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White Swiss Shepherd: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

white swiss shepherd

Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 55-88 pounds
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Colors: White
Suitable for: Families who want an energetic and loving large dog that always needs to be the center of attention
Temperament: Highly intelligent, energetic, and watchful

The White Swiss Shepherd is a medium-to-large dog that is closely related to the German Shepherd. They are highly intelligent dogs and extremely watchful and make great family guard dogs.

Although brave and quite strong, the White Swiss Shepherd is a big softy at heart, and they need to feel like they are part of the family. They do not do well when they are left alone for long periods and are best suited to families where there is somebody home most of the time.

Until relatively recently, the White Swiss Shepherd was considered to a variety of German Shepherd. However, this has changed, and around the world, they are slowly starting to be accepted as a distinct breed. The White Swiss Shepherd is not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club but has gained recognition from the international federation of kennel clubs, the Federation Cynologique Internationale.

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White Swiss Shepherd Puppies — Before You Bring One Home…

white swiss shepherd puppy
Image Credit: Matthias Lemm, Pixabay

White Swiss Shepherds share several common hereditary health issues with the German Shepherd. Therefore, it is essential that when you are looking to buy a puppy, you purchase from a reputable breeder who has ensured that the parent dogs have had all the recommended health checks before breeding.

Before selecting a breeder, you should make every effort to visit their kennel and meet a few of their dogs. A reputable breeder will encourage this, as your visit will also allow them to assess you — they will want to confirm that you can provide a safe and comfortable home for one of their puppies before they sell you one.

It is important to meet their dogs and puppies during your visit and inspect where they live. The kennels should be clean and in good order, and their dogs should appear happy and healthy. You may also have an opportunity to hold one or two of their puppies, but this will depend on their vaccination status at the time of your visit.

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3 Little-Known Facts About White Swiss Shepherds

1. The White Swiss Shepherds is not an albino German Shepherd.

Albinism is a genetic condition that can affect many different species of animals, including dogs and humans, and involves the animal being born without any color pigmentation in their bodies. As a result, animals with albinism have very pale skin, hair, and eyes.

White Swiss Shepherds are not albino, despite a popular misconception that they are. They have white fur due to a recessive gene that masks their true coloring, and they have normal pink skin and brown or black eyes.

This misconception dates to 1959, when the German Shepherd’s parent kennel club declared all-white dogs to be albino and subsequently banned the registration and breeding of any dog with more than 50% white markings. This misconception was officially proven to be wrong years later with the advent of DNA testing, but by that stage, the misconception had spread widely across the globe and still lingers to this day.

2. A breeding pair or two White Swiss Shepherds cannot produce tan- or black-colored offspring.

As the White Swiss Shepherd is only white because of a recessive gene, they must carry a double recessive gene in their DNA, one from each of their parents. Hence, two all-white parents can’t pass on anything other than the recessive white gene to their offspring, and those offspring will also be white.

However, two black or tan German Shepherds can have an all-white puppy. For that to occur, each of the parent dogs needs to be a carrier of one recessive white gene in their DNA, and each needs to pass this recessive gene to their offspring. This does not occur very often, which is why all-white German Shepherds were always rare.

3. The modern-day White Swiss Shepherd owes its existence as an independent breed to a Swiss national named Agatha Burch.

In 1969, Agatha Burch started a breading program to deliberately select for and develop all-white dogs. The program started using an American-born white male German Shepherd named Lobo and an English-born white female German Shepherd named White Lilac. The resulting dogs were initially referred to as White Shepherds.

At that time, white German Shepherds were hard to come by in Europe; thanks to the false declaration that all white German Shepherds were albino, white puppies had typically been culled from litters for the previous 10 years.

Eventually, Lobo and White Lilac’s offspring were spread throughout Europe and were bred with the scattered remanence of White German Shepherds that had survived. The White Shepherd Society was registered as an organization with the Swiss Kennel Club in 1991, and the breed has slowly started to gain official recognition around the world.

white swiss shepherd dog
Image Credit: Malin K., Unsplash

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Temperament & Intelligence of the White Swiss Shepherd 🧠

Not surprisingly, the White Swiss Shepherd has a temperament that is like that of the German Shepherd. However, dogs that are several generations removed from the regular German Shepherd have developed a few unique features.

