Frequently Asked Questions
This is a very simplistic explanation and does not account for
the actions of other genes at other loci. But it should help explain how and
why the white color can be carried along for several generations without
expressing itself and then suddenly appear in a litter of GSD puppies.
Yes. The White Shepherd has not been mixed with any other breed of dog from
the time of its introduction to North America. Certainly, there has been no
other breed or breeds added in order to make them white. The gene that
controls the white color is a natural component in the total color genetic
makeup of the German Shepherd Dog breed. The White Shepherd is registered
independently with the American White Shepherd Association in the United
States of America. Effective May 1, 1999, the White Shepherd was also fully
recognized as a separate breed of dog with the UNITED KENNEL CLUB (UKC). UKC
is the second-oldest all-breed dog registry in the United States and the
second largest in the world. For more information, please contact UKC: 100 E.
Kilgore Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49002. The phone number is: (616) 343-9020. The
United Kennel Club can also be accessed on the Internet.
ARE WHITE SHEPHERDS ALBINOS? WHAT ABOUT PIGMENT?
No. The White Shepherd should have dark (preferably black) skin pigment. The
nose, lips and eye rims must have color and be completely filled in. The skin
of the entire muzzle may be dark as well. This dark skin will often show
through the sparse coat on the top of the muzzle. It is commonly believed that
all albino animals will have milky or chalky white skin pigment, light eyes
with pink or red pupils and colorless, white hair such as you might see in the
common lab mouse. In many species, including humans, albinos do exhibit these
physical characteristics. However, today we recognize cases where albinos will
exhibit colored (non-white) coats and blue eyes. (The so-called
"white" Doberman Pinscher is such a case.) They are properly known
as "Tyrosinase-Positive" or partial albinos. For this reason, any
White Shepherd that may appear with blue (or pink) eyes or with a total lack
of skin pigment is disqualified by the Breed Standard and should never be used
in any breeding program.
OKAY… IF THEY’RE NOT ALBINOS, THEN WHY ARE THEY
The coat color comes from a simple recessive gene. To put it plainly, in order
to produce a white puppy, both parents must carry the gene for the white coat
The white gene is not associated with the genes that cause color-paling in the
German Shepherd Dog, since those genes are located at different loci. It is
probably possible that a solid white GSD could carry these dilution genes.
However, since the dog is white in color, the paling factor would not express
itself in the color of the coat.
All dogs have a total of 78 chromosomes which are inherited from both parents
at the moment of conception. Thus, each parent gives half the genetic makeup
to their offspring – 39 from the sire and 39 from the dam. In simple terms,
the chromosomes (which carry the genes) like to hang out in pairs. They align
themselves so that the genes they carry will always exist in pairs. Each gene
pair controls a given trait, either alone or in combination with other gene
pairs. If the genes that make up the pair are exactly alike, the dog is said
to be ‘homozygous’ for that gene pair. If the pair is mixed, then that dog
is ‘heterozygous’ for that pair. These gene pairs acting in combination
with each other determine what traits the dog will exhibit – called its
All white German Shepherd Dogs are homozygous for the gene pair responsible
for producing the color white. If we call the white gene ‘w’, then all
White Shepherds must have the following genotype: ww. (A non-white dog would
have to be either WW or Ww.) If we breed our white dog, the only gene it would
be able to contribute to its offspring would be the recessive w. You may have
heard the term "phenotype" which describes the physical appearance
of an animal. Thus, the phenotype of a GSD that inherits the ww gene pair will
be that of a solid white dog. The problem with the phenotype is that what you
see isn’t always what you get. In many cases, you can’t tell a given
dog’s genotype just by looking at its phenotype. For example, a black and
tan dog could be homozygous for non-white (WW). Such a dog would be unable to
produce a white puppy, even if bred to a white dog because it doesn’t carry
the recessive white gene. However, a black and tan dog could be carrying the
gene for solid white (heterozygous for the white gene pair) and you would
never know it just by looking at him (his phenotype) because the dominant W
‘covers up’ or takes precedence over the recessive partner gene. A colored
GSD that does not carry the recessive w (homozygous for W) bred to another
homozygous W partner will produce a litter of non-white, non-carrier puppies.
Likewise, two white GSDs (homozygous for w) bred together can never produce a
colored puppy. We can use a simple punnet square to determine the probability
of producing white offspring from a white parent x non-white parent if we know
the genotype of the non-white dog.
In the first punnet square, we see the potential result of breeding two
carriers together. (We’ll define a carrier as a non-white dog that carries
the white gene, also known as white ‘factored.’) With this mating, there
is a potential for 25% of the resultant litter to be white (ww), 25% to be
homozygous non-white (WW) and 50% to be heterozygous non-white (Ww – carries
the white factor). In example 2, we mate a carrier (white factored or Ww) to a
white partner (homozygous ww). The potential exists for half the litter
(approximately 50%) to be white while the other 50% will be white factored
(heterozygous) like their non-white parent. In the third example, we breed a
homozygous non-white dog to a white partner. None of these puppies can be
white but all of them have inherited the white factor and can produce white
when bred to another carrier or to a white partner. In the fourth example, we
breed a white factored dog to a homozygous non-carrier. Again, none of these
pups can be white but half of them (approximately 50%) could potentially carry
the white gene. The other 50% would be homozygous non-carriers. The only way
to tell whether a given puppy has inherited the white factor would be to do a
test breeding to a white dog. If no white pups result, then you would know
that the parent is probably a non-carrier, or homozygous for WW.
