White herding dogs have been around for thousands of years around the world and various white-coated European sheepdogs were used in the creation of the early German Shepherd Dog breed, such as the Kuvasz, Tatra, Great Pyr, Maremma and others. The primary breeding ground of White Shepherds was the Alsace-Lorraine region, closely associated with the Austrian Royal House of Habsburg during the 1800's. When the father of the GSD breed, Captain von Stephanitz began his legendary breeding programme, he used only the best quality specimens, regardless of coat colour. In fact, the very first registered German Shepherd Dog and the direct foundation of the breed, Horand von Grafrath carried the white gene thanks to its maternal grandfather named Grief, who was a pure white dog. Many GSDs were white in the early days, seing how Von Stephanitz was concerned only with working ability and health, not appearance. While pink-nosed dogs were culled, the white-coated working examples with proper pigmentation were just as acceptable as dogs of any other colouring.
As the popularity of the German Shepherd Dog grew, specimens of all colours, including the white ones, were introduced to America, Britain and other countries during the first two decades of the 20th century. First signs of discrimination against white-coated GSDs appeared in Germany during the rule of Adolf Hitler, who proclaimed them to be inferiour and undesirable. However, in England, Canada and America, white dogs were quite popular and safe until the post-WW2 years. Unfortunately, when Germany once again outlawed the white colour within the breed in the late 1950's, many American GSD breeders saw this as a sign to follow suit. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America changed the standard in 1959 to disqualify white-coloured dogs for Shows, forcing breeders and enthusiasts of white GSDs to form The White German Shepherd Club of America in 1964.
Recognized as a separate breed by the U.K.C. and not accepted by most GSD registries, the White Shepherd Dog is today a popular breed around the world nonetheless. It should be noted that no other breeds have been introduced to the bloodline of the White Shepherd since its arrival to the American continent. There are many alternate names for this breed, from American-Canadian Shepherd Dog and White Alsatian to White Swiss Sheepdog and so on, but they all share the same ancestry and are deeply rooted in the original German Shepherd Dog. Although misleading, the most common name in the United States has traditionally been simply White Shepherd, which remains in use to this day.
When bred properly, this is a good-natured breed, very intelligent and easy to train. A capable watchdog and herder, it also makes an excellent family pet. In essence identical to the GSD, the White Shepherd follows the same appearance standards, apart from the colour requirements. Compared to the modern American Show-type of the GSD, there is also a slight difference in the physical structure of the White Shepherd, which doesn't have the exaggerated sloping backline, but rather a fairly straight back like the original Von Stephanitz dogs. Pigmentation is very important with this breed, meaning that all dogs must have strong dark skin and black noses, eyerims, toenails and pads. The White Shepherd is NOT an albino and poorly pigmented dogs aren't accepted.
The coat is short and dense, always uniform white in colour, coming in a range of shades, from pearl white to almost cream colours. Average height is around 25 inches.