One of these is treasured, one of these were killed!
The White German Shepherd
The color white has always been associated with strength,
purity and with conquest. Roman conquerors used to ride a white horse when they
entered a vanquished city. Napoleon and other would be world rulers rode in
triumph upon white horses.
We treasure the rare white tigers. Sadly however, when it
comes to white German Shepherds the opposite is true.
Since the Nazi Party who took over the Verein fur Deutsche
Schaferhunde or SV, the GSD breed society in Germany begun by Max von Stephanitz
in April 1899, the colour white in GSD’s was seen as undesirable. Hitler
thought that the white genes brought about colour fading in coloured dogs. We
know now that the colour fading gene is a different gene to the white recessive
gene. The reason behind the exclusion of white as a legitimate GSD coat colour
has come about through an error regarding the white colour and it time to
correct this error.
It is too easy to disregard the whites and use the excuse
that “we accept the German standard” without looking into the reason why the
German standard came to exclude the whites in the first place.
It is time the Breed Standard was changed to include all coat
colours, as long as the colour is not linked to any health problem (and white
Malcolm B Willis in his book “The German Shepherd Dog A
Genetic history of the Breed”, although not an advocate of whites, says “The
colour of the GSD is in itself not important and has no effect on the character
of the dog or on its fitness for work and should be a secondary consideration
for that reason." (p26)
He also says “Judges who feel that they must end with a
line-up of similarly coloured dogs are in the wrong business. One should seek to
end with a line-up of similar type animals and colour is irrelevant.”
On page 39 he says “The long held belief that white is
degenerate or linked to biological problems is without foundation.”
Dr Bruce Fogle, the vet and well known author, says of White
Shepherds “White Shepherds are disqualified from the show ring in some
countries and severely penalized in others. The spurious explanation given is
that white working dogs are difficult to see on snow-covered hills, or too easy
to spot as night-time guards. Hence this colour is bypassed by most top breeders
and consequently disadvantaged. White Shepherds’ unique look, however, gives
them widespread popularity as pets.”
Max von Stephanitz himself said “No good dog can be a
THE WHITE GERMAN SHEPHERD BOOK by Paul D. Strang, Stephen A.
Berman, M. Eileen Hilldrup
Foreword - “ Unfortunately, as is often the case with the good
things in life, a small minority has been very vocal in its disapproval of
White Shepherds. This has led to the fear, held by some that, possibly, a
White (German) Shepherd is unacceptable or that it cannot be registered with
the American Kennel Club.
What nonsense! A good White German Shepherd is neither an albino
nor a degenerate. . . . . . "
WHERE DID THE WHITE (GERMAN) SHEPHERD COME FROM?
The White Shepherd originated in Germany as a colour variety of the regular
CAN A WHITE GERMAN SHEPHERD BE BRED WITH OTHER COLOURS OF THE GERMAN SHEPHERD?
The truth is that virtually all German Shepherd bloodlines have a genetic
background encompassing white recessive. In fact, some of the finest German
Shepherd bloodlines have, in the past, been famous for the White Shepherds
1882. At the Hanover show, a white Shepherd is exhibited. Greif is the
first documented White German Shepherd in competition
White shepherding dogs of varying sizes and types are shown to be common in
all areas of Germany by the Phylax Society, an organization of German fanciers
who were interested in combining various shepherd bloodlines in order to
produce an improved breed.
Captain Max von Stephanitz, who had become interested in improving upon the
older breeds of shepherds through the Phylax Society, buys Hektor Linksrhein.
By intensive inbreeding of this dog, v. Stephanitz produced the prototype of
the German Shepherd breed.
As Hektor carried recessive white genes in his bloodlines, it was only
natural that he would pass these genes along to his descendants. Hektor, the
father of the German Shepherds, is thus the father also of the White German
Von Stephanitz publishes his 776 page opus on the German Shepherd. He
includes a photograph of a celebrated White Shepherd, Berno v.d. Sneewiese,
which is a direct descendant of Hektor, the father of the breed. This edition
was in German; subsequent editions were translated into English.
H. N. Hanchett of Minn. MN becomes first American importer of German-bred
White German Shepherds
With increasing popularity of the White German Shepherd, friction
develops between the breeders of the White Shepherds and the Standard coloured
German Shepherds. Genetic problems in the German Shepherd bloodlines are
blamed erroneously on the "white-coated" German Shepherd. During this
Germany begins a campaign to outlaw the white dogs.