WHAT DOES THE TERM ‘SNOW NOSE’ MEAN?
This is a common term describing a dog having pigment (usually on the nose,
hence the name) that lightens or fades out in the cold, winter months and
returns with the warm weather and lengthening days. This very common trait
does occur frequently in the White Shepherd as well as in many other breeds,
both white and non-white. It is generally considered to be of little
consequence. The snow nose factor is said to be tied to the enzyme Tyrosinase
which is necessary for the production of melanin – the color-producing
chemical in the skin. Tyrosinase is believed to be temperature-sensitive,
thus, its activity slows in cold environments. Although it is not faulted by
the Standard, it is something that breeders should be aware of within their
breeding programs. For this reason, breeders should try to breed any dog that
exhibits the snow nose factor to dogs from lines that hold their dark pigment
WHERE DID THE WHITE GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG COME FROM?
Actually, the white shepherd dog predates the GSD breed, which is a relatively
new breed of dog. (The GSD as a breed is less than 100 years old.)
To understand the beginnings of the White Shepherd, one must discuss its
parent breed – the German Shepherd Dog. There was no such thing as a GSD
before Captain Max Von Stephanitz and his friend Artur Meyer saw the dog
Hektor Linksrhein at the Karlesruhe Exhibition on April 3, 1899. Von
Stephanitz at once recognized this dog as the perfect prototype for the new
breed he had envisioned in his mind’s eye. He bought the dog and renamed him
on the spot. Thus, Hektor Linksrhein became Horand von Grafrath, SZ1 – the
very first registered "German Shepherd Dog" in history. Also born on
that day was the German SV or the Verein für Deutsche Schaferhunde (Club for
German Shepherd Dogs).
It is an accepted fact that Horand von Grafrath’s maternal grandfather was a
white German sheepdog named Greif who was born in 1879. In his book The
Alsatian Wolf Dog (1923), George Horowitz, a British judge, author and
historian writes that Greif was exhibited at a show in Hanover in 1882 and
then again in 1887. In 1888 in Hamburg, another white sheepdog, Greifa, was
shown. A year later, at the Cassel Show (1889), Greif II was shown. These
three sheepdogs were all owned by one Baron von Knigge, the Master of Hounds
Horand von Grafrath was bred to 35 different bitches, producing 53 litters of
which, 140 progeny were registered with the SV. He was also mated three times
to his own daughters, thus fixing his genetic code into the developing breed.
Of the many genetic traits that became firmly entrenched, the gene for the
white coat color would figure prominently. It would be handed down to his
progeny as well as through his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It
remains with us to this day.
WHEN DID THE FIRST WHITE GERMAN SHEPHERDS APPEAR IN THE UNITED STATES?
The first dog to be shown as a GSD in the United States was a bitch named Mira
v. Offingen (Beowulf x Hella v. Schwaben), in 1906. She was never registered
with AKC and eventually, was returned to Germany. The first GSD registered
with AKC was Queen of Switzerland (AKC # 115006). In 1913, Luchs – a dog
owned by Anne Tracy – made his championship along with Hera von Ehrangrund.
Miss Tracy’s breeding program produced white-coated GSDs almost immediately.
A litter whelped n March 27, 1917 contained four white puppies: Stonihurst
Edmund, Stonihurst Eric, Stonihurst Eadred and Stonihurst Elf. These four
white dogs are believed to be the first AKC registered white GSDs bred and
born in the USA. They were grandchildren of Am. Ch. Luchs and were
enthusiastically received. The first German white GSDs were imported to the
USA in 1920 by H.N. Hanchett of Minneapolis, MN. In 1921, Etzel V. Oeringen
(otherwise known as "Strongheart") was imported to the USA and
caused a sensation which is still felt today. This was a silver-gray dog with
very good bloodlines that produced many excellent, black-pigmented, self-color
whites. The white dog was bred and kept by such respected early American GSD
kennels as Longworth Kennels, Giralda Farms and Grafmar Kennels.
I HEARD THEY HAVE WOLF IN THEM. IS THIS TRUE?
Actually, since the domestic dog descended from the wolf, the technically
correct answer to this question is: yes. One of the most influential bitches
in the history of the GSD breed was Mores Plieningen, SZ159, born in 1894.
According to Dr. Malcolm B. Willis (The German Shepherd Dog: A Genetic
History), Mores Plieningen "is the ancestor (many times over) of every
GSD in the world today." Her greatest claim to fame was in giving birth
to Hektor v. Schwaben SZ13, son of Horand von Grafrath. Hektor was born in
1898 and made the German Sieger title in 1900 and 1901. It is rumored that
Mores was the daughter of a working shepherd bitch and a captive male wolf.
The story has changed and evolved over the century and cannot be fully
substantiated. Even if Mores was indeed a wolfdog, the amount of wolf blood in
the modern GSD is probably minimal, having been diluted over the almost 100
year history of the breed.
As far as the modern White Shepherd is concerned, we can emphatically state
that no wolf blood has been added to any registered White Shepherd. There have
been recent cases where wolfdog breeders have incorporated or used AKC
registered white GSDs in their breeding programs. But they have nothing to do
with our dogs, our breed or our Club. The White Shepherd Dog is *not* a
wolfdog or a wolfdog mix.
