The German Shepherd breed is among the most popular dog breeds in the world. According to the American Kennel Club, in the United States, they are only superseded in popularity by the Labrador retriever. They are known for their intelligence and affection. They also come in a variety of colors such as brown, red, and black or some combination of those colors. Some are completely black, and others are completely white. A white German Shepherd is the same as others in the breed, but they have a recessive gene that causes them to be totally white.
The white German shepherd has raised mixed feelings and myths about their coats. Some breed enthusiasts actually shun the white German shepherd while others have developed myths stating they are inferior to German shepherd dogs of other colors. This, of course, is not true as they are just as capable, athletic, and intelligent as those with coats of other colors. They are a German Shepherd, but not a breed to themselves. The AKC allows them to compete in the same class as other Shepherds in competitive sports events.
Physical Differences in the White German Shepherd Dog
The white-coated German Shepherd shares most of the physical traits with the rest of their breed. Their build is muscular, and they have the distinguishing erect ears. In size, they are comparable and weigh up to 88 pounds and stand around 26 inches. Their thick coats mean they shed a lot and need consistent grooming. Like other Shepherds, they are generally loyal, protective, energetic, and intelligent.
The primary difference is their obvious white or cream-colored coats. Their fur can be a bit longer and thicker. It might also feel stiffer to the touch. However, not all white German Shepherds have a double coat. While they are recognized as a member of the German Shepherd breed, they are not recognized as inside the breed standard. Like the rare black German shepherd, their white coats are the product of a recessive gene. However, the primary difference in the rarity of the black and white German Shepherd breeds is the true color. In the black German shepherd, their true color is solid black. In the white variety, the recessive white gene acts more like a mask which blocks the dog’s true color patterns and causes its appearance to be white.
Please note that a white German Shepherd is not an albino. The only way to get a completely solid white German shepherd pup is to breed to white parents. However, a white parent German shepherd dog can have colored pups when bred to other colors of German Shepherd dogs. When a non-white parent is carrying the recessive white gene, their pups have about a 50% chance of being either white or colored. Parents who are not white and do not carry the recessive white gene will not have white pups. Since there isn’t a definitive color pattern and there’s no way to tell what color is masked by the white genes, there’s no way to know what color pups might be when the white parent is bred to non-white German Shepherds.
Temperament and Nature of the White German Shepherd
In general, the German Shepherd breed, including the white German shepherd, have very pleasant temperaments. They are pack-oriented and consider their humans to be part of the pack. While they tend to be both protective and brave, they are affectionate with their family and are typically friendly with strangers they feel are non-threatening. But some of them may keep a safe distance until they are sure the stranger can be trusted.
White German Shepherds, like the rest of their breed, are super intelligent and easily trained. They tend to love adventures especially if this means a trip to the beach, a park, or a nature hike. For the most part, they are great with kids. However, it’s always advisable to supervise an introduction to a new child and to use precautions since they are a big dog. The German shepherd breed is known for getting along with other pets and animals. Some, however, can be aggressive toward other dogs. It depends a lot on the environment and their training. They may be over-protective of smaller pets by nature, or they may be a bit aggressive toward them. Oftentimes, the Shepherds get along well with cats, but for some, felines trigger their predatory instincts. If the pup comes into the home and other animals are already there, they will grow up with them and usually just see them as part of their pack. It’s always good to use caution when introducing white German Shepherds to other animals.
Health Issues Common to the White German Shepherd
For the most part, the breed usually runs healthy. However, there are a few health conditions they can be susceptible to during their lifespan. Even if you carefully select a reputable breeder who screens their breeding stock carefully, it doesn’t guarantee the dog will be healthy. It will increase the chances they will live a healthy life though.
The most common health-related problems for all German Shepherds are hip and elbow dysplasia. This is a condition where the dog’s joints didn’t develop properly. It can lead to inflammation, pain, and eventually lameness. Because the German shepherd breed is so susceptible to this ailment, it’s important to work closely with the vet. This ensures any signs of hip or elbow dysplasia is caught and treated quickly. This can often prevent the condition from getting worse.
Shepherds as a whole are susceptible to different digestive problems too. Bloat is a condition where their stomach fills with air. Then it can twist on its axis. This condition is fatal if it’s not treated quickly. Feeding the dog small meals throughout the day can help reduce the chances they will suffer from bloat. White German Shepherds are also known to suffer from food allergies. Talk to the vet about hypoallergenic feed options.
