White is a very rare coat color seen in German Shepherds. Many fans of this breed love the iconic black and tan color. The snowy coat color takes many people by surprise!
While this color is rare, these loyal pups have some pretty famous parents. Jennifer Aniston has owned two including her current dog Lord Chesterfield!
The pure white german shepherd is sure to catch your eye. But do you know the differences between this dog and its black and tan siblings?
Read on to learn all about these differences and what makes them unique.
Table of Contents
- White German Shepherd Breed Information
- What Are White German Shepherds Called?
- Breed History
- White German Shepherd Facts
- Personality and Temperament
- White German Shepherd Care
- Adopting A White German Shepherd
White German Shepherd Breed Information
German Shepherd dogs ranked third in the most popular dog breeds of 2020. While most people’s minds probably go straight to the typical black and tan color, there are actually 13 color varieties of this breed including white.
White german shepherds are actually just a rare color. They are commonly mistaken as their own breed, but this is not true.
Their coat color is just very rare because it is produced by a recessive gene.
Puppies must inherit one copy of the white gene from each parent in order to have a snowy/creamy coat. Since the gene is recessive, it is often masked by other coat color genes like black and tan.
The result is a dog who has the lean and muscular body type of a German Shepherd with a snowy white coat.
A common misconception about this color variety is that they are albino and more prone to health issues. However, the white german shepherd is not an albino. They are actually very different.
Albino refers to a rare genetic disorder that causes a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes. These dogs will have pale pink eyelids, nose, paw pads and lips.
The white is just a beautiful color variation. They will have black eyelids, nose, paw pads and lips. They are the result of a recessive gene, not a genetic disorder.
Since white german shepherds are not their own breed they share most of the same traits as their standard black and tan siblings.
These hard working dogs are very focused, easily trainable and people-pleasers. They all require lots of exercise as well as an owner who is conscious of their tendency to be wary of strangers.
What Are White German Shepherds Called?
White German Shepherds go by many names depending on who you are talking to. These dogs are commonly called:
- White-haired german shepherds.
- All white GSDs.
- White shepherd.
Most often they are simply called white german shepherds. All of these dogs are the same breed. There is no difference between them and they will have the same stunning snowy coat.
There is some disagreement on whether this color should be considered a color variation or its own breed.
The American Kennel Club recognizes the color as a variation within the standard German Shepherd dog breed.
Even though they are a purebred variation, white is not recognized by the breed standard. Their coat is considered a “fault” and therefore they cannot compete in typical dog shows. They are allowed in other events such as agility.
These dogs can be registered and are considered purebred, although they do have limitations for competing in the show ring.
The United Kennel Club classified these dogs as a separate breed in 1999. This separate breed is called the White Shepherd and is not allowed to be bred with standard black and tan shepherds in order to be considered purebred.
Since these dogs go by so many names it can get confusing. Always make sure to ask your breeder if you are unsure whether a dog is purebred or not.
The most important trait of the white German shepherd is their unique and eye-catching snowy white coat! These dogs easily stand out from their black and tan siblings. Their characteristic snowy coat makes them look like an arctic fox.
A true white coat is preferred for this breed, but cream and “biscuit” are also possible.
It is important to note that any shade of white is considered a serious fault by the breed standard.
A white should look just like a German shepherd, but with a white coat! These dogs should be tall, muscular and athletic-looking. When fully grown they should weigh between 50 and 90 pounds and will stand 22 to 26 inches tall.
Males tend to be taller and heavier than females.
All german shepherds have a long natural tail and tall, pointed ears that do not flop over. Their large ears are usually feathered and fluffy around the edges. Their eyes are almond shaped and usually brown or amber in color.
These large dogs have lean and muscular bodies which are longer than they are tall.
Coat & Color
White german shepherds will have a long, beautiful coat that is actually a double coat. The undercoat will be dense and the outer coat will be thick with straighter hairs. The double coat is water resistant which makes them very tolerant of cold weather.
Their skin will be gray with black eyelids, nose, paws and lips.
An albino german shepherd will have a white coat but will have pink eyelids, paw pads, lips, and nose. The easiest way to spot the difference is the color of their nose. If it is black you have got a white german shepherd!
Puppies will be born all white and adorably fluffy. Their coat should be fluffy, but not curly. They look like walking snowballs and will have floppy ears.
At four to six months old, their coat will become less fluffy and develop into a thick, long coat. After two years your small snowball will be fully grown.
Are White German Shepherds Albino?