WHY WAS THE WHITE COLORED GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG DISQUALIFIED?
That is a question that only the German SV and the German Shepherd Dog Club of
America can truly answer. The SV was the first to attempt to eliminate white
dogs from the gene pool through the dissavowment of the color around 1960. It
was not always that way. In its early days, the SV registered white German
Shepherd Dogs right along with all other colors. A dog named Berno von
Seewiese, born in 1913 was one of the first whites to be registered with the
SV. He represented a direct line down from Horand von Grafrath through
Horand’s equally famous, (and some would say, better) son Hektor von
Schwaben. For his part, Von Stephanitz had little interest in or use for a
"beautiful" dog. This view often put him at odds with fellow
breeders of his day. His focus was always geared toward agility,
functionality, intelligence and usefulness. In his book, he stated: "The
coloring of the dog has no significance whatsoever for service." Clearly,
the founder of the GSD breed had no preference for one particular color over
any other. What changed to cause the tide to turn against white colored GSDs?
By the mid-1930s, the Nazis were spreading everywhere and getting into all
different areas and interests in Germany. Animal breeders did not escape their
influence. Nazi Party members held memberships in the SV and increasingly
exerted more and more influence over all aspects of the Club. Eventually, Von
Stephanitz was forced out altogether. By the time of his death in 1936, the
takeover of the SV by the Nazis was fairly complete. As with other animals,
the SV and the GSD breed as put to the use for and by Hitler’s Nazi Party.
In the flawed medical and genetic "science" of the Party mentality,
all manner of ills were attributed to the gene for the white coat color.
Discrimination was rampant everywhere. Such problems as deafness, blindness,
albinism, mental instability, sterility and degeneration and loss of vigor
were associated with and blamed on the white dogs. Once these beliefs took
root, they flourished and grew, even after the end of World War II. With the
breeding population of quality GSDs at an all-time low in Germany after the
War, the impetus to remove these "degenerate throwbacks" from the
remaining gene pool as set. Even to this day, white dogs remain ineligible
even for registration as GSDs within Germany and throughout most European
Following Germany’s lead, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America petitioned
AKC for the disqualification of the color white from the GSD Breed Standard.
The disqualification was approved by AKC and went into effect on April 9,
1968. It remains so to this day.
WHY WOULD I WANT TO OWN A DOG WITH A DISQUALIFYING BREED FAULT?
The only reason why one should not buy a white GSD would be if one wishes to
become competitive in showing or breeding German Shepherd Dogs in the United
States. One other sport that most White Shepherds would not be competitive in
would be Schutzhund. Over the years, the White Shepherd has been bred to have
a more mellow, soft and sensitive character and most dogs will lack the
serious drives necessary to be really competitive on the Schutzhund field. So
anyone wanting to compete in the various protection sports would probably do
better with a different breed of dog.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WHITE GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG AND THE WHITE
At this point in time, there is no difference except that the White Shepherd
is only registered as a breed apart with AWSA and with UKC in the United
States. In time and with the deepening rift in the separation process, it is
expected that the WS will continue to evolve and changes will be more readily
CAN I SHOW MY WHITE SHEPHERD IN CONFORMATION? WHERE?
As long as the WS remains registered with AKC and the Canadian Kennel Club as
the German Shepherd Dog, individual members of the breed will be able to
participate and title in all facets of AKC and CKC sport and competition
EXCEPT conformation. It should also be well noted here that white GSDs have
not been disqualified from the show ring in *all* kennel clubs or
organizations within the various countries of the world. For example, they are
not disqualified from showing in Great Britain, where the official Kennel Club
Breed Standard still states the following:
Black or black saddle with tan, or gold to light grey markings. All black, all
grey, with lighter or brown markings referred to as Sables. Nose black. Light
markings on chest or very pale colour on inside of legs permissible but
undesirable, as are whitish nails, red-tipped tails or wishy-washy faded
colours defined as lacking in pigmentation. Blues, livers, albinos, whites
(i.e. almost pure white dogs with black noses) and near whites highly
undesirable. Undercoat, except in all black dogs, usually grey or fawn. Colour
in itself is of secondary importance having no effect on character or fitness
for work. Final colour of a young dog only ascertained when outer coat has
Granted, one might find it extremely difficult to finish a dog sporting a coat
color deemed "highly undesirable." However, if one were particularly
stubborn, one *could* show one's dog in any Championship event in Great
Britain and be fairly assured of not being thrown out of the ring. Even this
is one step above what we have in the United States. It wasn't always like
this! Before the color white was made a disqualifying fault in Canada, White
Shepherds were shown frequently in the breed ring there and did very well. In
fact, in 1996, two white GSD bitches received Canadian Kennel Club
Championship points -- the first white GSDs ever in history to accomplish this
feat. It's too bad they didn't get to finish their Championships before the
disqualification went into effect.
If there is a bright side to the matter of campaigning a dog with a
disqualifying breed fault, it is this: the white GSD is *not* disqualified
from showing in the breed ring with several reputable kennel clubs or
registries in North America. Even though the United Kennel Club has recognized
the WS as a separate breed, it continues to allow white-coated German
Shepherds to compete and title in UKC pointed or specialty shows right along
side other German Shepherd Dogs of all other colors. In addition to this, all
AKC or Canadian Kennel Club registered white German Shepherd Dogs are fully
eligible for showing and titling through the American White Shepherd
Association (AWSA) in the USA and through the White Shepherd Club of Canada (WSCC)
in that country.
