The German shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), they’re the second most popular breed in the United States.
One of the reasons German shepherds are so popular – aside from their incredible intelligence and affectionate nature – is the fact that they come in a variety of colors. Most are some combination of brown or red and black, but some are entirely black or white.
We’ve discussed black German shepherds before, so we’ll focus on the white German shepherd today.
Note that, aside from their coat color, white German shepherds are exactly the same as brown or black German shepherds. The only difference is that a white German shepherd has a recessive gene that turns their fur white.
We’ll talk about the White German Shepherd more below, so read on to learn more about these incredible dogs.
White German Shepherd Facts
Height: 22 to 26 inches
Weight: 70 to 100 pounds
Lifespan: 10 to 14 years
Alternative Names: White GSD, white-coated German Shepherd Dog
Energy Level: 8/10
Bonding Level: 9/10
Amount of Shedding: 9/10
Tendency to Bark or Howl: 7/10
White German Shepherd History and Origin
As the breed name implies, German shepherds were originally developed in Germany. First developed in 1899 by Captain Max von Stephanitz, German shepherds were initially created to be an unmatched herding breed.
In part, von Stephanitz sought to create a dog who was simultaneously athletic, capable and intelligent – a collection of traits that no single breed embodied at the time. By most measures, von Stephanitz succeeded.
By the time World War I rolled around, the dogs have begun working in a variety of police and military contexts. Many American soldiers brought German shepherds back home after the war, which helped to establish the dogs in the U.S.
The breed soon became very popular, although the “German” portion of their name was removed at one point, in response to the generally poor view most had about anything of German origin during the early- to mid-20th century.
Note that while white German shepherds have occurred in litters for most of the breed’s history, they’ve often been shunned by some breed enthusiasts. Some have even advanced myths about the inferiority of white-coated German shepherds.
However, such attitudes are largely mistaken, and white German shepherds are just as intelligent, athletic and capable as their brown or black counterparts.
Nevertheless, while the AKC recognizes white German shepherds and allows them to compete in sporting events, white coat color is seen as a disqualifying fault in the conformation ring.
White German Shepherd Size
White German shepherds are fairly big dogs, who usually stand about 2 feet tall at the shoulder. Their fur length varies, but many have medium to long hair, which causes them to look even larger than they are.
Most German shepherds are solidly built dogs, who weigh between 70 and 100 pounds. Rarely, they can reach heavier weights.
White German Shepherd Temperament
German shepherds – including the White German Shepherd – usually have fantastic temperaments. They’re simultaneously brave and protective, yet affectionate with their pack and friendly with non-threatening strangers (some, however, keep their distance for a while until they get to know the stranger).
They’re incredibly intelligent and easy to train, and they are very adventurous dogs, who’re always up for a trip to the local park or beach. Most German shepherds are great with children, although you’ll still want to supervise introductions with new children, as you would with any large dog.
Some German shepherds get along well with other pets, while others may be aggressive towards other canines – particularly small breeds. Similarly, some German shepherds tolerate cats, but cats trigger the predatory instincts of others. Accordingly, you’ll want to be careful when introducing your white GSD to other animals.
White German Shepherd Health Issues
German shepherds are usually relatively healthy dogs, but they are susceptible to a few important health conditions that can affect their lifespan.
You can reduce the chances of obtaining a dog that will develop health problems by purchasing your new pet from a breeder who screens his or her breeding stock for ailments, but even this won’t guarantee that your new pet will be healthy.
Hip and elbow dysplasia are both common problems for white German shepherds (as well as German shepherds of other colors). Dysplasia occurs when a dog’s joints fail to develop properly. This can lead to pain, inflammation and, ultimately, lameness.
Accordingly, it is important to work closely with your vet, to ensure that any sign of hip or elbow dysplasia is noticed as soon as possible. This will allow you to avoid making the condition worse and begin treatment.
German shepherds are also susceptible to a variety of digestive problems.
Bloat – a condition in which the stomach fills with air and twists on its axis – is the most serious problem to watch for, as it is fatal without treatment.
You can reduce the chances that your pet will suffer from bloat by feeding small meals spread throughout the day and by using a bowl designed to make it difficult for your dog to eat too quickly.
It is also important to note that many white German shepherds suffer from food allergies, so you may need to talk to your vet about hypoallergenic options.
How to Care for a White German Shepherd
German shepherds of all colors – including white – are usually easy to care for. We’ll explain some of the most notable aspects of white German shepherd care below.
Food and Diet Requirements
Like most other dogs, GSDs require a nutritionally balanced food that meets or exceeds the AAFCO guidelines. However, because of their size, German shepherds will thrive best if provided with a food that is designed specifically for large breeds.