A common misunderstanding about this dog is that they are albino, but this is not true!
White german shepherds are simply white because of genetics, not due to albinism. This is similar to human hair color where brown is dominant and more common and blonde is recessive and less common.
Albino refers to a rare genetic disorder that causes a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes. Albinism is a genetic condition that can affect most species and even people! It is not limited to german shepherds or even dogs in general.
White German shepherds are far more common than albinos.
Albinos are rare because they are prone to suffering many health issues such as blindness and sensitivity to sunlight. Often they do not live for very long and are not bred.
They have some key characteristics which make them easy to spot.
Dogs affected by albinism have pale pink skin and red eyes caused by lack of melanin. This lack of pigmentation makes albino animals more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer. They will also have a pale pink nose and lips.
White GSDs typically have dark gray skin on their body and a black nose. They typically have the same dark brown or amber eyes as their standard black and tan siblings.
All white german shepherd dogs should not be confused as albino. They are two very different dogs.
German Shepherds originated in Germany in the late 1800s.
The first German Shepherd had an ancestor that was a White Thuringian Shepherd which carried the gene. This gene was passed on throughout generations, even if puppies were not white in color.
This means white has been a breed color since the breed was created in the late 19th century.
The white variety was bred to be a working dog with the purpose of herding sheep.
During World War II it was said the white german shepherd was a carrier of bad genes. The same was said about blue GSDs too.
Neither of these statements are true, however, breeders at the time instead began to selectively breed to avoid white puppies. For many years their beautiful coat was considered an undesirable trait and the population declined.
Breeders had to work hard to bring back the color.
But even today the effects of this reputation are still seen. White Shepherds cannot compete in many dog shows and they are less commonly seen as working and police dogs. Their black and tan counterparts are the preferred choice.
Many breed associations also do not recognize their coat color.
These dogs are now commonly found as family pets and companions, rather than working dogs. They became popular for their snowy coat.
How Are White Shepherds Bred?
White german shepherd puppies can be bred in a few different ways, but a puppy must have two copies of the recessive coat gene to be white. This recessive gene stops black pigment (Eumelanin) and red pigment (Phaeomelanin) production.
When two white-coated German shepherds are bred together, the result will always be a white puppy.
Both parents have two copies of the coat gene and one from each parent will be passed onto their puppies.
If a white parent is bred to another color like black, white puppies can be born, but the chances are reduced to 50%. They will only be born if the other parent has one copy of the white gene that is being masked by another color.
It is also possible for two non-white shepherd parents to have white puppies. This is how black and tan breeders may sometimes end up with white shepherds in their litter.
Both parents must each have one copy of the recessive coat gene, despite not being white themselves.
(with recessive white gene)
(without recessive gene)
(with recessive white gene)
(without recessive gene)
White German Shepherd Facts
- They have a snow nose. This means that in the summertime their nose will be black and in the winter it will fade to gray.
- While German Shepherds come in both a medium and long-haired variety, it is most common to find long-haired white shepherds.
- They are not usually used for police, military or guard dog work. Instead they are family dogs and have been bred to be more gentle and less aggressive. They do not have the courage of their black and tan siblings and can be skittish around strangers.
- Puppies will reach about half of their adult size around four months old! That is a weight gain of about 35 pounds in just four months.
- Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Aniston and Tom Hanks all own or have owned these dogs.
- White german shepherds are not the same as albinos! Albinism is a genetic disorder while white is just a color variety.
- White puppies are not genetically different from their standard black and tan siblings and they are still considered part of the same breed.
- Some say that white puppies are friendlier than their black and tan siblings because they have been selectively bred to be less intimidating.
Personality and Temperament
All german shepherds are known for their loyal nature. This color variety is no different. They are confident, courageous and will protect their families.
Most of the traits associated with the standard black and tan variety are in white pups too. But there are a few subtle differences.
White german shepherds are different from their black and tan siblings in temperament.
Black and tan dogs are commonly used for police and military work. White dogs are not used by the police or military work and therefore have been selectively bred for companionship over many generations.
They are still loyal and protective, however, black and tans are generally more aggressive. White pups still have a protective nature, but they will not be as intense.
White german shepherds tend to be a better companions than guard dogs.
They are calmer and do better in social situations. They are especially calm when interacting with children because of their history as a family pet. They make great family dogs because of their less intense nature.
Some can be warm and cuddly with those they are close with, but they can be skittish around strangers. This wariness makes them a great watchdog, but a nuisance if excessive barking and hostility become a problem.
