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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So ive wanted a all white German shepherd for about 10 years now. Ive been thinking of getting one so ive been looking into them and i was wondering if someone can give me some information.
Mostly im wondering what the breed is actually called, ive heard them called
White shepherd
Canadian Shepherd
White Swiss Shepherd
and White German Shepherd
Ive done some digging on google and havent found much, i know they may have different names through different Kennel clubs. So what are the difference of each, what kennel club recognizes each name, and do they go by any other names. Thanks.
 

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They have a slew of health problems and are no more than German Shepherds bred in a lineage of genetics that has tawny light colors to obtain a white. It's for nothing more than aesthetic purposes, and the AKC doesn't recognize them and will disqualify them. I would suggest just getting a German shepherd. They're the same dog without the poorly bred health issues.

The AWSA claims they are a breed to be recognized because they are literally the American White Shepherd Association, so they will obviously have bias. They are not recognized by other KC associations however, due to being poorly bred in order to obtain the whitest coat.

Some health issues include hip displaysia, which is high and expensive to fix, osteochondrosis of the knees spine and shoulder, sight and hearing problems, and several skin problems including sensitivity and allergies.

What draws you to them, if I may ask? Other than their color that is. There's a lot more to a dog than color!
 

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White shepherds are simply a color variant of the normal german shepherd (and a fault at that for the pure breed), and are not their own breed any more than 'chocolate lab' is a different breed from a 'yellow lab'. It's just color.

You won't find a legit registar for them in the USA as a breed. You MAY be able to find a good breeder but it will be difficult, since a white shepherd will likely only be bred for pets and not for show or work as they're not particularly healthy or able to enter dog shows.

If you look at a breeder, make SURE to look at what they are doing with their dogs. Are they working the dogs for herding or guarding or schutzhund? If they are just producing dogs without doing anything with them, WALK AWAY from that breeder ASAP.

Edit: Tweaked white shepherds /as a breed/ won't be found in any registry, because AKC of course does allow unshowable or unhealthy German Shepherds to be registered.
 

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I'm also digging around for you looking for a breeder of white shepherds that also does more than "breed for temperament". So far this is the only one I would consider recommending: White German Shepherds at Regalwise

This particular breeder awards proof of good results in their pups, works their dogs, and has a lifetime guarantee of no crippling defects.

I imagine with this breeder you will pay out the nose for your pup, but reading the guarantees and return policies and lengths they'll go to make sure your pup is healthy and NEVER in a shelter, it seems like with this one you will get what you pay for. Others may review the site and weigh in on their opinions too but right now if you REALLY are set on a white shepherd, consider THIS one.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Mostly what attracts me to them is the color variant. I love german shepherds but i like to be a little diferent. It wont be used as a working dog more of a companion, it will naturally get normal exercise. But as far as mot being accepted by registries that why i posted this, ive seen the swiss shepherds registered through UKC.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Just out of curiosity, why are they so unhealthy, is the white recessive gene coupled with recessive health problems? And when the whote come out so do the health problems?
 

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This is a blurb on deafness in white dogs: Genetics of Deafness in Dogs. Since the lack of pigment is known to cause deafness when breeding all white dogs, I find it disturbing that people are doing it on purpose, but that's just my two cents.

When were you thinking of getting this new addition? You don't want to get it too soon, since don't you have a fairly young lab puppy too? :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah its going to be awhile. 6+ months. Im just doing some research now and if i chose to move forward with a WS i have to find a breeder etc.but with all the health issues im not sure i want to go that route
 

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Getting a dog for color or appearance alone because you want to be different is a very bad reason to get a puppy imho. If you have experience with labs, it's important to note hat GSDs are very different from labs. They are prone to becoming fearful with strangers and are very protective, therefore they need heavy socialization to avoid aggressiveness. What activities are you planning on doing with your shepherd? GSDs aren't couch potatoes. They need a fair amount of exercise and do very well in scent related sports, schutzhund, lure coursing, agility even, herding, and need a lot of mental stimulation as well as physical. They are extremely focused on their owner and demand a lot of attention, working on obedience and other trick training is vital.

Along with all of this, white GSDs also pile on the health problems. so a lot of responsibility you need to prepare yourself for
 

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I am not totally against a well-bred variant. I walk a white Swiss shepherd who is substantially sounder in conformation and temperament than what is considered a "show quality" GSD. Awesome with kids, sweet-natured, smart as a whip and the breeders clearly breed for a good, healthy topline (not that obscene slope you see with GSDs). Best of all I love his level temperament, which really strikes me as how the creators of the breed envisioned the GSD. He is a really long shot from the reactive basket cases that you see so often with the AKC-accepted guys.

