Did you know that the eponymous character of the film Bolt belongs to the dog breed known as the white German shepherd? In fact these dogs have been a part of several movies in popular culture and are also the favorite pet of many well-known celebrities. But despite this popularity, these dogs are barred from participating in conformation rings like other German shepherds. This is because of the existing belief that a pure white coat is a fault and therefore, makes the dog eligible for disqualification. Till the 1960s this did not hold true. It was in that decade that the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA) declared that the white coat color was a disqualifying fault in the dog breed.
The truth is that the white coat is actually one of the original colors of German shepherds. This recessive gene that results in the white coat hair can be traced back to the breeding program started by Captain Max von Stephanitz to create a breed of dogs that would be perfect for shepherding. In fact the grandfather of the dog that is widely considered to be the standard for contemporary German shepherd dogs, Greif was a white herding dog. Greif passed on the recessive gene to Horand, his grandson who was the father of many white German shepherd puppies. These white coated dogs were disqualified by the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany in 1933 after the Nazi party came to power. They considered, without any scientific evidence, the white coat to be responsible for paling the coats of other German shepherd dogs. As mentioned earlier the GSDCA followed suit in the '60s.
Today this dog is recognized by the American White Shepherd Association (AWSA) and the United Kennel Club (UKC) as a separate breed. The same holds true for The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) which recognized it as a Berger Blanc Swiss which is also the name that the White Swiss Shepherd Dog Club of Australia (WSSDCA) uses. Most other clubs all over the world consider the breed to have a disqualifying fault that results in its white coat. There are many clubs and organizations that are involved in rescue missions because this breed of dogs is often subjected to mistreatment due to false beliefs that exist in the society.
A white German shepherd resembles the German shepherd exactly except for the white coat which is generally stiff and long. They have an undercoat which is short and fine in texture and an outer coat that is dense and harsh. They generally grow up to around 22 to 26 inches in height when they are fully grown and weigh about 75 - 85 pounds. Their life expectancy is generally around twelve years.
Some of the most common health problems that white German shepherds suffer from are hip and elbow dysplasia. They are also susceptible to degenerative joint disease and dog allergies. Congenital spinal disease is also common in white German shepherds.
Most dogs of this breed are very cheerful and eager to learn, which makes them perfect to train. They are also courageous, brave, and extremely faithful. They are complete family dogs who love to be around their human owners and can be extremely protective of their family. There are many people who complain about these dogs being aggressive. This is generally due to poor handling. They need owners who are authoritative so that they have a proper command over them. They also need to be trained properly to be obedient. These dogs have a lot of energy and this energy needs to be utilized properly by their owners. The dogs need proper exercise which involves strenuous activity and training of some sort or the other. Most of these dogs are trained to be sheep dogs, guard dogs, or police dogs due to their keen instincts.
Most white German shepherds are popular as family dogs because they are so lovable. In case you plan to bring home one of these dogs, remember that these dogs are easier to train and bring up than other dogs.