All german shepherds are hardworking dogs who are highly motivated to please their owners. They are highly trainable and quick to learn. However, these dogs are not social butterflies.
They enjoy attention from those they are close with, but take a while to warm up to strangers. They are serious and focused when outside the house.
White German Shepherd Care
The white German shepherd is a high-energy dog, just like all the other colors are! They crave exercise and mental stimulation as they were originally bred for herding.
On average this breed is happy with 60 to 90 minutes of exercise per day. They enjoy hiking, long-walks and running. If a walk is not enough to tire out your shepherd, playing fetch or agility training will help. They often excel at fetch and frisbee because of their agility and speed.
Inadequate exercise and mental stimulation can lead to boredom, destructive behavior and overall unhappiness.
This breed likes to have a job. They need at least an hour of exercise per day.
German shepherds enjoy both physically and mentally challenging activities. It is important for owners to let them use their brains to their highest potential.
Whether it is teaching them agility or scent work, puzzle toys or teaching new tricks, allowing your pup to use their brain in interesting ways will keep them happy and out of trouble.
The white shepherd is most suited for an outdoorsy family who are happy to devote lots of time to them.
This breed is a great workout and adventure buddy for people who enjoy hiking or running. They are not a good match for novice owners who work long days or are not willing to set aside time for daily exercise.
Once they are tired they make great family dogs. Many will cuddle up with you and hang out on the couch.
White german shepherds are extremely active and smart dogs. Their extreme intelligence is one of the reasons why they are often used for police work.
All german shepherds have the ability to learn new tricks and skills. However owners must be consistent and structured with their training, especially with puppies.
As puppies white german shepherds are full of energy that needs to be focused on training.
Typically the biggest challenge in training white shepherds is their tendency to be wary of new people and dogs. Early socialization to both people and pets is essential to ensuring that your dog is not aggressive or skittish. Dogs who are not well socialized can become aggressive with strangers.
Puppy training classes can be a great way to introduce your new pup to people and pets while also teaching them important manners!
Group puppy training usually costs $100 to $300 for six weeks.
These classes not only help your dog learn basic commands but also provide socialization from a young age. For the average family basic obedience classes and socialization will be enough.
For many years the white coat of german shepherds has been associated with genetic disorders and health problems. But there is no evidence that the white german shepherd has more health problems than their standard siblings.
Both white and standard german shepherds are relatively healthy dogs who typically live between 7-10 years old.
All colors are prone to the same health issues regardless of their coat.
The most common health problems associated with this breed are hip and elbow dysplasia because they are a large breed.
Hip and elbow dysplasia is a genetic condition that can lead to permanent discomfort for your pet. The joints do not form in the proper way and will lead to pain later in your shepherd’s life. Reputable breeding, health checks and a healthy body weight are the best way to prevent hip dysplasia.
Other common health issues include:
- Skin problems.
- Von Willebrand’s disease (problems with blood clotting).
- Neurological issues.
- Digestive diseases.
- Heart diseases.
Adopting A White German Shepherd
You can expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,500 for a white german shepherd puppy. This is slightly more expensive than the traditional black and tan which usually costs between $600 and $1,500.
White dogs are often more expensive and this is true of the white husky too. White-coated shepherds are less common so they do cost more. This also means breeders are harder to find.
It is important for owners to do their homework before picking a breeder. There are many backyard breeders and puppy mills that will falsely advertise white puppies. Transparency from the breeder about a puppy’s temperament and health is important.
Ideally the puppy’s parents should have been screened for any genetic problems or health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia. A good rule of thumb is that breeders should allow you to visit their home as well as meet the parents of your puppy.
If you decide to adopt a white german shepherd into your family, you will need to be prepared for a lot of work.
On a typical day they like to have over one hour of exercise and plenty of attention.
For example, they might start the day with a long walk before their owner heads to work. During lunch break a few rounds of fetch in the backyard and running around. To finish the day they might go to the dog park or go on a run with their owner.
The white german shepherd is only different from the standard black and tan by their coat color. Often their white coat is mistaken for albinism, but an albino dog will not have a black nose.
White german shepherds have a long, beautiful snowy white coats with a black nose and paws.
Many owners prefer this white color, despite it being a “fault” in the breed standard. White puppies are not working dogs and have been bred to be less protective family dogs. They are more social compared to their black and tan cousins.
Overall, they are an active dog who is best-suited for an active family.
If you are looking for a unique german shepherd, the white may be the match for you! Let us know what you think in the comments below.