a white german shepherd in a meadow

White German Shepherd: Traits, Temperament & Cost 

If white German Shepherds have recently piqued your interest, then you’re not alone.

These unique and majestic dogs have caused quite the stir in recent years, attracting everyone from celebrities to filmmakers to average families across the United States. But if your interest in white German Shepherds extends past mere fascination and into the realm of wanting to own one yourself, then it’s important to do your research.

Keep scrolling for Dog Food Care’s breed guide highlighting the white German Shepherd and its common traits, temperament, average cost, and so much more. 

White German Shepherd in grass

Photo: LoveYourDog

History of the White German Shepherd Dog 

Believe it or not, these beautiful dogs almost never came to be. Much of their history is shared with the more traditional German Shepherd Dogs that are brown and black in color. They were predominantly used as herding dogs in northern Germany during the late 1800s and early 1900s. 

During this time, white German Shepherds occurred merely by chance. It was commonly thought that these oddly colored shepherds were weaker and less healthy. Even Adolf Hitler held strong opinions about white German Shepherds.

He felt they were not “proper” German Shepherd dogs, and mistook them for albino. He even went as far as to encourage breeders to rid their dogs’ lines of the genes that could result in white coats. Fortunately for us, breeders of German Shepherd dogs located outside of Germany didn’t agree with Hitler. In fact, many breeders began selectively breeding in an attempt to get more all-white GSDs. 

Today’s White German Shepherd 

Today, white German Shepherds are no longer in danger of dying out. They are much rarer than their two-toned counterparts but highly sought after. Still, they are surrounded by controversy. The damage done to their reputation during World War II continues, and many German Shepherd fans still prefer the dark coats.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) even disqualifies from competition and dog shows any German Shepherd with a white coat. However, white German Shepherds can still be registered as purebreds through the AKC. Meanwhile, the Kennel Club in the United Kingdom states that coat color “is of secondary importance” and has “no effect on character or fitness for work.”  

While most White German Shepherds are bred, purchased, or adopted to be companion dogs, some still use them as working dogs. Some farmers and ranchers use White German Shepherds to help guard their flocks. The dog’s white coat helps the rancher to distinguish his dog from darker predators. 

How to Recognize a White German Shepherd 

White German Shepherds are often mistaken for the Berger Blanc Suisse, or White Swiss Shepherd, another all-white dog hailing from Switzerland. While the two breeds likely share some common ancestors, they are indeed separate breeds. 

The current leading thinking is that German Shepherds have a single piece of their genetic code that determines whether they will be all white, all black, or patterned like the traditional GSD. It is a recessive gene. For this reason, obtaining a White German Shepherd is no longer left up to chance.

Breeders will breed a white male to a white female and will know that any offspring will be white. Breeders and buyers of White German Shepherds prefer true, snow-white coats. However, coat colors actually range from pure white to a light cream color.

Unlike a dog with albinism, a White German Shepherd has grey skin under his thick double coat. Color aside, a White GSD will look in every other way like a typical German Shepherd. According to the American Kennel Club, German Shepherds reach anywhere from 24 to 26 inches in height, with males being just slightly taller. 

Females can weigh anywhere from 50 to 70 pounds, while males usually weigh 65 to 90 pounds. White German Shepherds are very strong dogs with alert, erect ears. They tend to be longer than they are tall, a feature that contributes to their incredible agility. 

Many White German Shepherds do not have as dramatic of a sloping topline — that is, the line from the dog’s withers (shoulders) to his hip bone — than other GSDs. 

A German Sheperd runnning in a field during the daytime.

German Shepherds have long been considered some of the strongest breed of dogs.

White German Shepherd Personality and Temperament 

The American Kennel Club declares the German Shepherd to be “dogkind’s finest all-purpose worker.” They are officially herding dogs, though they are also trained as guard dogs, sniffer dogs, police dogs, seeing-eye dogs, and so much more.

They are family dogs, too! In fact, the AKC reports that the German Shepherd (in all of its colors) is the second most popular dog breed in the United States. It’s important to remember that dogs are individuals. Still, generally speaking, White German Shepherds are affectionate and sociable.

While standard GSDs are known to be very protective, that trait seems to be less dominant in White German Shepherds. White German Shepherds have mostly been bred for companionship for families. As such, they are usually very friendly dogs who enjoy the company of both humans and other dogs, and who are gentle with children. 

Are White German Shepherds Easy to Train? 

Although they don’t have all the same talents as standard German Shepherds, White German Shepherds have retained much of the traits that make them excellent working dogs. Many owners of White German Shepherds find that their dogs are easy to train.

However, GSDs of all colors are known to be headstrong dogs. To make their headstrong nature work in your favor, it’s important to:

  • Invest in puppy training, and insist on basic manners
  • Provide a large crate or bed as a spot that belongs only to your dog
  • Outfit your dog in a proper collar and leash 

Are White German Shepherds Good Family Dogs? 

White GSDs make great family pets. German Shepherds are very loyal, and even White German Shepherds have been known to protect their family at all costs. White German Shepherds are no more aggressive than any other dog, but they are very strong.

Dogs who are well socialized, respected, and treated as a valued member of the family are far less likely to exhibit any aggressive behaviors. And of course, it is very important to teach children to respect all dogs. Pulling on a dog’s ear or tail, getting too close to their face, or startling them when they are eating or sleeping is behavior that should not be tolerated. 

White German Shepherd on a bench

Photo: Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue

How Long do White German Shepherds Live? 

According to the American Kennel Club, the lifespan of a White German Shepherd is 12-14 years. This is a generous lifespan, and longer than many other large breeds are expected to live.