White Shepherd fanciers are puzzled. As white sheep-guarding and herding
breeds have been known for at least 2,000 years, how could they have suddenly
become undesirable due to their coat colour?
THE ROOTS: EARLY HISTORY
The work of the Phylax Society, 1891-1894, focused attention on the fact
that there were originally a great number of different varieties of German
In 1899, Von Stephanitz began his task of creating the modern German
Shepherd, using dogs that combined the bloodlines of the older varieties.
Marcus Terrentius Varro (116-27 B.C.), the Roman historian and writer,
was one of the first to eulogize the shepherds' dogs. Of particular interest
to us is the fact that he described the guardians of the flocks as being
invariably white in colour.
In his opinion, the shepherds preferred white dogs in order to be able to
distinguish them from the wolves that usually attacked in the half-light of
dawn or dusk.
Columella (1st century A.D. ) published a 35 volume treatise on
agriculture entitled, The Agricultural Arts stated, unequivocally,
that the dogs which guarded the sheep were white in colour.
Many representatives of the big white guardians described by the Roman
writers are still with us today..
Most of the little shepherd dogs come in brown, grey, or grizzled coats.
Some, for example the Puli, are known to come in a white variety. Still
another little herding breed is the Sharfpudel of Germany. . . . . . it is
We see then. . . . . . Very large dogs, almost always white in colour,
which were used primarily, as protectors of the flocks.
THE ROOTS: MAX VON STEPHANITZ
The dog which fulfilled the blueprint in von Stephanitz' mind was Hektor
Linksrhein. He purchased the dog on the spot, renaming him Horand von
As he said in his book, 'The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture', "the
group with the best chance of gaining the upper hand was the one which
envisioned turning the new breed into a working-type show dog with, at all
costs, erect ears and, possibly, a wolf-like appearance as well." He
pointed out how they turned to the Thuringaian shepherd dog because in this
variety they were most likely to get the much sought-after erect ears, and
often, a wolf-grey colour.
THE ROOTS: HORAND VON GRAFRATH
Horand and Hektor are the same dog.
When the background of Horand is examined, bona fide evidence is revealed as
to the natural occurrence of white as a colour within Shepherds. White has a
genetic pool within the colour variations of the German Shepherd.
George Horowitz, English Judge, Alsatian Columnist, author and historian
provides a glimpse into the background of Horand. In his 1923 effort, The
Alsatian Wolf-Dog, with latter editions, reports that in 1882, two Alsatians
made an appearance at the Hanover Show. One was Greif, born in 1879 and white
in colour. Greif was again to be exhibited at Hanover, this time in 1887.
One year later at the 1888 Hamburg show, Greifa, another white, was
exhibited. At the Cassel Show in 1889, Greif II, also a white, was exhibited.
All three of the white Alsatians, Greif, Greifa and Greif II, were owned by
the Master ofHounds of Beyenrode, Baron von Knigge. Almost identical information
on Greif and Greifa is provided in The German Shepherd Dog, Its History,
Development and Genetics, by M. B. Willis, B. Sc.Ph.D.
Horand von Grafrath, SZ 1, the founding father of all modern German
Shepherds, descends from Greif (white). Here then the white factor is
identified as a genetically expected colour within the breed.
The breeder of Horand, then Hektor, was Herr Friedrich Sparwasser of
Frankfort. Horand was whelped the 1st of January 1895. A litter brother,
Luch 1155, also was to be influential as a sire and carried, of course, the
same genetic pool.
Schaefermaedchen von Hanau
Horand von Grafrath, SZ 1
Lene 156 (white)
Greif, the white, is the grandsire of Horand, father of the breed. The
genetic influence of a grandparent is significant, and as Horand was
line-bred and inbred, this influence would remain viable in subsequent
generations. As litter brother Luchs 155 was widely bred, his offspring too
would carry the white genetic factor in their gene pools.
Horand von Grafrath, the von Stephanitz prototype for the new breed, carried
white genes in his bloodlines. Many of Horand's grandchildren were either
white, or carried in their genetic make-up the promise of more White German
Shepherds in the future.
It is obvious, then, that the White Shepherd is not a mutant. He is white,
as his ancestors were frequently white. And so, too, will his descendants
This information taken from the American White Shepherd Assn.