American White Shepherd Dog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Information

American White Shepherd Dog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Information

The American White Shepherd is a pure-bred large hunting dog that lives for 12 to 14 years. The American White Shepherds are very similar to their cousins, the German Shepherd Dogs. 

They can weigh up to 89 pounds and stand 26 inches at the withers. American White Shepherds are intelligent, obedient, fearless, and courageous. The White Shepherds make excellent family companions and love spending time with all their family members.

The American White Shepherd Breed has innate protective instincts that make them ideal guard dogs. Although White Shepherds are wary of strangers, they rarely bark, and when they do, it is to issue a warning. Their eagerness to learn makes training the American White Shepherd Dog a breeze. 

The White Shepherd’s happiness depends on interaction with their human family members. They can be left alone for a few hours, but if it happens frequently or for long periods each day, depression can set in, and destructive behavior may follow.

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What are the Breed Traits and Characteristics of American White Shepherd Dogs?

American White Shepherd dogs are large, strong, and fast. When they’re not herding their flocks of sheep, they are loveable, loyal companion dogs. They are highly intelligent, independent, and able to think for themselves and make decisions. 

They are used to working in partnerships with people and not as subordinates. Because of the dwindling number of herding jobs in the U.S., American White Shepherd dogs have become popular choices for home and other property protectors, companion dogs, and house pets. The breed traits and characteristics are listed below.

American White Shepherd

Characteristics

Relationship with family

Loyal and protective

Relationship with children

Affectionate

Relationship with other dogs

Friendly

Shedding Level

High

Drooling Level

Low

Coat Type

Double coat – outer coat straight, dense and harsh Undercoat – is thick, short, and fine

Coat Color

White, with some creamy shades allowed

Grooming Frequency

High, brushing at least once per week

Smelly

Average chance of bad smell.

Barking frequency

Low

Relationship with Strangers

Suspicious and wary at first

Playfulness Level

High

Affectionate

High

Adaptability Level

High

Intelligence Level

High

Trainability Level

High

Energy and Activity Levels

High

Exercise needs

High

Mental stimulation requirements

High

Protective of territory and family

High

Lifespan

12 to 15 years

Although American White Sheperd Dogs are loveable, affectionate, and playful, socialization should start at an early age.

What are the Physical Traits of the American White Shepherd Dog?

The American White Shepherd is a solid and muscular dog with a thick white coat and a black nose on a large head. The American White Shepherd’s thick coat has a rough feel. American White Shepherd Dogs have been bred for centuries for their skills as herders. The female American White Shepherd Dogs are distinctly feminine compared to the male dogs, their smaller stature is obvious. Female Shepherd dogs mature faster than their male counterparts.

Physical Trait

Description

Size

Large

Weight Range

Male between 77 and 85 pounds

Females Between 60 and 70  pounds

Height at the withers

Males between 24 and 26 inches

Females between 22 and 24 inches

Body

Longer than height, deep chest, large, strong neck, well-sprung ribs, Powerful, muscular croup, rectangular back

Head

The head is proportional to the size of the dog.

Muzzle

The muzzle is strong and dry with a well-developed jaw

Ears

The ears are erect, moderately pointed, of medium size, broad at the base, and set high 

Eyes

Brown eyes, of medium size, black-rimmed almond-shaped and set slightly obliquely. Darker colored eyes are preferred.

Legs

Front legs and hind legs, straight and strong.

Tail

The tail is set on low carried low and vertical – bushy appearance 

Exercise Need

High – 30 minutes of rigorous walking or jogging

Coat

Weather-resistant double coat

Hair

The outer coat is dense, straight, harsh, and close-lying

The undercoat is short, thick, and fine in texture.

Litter size and frequency

Average 8 to 12 puppies once per year

Life Expectancy

12 to 15 years

What are the Social Behaviors and Nature of American White Shepherd Dogs? 

The American White Shepherd breed’s temperament is tranquil, confident, serious, and clever.

That statement is valid for well-nourished dogs who get enough exercise that allows them to spend excess energy. Shepherd Dogs are independent and can correctly respond to changing circumstances without human direction. American White Shepherd Dogs are highly suitable as home companions or estate guardians.

The Shepherd is loyal, gentle, and affectionate with its own family, including children and family pets, once adequately socialized in interacting with children and other pets. They tend to be suspicious of strangers and watchful of other dogs.

American White Shepherd Social Traits

Breed Information

Relationship with family

American White Shepherd Dogs are loyal, affectionate, and protective of their human families. Shepherd Dogs tend to choose a favorite human, often the person it regards as its pack leader.