I know there are breed clubs and breed associations for shepherd variants like the Shiloh shepherd and the WSS. Largely they seem to set the goal of breeding for the structure and health that older lines of GSD produced. In all frankness I would pick one of these dogs hands down over a "legitimate" GSD, with their propensities for anxiety, reactivity, back problems and hip dysphasia. Just remember to look past the color and investigate that the breeder is indeed affiliated with others who are looking to produce healthy dogs.
 

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the FCI name is "Grand Berger Blanc Suisse" as far as I know.
One of the differences in the breeds, is that German Speherds have to workingt test to e used for breeding, GBBS don't.
They're a said to be slightly calmer than the German Shepherd they were bred from...more bred for family than for sport and work, some say they are tend more thin-nerved and sensitive than them, because of them losing the characteristics that make the Schäfi a good working dog...but the ones I met weren't that different from normal Schäfis.
energetic, handler-centric, intelligent dogs. :)
So there's the GBBS and then you've got white German shepherds, that just happen from time to time in coloured litters...they are not different from their coloured silblings except the colour. :)

What I'd keep away from is breeder that breed Schäfis on rare (often faulty) colours...they often breed with a very small group of dogs, since the colour is rare, which can lead to genetic diseases getting easier passed on to the next generation.
the main reason to pick a breeder should be to buy a mentally and physically healthy Schäfi, the colour should be less important in my opinion.
 

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This is a blurb on deafness in white dogs: Genetics of Deafness in Dogs. Since the lack of pigment is known to cause deafness when breeding all white dogs, I find it disturbing that people are doing it on purpose, but that's just my two cents.

When were you thinking of getting this new addition? You don't want to get it too soon, since don't you have a fairly young lab puppy too? :)
Looking at pictures of the dogs on google they don't appear to lack pigment, rather the white seems to be a color.

Probably bred into the line vs other 'white' dog cases where the color is bred out.

look at the nose lips and eyes here



and compare to a dog which does lack pigment.

 

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Discussion Starter #15
I get what people are saying that i shouldnt get a dog just because of its color but in the same respect alot of dogs became popular and came about because of their coat. So to each their own. The dog will be heavily aocialized, my friends have dogs, we have a local dog park. As far as exercise the daily walks/jogs, hiking, swiming, etc. Im not big on field trails or agility training and there are plently of very healthy shepherds that dont do that. But once again i did not know of all the health issues which is why i started this, so i do appreciate that info and its making me rethink my decision. But from whats im hearing if i find a real breeder that can back uo the health of the dog i should be good if i chose to go this route
 

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Back 100 years ago the founder of the German Shepherd breed gathered all sorts of shepherd-dog type dogs and began mixing them and selecting the best. All sorts of colors were found, including the standard GSD colorations, but also brindle and white.

Very similar dogs were found in countries adjacent to Germany. With a nationalistic mindset, breeders in each country began to specifically breed for certain colors and other differences. For example, the Dutch decided to breed for and stress the brindle coloration, while the Germans started to breed away from that color.

Somewhere in the founding of the GSD breed when they were taking in all those dogs and mixing them together, they got a recessive white coat gene in the mix. In the 1930s the Germans made rule disqualifying white GSDs from being show winners, and started to try and avoid that color. The USA did the same in the late 1950s, as did many other GSD clubs in Europe and North America.

But still there were the occasional registered GSD dogs that would produce white pups. And there still are. If the parents are AKC registered GSD, then the offspring can be registered with the AKC regardless of how different it is from the GSD standard. (This is why you will see AKC registered 'long coat' GSDs as well).

In the 1970s and 80s there were people who really started to like the all-white coloration. They started to look for white GSDs and mate white GSDs together, and form clubs with other like-minded people. These clubs started to pop up in many countries. While the white dogs each club started out with were the rare GSDs born with white coats each in their area, it was soon common for clubs to 'exchange' dogs. So white GSDs from the swiss ended up here and white GSDs from the US and Canada ended up in Switzerland, Denmark, the UK, etc.

