The White Swiss Shepherd dog, also known as the Berger Blanc Suisse, is a breed of dog from Switzerland. They are a fairly newly recognised breed and are prized for being easy to train and live with.
Once a White Swiss Shepherd falls in love with you, there is no escape from their devotion to you. They have a tendency to be warm and welcoming to children but can be skeptical with strangers at first.
Though only a recent addition to the American Kennel Club’s register, the White Swiss Shepherd’s history is intertwined with that of their very close cousin, the German Shepherd.
White Swiss Shepherd dogs were developed through a series of breeding between the German Shepherd male Horand Von Grafrath and successive generations of his offspring to create a line of large, obedient, and energetic herding and guardian dogs.
Horand’s lineage was very well documented, and it is known that he carried genes for the white coat colour from one of his grandfathers. Therefore, these early German Shepherds often sported the colour to a greater or lesser degree which was long considered a normal feature.
In 1959, the German Shepherd's parent club in Germany fallaciously declared every all-white dog an albino, and decided to ban the registration and breeding of any dog with greater than 50% markings. As a result, white German Shepherds, as they were called at the time, became increasingly uncommon and were only recognised in the United Kingdom and United States.
In 1967, a Swiss national named Agatha Burch began a deliberate breeding programme to select for all-white dogs, using a male named Lobo and a female named White Lilac as her first two exemplars.
Initially governed by the “Swiss White German Shepherd Dog Society”, the new offshoot gained Federation Cynologique Internationale recognition as a breed in its own right under the name White Swiss Shepherd in 2011, and it was finally granted pedigree status by the UK Kennel Club in October 2017.
The White Swiss Shepherd is a medium to large sized dog with good musculature and harmonious lines. They have a long, wolf-like head with little in the way of brow or cheek arches. The eyes are almond shaped and dark brown in colour. The lips, nose and eyelids should all be black in contrast to their white fur.
The back and neck of the White Swiss Shepherd are strong and long, with pronounced arching over the withers. Their long, bush tail is held sabre-like at around the hock level most of the time, although it will be raised when the dog’s attention is aroused.
The rear end is sloped through the hip and thigh, although this should not be exaggerated as this could lead to hip problems.
Male White Swiss Shepherds are between 58 and 66 cm tall, while females stand 53 to 61 cm in height; their respective weight ranges are 30–40 and 25–35 kg.
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Arguably one of their most striking features is their thick white coat. The White Swiss Shepherd's coat us extremely dense throughout, and can be medium or long in length, with slight waviness being considered acceptable according to the breed standard.
Generally speaking, the White Swiss Shepherd is a gentle, very intelligent and energetic dog. They are said to be less skittish than the German Shepherd but this doesn't detract from their watchdog capabilities.
They are loyal to their family and may be wary of strangers, but are not prone to showing shy or fearful behavior. The White Swiss Shepherd loves nothing more than to be the center of family life and is known to pine dreadfully if left along for prolonged amounts of time.
White Swiss Shepherds will happily accept dogs and other pets as part of their family pack, but can exhibit aggression towards other dogs they do not know so well.
There are a number of common health issues in the breed that anyone thinking of acquiring a White Swiss Shepherd should be conscious of. The following are a list of health issues that breed is susceptible to:
Owners should be prepared to brush the thick coat every day, as it sheds quite heavily and will quickly form clumps if neglected. Naturally, its brilliant white colour is quick to show up any dirt, and the White Swiss does need regular bathing, but this must be done with a gentle dog-specific shampoo that will not dehydrate the skin or damage the hair quality.