Relationship with strangers

American White Shepherd Dogs are wary and suspicious of strangers. They typically take their cues from their owners, ready to go into protective mode if necessary. Once they are satisfied that there is no threat, they will warm up to strangers.

Relationship with other dogs

American White Shepherd Dogs have innate pack tendencies that make them sociable with other dogs. American White Shepherd will be happy in families with more dogs, preferably the opposite gender.

Relationship with older people

Shepherd Dogs interact well with older people, but only if they have enough backyard space, and can take the Shepherd for walks.

Relationship with children

American White Shepherd dogs can certainly be good when interacting with children, but Shepherd parents should note the potential issues. American White Shepherd dogs who grew up with children should not cause problems. If they join a household with kids already present, problems may arise. American White Shepherd puppies tend to play-bite, and over-excitement might knock small children over. American White Shepherd Dogs may see their family’s children as part of the flock to guard and act instinctively when other children are around. Once the dogs mature, they will be OK with children, but they develop slowly and may only reach full maturity after 2 to 3 years.

Adaptability level

American White Shepherd Dogs adapt easily to different circumstances, as long as they always have enough space to play and exercise with their human playmates and other house pets.

What is the General Information about American White Shepherd Dogs?

Like many Shepherd Dog breeds, the American White Shepherd’s origins are in Germany, the home of the German Shepherd. The first registered German Shepherd’s maternal grandfather was a white puppy, born in the late 1870s. 

For many years, White Shepherd dogs were regarded as albinos. However, that is not true because the shepherds’ pure white coats are thanks to a specific gene pattern that excludes pigment in the coats. In contrast, albinism is a condition where the hair, skin, and eyes lack pigmentation.    

American White Shepherds Dogs were bred as herding dogs, and herders are dogs developed with the skills to herd and gather livestock like cattle, sheep, and goats. However, for most White Shepherds, their human families are a part of their flocks, and the Shepherds have the ancestral instincts to protect them.

How to Feed an American White Shepherd Dog?

American White Shepherd Dogs do best on high-quality dog food, whether homemade with veterinarian guidance or commercial dog food. Any diet should be life-stage appropriate, like White Shepherd puppies, adults, or seniors. American White Shepherd puppies should be fed food specifically formulated for large breed puppies. This will help their long bones grow and develop at a proper rate and help prevent a condition known as panosteitis, or ‘growing pains.’ 

 As adults, White Shepherd Dogs will do well on most high-quality commercial dog food brands. Due to their low energy requirements, they may need less food in a day than you might initially think. Dog parents should note that Shepherds love food, and if their feedings are not measured or controlled, obesity might be on the horizon. American White Shepherd Dogs tend to gain weight, become bloated, and grow too quickly when young, leading to health problems like hip dysplasia later on.

Dog parents are advised to feed their American White Shepherd Adults between 1,500 and 2,000 calories or 4 to 5 8-oz cups of good quality kibble per day in two separate meals. Puppies need between 2,000 and 2,500 calories and their daily food in two or three measured meals instead of one meal per day, and they should avoid free-feeding all day. Although treats are necessary aids in training your American White Shepherd, over-treating can also cause weight issues and obesity.

  • Food options for American White Shepherd Puppies can be seen below.

Wet Food Option: Merrick’s drool-worthy, Grain-Free wet recipes like Merrick Grain Free Wet Puppy Food Puppy Plate Beef Recipe are nutritiously and deliciously crafted with deboned meat or poultry as the #1 ingredient. They also feature real fruits and vegetables you can see. With a wide variety of flavors, textures, and proteins to choose from, it’s easy to find the right recipe for your pup.

Dry Kibble Option: Merrick’s recipes, like Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Puppy Food, start with real, deboned meat, fish, or poultry as the first ingredient, followed by whole foods like sweet potatoes and blueberries for complete and balanced grain-free nutrition. Each one features up to 84% of protein from animal sources for great taste and superior nutrition. Choose from a variety of options for every age, breed, and need.

  • Food Options for Adult American White Shepherd Dogs can be seen below.

Fresh Food Option: A board-certified veterinary nutritionist formulated NomNom’s recipes to meet your own dog’s specific nutritional needs. Meals are made with the freshest, human-grade, restaurant-quality, individually portioned ingredients, delivered to your home, fresh, not frozen.  

Kibble option for working dogs: Wellness Complete Health dog food like Wellness Complete Health Adult Lamb & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food is naturally formulated with antioxidant-rich ingredients to support strong immunity. Balanced nutrients in the recipes promote optimal energy, and guaranteed levels of fatty acids support skin and coat health.

  • Food options for American White Shepherd Seniors can be seen below.

