One of these is treasured, one of these were killed!



The White German Shepherd

The color white has always been associated with strength, purity and with conquest. Roman conquerors used to ride a white horse when they entered a vanquished city. Napoleon and other would be world rulers rode in triumph upon white horses.

We treasure the rare white tigers. Sadly however, when it comes to white German Shepherds the opposite is true.

Since the Nazi Party who took over the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde or SV, the GSD breed society in Germany begun by Max von Stephanitz in April 1899, the colour white in GSD’s was seen as undesirable. Hitler thought that the white genes brought about colour fading in coloured dogs. We know now that the colour fading gene is a different gene to the white recessive gene. The reason behind the exclusion of white as a legitimate GSD coat colour has come about through an error regarding the white colour and it time to correct this error.

It is too easy to disregard the whites and use the excuse that “we accept the German standard” without looking into the reason why the German standard came to exclude the whites in the first place.

It is time the Breed Standard was changed to include all coat colours, as long as the colour is not linked to any health problem (and white isn’t).


Malcolm B Willis in his book “The German Shepherd Dog A Genetic history of the Breed”, although not an advocate of whites, says “The colour of the GSD is in itself not important and has no effect on the character of the dog or on its fitness for work and should be a secondary consideration for that reason." (p26)

He also says “Judges who feel that they must end with a line-up of similarly coloured dogs are in the wrong business. One should seek to end with a line-up of similar type animals and colour is irrelevant.” (p36)

On page 39 he says “The long held belief that white is degenerate or linked to biological problems is without foundation.”


Dr Bruce Fogle, the vet and well known author, says of White Shepherds “White Shepherds are disqualified from the show ring in some countries and severely penalized in others. The spurious explanation given is that white working dogs are difficult to see on snow-covered hills, or too easy to spot as night-time guards. Hence this colour is bypassed by most top breeders and consequently disadvantaged. White Shepherds’ unique look, however, gives them widespread popularity as pets.” 

Max von Stephanitz himself said “No good dog can be a bad colour.”

THE WHITE GERMAN SHEPHERD BOOK by Paul D. Strang, Stephen A. Berman, M. Eileen Hilldrup

Foreword - “ Unfortunately, as is often the case with the good
things in life, a small minority has been very vocal in its disapproval of
White Shepherds. This has led to the fear, held by some that, possibly, a
White (German) Shepherd is unacceptable or that it cannot be registered with
the American Kennel Club.
What nonsense! A good White German Shepherd is neither an albino
nor a degenerate. . . . . . "

The White Shepherd originated in Germany as a colour variety of the regular
German Shepherd.

The truth is that virtually all German Shepherd bloodlines have a genetic
background encompassing white recessive. In fact, some of the finest German
Shepherd bloodlines have, in the past, been famous for the White Shepherds
they produced.


1882. At the Hanover show, a white Shepherd is exhibited. Greif is the
first documented White German Shepherd in competition
White shepherding dogs of varying sizes and types are shown to be common in
all areas of Germany by the Phylax Society, an organization of German fanciers
who were interested in combining various shepherd bloodlines in order to
produce an improved breed.
Captain Max von Stephanitz, who had become interested in improving upon the
older breeds of shepherds through the Phylax Society, buys Hektor Linksrhein.
By intensive inbreeding of this dog, v. Stephanitz produced the prototype of
the German Shepherd breed.
As Hektor carried recessive white genes in his bloodlines, it was only
natural that he would pass these genes along to his descendants. Hektor, the
father of the German Shepherds, is thus the father also of the White German
Von Stephanitz publishes his 776 page opus on the German Shepherd. He
includes a photograph of a celebrated White Shepherd, Berno v.d. Sneewiese,
which is a direct descendant of Hektor, the father of the breed. This edition
was in German; subsequent editions were translated into English.
H. N. Hanchett of Minn. MN becomes first American importer of German-bred
White German Shepherds
With increasing popularity of the White German Shepherd, friction
develops between the breeders of the White Shepherds and the Standard coloured
German Shepherds. Genetic problems in the German Shepherd bloodlines are
blamed erroneously on the "white-coated" German Shepherd. During this time,
Germany begins a campaign to outlaw the white dogs.
White Shepherd fanciers are puzzled. As white sheep-guarding and herding
breeds have been known for at least 2,000 years, how could they have suddenly
become undesirable due to their coat colour?


The work of the Phylax Society, 1891-1894, focused attention on the fact
that there were originally a great number of different varieties of German
shepherding dogs.
In 1899, Von Stephanitz began his task of creating the modern German
Shepherd, using dogs that combined the bloodlines of the older varieties.

