White German shepherds are stunning dogs. But, did you know that they are so special that they even have their own club? It’s called the White German Shepherd Dog Club of America.
The purpose of the WGSDCA is to:
“Preserve the name and heritage of the white-coated German Shepherd Dog as an integral and inseparable part of the German Shepherd Dog breed.” It’s for “all owners who consider their white coated Shepherds to be truly GERMAN SHEPHERD dogs and registers them as such in any and all registries.”
History of the White German Shepherd
Records of white German shepherds go back to Captain Max von Stephanitz’s breeding of German shepherds. Grief, a white shepherd, was one of the dogs he often used to perfect his idea of the best working dog, according to the White German Shepherd Annual, submitted by Aimee Harder.
In 1899, Stephanitz attended the Karlsruhe Exhibition and bought Hektor Linkrsheim, the grandson of Grief. He soon changed the dog’s name to Horand von Grafrath. Since Grief was white and Horand was related to him, Horand carried the white gene. Horand went on to sire white puppies, as well as colored pups with the white recessive gene.
According to history, On April 22, 1899 the Verein fur Deutsche Shaferhund (the SV) was founded. Max von Stephanitz was the first president. Horand was the first entry in the new SV stud book and one of the foundation dogs of the German Shepherd breed.
Are White German Shepherds Pure Bred German Shepherds?
Yes, white German shepherds are pure bred German shepherds. The white German shepherd carries a recessive “masking” gene. This gene masks or hides the real color pattern of the dog. A white German shepherd can be any color and pattern found in the breed including black, black and tan, black and red, black and silver, black and cream, blue, liver, sable, saddled and bi-colored.
The white gene only masks or hides the coat color, it does not cause health problems or damage the genetic make-up of a dog, unless there are health problems already in the line-then it does nothing to protect a dog from bad genetics.
White German shepherds are often confused with the gorgeous Swiss shepherd or thought to be mixed with another white breed to create their white coat, which is not true.
How do we Get White German Shepherds?
When breeding colored German shepherds, the only way the white recessive gene can be seen in puppies is if both parents carry it. When a white German shepherd is bred with a colored German shepherd that doesn’t carry the gene, none of the offspring will be white. However, they will carry the white gene. If the offspring are bred to a white German shepherd, some may have a white coat. White German shepherds bred to white German shepherds will always produce white offspring.
White German shepherds are not albino shepherds. They have black noses and dark eyes and may have dark nails, paw pads, and darkness around their mouths while albinos lack all pigment. Webster's Dictionary defines an albino as:
“An organism exhibiting deficient pigmentation. Especially a human being who is congenitally deficient in pigment and usually has a milky or translucent skin, white or colorless hair, and eyes with pink or blue iris and deep-red pupil.”
Can you Register a White German Shepherd with the AKC?
Yes, the white German shepherd may be registered with the American Kennel Club as long as both parents are registered. The confusion comes in because in the 1960’s, the white coat color became a “disqualifying fault” by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America.
However, this disqualification only pertains to AKC conformation competition. The white German shepherd can still participate in AKC performance events, such as obedience trials, tracking trials, temperament tests, herding events, and any events sponsored by AKC for German Shepherd Dogs.
According to the AKC:
“The German Shepherd Dog varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified.”
White German Shepherd Appearance and Temperament
White German shepherds are seen in various shapes and sizes just as all colored German shepherds, depending on their breeding. The breed standard is the same for white or colored German shepherds.
Their temperament is also no different than any other German shepherd and they come in all personality types. They are just as trainable as any other German shepherd and can excel as working dogs, in sports, competition, and make great family pets.
They are equally active, intelligent, loving, protective, and companionable as any of their colored counterparts.
AKC Breed Standard Summary:
Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female)
Weight: 65-90 pounds (male), 50-70 pounds (female)
German shepherds are a “strong, agile, well-muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility – difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex.”
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