Caring for the White German Shepherd
No matter what color their coat, German Shepherds are easy to care for. This family-friendly breed does need a lot of TLC but it’s not much more than to be expected. Here are some of the primary areas of care they need.
Food & Diets
Like any family pet, white German Shepherds need to be fed food that is nutritionally balanced. It should meet if not exceed the AAFCO guidelines. Because they are a large breed dog, they do need dog food designed specifically for the large breed. Because they are susceptible to digestive problems, make sure to choose a food containing probiotics, beneficial bacteria. Feeding high-quality food can help minimize some of their most common ailments. It can also mean the difference between having a healthy or unhealthy pet. In the long run, feeding them a well-balanced, nutritious diet can help save in vet bills.
A veterinarian can help you select the right food for the age and size of your white German Shepherd. In general, premium dog foods have been fortified with the necessary vitamins, minerals, and probiotics your pet needs. This can also help them have healthy elimination. Choosing dog food that contains fish oils can help reduce inflammation, joint pain, and dry skin. It can also help encourage a healthy coat. To be sure your German shepherd is getting what they need, look for ingredients like salmon, salmon oil, menhaden fish meal, and glucosamine or chondroitin.
Generally speaking, the German Shepherd breed is high energy and they have intense personalities. They need a lot of exercise and interaction to be sure they remain healthy and happy. When they don’t get enough exercise or activity, they can start to develop destructive behavioral habits. Since they are playful by nature, it’s not difficult to find ways to help them exercise. They like playing fetch, walking, running, and even swimming usually. Swimming can even be beneficial for them because it’s great exercise for the joints. The rule of thumb is to be sure they get about an hour of good exercise every day. They are often trained to compete in obedience competitions or agility trials. This type of exercise is good for their body and their mind.
Training A German Shepherd
Most of the time, white German Shepherds are easily trained. Remember, they are very intelligent animals and it’s in their nature to want to please their humans. This makes them a great candidate for training. It is important to start training them as soon as they are brought into the home. They are usually easily house trained and that should be done relatively quick. It’s a good idea to begin them with basic obedience training early on because you will also want to start socializing them.
Socialization needs to start early on as it can be more difficult to teach an older dog to socialize. Starting them out as a pup will help them learn what behaviors are appropriate around humans and other dogs. They should be exposed to both animals and people frequently. They learn what behaviors are acceptable by watching their owners. When they are in the wild, they learn appropriate social behaviors from their mom. Now, it’s up to you to guide them through the process. As they are introduced to more people, they will learn not to be afraid of people and the right ways to interact with them. If for some reason a German shepherd isn’t socialized properly when they are young, it can be costly to pay a professional trainer later. Not only is this hard on the dog, it’s a lot harder on your budget too.
Grooming and the White German Shepherd
German Shepherd with any color coat tends to shed a lot. They are often jokingly called, “German Shedders” because of it. They are constantly shedding a moderate amount, and then twice a year during the fall and spring they may shed more heavily. Owners can’t do much about stopping this but brushing them twice a week can help to reduce the amount they leave around the house. It is also okay to brush them daily, it won’t hurt. Although they need regular bathing, it should not be done too often as it can lead to problems with their coat and skin.
How Common are White German Shepherds?
The sound of “recessive” genes makes it sound rare, right? On one hand, that is right. In the wild, recessive traits are usually rare. Usually, two white German shepherd dogs will produce white puppies. But non-white German Shepherds can too. They might have one or two white pups in a litter, as long as they both carry the white gene. A careful breeder who has a good grasp of genetics can breed two white German Shepherds to produce a litter of white pups. It’s really a matter of supply and demand. They are not quite as rare as their black counterparts, but not quite as common as the brown patterned German Shepherd.
Where to Find a White German Shepherd Puppy
Sad to say, but some breeders are just in the position for the money and they don’t care about the animal. These unscrupulous breeders may try to charge more for a white German Shepherd pup claiming they are rare. Just note, they are not as rare as the black German shepherd pup, but because they are less common, they may still cost a bit more.
It’s important to do some research so you connect with a reputable and responsible breeder. They will be able to authenticate the parents of the pup and give you all those details and paperwork. They’ll also be able to provide documentation on the pup’s vaccinations and explain any health issues that may have arisen. Good breeders can provide you with the puppy’s parent’s hip scores, so you’ll have an idea about the health and future health of the pup. They may also ask you some questions to ensure you will be a good match for the puppy and one who is prepared to take good care of it and give it a warm, loving home.