==> The Truth about White GSDs?

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WHITE German Shepherds

White GSD PuppiesSome people insist that white GSDs are not German Shepherds but instead a distinct dog breed. What do you feel?

In this Periodical:

  • Are WHITES German Shepherds?
  • How Common are White GSDs?
  • Sources for White German Shepherds

Are WHITES German Shepherds?

Per Breed History

Horand v. GrafrathThe first registered German Shepherd Dog ever, Horand v. Grafrath (or before its renaming, Hektor Linksrhein) was a grandson of Greif, a white German Shepherd sire. This is why already the first registered GSD carried the gene for the white coat color.

The white coat gene is recessive, this means both parents must carry the gene for the offspring to have a white coat. And no, white German Shepherds are not albinos.

It also means that any German Shepherd Dog with a different coat color (black, tanbrown, goldbrown, whatever) may well carry this recessive gene and thus have white coat offspring (or cream-colored offspring).

cream GSDSo, unless the (professional or backyard) breeder knows the ancestry (or pedigree) of both the female dog (dam) and the male dog (sire), the breeder may well be surprised by the offspring! - Not only in terms of coat color, but also in terms of overall looks, size, mobility, temperament, and hereditary disorders.

white GSD figurine

Finally, the fact that the white coat is due to a recessive gene also means it can happen that part of the offspring is say white-coated and some siblings are say black-coated (although this is rare).

By the way, the breed history further proves that GSDs existed long before the first GSD was registered as such (in 1899). In fact German Shepherds existed even before the alleged breed founder, Max v. Stephanitz, was born (in 1864)!

The only reason why v. Stephanitz is credited with being the breed's founder is that:

  • he founded a first club for the breed (the SV in Augsburg, Germany)
  • he unified the breed's characteristics (and the breeders)
  • and he widely publicised and showed the breed in dog shows (made the GSD well-known)
This is what a Top dog expert says:
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!

As always, credit gets the one who is good at marketing his/her efforts - which is why I never got credit. :-(

white GSD puppyHorand v. Grafrath then sired many white pups (ie the dam carried the recessive white gene too), as well as many pups of other colors (ie the dam did not carry the recessive white gene) - which nonetheless passed on the gene for the white coat color!

Therefore, per breed history, if the white GSD is not considered a German Shepherd, then there exist no German Shepherds at all!

Because every German Shepherd that has ever been registered as such, has been an offspring of a white German Shepherd!

white gsd sticker

This fact alone shows sufficiently that any later attempts to outlaw the white German Shepherds were frankly ludicrous.

It is like stipulating: "No German is allowed to be of Prussian lineage", or "No American is allowed to be of Irish lineage". :roll:

Per Breed Standard

As early as in 1891 v. Stephanitz wrote a first "German Shepherd Breed Standard", which established in terms of coat that GSDs have one of the following coat types:

  • short coat (flat harsh short hair)
  • long stock coat (flat harsh long hair)
  • plush coat ('plush' soft long hair)

Note that neither this first nor v. Stephanitz' later breed standards mention an undercoat.

His first breed standard also established that GSDs have one of the following coat colors:

  • black
  • white
  • grey
  • red-gold ("red-yellow")
  • and each of these either unicolor or patterned

When finally the first SV club-official breed standard was published in 1899, these same coat types and coat colors were adopted.

The Influence of the Nazis

[wpsharely id="4431"]

However, even before the Nazis came to power in Germany, from the early 1930s onwards the Nazis started to strategically place their functionaries in practically all associations of more than a handful of people (to control them, like in all totalitarian regimes) - and the SV was no exception.

V. Stephanitz', with his ideas of a working dog (where working ability always dominated appearance), quickly fell out of favor with the Nazi functionaries (who prioritized appearance).

early white GSDsAnd, for whatever personal reasons, those Nazi functionaries simply did not like the white-colored GSD. We can only assume this was because all early German Shepherds (see Horand v. Grafrath above and Ann Tracy's on the right) still had the wolf-like facial features, and these looked more pronounced when the dog was white.

V. Stephanitz was forced to retire from the SV, and in the same year when the Nazis took over all power in Germany (1933), the Nazi functionaries in the SV swiftly deleted the color white from the breed standard!

