To all extents and purposes, the American White Shepherd is a German Shepherd in sheep’s clothes. Until it started to be seen as a breed in its own right, it was simply a German Shepherd….an undesirable one that would be excluded from breeding programs, but a German Shepherd nonetheless. Intelligent, fiercely loyal, and immensely courageous, White Shepherds have all the same characteristics as their German cousins. The only real difference is their amazing shock of snow-white hair. To find out more, here are 10 things you didn’t know about the American White Shepherd.
1. They’ve got distinctive looks
The American White Shepherd is nothing if not distinctive. Medium-sized and athletically proportioned, these muscular beauties boast large erect ears, a low set, slightly curved tail, a shiny black nose, and slightly slanted, almond-shaped eyes. Their expression is intense but lively – a perfect reflection of their personalities. What really sets them apart from the crowd, however, is their coat. As white as snow and just as pretty, it’s their crowning glory. It features a weather-resistant, dense topcoat and a thicker, short underlayer to keep them warm.
2. They used to be considered an abomination
Beautiful they may be, but White Shepherds used to be considered an abomination. As wagwalking.com explains, the White Shepherd started life as a standard, purebred German Shepherd. Its distinctive white coat comes from a recessive gene that each and every German Shepherd carries. For years, puppies born with an all-white coat were considered undesirable and were removed from breeding programs and spayed or neutered. Then, sometime around the mid-1980s, people began to realize that an all-white German Shepherd was more than all right. Breeders began purposefully breeding them, people began buying them, and suddenly, the White German Shepherd stopped being unacceptable and started being the height of chic.
3. They’ve been recognized by the United Kennel Club
Aside from their coloring, the American White Shepherd is no different from any other German Shepherd. But some purists still consider them less worthy of recognition. The German Shepherd Club of America, for one, has refused to recognize them, leading to the creation of the American White Shepherd Association. The American Kennel Club also refuses to acknowledge them, despite the fact they behave the same, act the same, and do all the same things as their multi-colored cousins. The United Kennel Club has been more welcoming, extending them recognition as a breed in their own right and allowing them to compete and show at all UKC events.
4. They’re heavy shedders
If you decide to bring home a White Shepherd, get ready to spend a good chunk of your time gathering up white hairs from your fixtures and furnishings. The breed is an exceptionally heavy shedder, even outside of the seasonal shedding period. To keep on top of the problem, aim to give them a weekly brush with a slicker brush, metal comb, and deshedder, increasing the frequency to once a day during shedding season. Bathing doesn’t need to be frequent but can help loosen the undercoat when they start shedding heavily. Ears should be cleaned and checked weekly for signs of irritation. Nails should be trimmed when they start clicking against tiled surfaces. Teeth should be cleaned a couple of times a week to prevent dental problems.
5. They’re fiercely loyal
Like all German Shepherds, the White Shepherd is courageous, intelligent, and fiercely devoted to their family. When they bond, they bond hard, and from that point on, you can expect a white shadow by your side at all times. They don’t like being separated from their owner, and need lots of training and early socialization to prevent separation anxiety from becoming an issue. They can also be aloof and wary around strangers, but again, training and socialization can help avoid it becoming unmanageable.
6. They’re easy to train
As petidregister.com explains, a smart dog is just a bag of potential until someone puts in the effort and the time needed to develop that potential into something useful. Fortunately, owners of American White Shepherds will find the breed a joy to train. Like German Shepherds, they’re smart, disciplined, and love to learn. They might not serve as police dogs or service animals to the same degree as other Shepherds, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t prove themselves just as capable given the opportunity.
7. They’re super active
Like all Shepherds, American White Shepherds are athletes. They need plenty of structured exercise to keep them in shape, along with fun training sessions and games to keep their big brains ticking over. They excel at dog sports like agility, fly ball, obedience, and protection classes, all of which will help with training, exercise, and socialization. As they like to spend time with other dogs, they’ll never say no to a visit to the dog park or the occasional play date either. Because of their size and exercise needs, they tend to fare better in family homes with access to an enclosed yard rather than apartments.
8. They’re expensive
American White Shepherds are rarer than their black and brown cousins, so, as you’d expect, breeders tend to charge a premium for them. According to dogbreedslist.info, you can expect to pay between $1000 – $1500 for a pup. Obviously adopting a dog is cheaper – just bear in mind that you may have to cast your net wider than your local animal shelter considering their rarity.
9. They go by more than one name
Don’t get confused if someone refers to an American White Shepherd by a name you’ve never heard of. The breed is known by a vast assortment of names, with the most common being White GSD, Weiße Schäferhunde, Schäferhund, Pastor Blanco Suizo, American-Canadian White Shepherd, Pastor Aleman Blanco Suizo, White German Shepherd, Weisser Schweizer, and White Shepherd Dog.
10. They’re good mixers
The American White Shepherd is excellent with kids and tends to get on equally well with other pets. As breeders don’t tend to breed them for guard dog duties or any other aggressive activities, they tend to be mellower than standard German Shepherds and will fit well into multi-pet families. However, they don’t like it when kids or other animals don’t respect their boundaries and will require plenty of training and socialization to turn them into the charming companions they’re capable of being.