White German Shepherds that live as long as 14 years will have good genetics, and will be well taken care of by its family. Those who live less than 11 years may have lower quality breeding, have common or uncommon health issues or have experienced trauma. 

How to Take Care of Your White German Shepherd 

It’s very important to take good care of your White German Shepherd. Not only do dogs who are well taken care of live longer and happier lives, but they make better companions too!

Puppy Care

During your White German Shepherd’s first 8-16 weeks of life, be sure to schedule a veterinary appointment so your puppy can be fully vaccinated. After two weeks after its final inoculations, your German Shepherd puppy will be allowed to walk on the ground outside or begin visiting friends and family. 

One of the best things you can do for your new puppy is to socialize him or her. Carefully introduce your new White German Shepherd to as many adults, children, and other animals as you possibly can. Dogs who are well socialized are less likely to exhibit human or dog aggression later in life. 

Grooming

White German Shepherds can be long-haired or short-haired. Short-haired White German Shepherds are most common, though there aren’t very many big differences between the two. Grooming your White German Shepherd is also the same process, regardless of whether your pet is long-haired or short-haired. 

All German Shepherd dogs have an insulating undercoat that keeps them warm in colder months. GSDs tend to shed a lot, but during the spring and summer, their shedding increases as they lose their undercoat. Brushing your White German Shepherd at least twice a week with a stiff-bristle brush or shedding tool can help with the shedding.

It will also keep your dog’s coat shiny and healthy-looking and will decrease the chances of mats and tangles. Bathe your White German Shepherd one a month at a maximum to avoid removing essential oils in its coat. Too many baths can also lead to skin dryness and extreme irritation. 

If you have a long-haired White German Shepherd, you will want to invest in professional grooming more frequently. A professional groomer will also clean your GSDs ears and glands, and will trim their nails.  

Exercise

Like all types of German Shepherds, White German Shepherds are extremely athletic dogs. They have a ton of energy, so it is important that GSD owners allow their dogs plenty of opportunity to work both their mind and muscles.

Dogs who are not allowed a sufficient amount of exercise will find other, more destructive ways to spend their energy. Usually, these more destructive ways involve injury to household objects, the dog himself, or even humans. You will want to take your White German Shepherd for a walk or run at least once a day.

Sniffing on his walk will allow your White German Shepherd to exercise his clever brain. Other ways to exercise your White German Shepherd include hiking, a day at a doggy daycare, or even swimming at a lake or in a backyard pool. 

To exercise your dog’s brain, search Amazon for dog puzzles, slow feeders, and other innovative dog toys.

Food & Care

Because German Shepherds can be prone to some serious health problems, it is extremely important to feed your White German Shepherd high-quality food suitable for large dogs. Avoid feeding your White German Shepherd table scraps and other human foods.

Some other food-related tips to keep in mind: 

  • Food should contain at least 18% protein (or 22% protein for puppies)
  • Food ingredients should contain at least 5% fat (or 8% for puppies)
  • Some White German Shepherd owners and breeders report that limiting your GSD to chicken-based food for the first year of its life could reduce issues with skin irritation later. 

Any food you buy for your White German Shepherd should be dry. Dry food encourages teeth to form solidly, and even acts as a natural toothbrush of sorts. Speaking of teeth, don’t forget to brush your White German Shepherd’s teeth at least once each week!  

White German Shepherd sitting in grass

Photo: Wide Open Pets

Common Health Issues of White German Shepherds

White German Shepherd dogs are more predisposed to one particular health issue, and that is spontaneous laryngeal paralysis. This scary, but still uncommon, the problem is when the airway no longer opens wide enough for the dog to properly inhale.

Some studies have been done to see if there is a link between the white gene of their coat and spontaneous laryngeal paralysis, but much more research is needed before anything can be concluded.  Sadly, German Shepherds of all colors are prone to some other serious health issues. Most of these issues are inheritable, and reinforce the importance of careful and thoughtful breeding. 

The most common health problems for White German Shepherds are hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Dysplasia is a malformation of the bone at the joint. In its mild form, it can cause some pain and limping. However, if it is allowed to worsen, it will likely lead to very painful arthritis. 

Keep in mind that high-quality, reputable breeders will offer proof of their mating dogs’ hip and elbow scores. Other issues affecting White German Shepherds include degenerative myelopathy, heart disease, autoimmune thyroiditis, and eye disorders. 

Some White German Shepherd owners report skin issues as a common ailment. Fortunately, skin issues are usually treatable through a careful diet, finding alternatives to bathing (swimming, for example), and vet-prescribed help. 

How Much Does a White German Shepherd Cost? 

In general, White German Shepherd puppies are likely to cost between $700 and $1,500. The price of a White GSD puppy will vary based on gender, eye color, breeder reputation, and of course, overall demand.

A purebred German Shepherd that is pure white in color will cost more than a mixed breed, or a purebred German Shepherd that is more beige in color. It is very, very important to purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders will prioritize breeding healthier dogs.

They also contribute less to the massive issue of the unwanted pet population because they breed just one to two times per year. A reputable White German Shepherd breeder will:

  • meet with you in person
  • ask questions about your home and family
  • own the puppy’s parents, and will be willing to show them off
  • breed just one type of dog
  • provide a health certificate stating the puppy is healthy

A Final Word: 

If you are looking for a large, active dog that is both beautiful and intelligent, then you would do well to consider a White German Shepherd. These striking animals are known to be very loyal, and make excellent companion dogs for families with children.

Though they are vulnerable to some of the same health issues as standard German Shepherds, White German Shepherds can live up to 14 years when given the right care and attention.

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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.