Marcus Terrentius Varro (116-27 B.C.), the Roman historian and writer,
was one of the first to eulogize the shepherds' dogs. Of particular interest
to us is the fact that he described the guardians of the flocks as being invariably white in colour.
In his opinion, the shepherds preferred white dogs in order to be able to
distinguish them from the wolves that usually attacked in the half-light of
dawn or dusk.
Columella (1st century A.D. ) published a 35 volume treatise on
agriculture entitled, The Agricultural Arts stated, unequivocally,
that the dogs which guarded the sheep were white in colour.
Many representatives of the big white guardians described by the Roman
writers are still with us today..
Most of the little shepherd dogs come in brown, grey, or grizzled coats.
Some, for example the Puli, are known to come in a white variety. Still
another little herding breed is the Sharfpudel of Germany. . . . . . it is
always white.

We see then. . . . . . Very large dogs, almost always white in colour,
which were used primarily, as protectors of the flocks.


The dog which fulfilled the blueprint in von Stephanitz' mind was Hektor
Linksrhein. He purchased the dog on the spot, renaming him Horand von
As he said in his book, 'The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture', "the
group with the best chance of gaining the upper hand was the one which
envisioned turning the new breed into a working-type show dog with, at all
costs, erect ears and, possibly, a wolf-like appearance as well." He further
pointed out how they turned to the Thuringaian shepherd dog because in this
variety they were most likely to get the much sought-after erect ears, and
often, a wolf-grey colour.


Horand and Hektor are the same dog.
When the background of Horand is examined, bona fide evidence is revealed as
to the natural occurrence of white as a colour within Shepherds. White has a
genetic pool within the colour variations of the German Shepherd.
George Horowitz, English Judge, Alsatian Columnist, author and historian
provides a glimpse into the background of Horand. In his 1923 effort, The
Alsatian Wolf-Dog, with latter editions, reports that in 1882, two Alsatians
made an appearance at the Hanover Show. One was Greif, born in 1879 and white
in colour. Greif was again to be exhibited at Hanover, this time in 1887.
One year later at the 1888 Hamburg show, Greifa, another white, was
exhibited. At the Cassel Show in 1889, Greif II, also a white, was exhibited.
All three of the white Alsatians, Greif, Greifa and Greif II, were owned by
the Master ofHounds of Beyenrode, Baron von Knigge. Almost identical information on Greif and Greifa is provided in The German Shepherd Dog, Its History, Development and Genetics, by M. B. Willis, B. Sc.Ph.D.
Horand von Grafrath, SZ 1, the founding father of all modern German
Shepherds, descends from Greif (white). Here then the white factor is
identified as a genetically expected colour within the breed.
The breeder of Horand, then Hektor, was Herr Friedrich Sparwasser of
Frankfort. Horand was whelped the 1st of January 1895. A litter brother,
Luch 1155, also was to be influential as a sire and carried, of course, the
same genetic pool.
Pollux 151
Kastor 153
Schaefermaedchen von Hanau
Horand von Grafrath, SZ 1
Greif (white)
Lene 156 (white)
Greif, the white, is the grandsire of Horand, father of the breed. The
genetic influence of a grandparent is significant, and as Horand was
line-bred and inbred, this influence would remain viable in subsequent
generations. As litter brother Luchs 155 was widely bred, his offspring too
would carry the white genetic factor in their gene pools.
Horand von Grafrath, the von Stephanitz prototype for the new breed, carried
white genes in his bloodlines. Many of Horand's grandchildren were either
white, or carried in their genetic make-up the promise of more White German
Shepherds in the future.
It is obvious, then, that the White Shepherd is not a mutant. He is white,
as his ancestors were frequently white. And so, too, will his descendants
be white.


               Other Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. The White Shepherd has not been mixed with any other breed of dog from the time of its introduction to North America. Certainly, there has been no other breed or breeds added in order to make them white. The gene that controls the white color is a natural component in the total color genetic makeup of the German Shepherd Dog breed. The White Shepherd is registered independently with the American White Shepherd Association in the United States of America. Effective May 1, 1999, the White Shepherd was also fully recognized as a separate breed of dog with the UNITED KENNEL CLUB (UKC). UKC is the second-oldest all-breed dog registry in the United States and the second largest in the world. For more information, please contact UKC: 100 E. Kilgore Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49002. The phone number is: (616) 343-9020. The United Kennel Club can also be accessed on the Internet.


No. The White Shepherd should have dark (preferably black) skin pigment. The nose, lips and eye rims must have color and be completely filled in. The skin of the entire muzzle may be dark as well. This dark skin will often show through the sparse coat on the top of the muzzle. It is commonly believed that all albino animals will have milky or chalky white skin pigment, light eyes with pink or red pupils and colorless, white hair such as you might see in the common lab mouse. In many species, including humans, albinos do exhibit these physical characteristics. However, today we recognize cases where albinos will exhibit colored (non-white) coats and blue eyes. (The so-called "white" Doberman Pinscher is such a case.) They are properly known as "Tyrosinase-Positive" or partial albinos. For this reason, any White Shepherd that may appear with blue (or pink) eyes or with a total lack of skin pigment is disqualified by the Breed Standard and should never be used in any breeding program.