Let me repeat this so that it really sinks in. Historically it is clear that:

It was the Nazis that deleted the white coat from the breed standard, that made the white coat a fault!

V. Stephanitz died soon thereafter (in 1936), and we can only imagine his extent of bitterness over the Nazi ruling in his final years.

So from 1933 onwards, the color white was considered a fault for a German Shepherd. But even after World War II, the new (old) SV functionaries continued to put so much pressure on their international club members that in 1968 finally the German Shepherd Dog Club of America subdued too and deleted the color white from their adopted German Shepherd Dog breed standard.

Today we know that this was a huge mistake. First by the Germans, then globally by all GSD member organizations associated with the SV via the World Union of German Shepherd Dog Associations (WUSV). Whether today's SV members and functionaries have realized this mistake is not clear though. Presumably they have, but their ego forbids them to admit it.

I noticed however that since my research work for the Periodical on German Shepherd Dog Global Pedigree Differences (when I last looked at the SV website) surprisingly all photos of German Shepherds with a sacked back have disappeared from their site! See SV website.

What doesn't get into my head though is, why more than 60 years(!) after the Nazis, neither the SV in Germany nor any GSD member organizations across the globe have reversed this mistake!?

Why have they all continued with the disqualification of the white GSD? And even put in the effort to register the white GSD as a separate breed, instead of simply correcting a mistake made by the Nazis?

I've tried hard, but I can't understand that.

Per Today's Breed Standard

FCI logo100 years after the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale - World Canine Organisation, Belgium) was founded, in 2011 the FCI ultimately registered the white GSD as standalone breed - under the name 'Berger Blanc Suisse' (White Swiss Shepherd). In the USA: American White Shepherd.

Note: What you can read on pseudo "knowledge" bases like wikipedia ("The Berger Blanc Suisse is a breed of dog from Switzerland") is plain wrong: As you saw above, the white German Shepherd (or "Berger Blanc Suisse") was not bred in Switzerland. In fact, white GSDs where imported into Switzerland no earlier than in the 1970s! Presumably the only reason for the name "Berger Blanc Suisse" was that the white coat color was associated with the snow-covered mountains in Switzerland. ;-)

So today, we still have it that the WHITE GSD is considered a fault by the breed standard of the SV Germany, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, the United Schutzhund Clubs of America, the German Shepherd Schutzhund Club of Canada, the British Association for German Shepherd Dogs, the German Shepherd Dog League of Great Britain, the German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia, and all others!

Time for change, isn't it?

On MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG we will certainly always consider the white GSD as much a German Shepherd as a GSD of any other coat color.

Why? See Per Breed History above.

AWSA logoIf you want to call your dog 'Berger Blanc Suisse' or White Swiss Shepherd - fine. We may just say white GSD, black GSD, tanbrown GSD etc. :-)

But we cannot use the word Shepherd alone, because there's also the (very different) Australian Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd, Belgian Shepherd, Picardy Shepherd, Tatra Shepherd, King Shepherd, etc.

Other than their name, I LOVE the logo of the American White Shepherd Association which you see here on the right.

Alsatian Dog?

Jennifer AnistonSo should we call the German Shepherd Dog Alsatian instead, like some people in countries of the British Commonwealth still do? - Plus some in these US states: Texas, California, Washington, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Illinois, and the New England States.

Really? 60+ years(!) after the Nazis ruled and excluded the white GSD? Still allow them to influence our modern time??

solid gsd pendant
This is her necklace

No. Then we can never get the white GSDs reunited with all other GSDs!

Unless ... we can convince the owners and breeders (and club functionaries!) of a "Berger Blanc Suisse" (White Swiss Shepherd) to change their name again?

For me (maybe because of my science background) the key is:

All GSDs (including white German Shepherds) show certain characteristics that are much the same among the GSDs, but distinctly different to another dog breed.

Characteristics like overall looks, size, mobility, temperament, learning capacity and speed of learning, and even hereditary diseases. Also see the first easy introduction into German Shepherd Psychology.

Thus all GSDs should be named German Shepherds - or if you want, Alsatians.

How Common are White GSDs?