In the United States, AWSA sponsors champion-pointed specialty matches that
any AKC or CKC-registered white GSD can enter. And although AWSA does maintain
an accurate and independent registry for its members and their dogs,
exhibitors need not be members of AWSA in order to compete and title their
dogs at shows. In Canada, such point matches are held by WSCC. Very often, the
two clubs will hold combined specialty weekends offering exhibitors the chance
to put American and Canadian WS Specialty Champion points on their dogs in the
same show weekend.
Opportunities also exist for showing in the breed ring within other North
American breed clubs and registries. Such clubs as Canadian Rarieties and the
Federation of Rare Breeds (FORB) have welcomed the participation of our dogs
at their events. White GSDs are also eligible for showing with organizations
such as the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA), States Kennel Club (SKC)
and Worldwide Kennel Club (WWKC).
HOW DO I REGISTER MY WHITE GERMAN SHEPHERD WITH AWSA?
You can register your AKC or CKC-registered white German Shepherd Dog with the
American White Shepherd Association by becoming a member of the Association
and by signing and agreeing to abide by the Club Code of Ethics. AWSA’s
registry is only open to members of the Club in good standing. However, you do
not have to join the Club in order to show and title your dog in Conformation
for an AWSA Champion of Record title. If you would like to show for points at
any AWSA event, please visit our
For more information on joining the Club, please visit
our Club Information page.
CAN I REGISTER MY WHITE GERMAN SHEPHERD WITH ANY OTHER KENNEL CLUBS OR
At the present time in North America, you can register your white GSD as a
"White Shepherd" only with AWSA and/or with United Kennel Club. The
breed is also recognized by States Kennel Club, the American Rare Breed
Association and Worldwide Kennel Club as a "White German Shepherd."
The American Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club and United Kennel Club still
register the breed as the German Shepherd Dog, color: white.
WHAT KINDS OF SPORTS CAN I DO WITH A WHITE SHEPHERD?
The sky is pretty much the limit! The WS can be trained to do almost anything,
from police K9 work to circus tricks to baby-sitting. It all depends on your
individual dog and his temperament, personality and likes or dislikes.
Whatever you care to try, whether it be backpacking in the mountains or
swimming in the ocean, your WS will be game to give it a go. A working dog is
a happy dog, so let your imagination go and get out there with your dog!
HOW BIG DO THEY GET?
The WS is a medium-large breed. The AWSA Breed Standard calls for an ideal
height for a male of 25 inches (63.5 cm) at the top of the highest point of
the shoulder blade, with an inch (about 3 cm) variation up or down acceptable.
Bitches should ideally be 23 inches (58.4 cm) at the same point and again, an
inch variation in either direction of the ideal is fine. Oversized or
undersized dogs, (i.e.: dogs outside of the acceptable range of height), are
highly objectionable and should be faulted! In fact, the Standard states:
"Extremes of anything distort type and are to be strongly
discouraged." Ideal weight for a 25-inch-tall male would be roughly
around 75-85 pounds (34-39 kgms), and about 60-70 pounds (27-32 kgms) for a
DO THEY SHED?
Oh my heavens, YES! Like other double-coated working breeds, the White
Shepherd will shed its undercoat twice yearly, in late summer/early fall and
then again in late winter/early spring. The dogs also shed their outer coat
hairs (called "guard" hairs) on a continual basis. Unspayed bitches
will shed more copiously just before they come into season. During periods of
"the big shed," daily brushing down to the skin really helps to cut
down on the amount of hair around the house and stimulates the dog’s skin,
helping to loosen the remaining coat so that it can fall. At the same time,
the hair follicles will be stimulated to grow a new coat. Plus, it feels good!
At shedding time, your dog will be itchy and getting the dead hair out will
make him feel better.
HOW LONG DO THEY LIVE?
With good care, your White Shepherd should be with you for a long time. The
average lifespan for the White Shepherd is around 12 years. Dogs will often
live longer and most will enter into old age in fairly decent health.
WHAT IS IT LIKE LIVING WITH A WHITE SHEPHERD?
It’s an adventure every day! They are usually smart dogs whose brains, sense
of humor and fun-loving nature sometimes gets them into trouble. White
Shepherds are wonderful dogs that can live very well with families, couples or
single people. They bond very closely to the members of their family, but may
be particularly fond of one special member. White Shepherds love to be near
their people, often following them from one room to the next. They are in tune
with people’s feelings and emotions, giving them an almost human-like
These good qualities are tempered by the special needs of this breed. As every
breed is not right for every person, we feel that it is vitally important to
point out these needs. White Shepherds need a fair but firm hand and obedience
training to help them fit into the family’s lifestyle. They have very active
minds and they love to work! Your dog will be happiest when it has some kind
of job to do. That job is, of course, up to you and your dog. However, a WS
left alone in the yard day after day will soon become bored and a bored WS can
be an *extremely* destructive animal. This is a large, strong dog that can
reduce furniture to splinters or a well-planted garden to a mine field in a
matter of minutes! These dogs MUST have structure and consistency in handling
to help them learn their limits. Again, a firm but gentle touch will yield the
best results with this breed.