The coat color comes from a simple recessive gene. To put it plainly, in order to produce a white puppy, both parents must carry the gene for the white coat color.
The white gene is not associated with the genes that cause color-paling in the German Shepherd Dog, since those genes are located at different loci. It is probably possible that a solid white GSD could carry these dilution genes. However, since the dog is white in color, the paling factor would not express itself in the color of the coat.
All dogs have a total of 78 chromosomes which are inherited from both parents at the moment of conception. Thus, each parent gives half the genetic makeup to their offspring – 39 from the sire and 39 from the dam. In simple terms, the chromosomes (which carry the genes) like to hang out in pairs. They align themselves so that the genes they carry will always exist in pairs. Each gene pair controls a given trait, either alone or in combination with other gene pairs. If the genes that make up the pair are exactly alike, the dog is said to be ‘homozygous’ for that gene pair. If the pair is mixed, then that dog is ‘heterozygous’ for that pair. These gene pairs acting in combination with each other determine what traits the dog will exhibit – called its ‘genotype.’

All white German Shepherd Dogs are homozygous for the gene pair responsible for producing the color white. If we call the white gene ‘w’, then all White Shepherds must have the following genotype: ww. (A non-white dog would have to be either WW or Ww.) If we breed our white dog, the only gene it would be able to contribute to its offspring would be the recessive w. You may have heard the term "phenotype" which describes the physical appearance of an animal. Thus, the phenotype of a GSD that inherits the ww gene pair will be that of a solid white dog. The problem with the phenotype is that what you see isn’t always what you get. In many cases, you can’t tell a given dog’s genotype just by looking at its phenotype. For example, a black and tan dog could be homozygous for non-white (WW). Such a dog would be unable to produce a white puppy, even if bred to a white dog because it doesn’t carry the recessive white gene. However, a black and tan dog could be carrying the gene for solid white (heterozygous for the white gene pair) and you would never know it just by looking at him (his phenotype) because the dominant W ‘covers up’ or takes precedence over the recessive partner gene. A colored GSD that does not carry the recessive w (homozygous for W) bred to another homozygous W partner will produce a litter of non-white, non-carrier puppies. Likewise, two white GSDs (homozygous for w) bred together can never produce a colored puppy. We can use a simple punnet square to determine the probability of producing white offspring from a white parent x non-white parent if we know the genotype of the non-white dog.

In the first punnet square, we see the potential result of breeding two carriers together. (We’ll define a carrier as a non-white dog that carries the white gene, also known as white ‘factored.’) With this mating, there is a potential for 25% of the resultant litter to be white (ww), 25% to be homozygous non-white (WW) and 50% to be heterozygous non-white (Ww – carries the white factor). In example 2, we mate a carrier (white factored or Ww) to a white partner (homozygous ww). The potential exists for half the litter (approximately 50%) to be white while the other 50% will be white factored (heterozygous) like their non-white parent. In the third example, we breed a homozygous non-white dog to a white partner. None of these puppies can be white but all of them have inherited the white factor and can produce white when bred to another carrier or to a white partner. In the fourth example, we breed a white factored dog to a homozygous non-carrier. Again, none of these pups can be white but half of them (approximately 50%) could potentially carry the white gene. The other 50% would be homozygous non-carriers. The only way to tell whether a given puppy has inherited the white factor would be to do a test breeding to a white dog. If no white pups result, then you would know that the parent is probably a non-carrier, or homozygous for WW.


This information taken from the American White Shepherd Assn.

© 2006 Karen Carloni - American White Shepherd Assn.
All rights reserved

White coat German Shepherds from

A white (or very light), but not albino, version of the German Shepherd has also always occurred, but was designated a disqualifying fault in the American Kennel Club during the late 1960s. The breed line originated from a white shepherd dog.

It is important to note that the Nazis took the SV (German Shepherd) breeding program away from Max von Stephanitz and then outlawed the white coat color. The white shepherd is recognized as a separate breed by the International (FCI) Fédération Cynologique Internationale since 2002 and by the United Kennel club for several years.

The white coat, however, does not prevent the white-coated German Shepherd Dog from being registered in the AKC as a German Shepherd Dog. White Shepherds hold champion titles in the UKC (United Kennel Club). Reputable breeders selectively breed White Shepherds sound temperament, physical structure, striving for a Shepherd that closely resembles the original dog; less angular than today's AKC German Shepherd breed standards. See the American White Shepherd Association for more detail on the standards for the white shepherd or for white German Shepherd dogs see:WGSDCA The white German Shepherd has been recognized by some organizations under the name Berger Blanc Suisse (or White Shepherd Dog).