Home Cooked Food Option: The Farmer’s Dog Vet-designed plan is customized to your dog’s individual needs. Meals are pre-made and pre-portioned to their calorie needs. Human-grade food in human-friendly packaging. Your food is delivered to you within days of cooking. Never deep-frozen. Never stored on a shelf for months. Less processing, higher safety standards, and easy serving — just open and pour.

Dried Kibble Option: With 85% premium animal ingredients, each ORIJEN dog food recipe like ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food provides a strong source of essential protein, vitamins and minerals in their most nourishing forms. It’s a high-protein diet designed to feed your best friend’s carnivorous cravings.

What are the nutritional needs of the American White Shepherd Dog?

The nutritional needs of an American White Shepherd include high levels of specific nutrients. The essential nutrients for American White Shepherd Dogs are listed below:

  • Protein: American White Shepherd Dogs need natural animal protein, valuable for the amino acids they contain that are essential for Shepherd’s health. Equally important is the fact that protein builds lean muscles and provides energy.
  • Fat: Animal protein also provides adequate fat, an additional energy source that boosts the American White Shepherd’s metabolism. However, there is a fine line between enough and too much. Excessive fat levels in the dog’s daily diet could result in weight gain and, ultimately, obesity. Most importantly, adult and senior American White Shepherd Dogs need lower fat levels than puppies.
  • Carbohydrates: Although carbs are not essential nutrients, they are crucial energy sources. Giving the American White Shepherd sufficient carbs will provide energy, encouraging the body’s protein absorption to build lean muscle. Beware, though, too much carbohydrate can lead to obesity.
  • DHA: DHA is one of the components of omega-3 fatty acids. It promotes proper eye and brain development in American White Shepherd puppies. DHA develops cognitive development in puppies and slows cognitive decline in older dogs. Furthermore, omega fatty acids benefit aging dogs by treating chronic kidney disease and canine arthritis. Omega-3 oils improve the coat health of American White Shepherd Dogs.
  • Micronutrient: Taurine is one micronutrient that aids heart health, and other valuable micronutrients for the promotion of strong joints in American White Shepherd are chondroitin and glucosamine.
  • Minerals: Beneficial minerals for an American White Shepherd’s growth include a healthy balance of phosphorus and calcium. Pre- and probiotics and chelated minerals provide additional health to the diets of American White Shepherd Dogs.

How Much Should an American White Shepherd Puppy Eat?

The American White Shepherd is a large breed. Guidance for feeding puppies is listed below.

  • American White Shepherd puppies need slow, sustained growth to help prevent orthopedic problems, such as hip dysplasia. Raise them on a diet designed for large-breed puppies. Whatever diet you choose shouldn’t overemphasize protein, fat, and calorie levels.
  • American White Shepherd puppies should be fed according to a schedule, spreading meal times over three or four meals per day. Getting the puppy accustomed to meals at specific times is better than leaving food out to allow feeding throughout the day.
  • American White Shepherd puppies with medical conditions like hypoglycemia or low blood sugar are the exceptions because they need to nibble bits of food throughout the day.
  • Never feed your puppy from the table. It only encourages begging. Everyone in the family must follow this rule.

American White Shepherd puppies should eat a healthy, balanced diet because of the intense exercise they need every day. Shepherd Dogs tend to become overweight as they get older, so it’s important to monitor how much food they’re consuming from the time they are puppies. In addition, they have a risk for hip dysplasia, and joint supplements can keep them feeling healthy.

What are the Common Health Problems of American White Shepherd Dogs?

The American White Shepherd Breed is healthy, but 6-monthly veterinarian checkups remain essential. American White Shepherd Dogs are predisposed to several health problems only because they are white, and white dogs are notorious for being subject to many sicknesses and medical issues. 

Even if your Shepherd escapes all those threats, there are more significant risks. There is a long list of other health conditions threatening all dog breeds, and timely health tests for potential diseases might prevent them or allow early treatment to limit the consequences. 

Some diseases are genetic, and others are degenerative. The list below shows conditions that could but might not affect your American White Shepherd. 

Hereditary diseases

  • Hip dysplasia: Large dogs are prone to femur bone abnormalities that cause lameness and pain because the bones do not fit into the hip socket.
  • Elbow dysplasia: The most common cause of lameness in the forelimbs in large dogs like American White Shepherds.
  • Patellar luxation or dislocation: This disease involves the displacement and dislocation of Shepherd’s kneecap, causing it to seize up.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: (PRA) is an inherited disease in which the eyes are genetically programmed to go blind. 