These clubs started setting up their own rules, breed standard, and having their own shows. Many of these breed clubs started to try and get their dogs registered as a separate breed with the big registries in their own countries. The people in the USA eventually approached the United Kennel Club and got their dogs registered with them. (The UKC was formed in the 1880s due to two main events. The first was the failure of the AKC to recognize the rough and unrefined working/fighting Pitbull Terrier TYPE as one of their breeds--which it eventually did as the Staffordshire Terrier--and because hunters were already beginning to see divisions formed between what dogs were winning ribbons in the shows and what dogs were performing well at their task. The UKC bills itself as a 'performance dog' registry that looks at how dogs perform their specific tasks more than they do at how a dog physically looks. The KC and AKC are the opposite, they started from the theory that function follows form, and so if you want a dog that is fast, you breed for long legs, and the dog with the longest legs 'wins' at being 'fastest'...regardless of how fast it can run. The UKC says 'put down the ruler and get your stop watch, we'll have the dogs race to see who is fastest!')

Anyways, the swiss club got the FCI to recognize their dogs as a distinct breed. But because each club had slightly different rules the standard that the UKC adopted was slightly different than what the FCI adopted. FCI rules are that it will recognize dogs of the same breed under different accepted registries as long as the standards are the same. So while FCI will accept other UKC registered breeds as the same, they view the White Shepherd as not the same as the White Shepherd from Switzerland. The UKC will accept Swiss White Shepherds into their registry.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Now with respect to the grand berger blanc sussie, if i chose to go the white shepherd route should i be looking for a breeder who breeds these as opposed to a breeder stating they have "white shepherds"? It would appear that a reputable breeder would have registered sussies as opposed to calling them white shepherds
 

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Health Problems.

As discussed above, white started out as a recessive color that would occasionally pop up in GSDs, a color that was viewed as undesirable by the GSD folks, and then viewed as desirable by splinter groups.

It's sad that if you had a GSD that was absolutely healthy, razor smart, well built, great personality, etc etc, it couldn't contribute to bettering of the GSD breed as a whole simply because it was the wrong color. Luckily all white dogs were extremely rare so them turning out to be 'wonder dogs' was also rare. And if nothing else, their 'proper color' parents and siblings were probably also genetically strong in those same categories.

On the other hand, when people started to fixate on creating new breeds of all white GSDs, think of how they must have done it. First they found one white GSD. Then they looked for a mate, which also had to be solid white. As the color was genetic, there was a lot of times when half or full siblings were the only other white dogs around, so there was a lot of inbreeding. When people went looking further afield for dogs to avoid so much inbreeding, they weren't looking for the heathiest dog, or the dog that best complimented their existing dog for breeding purposes, they simply looked for the dog of the right color regardless of any other features. This meant a lot of dogs that would otherwise NOT make the cut to be bred were bred repeatedly, to other dogs of low quality.

Remember, the GSD breed as a whole has been suffering from genetically unhealthy dogs because of fixating on traits other than health (instead of color, the show GSD people fixated on coat length, gait, and stance...not smarts, courage, or actually measuring performance like jump height, endurance, and run speed).

As the original white GSDs came from the general Pet/Show GSD population, they are carrying all the negative genetic baggage of the average GSD. Add this to increased inbreeding (which was already a problem in show lines). Add in the fact that few dogs in general founded the breed and you start running into problems related for just having such a small number of foundation individuals entirely separate from the rampant inbreeding. The small foundation issue is worsened now that FCI and UKC versions are see as different breeds and can't exchange genes any more. On top of this entire pile of problems, add the fact that the main breed criteria has been COLOR, so a lot of poor health dogs who happened to be the right color get bred, and you can see that there is a huge potential for health issues.
 

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What's worse, the color they chose to focus on is problematic. Dogs can be white for a variety of reasons, but the main one is genetics related to lack of pigmentation. On the coat, lack of pigmentation isn't a problem. It's a problem when it affects the skin in the dog's inner ears. This can cause deafness. Now, how the pigmentation blocking plays out is somewhat variable, and even though all the white GSDs have a double pair of white genes, the pigmentation block plays out differently. Blue eyes on white dogs is also related to incomplete pigmentation. Not all white GSDs have blue eyes, so it's clear from that fact that the pigmentation issue is variable. Not all white GSDs are deaf for the same reason. However in many other breeds it has been shown that dogs that are all or almost all white have a much increased rate of deafness in at least one ear. Dogs that are white with blue eyes have an increased rate of deafness in BOTH ears vs white dogs with eyes some color other than blue. Basically blue eyes is an indicator that the dog has even more pigmentation blocking going on than other white dogs. And with that much pigmentation blocking going on, it makes it much more likely the hairs in the ears were also affected.

Merle coloration is also related to pigmentation blocking, and a lot of merle dogs suffer from deafness as well. There seems to be some relation to deafness and the piebald gene as well.

