White German Shepherds: History, Health, Behavior, Care, Temperament, and Training Tips


The pure white coats of the White German Shepherd (White GSDs) are stunning and striking compared to the standard German Shepherds coat colors.

White German Shepherds and White Swiss Shepherds often get confused for one another. While there are many similarities, such as being watchful and protective and having an itch for challenging tasks, there are differences between the breeds. Swiss Shepherds have a different demeanor, appearance, and breed classification.

In comparison to standard German Shepherds, the only significant difference is the white or cream coat color. White shepherds also have longer fur than standards. On very rare occasions, white shepherds have a single coat.

This article focuses on the characteristics, history, and lifestyle of the white White German Shepherds, in comparison to the standard colors of the breed.


Quick Info Guide for White German Shepherds

Height Males: 24-26 inches; Females: 22-24 inches
Weight Males: 65-75 pounds. Sometimes up to 90 pounds; Females: 60-70 pounds.
Lifespan 10-14 years
Breed Classification Herding Group
Grooming Daily brushing, seasonal blowouts, bathing as needed.
Coat Usually short double coat, rarely long single coat.
Temperament Energetic, intelligent, loyal, loving, protective.
Activity Level Need a “job” to accomplish.
Exercise At least 1 mile of walking each day. 1 hour of aerobic activity daily is ideal.
Family Pet? Yes
Feeding 3-4 cups divided into 2 or 3 meals, daily.
Training Positive Reinforcement with daily sessions.

Origin & History of White German Shepherds

White German Shepherds are originally from European farms where they were valued for their obedience and loyalty as a herding dog. Their white coats blended in with the sheep, making it easier for farmers to spot wolves and coyotes.

White German Shepherds are direct descendants of Max Von Stephanitz’s German Shepherd. Howard, the first German Shepherd, had a direct grandfather named Greif von Sparwasser, a White German Shepherd, making the recessive gene always present in modern German Shepherds of all colors.

These descendants of Howard were eventually brought to Canada and the United States.

Official Recognition

The white fur has been considered a fault since the 1930s and is still not recognized or accepted as a type of German Shepherd. The timeline of the White German Shepherd’s recognition goes something like this:

1930s: only black and tan German Shepherds were accepted by the German Shepherd Club of Germany. This continued through World War II. White German Shepherds were also discriminated by the German Shepherd Club of America.

1968: White German Shepherds were barred from conformation shows with the American Kennel Club.

1969: The White German Shepherd Club of America formed while the Canadian Kennel Club allowed white shepherds into their shows.

1995: The American White Shepherd Association created and joined the White Shepherd Club of Canada to petition for recognition by the American Kennel Club.

1998: White German Shepherds are barred from conformation events by the Canadian Kennel Club.

1999: White German Shepherds are finally recognized by the United Kennel Club.

What Causes the White Fur?

White German Shepherds (2)Pin

The white fur of a White German Shepherd is caused by a recessive gene that masks the standard solid black coat color. This gene is always present in all German Shepherds. The white fur, however, does not mean the dog is albino. Albino animals have a lack of melanin, which allows blood vessels to show through the skin. This makes an albino animal’s skin, eyes, nails, and scales appear pink. White German Shepherds do not lack melanin, they simply have lighter fur.

A White German Shepherd will produce white pups only if both parents are white shepherds. Breeding a non-white shepherd may produce a white pup depending if the other parent carries the recessive gene as well.

Are White German Shepherds rare?

Yes, since White German Shepherd pups only occur if both parents carry the recessive gene. What’s even more rare is a White German Shepherd with a long coat.

Are White German Shepherds Aggressive?


They have the same temperament as your typical German Shepherd, meaning they only get aggressive if provoked, feel the need to protect, or if they are mistreated.

White shepherds have their pack. They love their families and they will especially protect any small children in their pack.

If they feel someone in their pack is being seriously threatened, they may become aggressive.

Are White German Shepherds Expensive?

Since they are a rare color of White German Shepherd, breeders will often charge more for white puppies. A puppy with a good bloodline and health certifications could cost anywhere between $750 and $1,500.

Beware of puppy mill breeders who charge high prices for ill-treated, unhealthy pups.

Do White German Shepherds Make Good Pets?

Yes, if they live the right lifestyle with the right family dynamic. White shepherds need active families who love the outdoors. They need a family with time dedicated to training.

White German Shepherds make great family pets for children. They’re loving dogs who will patiently watch over and play with children of all ages.

Since white shepherds are large breed dogs, they need space to move and be active. Small apartments may not be ideal. Houses with backyards are more ideal. But as long as you take this breed on daily walks, he will have enough exercise to be content.