Skin Diseases

  • Atopy: American White Shephards suffer from this disease due to allergic reactions to allergens such as dust, feathers, pollen, human dandruff, etc.
  • Demodicosis: Also called mange, is a painful skin condition caused by the Demodex Canis mite.
  • Fungal Infections: Double-coated dogs have two shedding seasons per year when the volumes of dog fur are significantly more. If you neglect to brush and remove matted fur, it could cause serious fungal infections on an American White Shepherd’s skin. 

Degenerative diseases

  • Hypothyroidism: This disease is a result of an inactive thyroid gland.
  • Ichthyosis: A severe degenerative disease that causes the skin on the Shepherd Dog’s paw pads to thicken, causing pain and making them look oily and flaky
  • Osteoarthritis: Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is a common problem in dogs, particularly in seniors and large breeds.
  • Cataracts: Common cause of blindness in older
  • American White Shepherds.
  • Glaucoma: An eye condition that affects is an excruciating disease that rapidly leads to blindness if left untreated.
  • Malabsorption Syndrome: Your dog’s digestive tract may malfunction and be unable to absorb and digest certain foods, leading to symptoms like alopecia, bloating, and diarrhea. 

And then there is Gloat, a condition often caused by Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) or Gastric Torsion. – often known as ‘bloat.’ Most importantly, the dog owner can prevent it by providing correct nutrition and splitting meals into two or three per day. This life-threatening disorder happens when an American White Shepherd’s stomach fills with gas and becomes twisted. It is an emergency and requires urgent veterinary attention. 

American White Shepherd owners are recommended to have the following three health tests done:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • PRA Optigen DNA Test
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Thyroid Test 

What are the Rescue Clubs for American White Shepherd Dogs?

Anyone who considers bringing an American White Shepherd puppy home would be wise to avoid puppy mills and pet shops. Finding a reputable rescue center is the key to finding the right puppy. A good rescue club would have done all the necessary health checks and possibly taken care of microchips and other extras. The best way to find a reputable rescue facility is to reach out to registered rescue centers or clubs. Several of them are listed below.

U.S. CLUB

  • White German Shepherd Dog Club of America (WGSDCA)
  • The American White Shepherd Association (AWSA)
  • United White Shepherd Club (UWSC)

CANADA

  • White Shepherd Club of Canada (WSCC)
  • German Shepherd Dog Breed Clubs

AROUND THE WORLD

  • Federation Berger Blanc Suisse Internationale (Switzerland)
  • White German Shepherd Dog Club International, Inc. (WGSDCII)
  • Weisser Schweizer Schäferhundeklub Österreich (Austria)
  • Bundesverein für Weisse Schäferhunde in Österreich (Austria)
  • Hvid Hyrdehund Danmark (Denmark)
  • Rassezuchtverein für Weisse Schweizer Schäferhunde (RWS) (Germany)
  • Die GWS Schweiz (Switzerland)
  • White Shepherd Dog Club Switzerland

What is the Exercise Need of an American White Shepherd Dog?

The American White Shepherd craves interaction with its human family. Nothing is as much fun as jogging with its owner. Shepherd dogs are also great companions for skateboarders and cyclists. American White Shepherds need at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per day.

It might even be a good idea to teach your White Shepherd how to run on a treadmill, an ideal source of activity on bad weather days. White Shepherd owners must keep in mind that they should not feed the pup immediately before or after exercise to avoid the risks of bloat. 

Playing with the children and other household pets in the back yard provides further benefits, not only physically but also emotionally because those are all times to improve the bond between the American White Shepherd and the respective family members.

The White Shepherd would do excellent in dog sports such as obedience, agility, fly ball, or even protection training. Being a social dog, he will like spending time at doggy play dates or visits to the dog park. When training, make it fun and exciting for both of you; this is a time for you to bond and enjoy each other.

How to Train an American White Shepherd Dog?

Start training your American White Shepherd puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him.

Please don’t wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a tough time. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and don’t forget to socialize with your Shepherd pup all the time. 

New American White Shepherd owners should be aware that the nature of the American White Shepherd dog is to herd livestock, including its family. Fortunately, American White Shepherds are not prone to excessive barking, and you won’t have to deal with breaking the barking habit. American White Shepherds are excellent guard dogs, and if the Shepherd barks, it will likely be to warn the owner of danger or trespassers.

Physical exercise is not enough for highly intelligent dogs like American White Shepherd Dogs, and they need mental stimulation as well. However, the only way the American White Shepherd can maintain high intelligence levels is by frequent mental stimulation to exercise their brains.

Like doing physical exercises to keep their bodies in optimal condition, mental stimulation is necessary to maintain optimal mental health. If American White Shepherd Dogs do not get the necessary mental stimulation, they’ll find their own entertainment, usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing.

