Breed: White Shepherd
Temperament: intelligent, loyal
Recommended for: active people, families with older children
The White Shepherd is similar to the German Shepherd in most respects other than colour. In fact, white shepherd pups will appear in litters from coloured german shepherd parents, if those parents have the relevant genes. White shepherds were permitted to be registered in Australia until 1994 when the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) restricted the breed to a limited register. Whites placed on this limited register are not permitted to breed, however they will have papers. The German Shepherd breed standard states that white german shepherds are regarded as a ‘serious fault’. White Shepherd owners fear that classing these dogs in such a way, without allowing whites to breed or being recognised as a separate breed, results in healthy white pups being killed rather than being placed on the limited register. White Shepherd owners claim that certain breeders of the German Shepherd may rather kill healthy white pups rather than disclose that their breeding dogs may be capable of producing ‘serious faults’ such as white offspring.
The White Shepherd Association of Australia (WSAA) began in early 2000 and its members are currently lobbying the ANKC for full recognition of the White Shepherd as a separate breed on the main register.
Currently there are only 16 whites on the limited register but a further 300 registered with the WSAA.
Appearance and genetic make-up
At birth, the coat is very white, with the possibility of apricot colouring to the flanks. As the dog ages the coat may become a more pronounced apricot colour due to the development of the harsh outer coat.
As with the German Shepherd, whites will usually have a short coat, however long coats are sometimes seen.
Many breeders of german shepherds believe that whites are albinos and should be eliminated from the breed. This belief is wrong. Whites are not albinos; they may have a brown nose, have brown eyes and dark lips, eyelids and pads. They are not prone to the problems associated with albinism.
As with the German Shepherd, the White Shepherd is an intelligent dog. It is not readily trusting of strangers though very loyal to its family. They do require early socialisation and obedience training.
The German Shepherd Dog League currently runs an excellent breeding program which has developed a breed with a stable temperament. Although the White Shepherd Association currently has no plans to formulate a similar protocol, owners of whites believe that their dogs may be quieter than their coloured cousins and not as excitable. There is some credible scientific evidence which does indicate that white haired animals may be more placid than darker haired.
Maintenance and cost
As with the German Shepherd, the White Shepherd should be groomed once a week. They do shed their coats continually and are particularly heavy shedders approaching the warmer months. Daily brushing is required at this time. Depending on the quality of breeding a pup will cost between $500 and $1000.
Health and lifespan
Should live to approximately 13 years. Although these are white dogs there is no predisposition for them suffer conditions such as skin cancers, blindness or deafness. In fact there is no more likelihood for them to suffer skin cancers than in any other breed of dog. Any health problems associated with the White Shepherd are those also common to the German Shepherd, such as hip and elbow dysplasia. The WSAA observes stringent hip and elbow testing of its breeding stock and any interested purchasers of puppies are referred to those breeders who have participated in the scoring program. Haemophilia testing of males is also standard and positive males are not permitted to breed under WSAA guidelines.
Space and exercise
These dogs need plenty of room and require daily exercise. They should be kept in a well fenced, medium to large sized yard and walked daily.
Active people with room for their pet. Anyone who likes large dogs and is prepared to spend the time training, grooming and walking their dog.
Filmed in conjunction with Brooke Taylor and the White Shepherd Association of Australia (now re-named the White German Shepherd Dog Alliance of Victoria) members, Melbourne, 2002.
White German Shepherd Dog Alliance of Victoria
PO Box 311
Sandringham VIC 3191
To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190
Phone: (08) 8349 4797
Canine Control Council of Queensland
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864
Tasmanian Canine Association
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409