Another very important part of owning a WS that cannot be ignored is exercise!
This is a very busy breed; daily exercise is essential. Most shepherds love to
play ball and ten to fifteen minutes of sustained fetching will tire your dog
out quite nicely as well as give him a sense of purpose. Whether it is ball
chasing, Frisbee catching, obedience training, participation in a canine play
group or just taking long walks, you must be willing to provide some form of
daily, constructive exercise to provide an acceptable outlet for this
breed’s considerable energies and mental capacities.
WHAT ARE THE TEMPERAMENTS LIKE?
Basic temperament is usually that of a very good-natured dog. The breed is
protective of its family in appropriate situations. They are loving and open
dogs with family members but can be stand-offish or even somewhat leery of
strangers, preferring the company of their own pack members. The White
Shepherd should never be aggressive! The breed, on the average, is easily
trained, inquisitive, generally quite good with children and definitely eager
to please. The basic temperament is softer than that of the typical colored
German Shepherd Dog. White Shepherds can be sensitive almost to the point of
timidity. They are usually quite tractable and harsh training methods should
not be necessary, nor should they be used with this breed. In this regard,
they are very different from many lines of GSD, especially the imports.
ISN’T IT HARD TO KEEP THEM CLEAN AND WHITE?
No, it isn’t. A White Shepherd with the proper, harsh-textured double-coat
is a very easy care dog. The proper coat is weather resisting and
self-cleaning. It does not absorb or hold dirt and the dogs seldom need a
bath. Even a thoroughly muddy dog can be simply placed in a crate in a warm
place to dry and after a brisk brushing, the coat will be clean and white once
again. The White Shepherd is truly, a "wash and wear" breed.
ARE THEY GOOD FAMILY DOGS? CAN I HAVE THEM AROUND MY SMALL CHILDREN?
White Shepherds make excellent family companions for all ages of people. They
are usually very good with children as long as both the children and the dog
are taught to love and respect one another. White Shepherds also get along
very well with other pets. Again, respect and tolerance may need to be taught
with certain types of pets. Common sense should always prevail. Especially
with very young children or other, more delicate pet animal species,
supervision is absolutely essential! The dog should have a safe place to go to
just get away from it all. A crate is ideal for this purpose. Children should
be taught to respect the dog’s private place and to leave him alone when he
goes there to rest.
WHAT PARTICULAR BREED TRAITS SHOULD I BE AWARE OF?
The White Shepherd is a direct descendent of the German Shepherd Dog which was
originally bred to be a utilitarian working, herding and guardian breed. Early
and continued socialization is a must to have a companion that is confident
and calm with strange people and new situations. As stated previously, the
breed is extremely high energy (think: "go-go-go"), and the dogs
seem to always be thinking or planning their next moves. They can be fairly
hard-headed. As a breed, the WS is definitely vocal! If noise bothers you,
then this might not be the right breed for you. White Shepherds will often
hold entire "conversations" with their owners, with other pets, with
the dog next door or with each other. These dogs have a wide range of
vocalizations that they do not hesitate to employ, (daily if possible),
depending upon their general mood.
An often heard comment from WS owners is: "I swear that she understands
*everything* I say!" Be aware that along with this intuitiveness comes a
deep responsibility on the part of the owner to provide for such a demanding
and intelligent creature. Here are some basic necessities that a WS owner
should be willing to provide: leadership, obedience training, structure, time
and attention, consistent handling, exercise, supervision, patience and
understanding, grooming (remember — the breed SHEDS!!!), a nutritious diet
and proper medical care including spaying or neutering for all pets.
It should go without saying, but we feel it is vitally important to also point
out that pet ownership is a privilege and a responsibility and not a right.
When you take on dog ownership, you should be prepared to care for and to
provide for that dog for its entire lifetime! A dog is NOT a disposable
commodity, to be used and then abandoned when it becomes inconvenient!!! Care
for your dog and meet his basic needs and you will have a wonderful friend,
companion and confidant who will love you unconditionally and who would lay
down his life for yours. Such is the legacy that was given to the White
Shepherd by its parent breed: the great German Shepherd Dog.
SHOULD I BUY A MALE OR A FEMALE? CAN YOU PLEASE DISCUSS THE DIFFERENCES?
Secondary sex characteristics should be easily seen in the White Shepherd.
Males tend to be slightly larger, more masculine and perhaps more assertive in
temperament and personality. As in other breeds and animal species, the
females tend to be slightly smaller with more feminine features. Both sexes
should have very good temperaments and should be equally good at any kind of
work or play with few differences. Spaying or neutering tends to remove the
typical problems associated with both males and females such as the desire to
roam, marking of territory and estrus in the bitch.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON HEALTH OR GENETIC PROBLEMS IN THE WHITE SHEPHERD
Since the White Shepherd comes directly from the German Shepherd Dog breed, it
is subject to many of the same genetic and congenital diseases or health
problems as the GSD. WS club members have kept problems to a minimum through
sometimes brutally honest, open breeding policies. It is not at all uncommon
for top breeders to openly admit any medical or genetic problems they may have
encountered to other breeders and to buyers.