Does the White Coat Affect Hearing or Other Health Issues?

Not at all! No genetic disorders are connected to the white fur. Max Von Stephanitz states in the book “The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture” that “the coloring of the dog has no significance whatsoever for service.”

What Does a White German Shepherd Look Like?

White German Shepherds are large breed dogs with lean, muscular bodies. They have a black nose perched on the end of a long muzzle. Their eyes are almond-shaped and a rich shade of brown. Their ears are upright, alert, and triangular.

The coat of a white shepherd is either pure white or soft cream. Most often their coat is a weather-resistant double coat. The top coat of fur is straight, waterproof, and wiry to the touch. The undercoat is short, incredibly soft, and acts as insulation from the heat and cold.

How Big Does a White German Shepherd Get?

The males grow up to be 65 to 90 pounds, on average. They stand between 24 and 26 inches at the shoulder.

Females weigh between 60 and 75 pounds while standing 22 to 24 inches at the shoulder.

How Long Does a White German Shepherd Live?

Between 10 and 14 years. In extreme cases, a white shepherd could pass away as young as 7 or as old as 16.

With an excellent exercise routine, a proper diet, and regular checkups, a White German Shepherd is likely to live longer.

What is the Temperament of the White German Shepherd?

A White German Shepherd’s temperament is no different than a standard color German Shepherd. White shepherds have a calm disposition but will react accordingly to protect their pack. They may only become aggressive if provoked or mistreated.

White German Shepherds are often aloof and observant when strangers are around. They watch over their family. They aren’t afraid to protect small children if necessary.

White shepherds are playful, fun-loving, and friendly. In between naps, they’re usually game for playtime with a tennis ball, a tug rope, or a frisbee.

Please note that white shepherds (all shepherds, actually) are very vocal. Barking can be trained out of them, but they will usually whine, moan, groan, or how to “talk” to you. Your house will not be silent with a shepherd. But they love being with you and talking to you. It’s their form of communicating with you.

How Much Exercise Does a White German Shepherd Need?


White German Shepherds are highly active. They need at least 1 hour of brisk activity each day. If you are unable to run your dog every day, 1 mile of walking each day is a good minimum goal.

White shepherds love walking, running, fetch, tug, and playing with other dogs. They love advanced activities like agility, jumping, herding, and obedience training.

With a little extra work, some dogs may even learn to walk or run on a treadmill! Teaching the treadmill is great for rainy, extremely hot, and extremely cold days.

Overall, White German Shepherds thrive on physical and mental stimulation.

How Should You Train a White German Shepherd?

White German Shepherds are extremely intelligent and eager to please. They will quickly pick up on your instruction and make all their effort to do what you ask. German Shepherds are ranked in the top 3 smartest dogs in the world.

Commands are important in training as well as proper manners, but socialization is a tremendously important and often forgotten part of training. German Shepherds can be wary and sometimes defensive around unfamiliar people or dogs. Giving your dog exposure to as many dogs, people, and situations as possible creates a dog who is comfortable and confident anywhere he goes.

My most recommended method of training for White German Shepherds is Positive Reinforcement. It is a method of training used by world-known service dog schools. Positive Reinforcement shows the dog the actions or behaviors we desire. It also redirects the unwanted actions or behaviors towards what we do want.

If you’re not sure how to train your white shepherd, a local professional dog trainer can be a lifesaver. They know everything there is to know about training dogs. They’ll know how to teach you to train your dog. Both you and your pup will benefit!

How Should You Groom a White German Shepherd?

Most White German Shepherds have double coats – a wiry, weatherproof outer coat and a soft, insulating undercoat. Because of this double coat, all German Shepherds should be brushed on a daily basis to control shedding. Personally, I recommend a wire bristle brush that combs through each individual hair. Doing so prevents tangles, as well.

Each spring and fall, White German Shepherds lose their undercoats. You’ll see tumbleweeds of fur rolling across your floor. To help keep this super shedding to a minimum, I recommend using an undercoat comb that gets deep into the loose fur of their undercoat.

You should only bathe your White German Shepherd with shampoo and conditioner if he gets extremely dirty – like if he rolls in a mud puddle and it can’t be brushed out. Be sure to use shampoo and conditioner specifically for dogs. Human hair products can dry out a dog’s skin and cause rashes or itching.

If your White German Shepherd doesn’t chew on toys very often you might consider brushing their teeth once or twice a week. Most German Shepherds chew on toys so you shouldn’t have to worry about this too much. But keep an eye out for tartar or talk to your vet about dog-friendly toothpaste.

