GSD in some ways. This guy is a relatively new breed, and again, he is not recognized by the AKC, but he is by the Federation Cynologique Internationale, which is a Europe based kennel club. They are believed to share the same ancestors and they almost look identical! Parallels have also been drawn with the white Siberian Husky and the GSD/Husky mix, the Gerberian Shepsky.
Something to note before we jump into discuss White GSD temperament. Each GSD can be trained to do whatever the owner wishes. GSD’s in general are fantastic dogs for everything from police work, to companionship. It’s essential that they are trained properly for them to realize their full potential.
It’s also worth noting that our overview below is our opinion based on research that we’ve done, but it’s important to note that temperaments change from dog to dog. We can make generalizations, but there will always be differences in each breed as well as each color variant.
The white German Shepherd is a confident and courageous canine who will protect his family to the end if required. This trait is the very reason why the German Shepherd is the most common dog used in police and military services. However, it is rare for the white German Shepherd to be used, as he is cute looking with his almost angelic white fluff, and despite his frame, he does not look particularly menacing.
For this reason, the white German Shepherd has a very subtle difference in temperament compared to other colored German Shepherds as he has been refined to be used more as a companionship dog than a guard dog, and as such he seems to have lost those stronger tendencies along the way. This is not to say that he would make a useless guard dog, however, he would not be as much of a natural compared to a traditional colored pup. As a result, the white German Shepherd is said to be slightly more sociable and calmer than the other colored German Shepherd, and slightly less intense. This is great if you are a first-time dog owner of a canine caliber such as this.
As long as he is socialized properly as a pup, he can make a great family pet. The white German Shepherd is known to be very affectionate with their immediate family, and those who are welcomed into the pack by his master. He adores playing or cuddling with any pack member that will give him attention. Not only this, but he is gentle with small children and other household pets and is known to be adaptable if another animal is brought into the pack.
The GSD is a headstrong pup, so if you plan to crate train or train with a harness, make sure you have the appropriately sized harness for a GSD and the right sized dog crate for your GSD to make training easier on yourself in the long term.
As stated previously, it is commonly misunderstood that all white dogs have increased health issues, and this is definitely not the case with the white German Shepherd. He is considered to be a generally healthy dog, and his lifespan is, on average, 7 – 10 years.
The white German Shepherd commonly suffers with Elbow and Hip Dysplasia. This is an abnormal formation of the elbow and hip joint, which overtime can lead to severe pain in the joints, and it can lead to crippling arthritis. Generally, this is a disease that develops in older age in many dogs. The White Shepherd Genetics’ Project have thoroughly studied the specific lineage of the White Shepherd thus far, and it would appear that there are no major health concerns other than Elbow and Hip Dysplasia.
Puppy Prices & Breeders
The cost of a German Shepherd pup is, on average, between $1,000 and $1,500, generally you can expect to pay towards the higher end of the scale for a white colored pup as he is rarer. The specific White Shepherd costs between $600 and $800. This is relatively cheap for a purebred dog, however, this is down to this specific bloodline being relatively new.
Despite the controversy, if you are considering getting one of these white fluffy pooches, you have the choice between a traditional German Shepherd breeder who may focus solely on the color white, or you can source your pup from a White Shepherd specific lineage enthusiast.
The best way to ensure the health of your pup is to buy him from a reputable breeder, because regardless of their allegiance to the classic white German Shepherd, or specific lineage view of the White Shepherd, a good breeder will always introduce and show you to the parent’s, as well as provide you with health certificates.
If the specific White Shepherd lineage has piqued your interest then the American White Shepherd Association lists reputable breeders by state and should be your first port of call when looking into finding a pup of your own.
While there has been contreversy over the history and genetic make up of this wonderful pup, there’s no denying that if trained properly, they will make great family companions. You can expect to pay a little more for your white GSD, but people tend to pay a little more for the puppy that they want, especially if it’s a rarer variation of the breed.
No matter where you fall within the controversy of the white German Shepherd, one thing is for sure, he is one majestic looking creature. With the appearance of a snowy looking wolf hybrid coupled with one of the world’s most favored canine personalities, he is a doggy dream that no one can deny!