What is the American White Shepherd Dog Breed’s History?

German Shepherd Dogs are the ancestors of the White Shepherd. All German Shepherd Dogs carry a gene responsible for their white color. White Shepherds have never been bred with any other breed; however, the dogs were expelled from breeding programs for years because of their white coats and had to be sterilized.

It was not until breeders in the United States and Canada found the white color to be appealing. The color of the German Shepherd Dog became an important factor, and in the 1930s, any white coloring was deemed unacceptable.

 Any solid white dog could not be registered as a German Shepherd Dog. Then, by the 1980s, breeders began purposefully breeding for pure white German Shepherds.

The American White Shepherd Association was created after the German Shepherd Club of America refused to recognize this breed. The American Kennel Club does not recognize the White Shepherd, despite having a solid fan base and performing all the tasks that the German Shepherd Dog can.

In 1999, the United Kennel Club recognized the White Shepherd as its own breed, and he was allowed to compete in all UKC sanctioned events.

What is the Average Maintenance Cost of American White Shepherd Dogs?

The cost to adopt an American White Shepherd is around $200 to cover caring for the dog before adoption. In contrast, buying an American White Shepherd from a breeder can be significantly more expensive.

 Depending on the breeder, the average price of an American White Shepherd puppy is between $1.000 and $1,500. Factors that impact the cost of an American White Shepherd puppy include the bloodline, gender, and show quality.

Reportedly, the initial cost and expenses during the first year after buying an American White Shepherd puppy could be between $4500 and $8500. After that, the average annual expenditures could be between $2200 and $4500.

The first year of an American White Shepherd Dog’s life will involve significantly higher vet costs like vaccinations, tests for congenital diseases, microchipping, neutering, or spaying.

Some of the estimates of essential costs are listed below; however, none of the food and water bowl, bedding, toys, etc., are included here.

  • Premium Food & Treats $400 – $900
  • Vet Bills & Preventative Care $700 – $1500
  • Training $20 – $300
  • Registration & Tags $10 – $20
  • Insurance $720 – $1320

Potential American White Shepherd parents need to be aware of their expenses.

How to Name an American White Shepherd Dog?

Naming your American White Shepherd Dog might require different criteria than new White Shepherd parents might expect. Finding inspiration and taking time to choose a name for your precious little ball of white fluff is essential, but keep in mind that your puppy will respond to the sound of your call and not the name. Choosing a name with two syllables is the secret to making a unique sound by which to call your Shepherd puppy. 

Another issue to consider is that you will undoubtedly do some obedience training, teaching your American White Shepherd to “sit,” “stay,” “down,” “come,” and more. If you choose a one-syllable name, it might confuse your Shepherd Pup if its name sounds like a command. It is also a good idea not to lose sight of the tiny ball of fluff that will ultimately become a gentle giant weighing more than 80 pounds. 

By that time, Pixy or Puffball might no longer be appropriate names. Below are examples of boy and girl Shepherd Dog names inspired by the American White Shepherd’s origins.

  • Alaska
  • Angel
  • Arctic
  • Blanco
  • Blizzard
  • Casper
  • Cloud
  • Coral
  • Crystal
  • Frosty

If you choose short names, use them in regular communication with your American White Shepherd pup, but find a way to add something for when you call your Shepherd Dog to establish a sound she will associate with you from a distance. 

For example, change the name Rose to Roh-zee every time you call her. You can bet the day will come when you’ll have to take to the streets to find your wandering American White Shepherd, and you’ll want her to respond to your calls.

What are the Different Types of American White Shepherd Dogs?

Although all white shepherd dogs’ origins are in Germany, there are three registered White Shepherd breeds that can officially use the name, White Shepherd. These three breeds are listed below.

  • AKC German Shepherds who happen to be white
  • UKC White Shepherds
  • White Swiss Shepherd (aka Berger Blanc Suisse)

What Dog Breeds are Similar to the American White Shepherd Dog Breed?

Apart from the three breeds of white shepherd dogs, there are at least 16 other shepherd breeds similar to the American White Shepherd, some of which are listed below.

  • German Shepherd Dog: These two breeds are similar in almost every aspect except weight and color. The American White Shepherd weighs nearly 20 pounds more than the German Shepherd.
  • Berger Blanc Suisse: The American White Shepherd and the Berger Blanc Suisse (White Swiss Shepherd) are almost identical in all aspects. The only difference seems to be their home countries.
  • English Shepherd: The American White Shepherd and the English Shepherd are very similar. Their coat color and grooming differ, and the White Shepherd weighs more than the English Shepherd.

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.