In the year 2000, AWSA sponsored a survey of genetic diseases in White
Shepherds. More than 1000 dogs from all over the US and Canada were
represented. Fifty seven genetic diseases were identified in our White
Shepherds. At first blush, that sounds tragic, but the number is actually very
low when you consider that 138 genetic diseases have been identified in the
German Shepherd Dog. The White Shepherd breed has avoided many of the diseases
that affect the German Shepherd Dog. Our genetic survey is available for
reading and/or downloading at the "Health and Genetics""Health
pages at the official AWSA web site. There is also an
email list open to everyone who is interested in WS
and breeding better, healthier dogs -- regardless of club
affiliation or lack thereof -- where our members and breeders "lay it on
the line" on behalf of the continuing good health of our breed.
As with other large (and some smaller) breeds, the White Shepherd faces
problems with hip and elbow dysplasia. Dysplasia is the most common problem in
the breed. No reputable breeder would ever consider breeding a dog without
first radiographing that animal for dysplasia. As a Club, we pride ourselves
on our outstanding concern for good health in our breed. Most reputable
breeders religiously test their dogs for Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD),
which is a bleeding disorder. Many also routinely test for cardiac problems,
as there have been incidences of some heart disease within certain WS lines.
Some other diseases or conditions that have been reported in the breed from
time to time (and thus, bear watching) include: malabsorbtion syndrome;
degenerative joint disease (including osteochondritis); megaesophagus; pannus
and other forms of eye disease (not commonly seen); bloat; allergies (food,
fleas or airborne); other skin or coat problems and missing teeth.
In addition to the above conditions, we have heard of some lines of Whites
having had problems with some immune-mediated illnesses (such as Lupus)
and/or, other forms of autoimmune disease. At this point in time, autoimmune
problems are fairly rare in the breed. However, we will continue to test and
monitor for these problems to ensure that they do not become more commonplace.
WHAT IS "SOCIALIZATION" AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
Socialization is the process of introducing your puppy to new experiences and
friendly people, dogs and other animals. By the age of 49 days, puppies’
brains are fully functional and they are ready to learn. It is vitally
important to get them out into the world and let them experience all kinds of
new things including small children, city traffic, people in wheelchairs or on
bikes, skates or skateboards, climbing up and down stairs or elevators, for
people who live in city flats or apartments. Anything that your expect to be a
usual part of you and your dog’s world should ideally, be introduced to your
puppy in a fun, non-threatening manner at an early age. This will help
strengthen the bond between you and your puppy and will encourage an outgoing,
confident attitude in your grown dog. Proper socialization also lessens the
chances of a pup becoming a shy or fearful dog. Letting a young puppy meet as
many friendly human strangers of different ages, sexes, sizes shapes and races
as possible is necessary in order for the dog to learn the difference between
a friendly or neutral person and a non-friendly or threatening person. Take
your puppy with you and show him the world!
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR WHEN CHOOSING A BREEDER?
A puppy soon grows into a dog — sometimes, a very *large* dog. With good
care, your White Shepherd should be a member of your family for twelve years
or more. Throughout his lifetime, you should be able to contact your breeder
to discuss any matter or concern you might have. Your breeder should be a
family friend, a resource for guidance and information and a mentor, should
you decide to show your dog or begin a breeding program of your own someday.
Here are some tips to help you select a reputable breeder.
The breeder should answer all of your questions, honestly and completely. They
should ask you just as many, if not more. Do not buy from a breeder who is all
too anxious to sell you a puppy or one who actually tries to pressure you into
Talk to or visit more than one breeder. Be considerate and call ahead for an
appointment and then make sure that you are on time. We all have lives outside
of dogs that should be respected. Also, try not to visit more than one litter
per day. Diseases such as parvo can be spread on clothing and shoes and going
from kennel to kennel is an excellent way to spread potentially deadly viruses
around. Don’t be upset if the breeder asks you to take off your shoes before
entering the puppy area. If you are visiting a very young litter (under 4
weeks of age), expect to bring a fresh change of clothing and do not attempt
to touch the puppies without permission.
The puppy should grow up to resemble its parents. You should be able to see
both the sire and the dam of the litter you are considering. However, do not
be too concerned if the sire is not available for viewing "in
person." (Actually, this may be a *bad* sign.) Since the object of
breeding dogs is to improve the breed, it is rare that a given breeder will
have the correct stud dog for every bitch readily at hand in his or her
kennel. Bitches are routinely sent out for breeding to studs that best
complement them and have the most potential for contributing to a better White
Shepherd. Therefore, you should be able to view and interact with the mother
of the litter, but most times, you might not get to do the same with the
father. If the sire of the litter is not present, the breeder should have
pictures available to show you. The breeder should be able to discuss why he
or she chose this particular male, how he complemented the female and what
particular qualities the breeder hoped the male would add to his or her line.
If the main reason the breeder used a particular male is that he was local and
thus, convenient; or if his fee was the cheapest available; or if the breeder
can’t name a reason for using him at all — RUN DON’T WALK away from this
person!!! It is an unfortunate fact that there are too many disreputable
people out there wanting to cash in on "rare and exotic" white
German Shepherd Dogs. The White Shepherd is not rare and should not cost
outrageous amounts of money.
As above, the breeder should be able to discuss the litter’s pedigree in
depth with you. The breeder should be able to tell you why this mating was
done and what he or she hoped to gain from it. He or she should also be able
to point out the good qualities and structural flaws (all dogs have them) of
his bitch and the sire. He or she should be able to tell you whether the
resulting litter was everything they expected and if it wasn’t, what they
might try next time. Many breeders keep a brag book with pictures of all the
dogs they have ever owned or bred. This is a valuable tool for the breeder and
is an excellent resource for the potential new owner.