Globally? 2.9% are solid white (based on our subscribers' input data). And another 7.4% have white coat elements.

So, white coat German Shepherds are certainly not rare (as in insignificant). They are meaningful!

North America: 2.7% are solid white. And another 6.8% have white coat elements.

Australia and New Zealand: NO solid white German Shepherds (based on our subscribers' input data), but 3.1% with white coat elements. Is that maybe because in Australia the sun burns too strong for white coat skin pigments? Not sure.

Asia: NO solid white GSDs (based on our subscribers' input data), but 16%(!) with white coat elements.

And now comes the surprise! In Europe: 10.3%(!) are solid white, plus another 10.3% have white coat elements. This is really significant. Every fifth GSD in Europe is partly white!

Note though that most of our subscribers in Europe are (obviously) from the english-speaking nations UK and Ireland. Although we have a Google Translate feature on all pages, the quality of the automatic translation may not be satisfactory for other readers?

Sources for White German Shepherds

At MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG we are against backyard breeding ("Don't breed or buy while shelter dogs die!"). The disastrous consequences of this greedy and irresponsible adventure you have seen in our Periodical on Spaying and Neutering.

So, if you want a white German Shepherd but don't want a white rescue GSD (why not?), then by all means get one from a reputable professional German Shepherd breeder. Our public article Best German Shepherd Breeders gives further insight how to find a reputable dog breeder.

However, specifically for white GSDs, it's probably best to then contact a White German Shepherd Dog club close to you, because they should have details about white GSDs near you. You can google this exact term, plus your town/region/state.

Here are the three key clubs in the USA that are dedicated to the White German Shepherd Dog:

White German Shepherd Dog Club International

American White Shepherd Association

White German Shepherd Dog Club of America


Checklist * (see note at the bottom)

  • White GSDs are as much German Shepherd Dogs as GSDs of any other coat color.
  • The White Shepherd Owner's Guide may be able to meet your interest in the White GSD.
  • The breed history proves that all German Shepherds ever registered as such descend from a WHITE German Shepherd.
  • It was the Nazis in Germany who excluded the white GSD from the breed standard (in 1933).
  • Only after WWII, globally all GSD membership organisations followed those Nazis and also excluded the white GSD.
  • To this very day, none of them have reversed their mistake.
  • Quite the contrary: Since 2011, the white German Shepherd is (officially) a different breed of dog - called the 'Berger Blanc Suisse', White Swiss Shepherd, or in the USA: American White Shepherd.
  • To unite all German Shepherds, we could either simply change the breed standard, country by country (without bothering about the SV in Germany!), or we rename all GSDs to 'Alsatian'.
  • Unity is common sense: All GSDs share the same characteristics like overall looks, size, mobility, temperament, learning capacity and speed of learning, and even hereditary diseases.
  • Even Jennifer Aniston has a white GSD (Dolly) - and she proudly wears her German Shepherd charms! :-D
  • Globally, 2.9% are solid white German Shepherds, and another 7.4% have white coat elements (but in Europe the total is over 20%!)



==> Next edition: The Real Danger of GSDs! <==

Miguel at 28w Can you give back a bit today?



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  15 Site Comments, ZERO SPAM Add one


    Very good article, I found my WGSD to be well rounded, smart, and wanting to please.


    Very interesting I always wondered about the white breed !


    I found your article on white GSDs very interesting.
    When I lived in New Zealand I had a light tan and white GSD. The sire was 'black & tan' and the dam was pure white.

    I doubt you will ever sway those who's ego is satisfied by the group they belong to rather than common sense or fact. As these groups seem so 'dogmatic' and refuse to listen, I am wondering if there might be canine racism rearing its ugly head??!

    My GSM (German Shepherd Master) was slightly offended to learn that you don't support back yard breeders. He is the one GSD I purchased this way, (rather than through a breeder) and the only one who has been virtually problem free.
    I cannot make comment on breeders in other countries, but in Australia we tend to suffer from overbreeding and inbreeding. This is also a problem with our canines, at least GSDs. Whilst they would vehemently deny this, all the vets I have seen agree with me. I have had 3 GSDs from different breeders and all 3 had terrible problems. None reached 6 years of age.
    When Sam chose me, the vet was elated that he seemed so healthy and I did not go through a breeder.