White Swiss Shepherds tend to be more affectionate toward their families than a German Shepherd, they are also less skittish toward other dogs, but they are still quite wary of strange people. The White Swiss Shepherd is also more likely to suffer from separation anxiety if they are forced to be away from their family for a lengthy period.

These dogs retain the protective nature and high intelligence of the German Shepherd, and in this regard, they respond well to training and make excellent home guard dogs.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Yes, White Swiss Shepherds absolutely adore their families and will always be eager to please. They are also extremely fond of children and generally are quite patient and tolerant around them.

White Swiss Shepherds long to spend time with their families and will happily follow their owners around from room to room all day, sleeping on the floor, couch, or bed next to them. In fact, if you own one of these dogs, you may find that you have a pet that thinks that they are a 75-80-pound lap dog.

Despite the breed’s love of children, you should always supervise young children around a White Swiss Shepherd. Due to the dog’s size, they can accidentally knock a small child over and cause them injury, and due to their size, if for some reason, they do lose patience with a child, they have the potential to cause a serious or life-threatening injury.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Yes, White Swiss Shepherds that are several generations removed from German Shepherds tend to have much more tolerance to having other dogs and pets around than a German Shepherd.

Like all dogs, though, a White Swiss Shepherd will be more tolerant of other pets if they are properly socialized from a young age.

Socialization involves exposing them to as many different people, animals, places, and objects as possible from a young age and getting them used to being around those things that may seem foreign to them. Young puppies are extremely impressionable. Thus, introducing a dog to puppy school, where they will meet other people and dogs in a strange environment, is a good idea.

While White Swiss Shepherds are usually okay with other pets, you need to keep in mind that all dogs have hunting instincts, and small animals, such as birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, and even small dogs, may be seen as playthings to be chased, played with, and possibly killed. As such, even with training and socialization, you shouldn’t leave a White Swiss Shepherd alone with small animals, particularly animals that they haven’t accepted as being members of their family.

white swiss shepherd on balcony
Image Credit: Emma Morin, Pixabay

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Things to Know When Owning a White Swiss Shepherd

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

In the United States and other Western nations, we are fortunate to have a highly regulated pet food industry that spends billions of dollars on developing their products and ensures that the production and sale of safe and nutritious pet foods.

Of course, it is possible to prepare your pet’s meals yourself, but unless you want to spend the time researching and preparing those meals to ensure that you are giving your White Swiss Shepherd all the vitamins and nutrients that they require, you and your dog will be better off purchasing high-quality commercial dog food.

White Swiss Shepherds are large, highly active dogs, and we recommend feeding them a premium quality dry dog food that has been formulated for adult large breed dogs. You may find that the brand you choose also offers age-specific options for puppies and senior dogs in addition to its adult dog food. If this is the case, these can be a good choice while your dog is less than 15 months old or over 7 years old, respectively.

Like all dogs, White Swiss Shepherds are omnivores, which means that they can eat and get nutrients from plants and meats. However, dogs need a high amount of protein in the diets, so meat-based products need to feature heavily in their diet.

A healthy dog diet will also include carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals and separate from their food, plenty of fresh, clean water.

Thankfully, it is quite easy to tell if a particular dog food product has everything in it that your dog needs to be happy and healthy. All pet foods must include ingredients lists, a guaranteed analysis, and other information on their packaging. However, what you should look for is a statement that says that the product contains a “complete and balanced diet” for an adult dog, as this statement means that the dog food you are looking at has been formulated to provide everything that your dog needs in their food.

Exercise 🐕

The White Swiss Shepherd is a high-energy dog that requires plenty of exercise.

Although they are a pooch that will happily spend hours inside with their family, these dogs are not at all suitable for life in an apartment and need a home with a large and secure backyard in which they can run around and play.