Here's the rub though. Within a given breed of dogs, generally the recessive white gene is all the same. But it isn't always the same in different breeds. Also, genes are clustered on chromosomes, so sometimes there are modifier genes that travel along, and one breed will all have the same white gene plus a modifier gene on the specific chromosome, while another breed will have it different.

A good example of this is to say genes are like cookies. You have peanut butter cookies, oatmeal-raisin cookies, and chocolate chip cookies. Having many different cookies out on the cookie tray means lots of options and everyone is happy. But lets say you go just with chocolate chip, you may have a bunch of recipes, so there is still a lot of variability. With a just a few individuals to start a breed, or through a lot of inbreeding, you can get down to just a single recipe for chocolate chip cookies. The problem then becomes when there gets to be an issue with that specific recipe for some reason. Let's say you used to have 5 different chocolate chip recipes, but now you are down to just 1. That one uses peanut oil. Your child turns out to be allergic to peanuts, so that recipie cannot be used. And because that's the only recipe you had, you are out of luck. Had you kept recipies for more kinds of cookies you'd be fine. Had you kept more recipes for your favorite cookie type, you'd be fine.

The relation to dogs and color is that in some breeds where solid white is quite common there IS no deafness issues. And in other breeds, it is clearly related to the white. This is because of slight differences in the recessive white gene or else due to modifier genes that happen to be on the same chromosome, and each of these breeds having their specific small genetic library. (They each only have 1 recipe for the cookies they like best) Standard size poodles are often white, but there doesn't seem to be any deafness related to color with that breed. Miniature and Toy poodles however do seem to have deafness related to white.

To make matters worse there are 'false whites' where white fur is the result of certain types of dilution as opposed to pigmentation blocking. Or from different forms of blocking. For instance the Samoyed breed, every individual has a pair of recessive red genes...so they should be TAN!. But every individual also has a pair of recessive black....so they should be BLUE! (if you have black you are black, if you have recessive black you are light grey often called blue. If you have red you are red, if you have recessive red you are tan or cream colored) White coloration blocks pigmentation potentially everywhere. Recessive black and recessive red only block pigmentation in the fur, not the skin. So recessive black and recessive red combine to ensure no pigment gets to the fur, so it is 'false white' but the skin is fine.

I can't say what type of white the white shepherds have. It's unlikely they have false white. It's possible they have white genes more like the standard poodle and it isn't a problem. The issue is the white shepherd people have a vested interest in not letting on what is going on with deafness in their breed. (But, to be fair, other breeds with white related deafness aren't shouting that fact from the mountaintops either). For me, unless I know how the white coat is affecting deafness, I'd stay away.
 

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Now with respect to the grand berger blanc sussie, if i chose to go the white shepherd route should i be looking for a breeder who breeds these as opposed to a breeder stating they have "white shepherds"? It would appear that a reputable breeder would have registered sussies as opposed to calling them white shepherds
No.

Detecting a reputable breeder vs less reputable isn't going to be based on what they have the dog registered as.

You will find reputable white shepherd breeders who have their dogs registered FCI as White Swiss (Berger Blanc) , and you will find reputable breeders who have their dogs registered as White Shepherd with the UKC.

You will find reputable breeders whose dogs are only registered with the American White Shepherd Association. You may find a lot of people with AWSA dogs are 'dual registered'...they are also registered with the UKC (or possibly FCI),

A red flag for me would be a white shepherd breeder whose dogs are AKC registered. If they are dual AWSA registered I'd give them a second look. If not I'd run. Most likely a standard color GSD line had a rare white pup the guy got, and then he got another from someplace and is totally capitalizing on color not anything else. While the White Swiss and White Shepherd people originally started out all about color, many are also now dedicated to temperment and health.

Run if you see any of these registries.

ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.

Mainly though you have to use the standard practice of detecting if a breeder is reputable:
  • Breeder will happily let you see the pedigree and ask questions about the dog's parents and grandparents.
  • Breeder will allow you to see mom and pups, hopefully living and interacting with the family not in some shed out back.
  • Breeder will have the male on hand for you to see, or at least will be able to tell you if they contracted out a stud dog, what features and traits that specific stud had that they were trying to capitalize on.
  • Breeder will have a 'mission', an ideal dog or concept they are breeding towards as opposed to just producing puppies for sale.
  • Breeder will tell you about how they are exposing the pup to different animals and world experiences, and you will see this reflected in the puppy play area.
  • Breeder will tell you a lot of what to do...what food to get, what vet to see, what training method they think is best, tips for further socialization, etc...you don't have to take this advice, but the fact that they are basically trying to still look after the dog after it leaves their care says a lot about the breeder.
 
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