The White German Shepherd is a very special looking dog. This unique variation of the standard breed has a controversial background. Despite that, they are still highly sought after. Since the continued defamation of the white German Shepherd, fanciers stepped in. They have purposely bred them in the hope of securing their genes and achieving their own breed status. After three generations of breeding the white German Shepherd, breeders renamed them as White Shepherds. Ultimately, they are the same dog. These pups are just a purer lineage of White German Shepherds.
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 White Shepherds will be referred to as the White German Shepherd. They are ultimately the same dog.
Their white coats are 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, White German Shepherds make great family pets. The breed is gentle, protective and sweet. Their appearance is striking, and you’ll be assured to get looks every time you are at the dog park. Let’s dive deeper and explore their history, controversies and more.
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.
His grandfather, called Greif, was a white Thuringian Shepherd. It is from Greif that the white gene originates. Since then white German Shepherds have appeared in litters. They come sporadically via gene carriers or are bred purposefully. Ever since, scientists and fanciers alike have sought to understand both the genetics and the dog himself.
Since 1933, most notably during the World Wars, the Nazi state tarred the white German Shepherds reputation. They mistook him for an albino dog. He was thereafter labeled as being a carrier of faulty genetics. It was even falsely claimed that he was the causation of all illnesses. As a result, there was a push to eliminate them from the gene pool. Despite this claim having no scientific basis, white German Shepherds are still unable to complete in many conformation shows. The breed is still frowned upon by many 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. While white German Shepherds were originally just a naturally occurring color variation, 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 of White Shepherds, who simply call them but the same name. And then there are classic breeders who still prefer to call them White German Shepherds.
The United Kennel Club (UKC) in America were the first to recognize White Shepherds as a breed in his own right in 1999. Ever since then, White Shepherds have 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. Because the AKC does not recognize them as a separate breed, it is difficult to ascertain how popular this color of pup actually 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 recessive gene from both parents, then he will only ever be white. If he only inherits this recessive 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 recessive 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 gene.
A common misconception is that white German Shepherds are albino. An albino dog is a consequence of a genetic defect. This results in colorless hair and pale features, such as pink eyes and very pale skin. Albino Shepherds do exist, as they do in every dog breed. However this breed is simply white, and he most commonly has dark eyes and black features.
His 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 German Shepherd.
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. It’s also beneficial for achieving recognition titles such as a therapy dog, or search and rescue dog status. 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. You’ll register as a purebred German Shepherd that happens to be of the white color. It is important to remember that the AKC still considers the color to be a fault. You’ll be disqualified from competing in conformation shows. 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. As such, it’s claimed that the white German Shepherds would likely be discriminated against in performance tasks.
Alternatively, you can register him with the UKC as White Shepherds. The UKC recognizes White Shepherds as a breed in their own right. As a result of this, they allow him to compete in conformation shows unimpeded. They can compete in any other event linked to this classification. However, in order to be registered as such, you must be able to prove that he is of third-generation.
It is a personal opinion as to which kennel club you choose to register your pup with. 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 dog 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.
White German Shepherd males will weigh between 65 and 90 pounds. German Shepherds with white coats will measure 24 inches to 26 inches in height from paw to shoulder. Females will weigh between 50 pounds and 70 pounds and will measure 22 to 24 inches in height. White German Shepherds sit comfortably in the middle of each measurement, however, according to his breed standards he cannot deviate by more than 2 inches either side.
White German Shepherds have 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 White Shepherd, as per the UKC, can be found here. Regardless of how White Shepherds are registered, effectively White Shepherds and White German Shepherds are the same dog who has the same appearance characteristics. Ultimately, the only difference will be on his paperwork dependent on who you register him with.
White German Shepherds have 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. 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 German Shepherd 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 German Shepherd Husky mix, the Gerberian Shepsky.
Something to note before we jump into discussing their temperament. Shepherds can be trained to do whatever the owner wishes. German Shepherds 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.
White German Shepherds are confident and courageous canine who will protect his family to the end if required. While this trait is the reason that German Shepherds are commonly service dogs, it’s rare for white German Shepherds to be used in service. He’s too cute looking with his almost angelic white fluff, and despite his frame, he does not look intimidating.
For this reason, the white German Shepherd has a very subtle difference in temperament compared to the standard German Shepherd breed. Because he’s been refined to be used more as a companionship dog than a guard dog, some of those stronger tendencies have been lost along the way. This is not to say that he would make a useless guard dog, however. But he’d be less 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. They are also considered slightly less intense.
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. He’s also friendly with 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 German Shepherd Dog 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 German Shepherd and the right sized German Shepherd dog crate to make training easier on you and your dog 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.
German Shepherds commonly suffer 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. White coated Shepherds are no different. Generally, this is a disease that develops in older age in many dogs. The White Shepherd Genetics’ Project have thoroughly studied the specific lineage, and it would appear that there are no major health concerns other than Elbow and Hip Dysplasia.
Puppy Prices & Breeders
The cost of German Shepherd puppy is, on average, between $1,000 and $1,500. Generally, you can expect to pay towards the higher end of the scale for White German Shepherd puppies as they are rarer. These uniquely colored pups cost upwards of $1000. 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 pups, 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 German Shepherd specific lineage enthusiast.
The best way to ensure the health of your pup is to buy him from a reputable breeder. 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 parents, as well as provide you with health certificates.
If the specific 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
How rare is the White German Shepherd?
White German Shepherds are rare. With that being said, you can find them at a breeder that specializes in this color of the breed. It’s far more likely that a puppy will end up with a white coat if you are getting your White GSD from a breeder that has both parents that are White coated.
Are White German Shepherds more aggressive?
White German Shepherds are no more aggressive than any other color GSD. How aggressive they are will depend on how they are raised and if their parents have any type of aggressive tendencies. This is why we always recommend you spend time researching breeders before you purchase a puppy.
What causes a White German Shepherds coat?
Genetics are what causes the White German Shepherd coat. As mentioned, most GSD breeders will not recognize the White GSD as an actual variant of the color, but genes passed down from parents are what causes the white coat. Now that this color is becoming more popular, it’s easier to achieve with both parents being white.
Are White German Shepherds good family dogs?
They are wonderful family dogs as long as they are raised correctly and socialized properly from a young age. As with any dog breed, it’s important to socialize them early with other pets and kids if you have them. Once integrated with the family, they make great pets and will attach to the “family pack.”
Are White German Shepherds recognized by the AKC?
White German Shepherds are not recognized by the AKC. They were barred from competing in 1968, but they can still compete in performance events. Most GSD breeders will not recognize this color as an actual variant of the true German Shepherd breed, just like the AKC.
Do White German Shepherds have blue eyes or pink noses?
If there is albinism in your dog, it’s possible they will have blue eyes and pink noses. It’s also possible to have this color combination if you have a husky shepherd mix, which will pass on the blue eye coloring of the Siberian Husky. Outside of these scenarios, the White German Shepherd does not have blue eyes or a pink nose.
Why are White German Shepherds disqualified?
They are disqualified because in 1959, White coated pups were not included in the German Shepherd Dog Club of America color standards. That started the white coat down the path of being disqualified in all major AKC events.
While there has been controversy over the history and genetic makeup 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. 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!