The environment the puppy has been raised in should be carefully scrutinized.
Is it realitively clean and neat? How does it smell? Have the puppies had
adequate opportunities to socialize with their human family? Have they been
introduced to potentially frightening household objects such as vacuum
cleaners, noisy stereos and dishwashers?
Are you allowed to view the entire litter together or just the one you are
considering? If you can see the entire litter, watch them interact together.
Note which puppy is the boisterous one, which is the shy one and which one
insists on untying your shoelaces. Which one seems to be "the boss"
or the pushy, dominant one? Which one likes to cuddle? The cute one who is
always into something might catch your eye, but he could very well grow into a
handful later. Evaluate your own lifestyle and try to match the puppy’s
basic personality to your own. Many breeders will ultimately want to make your
pick for you depending on your interview. Do not be put off by this. The
breeder knows his or her line and has been living with these little souls for
at least six weeks. Based on what you tell the breeder, he or she should be
able to place the right puppy with the right owner. Trust the breeder’s
Will you receive a written guarantee? Compare between breeders. Read the fine
print!!! Know and understand exactly what you are buying and what will be
asked of you. For example, if you are buying a pet, you will most likely be
asked to sign a contract stating that the dog is to be spayed or neutered. If
you are looking at a top show or obedience prospect, you might be required by
contract to show the dog to the completion of its title.
Will you receive registration papers? What registry does the breeder use?
Beware of some bogus registries that now exist as little more than
organizations for puppy mills, irresponsible breeders or people who have lost
their AKC, CKC or UKC privileges.
Is the breeder a member of any kennel club(s), or more specifically, any White
Shepherd (or white German Shepherd) club or organization? Most reputable
breeders will be members in good standing of at least the Parent Club for
their given breed.
Ask if the breeder shows their dogs in conformation and if they do, ask to see
their championship certificates. Most breeders will proudly display them in
frames on the wall or in their brag books. If they don’t show in
conformation, perhaps they compete in obedience, herding, flyball or agility.
Titles by themselves don’t necessarily make a good dog, but they do prove
that the dogs can still work. Title certificates also prove that the breeder
is serious about dogs and is interested in something other than money. Be very
wary of the breeder that cranks out litter after litter but has no titles of
any kind on their dogs to prove their genetic worth!
Be upfront with the breeder. Don’t expect to buy a pet puppy for a cheaper
price and then breed or show it in conformation. The more honest you are with
respect to your personal needs and desires in a dog, the closer you will be to
buying the dog of your dreams.
Demand a quality puppy and don’t settle for second best! If the breeder
tells you that the sire and dam are free of hip and elbow dysplasia, then you
should expect to see the original OFA, PennHIP or OVC certificate. (Some
breeders will actually whip out a copy of the x-rays to show you.) Likewise,
if the parents have had been cardiac cleared or had their eyes checked by CERF,
you should be able to see the certificates as proof. Ask the breeder what
other testing has been done on the parents (vWB testing, for example) and ask
to see those certificates as well. Ask for references from other people who
have bought dogs from this breeder and CHECK them! Remember — it is your
responsibility, as a buyer, to do your homework. If the breeder can’t supply
you with the necessary paperwork or if you feel uncomfortable in any way, then
DON’T BUY THE DOG!!!
Beware of any breeder that says their line has NO faults!!! All dogs have some
faults; some are more serious than others. A good breeder will be able to tell
you what, if any, health problems may lurk in the line. He or she should be
able to tell you which problems they have personally encountered and what they
have done about it. At some point in the interview, the breeder should take
the available puppies — one by one — and put them up on a table.
Especially with potential show pups, the breeder should be able to point out
the good points and the flaws in each pup’s physical structure. The breeder
should be able to tell you exactly what qualities make each given puppy a show
or obedience prospect or a pet quality puppy. Beware of the breeder who claims
that ALL their dogs are "show" quality!!!
Get *everything* in writing! A good breeder will provide a written contract
together with a 3 - 5 generation pedigree (3 generations is considered the
minimum) and the individual registration papers for the puppy. Don’t
overlook puppies’ medical records! Proof of proper vaccinations and at least
one visit to the veterinarian for a basic health check and worming should be
provided. All AWSA member/breeders are required by the Code
to provide you with a guarantee that all dogs will be free of
any and all communicable diseases for a period of at least 3 days after
leaving the seller’s premises. You will be encouraged to take your new
friend to your own veterinarian within 48 hours after purchase for a complete
examination and health check. Per the AWSA Club Code of Ethics, for each puppy
or dog transferred, all AWSA members must provide the following:
Full identification of the dog including the registered name and number of
the sire and dam, the litter registration number or the individual registered
name and number of the dog if available, a written pedigree documenting at
least three (3) generations, a complete written medical history including a
health certificate signed by a veterinarian, information on any vaccinations
and wormings still due and their approximate due dates, written feeding
instructions, a copy of the official application form for The American White
Shepherd Association and a copy of the Club Code of Ethics, and any other
instructional materials deemed necessary by the seller.