In addition to outdoor play, a White Swiss Shepherd will need a good long run or a vigorous walk every day, limiting many people’s ability to appropriately care for one of these dogs. You may also find that your dog enjoys activities such as dog agility training or other active dog sports.

white swiss shepherd playing
Image Credit: Nicole Köhler, Pixabay

Training 🦮

White Swiss Shepherds are highly intelligent and eager to please, a combination that results in them being quite easy to train.

Your dog’s training should start from a young age with socialization, and the best way to do this is to enroll them in puppy school. Typically, puppy school is all about getting your dog used to being around other dogs and strangers and is not really focused on obedience.

Obedience training is something that you can do yourself, and constant reinforcement at home is the quickest and easiest way to see results. However, when your dog is a few months old, it is also a good idea to take them to dog obedience classes. These classes will enable you to learn a few new things about training your dog and further socialize your pet.

With consistency and a little effort, it is possible to train a White Swiss Shepherd to an extremely high standard, and you will likely find that your dog progresses to advanced obedience training quite quickly. While it is possible to stop formal training classes at this stage, it is a good idea to keep attending for a while and ensure that you reinforce the lessons at home and while out on your daily walks.

If your dog enjoys their training classes, you might want to enroll them in agility training or get involved with another form of dog sports.

Grooming ✂️

White Swiss Shepherds typically have a medium-length coat but can also come in a short coat variety. Regardless of the length of their coat, these dogs will require twice-weekly brushing and combing to manage their thick double coat and keep them looking their best.

When combing a Swiss White Shepherd, it is important to remove any of their woolly undercoat that is loose and not just concentrate on their coarse outer coat.

Regular grooming should be started when a puppy is young, as it will ensure that your dog becomes familiar with and relaxed about the process. This is extremely important with a dog the size and strength of a Swiss White Shepherd, as they can be quite a handful to groom when they are adult dogs if they don’t feel comfortable with the process.

Be warned, though, White Swiss Shepherds are heavy shedding dogs, and no amount of brushing or combing will prevent their hair from getting everywhere in your house.

Health and Conditions ❤️

White Swiss Shepherds are typically strong and healthy dogs, but they are susceptible to several hereditary health issues that you should be aware of. Unsurprisingly, these are the same health problems that tend to affect their close German Shepherd cousins.

Thankfully, many of these problems can be prevented or at least, reduced through appropriate health screening and sound breeding practices.

As with all things related to your dog’s health, the best person to speak to is your dog’s veterinarian if you have any specific concerns or questions.

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Eye infections
  • Ear infections
  • Panosteitis
  • Allergies
Serious Conditions
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Bloat or gastric dilatation-volvulus
  • Epilepsy
  • Hemophilia
  • Diabetes
  • Degenerative disc disease

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Male vs. Female

When considering buying a White Swiss Shepherd, one of the questions that people often ask is whether to purchase a male or female puppy. However, this really is a matter of personal preference, as both sexes can be fantastic, loving family pets.

The size difference between male and female White Swiss Shepherds can be quite significant, though, and this is something to consider if you have young children.

Most of the other differences between male and female White Swiss Shepherds, including minor differences in temperament, are related to their reproductive cycles, and these will be virtually eliminated in spayed or neutered dogs.

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Final Thoughts

White Swiss Shepherds are beautiful and intelligent dogs that make great family pets, but they aren’t for everyone.

Before deciding to bring one of these dogs into your family, you must ask yourself a few important questions:
  • Do you have the necessary time to devote to raising one of these dogs?
  • Do you have the necessary space for a large active dog and a securely fenced yard?
  • Are you comfortable having a large, strong dog around your children and other pets?
  • Are you prepared to make a long-term commitment to caring for a dog, and how will this impact your life over the next 10-12 years?
  • Are you a strong leader who can handle a strong, large, and active dog?
  • Are you comfortable having a large dog that will shed hair all year long in your home?

If you can honestly answer yes to all these questions, a White Swiss Shepherd could be a good dog for you and your family. If not, it may be advisable to consider another dog breed or even an entirely different type of pet.

Featured Image Credit: Malin K., Unsplash

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