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White 'German' Shepherds: A Coat Color Variation or More?

Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.

white-german-shepherds

If you have seen a white dog that looks like a German Shepherd dog (also named Alsatian, abbreviated GSD), you may have been surprised. These dogs aren’t often fully-white. You may be wondering if it’s an albino, or if it’s simply another dog that shares some of the same characteristics as the German Shepherd.

In this article, we’re going to let you know all about white German Shepherds. We’ll explain their lineage, their personality traits, and how you can care for them so you can know for sure whether or not you want to take the time to care for a dog like this.

Charateristics of White German Shepherds

The white or cream variation looks pretty much the exact same as any other German Shepherd dog, the main difference being the color of their fur. This means:

  • they are generally mid-sized dogs with lots of muscles. Their tails are set low, and their ears stand high.
  • adult males generally stand about 24 inches to 26 inches tall, whereas their female counterparts stand between 22 and 24 inches tall. Either gender tends to weigh between 77 and 85 lbs.
  • they are generally the long-haired or medium length variety, so their fur tends to be beautiful and luscious. Sometimes they can even appear a little feathery.

Is It an Albino?

The first thing that a lot of people wonder when they first see a white German Shepherd dog is whether or not they’re albino. This is an understandable question, but no - white German Shepherd dogs are not albino.

Albinos are creatures that lack certain pigments. This means that they will not just lack color in their fur, but also in their skin and eyes. White Shepherds are normal in all other ways with the exception of their white fur. It's a coat color variation of the breed.

white-german-shepherds

Traits

If you’re thinking about getting one, then it could be a good idea to learn about the different traits and characteristics of the animal.

Temperament

German Shepherd dogs were originally bred to be working dogs, however, they were also bred to have a fantastic temperament so that they would be pleasant to be around. There are a number of characteristics that are often seen among white German Shepherds. Don't confuse them with Swiss Shepherd dogs, those have a more mellow temperament.

  • They are very loyal and will stay close and loving with their owners even during adverse conditions and situations. They are even known to risk their lives to help keep their owners and their families safe.
  • They are generally well-balanced and stable, preferring to be happy and joyful. Their demeanor can change, however, when they are in ‘protection mode’ or detect danger.
  • Cream-colored German Shepherds are confident and courageous animals that do not show fear in the face of danger.
  • They are highly observant animals and tend to be cautious around strangers as they assess the situation. However, once they have determined that a stranger is not a threat, they are usually quick to make friends with them.

They are very playful, which combats their sometimes-serious nature. This means that in addition to being capable guard dogs and protective animals, they are fantastic to have around families with children and kids. Not only will they help to keep them safe, but they will also be great fun to be around.

Energy and Exercise

Remember, German Shepherds were bred to be strong working dogs. This means that they were bred to have a lot of energy so that they could endure for long periods of time in harsh conditions.

Just because your dog might not be working doesn’t mean that it doesn't have a lot of energy. These dogs need to be exercised intensively and regularly, otherwise, their pent up energy will result in them becoming disruptive and possibly destructive.

These are some of the best exercises for German Shepherd dogs:

  • High-intensity exercise like running and jogging
  • Hiking
  • Daily long walks
  • Training
  • Allowing your dog to follow you while you ride your bicycle
  • Playing games like frisbee, fetch, etc.
white-german-shepherds

White German Shepherd Dog Care and Grooming

Caring for a white German Shepherd is basically the same as caring for any other form of this breed. The main difference is that since their fur is white or cream, it might actually be easier for you to spot bits of dirt, inspiring you to comb and groom them more often.

One thing to know about white German Shepherds is that they shed a lot. Unless you have an abundance of white furniture, then you can expect to see white fur on pretty much everything you own. Expect to be vacuuming several times a week, especially in the warmer months when the dogs start to get rid of their winter coat.

To avoid any excess difficulty, it’s important to remember to brush your dog’s hair on a daily basis. Make sure not to bathe your dog too often - doing so will discourage the body from producing natural oils, the same as with humans. Bathing and washing too often can actually reduce the health of the skin.

Health Issues

They, like other dogs, can experience a number of health issues. The primary issues experienced by Shepherds relate to the joints and bones, and the two main kinds of issues experienced by white German Shepherd dogs are known as hip and elbow dysplasia.

One of the reasons that these diseases are so commonly experienced is because they are hereditary. If you have a purebred German Shepherd, then there is almost a guarantee that somewhere in its ancestry, one of the dogs had dysplasia.

This condition can interfere with movement and mobility and can cause your dog pain and discomfort.

These dogs can also develop allergies, eye problems, and spine conditions - though the latter is not very common.

All health problems can be minimized or hopefully avoided by ensuring that your dog lives a healthy lifestyle, eats high-quality food, and exercises a lot.

white-german-shepherds

There’s no doubt that white German Shepherds are amazing dogs, but there are also things to be aware of. As long as you don’t mind grooming your dog and taking care of its health, then you should not hesitate to get acquainted with one of these loyal and playful puppies.

Further Reading

  • Stephanitz M. V. The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture. Read Books, 2009, 712 p.
  • S. M. Schmutz &T. G. Berryere, The Genetics of Cream Coat Color in Dog, Journal of Heredity, 2007, 544–548p.
  • M. B. Willis, The German Shepherd Dog: A Genetic History, Gollancz/Witherby, 1991, 439p.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Sam Shepards

Comments

Sam Shepards (author) from Europe on December 13, 2020:

Hi,

Thank you for your comment.

It's not that standard, but they do indeed exist. You'll normally not see them anywhere near shows or professional and competitive training. I haven't in my country anyway. Many don't consider the white color variation, real German Shepherds. But does it matter? It's all opinion in the end, if find overbred German Shepherd's with joint issues and other heritable conditions a bigger treat to the breed.

Jess H from Oregon on December 09, 2020:

This is a very interesting article! I had no idea that German Shepherds had this color variation.

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