We’ve discussed a few of the best foods for german shepherds before, so be sure to check out our recommendations before you pick a specific recipe.
Note that German shepherds are susceptible to a variety of digestive ailments, so it may be helpful to select a food that contains beneficial bacteria (known as probiotics).
Most high-quality dog foods are fortified with probiotics, but you can also purchase standalone probiotic supplements if you prefer.
German shepherds are high-energy dogs with relatively intense personalities, so you must provide them with plenty of exercise and stimulation to keep them healthy and happy. If you fail to do so, your pet will likely develop destructive behavioral problems.
German shepherds are pretty playful dogs, so it isn’t usually difficult to figure out a way to get them sufficient exercise. Most love playing fetch, and they usually enjoy swimming too.
In fact, because they’re susceptible to hip dysplasia and other joint problems, swimming is a fantastic exercise for German shepherds.
You can also train your White German Shepherd to compete in agility trials or obedience competitions. These types of activities will not only provide exercise but mental stimulation too.
Training white German shepherds is usually relatively easy. These are intelligent dogs who love to please their people, so they usually don’t present many training challenges.
Begin training your new German shepherd puppy as soon as you bring him home.
A crate will make this much easier to accomplish (as well as provide your pet with a safe place to sleep), so be sure you pick one up when you bring home your new pet.
Most German shepherds are easy to housetrain, and you should be able to complete the task within a few weeks.
Once your German shepherd puppy is about 8 weeks old, you can begin basic obedience training. Also, because they become quite large, you’ll need to socialize your new pet too.
Start introducing your new puppy to people as soon as you bring him home but wait to introduce him to other dogs until your vet says that it’s OK to do so.
German shepherds of all colors shed very heavily – there’s a reason they’re often called “German shedders.” They shed a moderate amount on a constant basis, and they’ll shed heavily twice per year (usually in the late fall and early spring).
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this, although you can reduce the amount of hair they leave around your home by brushing them twice a week. However, you may want to consider using a white bed for your dog, as this will show hair less than a dark-colored bed will.
Bathe your white-coated German shepherd regularly, but avoid doing so too often, as this can lead to coat problems. Generally, three or four baths a year will suffice. It’s also important that you keep your pet’s teeth brushed and nails trimmed.
White German Shepherd Rescue Groups & Breeders
German shepherds aren’t hard to find – as mentioned earlier, they’re the second most popular breed in the U.S. Accordingly, you won’t have to look very hard to find one.
However, white German shepherds aren’t as common as those of standard colored GSDs. As such, you may have to do a little more searching than normal if you have your heart set on a white GSD.
One of the best places to start your search for a white-coated German shepherd is the AKC’s puppy finder. However, you may be able to find a White German Shepherd from a rescue too.
Echo Dogs White Shepherd Rescue is a good place to start your search, however, you may also be able to find white German shepherds puppies from other rescues – they needn’t necessarily focus on German shepherds of a particular color.
FAQS About White German Shepherds
Prospective dog owners often have questions about the breed they intend to obtain, and this is especially true of those who want white German shepherds. We can’t address all of the questions soon-to-be owners have, but we’ll try to answer a few of the most common questions below.
Aside from their color, white German shepherds are exactly like standard colored German shepherds. They simply have a recessive genetic mutation which makes their fur white. They are not albino as some may infer.
Some white dogs suffer from genetically linked conditions that cause them to suffer from health problems that don’t afflict standard colored members of their breed.
For example, many white dogs are more likely to suffer from deafness than their normal colored counterparts.
However, white German shepherds do not suffer from such traits – the genetic trait responsible for white fur color in German shepherds only appears to affect their hair color.
Yes, most white German shepherds – like all German shepherds – are protective of their families. That’s part of the reason they’re so commonly used in protective and guarding contexts.
Some white German shepherd puppies are produced by white parents, while others are produced by normally colored parents.
Because the gene for white fur color is recessive, it means that brown or black German shepherds can carry the gene without having white fur. Dogs need two copies of the gene – one from their mother and one from their father – to display white fur.
So, a white German shepherd puppy can be produced by any combination of white or normally colored German shepherd, as long as the parents each had at least one copy of the gene.
Without genetic testing, there is no way to determine whether or not a non-white German shepherd has the necessary gene. The only way to guarantee the production of white German shepherd puppies is by breeding two white German shepherds together.
Is a White German Shepherd Right for Your Family?
White German shepherds are popular for a number of reasons. They’re not only loving and intelligent, but they’re also protective and playful. Many people find German shepherds beautiful, and some people are especially fond of the White German Shepherd.
Just be sure that you are willing to provide your new pet with enough exercise and that you aren’t concerned with the amount of hair these big, furry dogs shed. As long as these problems aren’t deal-breakers for you, a white GSD may make an excellent pet for your family.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.