The Unlikely Tale of The German Shepherd’s White-Coated Sibling
The White Shepherd is a distinct breed sanctioned by its own breed-specific clubs in the United States, Canada, and Switzerland. Most kennel clubs permit White Shepherds to register as German Shepherd Dogs, but disqualify them from the competition with colored German Shepherd dogs, citing its white coat as a disqualifying fault.
The New Breed Emerges
The White Shepherd originated from the white coat lines of the German Shepherd Dog, hence the breed’s inclusion on GermanShepherdPlace.com. It was previously called the White Canadian Shepherd, and in Europe, it was known as the American-Canadian White Shepherd. The breed was first officially recognized in the United States by the United Kennel Club on April 14, 1999. Then on July 5, 2011, the Fédération Cynologique International gave its official recognition, naming the breed the Berger Blanc Suisse. It is also sometimes called the White Swiss Shepherd.
Twist of Destiny
The story of White Shepherd reads like fiction. Horand von Grafrath is the German Shepherd Dog recognized as the breed’s founding patriarch. His grandfather was a white herding dog named Greif. In the eyes of Captain Emil von Stephanitz, the originator of the German Shepherd Dog, the many White German Shepherds born from his original breeding stocks, were as much German Shepherd as those with the more common black and tan coats. But in February 1933 the ruling Nazi party in Germany declared a state of emergency, vesting itself with wide powers to intervene in civilian affairs. They appointed themselves, among other things, as arbiter of dog breeds, with authority to set breed standards. White-coated German Shepherds, it was deemed, were substandard, and must be denied breed recognition. This ideological notion was subsequently tossed out as scientifically baseless. The recessive gene in White Shepherd simply endows these fine dogs with a white coat, with no harmful side-effects! Nevertheless, the stigma remains, and White Shepherd’s coat is still considered a disqualifying fault by major kennel clubs including the American Kennel Club and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America.
Resources for The White Shepherd Owner
The information given on German Shepherd Place regarding the care of the German Shepherd Dog is equally valid for White Shepherd. Our article Showing Your GSD is, for reasons given above, applicable to non-white Shepherds. If you own a White Shepherd, you should find yourself well-served by the resources we’ve provided. Should you wish to connect with fellow owners, you may find that there is a club in your area.
The following websites will provide further information: White German Shepherd Dog Club International, Inc. at www.aros.net/~wgsdcii or the American White Shepherd Association at www.onewaits.com/awsa