Toe nails can be an issue for White German Shepherds. If they spend a lot of time running or walking outside, chances are their nails will wear down and stay short naturally. If not, their nails may grow too long and cause pain when they walk. Invest in a good pair of nail clippers to keep on hand. If your dog hates nail clippers the way mine does, I’ve found a nail file works wonders. It might tickle their toes but there’s no sharp crunching sound to freak them out.

Even though White German Shepherds have upright ears, they are still prone to ear infections. Check their ear canals periodically for discharge or inflammation. Use a cotton makeup pad to clean them. Speak with your veterinarian about ear wash if needed.

Are There Any Common Health Issues with White German Shepherds?


No matter the color of their fur, there are a number a common health issues associated with German Shepherds:

Hip Dysplasia: The ball and socket joint in the hips is not formed correctly and causes rubbing of the joints instead of sliding smoothly. 

Obesity: Overfeeding and lack of exercise can lead to drastic weight gain. An overweight White German Shepherd is more likely to have arthritis or hip dysplasia.

Von Willebrand’s Disease: A blood disease caused by a deficiency of adhesive glycoprotein in the blood required for normal platelet binding.

Skin issues: Frequent itching and dry skin often due to allergies.

Panosteitis: “Growing pains” is a temporary condition in young dogs characterized by pain, limping, and lameness affecting the long bones in the legs of the dog.

Digestive Issues: Sensitive stomach that requires special diets and low-stress lifestyles.

Heart Disease: Watch for symptoms of slowing down (especially noticeable in such an active breed), coughing, and rapid breathing (more than 35 breathes per minute while resting). 

Cancer: Watch out for unexplained lumps and bumps, lameness, darkly colored sores, swollen lymph nodes, wounds that won’t heal, gastrointestinal problems, sudden weakness or collapse, labored breathing, unexplained weight loss, and lethargy. 

Epilepsy: Recurring seizures, some long and some short.

Bloat: The stomach fills with gas and puts pressure on the diaphragm, which makes it difficult for the dog to breath. The stomach may also twist, causing shock and sudden death.

What Vaccines Do White German Shepherds Need?

Vaccines protect dogs from lethal and contagious diseases. For a long and healthy life, it is best for a dog to stick to a schedule of vaccines. Talk with your vet about a recommended vaccine schedule.

Flea and tick treatment isn’t technically a vaccine but it is something that keeps your dog safe from bug bites and Lyme’s Disease. You have the choice of oils, collars, or pills to prevent fleas and ticks from attaching to your shepherd.

What Food Do White German Shepherds Need?

Being very active dogs, White German Shepherds need up to 2,200 calories each day. That equals about 3 to 5 cups of food, depending on your dog’s weight and activity level.

Feeding your dog smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding vigorous activity reduces risk of bloat.

White German Shepherds need high protein and fat in their food with moderate carbohydrates.

Small healthy tidbits can be good for a white shepherd, in moderation. Avoid feeding your dog too much “people food.” They can grow to expect more of your food than their own food, which can lead to weight gain. Table scraps should be given sparingly.

What Will it Cost to Own a White German Shepherd?

Owning a dog is not cheap. Purchasing a White German Shepherd puppy is far from cheap. Breeders may charge between $750 and $1,500. The initial cost of supplies could be around $500. Yearly medical costs could be about $500 while yearly non-medical costs could reach $1,000.

If you’re lucky enough to find a White German Shepherd in a rescue shelter or adoption organization, you could spend as little as $150 to $250 in adoption fees.

Check Out These Reputable White German Shepherd Breeders

Be careful with White German Shepherd breeders. Some of them are “in it for the money”, meaning they aren’t afraid to charge more money for a puppy just to make a bigger profit. Other breeders might be part of a puppy mill that produces unhealthy, uncertified puppies. White German Shepherds are rare, so do your research.


So, as you can see, White German Shepherds are highly intelligent, fun-loving, and loyal dogs. They are a rare color of the German Shepherd family, making them quite special.

What are your experiences with White German Shepherd? What do you hope to learn from owning a White German Shepherd?

We would love to hear your stories and questions! Thanks for reading!

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Kelly Siedhof is from Pennsylvania and works as a freelance editor and writer, specializing in the canine training industry. Her experience with dogs began at age 2 when her family began raising guide dogs for the Seeing Eye, Inc. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from West Chester University, Kelly was inspired to start her own business as a writer and continue her passion for pups. She uses her talents in the written word to spread knowledge of dogs and how to give them the care they deserve. While raising 15 dogs for the Seeing Eye, Kelly’s favorite breeds became the beautiful Golden Retrievers and the stoic German Shepherds