A written assessment of the probable quality of the dog, whether for show,
breeding or pet/companion. If the dog is sold for show or breeding, the seller
will furnish a written guarantee against disqualifying faults as per the breed
Referrals for veterinarians, groomers or trainers if the new owner desires
A basic written health guarantee (that may be provided by the Club) that all
dogs will be free of any and all communicable diseases for a period of at
least 3 days after leaving the seller’s premises as well as the seller’s
own guarantee against any hereditary disease(s) as deemed necessary by the
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING A PUPPY?
When choosing any puppy, the first thing to notice is their physical
condition. One does not have to be a veterinarian to do a basic health check
on a puppy. Do the puppies look clean? Please note that by "clean" I
don’t necessarily mean "white." Puppies born in winter will have
most likely been raised indoors on newspapers. Thus, their coats may be
slightly stained by the newsprint. What I mean by "clean" is the
actual condition of the litter. They shouldn’t be covered in their own
feces. They should smell good.
Before you even look at the pups, try to spend a bit of time interacting with
the breeder’s other adult dogs, in particular — the litter’s mother.
What is her temperament and personality like? Is she calm? Suspicious? Playful
and outgoing? Shy or aggressive? Temperament, both good and bad, is inherited
at the moment of conception. Good temperament is dominant to poor temperament.
The pups have inherited half their genes from their dam and half from their
sire, it is true. But they have spent the majority of their time with their
dam and her basic temperament will have had a great affect on them. Puppies
learn much from their mothers in the time that they are with them, so it is
important that the litter’s mother be a pleasant dog.
Pick up the pup you are considering. The puppy should feel substantial —
neither fat nor rail thin. His coat should not be matted down. Check his ears
— they should be clean and sweet-smelling. Dirty ears could be a sign of
earmites or an infection. Ruffle the puppy’s coat. It should feel soft and
thick. There should be no sign of fleas. The skin should not look irritated or
have weeping patches. Look at his eyes — they should be clear and bright and
filled with mischief! The eyes should never be crusted over or filled with
mucus. The whites of the eyes should be white and not yellow or red. There
should be no tear stains down the face. Check the pup’s nails — they
should be short. Overgrown nails are a sign of poor care. Look under the
puppy’s tail to make sure that it is clean and that there is no irritation
around the anus. This could be a sign that the puppy has recently had a bout
of diarrhea. Of course, if any of the puppies defecate, take the opportunity
to check it out. Their stools should be small and firm and you shouldn’t see
any worm segments in the stool. If you can see the entire litter, so much the
better. Check them all! If you happen to see one really sick-looking puppy,
then you should suspect that the others are also ill. If you see or suspect
that the puppies are not healthy, DO NOT BUY A PUPPY!!!
Now set the puppy you are interested in on the ground and watch him for
awhile. He should be able to move and play normally and without limping,
staggering or dragging a foot. How does he interact with you, the breeder and
his littermates and/or mother? Is he outgoing, confident and playful? Puppies
at this age should be curious and always ready for a game. They should not be
hiding from strangers or cowering in the corner. A puppy that hangs back a bit
could be perfectly normal. Spend a bit of time talking to him in a soft or
high-pitched, squeaky voice; he should respond. If he continues to hide or run
away from you, take that as a possible warning that something is not quite
right. Do not make the mistake of buying a puppy "to save it" or
because you feel sorry for it. Remember that this is a lifetime agreement
between you and that little pup who will, soon enough, grow into an adult.
Take the time to be sure that this is what you want, and that this is the
right litter, the right puppy and the right time in your life to take on this
WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO TAKE MY NEW PUPPY HOME?
Most experts agree that the optimum time to take a puppy home is around 7 to 8
weeks of age. Depending on the individual breeder, the potential new owner and
the particular line of dogs they are working with, puppies may go to their new
homes as early as six weeks of age (but never any earlier). White Shepherd
pups need to be in their new homes sooner than many other breeds because they
tend to bond at an earlier age. One top breeder states that she will not ship
a pup by air over the age of 10 weeks. She has found through experience that
shipping an older puppy is very hard on the puppy mentally. Some may do well,
but to this particular breeder, it just isn’t worth the risk.
WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY WHITE SHEPHERD?
Your White Shepherd should do well on most types of quality food. You should
try to stay away from the cheap, grocery store brands and definitely stay away
from any type of generic feed product. Some White Shepherds have the tendency
toward food-related allergies, especially to wheat, corn or soybean meals. Try
to use a quality meat-based product with meat or meat meal as the first listed
ingredient on the label. Reading the feed labels is as important to your
dog’s health as it is to you and your family. The expression "garbage
in -- garbage out" takes on new meaning when feeding your dog. A good
quality feed product will produce less gas or other digestive troubles and
yield firmer stools because the dog is utilizing the majority of what he is
being fed. A poorer quality food will produce a larger volume of stool because
the ingredients are not as available to the dog and thus, they will go in one
end and come right out the other. Many people no longer feed their dogs on
commercial feeds -- even the very expensive ones. As homeopathy gains a new
acceptance among the medical and veterinary community, these folks prefer,
instead, to cook an all-natural diet especially for their animals. But a high
quality, commercial dry food that is appropriate for all life stages of your
dog should really be all that is necessary to keep your pet healthy and in
good physical condition.
This information taken from the American White Shepherd Assn.
© 2006 Karen Carloni - American White
All rights reserved