    Sam is a respectable 10 and still behaves like a puppy.


      Very interesting Rod, thanks! About overbreeding and inbreeding you are right to such a degree that it's frightening (and sad): Indeed, many breeders RUIN our breed (every breed). With humans, inbreeding isn't allowed, for good reason (health and behavior!). Although most dog breeds have sufficient population sizes, it's still done with them. Insane.

      The problem with byb is that they don't screen for anything (it's pure profit greed, or "coincidence" of mating) - typically resulting in even more severe health problems. Based on my present knowledge I'd say you were lucky with your byb GSD, and VERY unlucky with your breeder GSDs. If you want to share (privately) the kennel names, send an email pl.


    Thanks for your article, I grew up with both blank and tan and white GSD's and also feel that they are the same breed. I have a WGSD myself now and she is sweet, loyal and eager to please just like any other GSD


    Just further to Rod,we too,live in Australia,funnily with similar circumstances. We have one rescue dog,bred by a breeder,who,we can see problems for him in the future:( we also have a female,from a 'backyard breeder',who couldn't care more for their pups.she is a straight back,& her health is impeccable,her breeder would,& has,bent over backwards to keep the breed at its best,also, by keeping their own dogs as indoor pets,not kennel breeding machines. Unfortunatley,EVERY encounter we have had with registered breeders here in Australia has not been pleasant. Our vet too,has also championed our 'byb'.
    I guess my point being,just because a breeder is registered,doesn't mean they always do what's right by the dogs or the breed,and not every 'byb' is bad.


      Very much with you Helina! If the byb is as thoughtful as yours, the offspring is almost certainly healthier than from a professional breeder: Even if he "buys in" the sire for mating, both dam and sire are likely the outcome of long inbreeding - with the well-known health issues!

      Sadly, the throughout positive experience you are making with Australian bybs, and the negative with prof. breeders, is the OPPOSITE in many other nations. Look at some craigslist offers in the US, visit their "stock", and you've had enough. Shockingly only just now I learned that the Amish, whom I was normally quite "fond of" are involved in puppy mills too (if the Google results are reliable). We still recommend their leather products, but this gives a bitter aftertaste.

      Most bybs are certainly better than every puppy mill!


    Very informative and interesting article! Thanks!


    I've read the same thing about the sables in that the breeders don't consider these either. My first shepherd was a silver/black which I believe is what they now call sable. I love the color!

    Before getting Hanz I had Cody. We believe he was a shepherd collie mix. His ears flapped over at the top (may have been a result of abuse or more likely the collie gene) and his nose was a little longer. He had all the other attributes including the GermanShepherd markings in whie and fawn. He was absolutely georgeous!


    Hi Tim, folks…
    I live in Australia and where I walk Penny we often bump into a couple of white shepherds, so 0% in Australia is probably not right ;-) As for white dogs getting sunburnt, I dunno - my girl's a black and suffers in the sun, white would probably be a cooler colour. I think as long as the bits of skin that are in the sun, like the nose, are black it'd be okay.


      Like I wrote, if there are any white GSD owners in Australia, they would need to add their data here if they want: ALL figures are correct and based on our subscriber database only. Anything else would be speculation, Mim. You may want to chat with them to subscribe. ;-)


    Prejudice against the color white in GSDs has been around a long time. My grandfather had a white from a litter bred for the Quincy MA police dept in the late 50s. It was not accepted due to the coloration, despite being the best in the litter for police work. He died saving his family during a house fire.


    I grew up w/GSDs, and my favorite was my Dad's big white male. Everyone was afraid of him, yet all too often he showed up at my grade school, and the principle would call me out of class(the only time this ever happened!) to walk him home. Never a problem, we just walked the mile home and had a good time! I suspect my mother was a color snob, she wanted nothing to do with 'Snow', and didn't like him to even be in the house.


      Wow, the dog went a mile to get to you at school! All alone, like a stray dog?
      Documents close bonding!


    Yes, a mile,and yes, alone, but it wasn't just for me (though I pretended it was) I actually had 5 younger siblings, so I imagine he came after the majority of his 'pack' ?

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