The white German Shepherd is a standout dog.
The moment you see your first all white German Shepherd Dog, you will know he is worth remembering!
They have incredible plush white coats, erect ears, soulful eyes and a trademark goofy grin.
The white GSD is simply unforgettable.
He certainly looks the part, but what is he like as a pet?
If you do decide the pure white German Shepherd is the dog for you, be prepared for lots of inbound curiosity and questions.
You will also need to be prepared to take lots of walks, as the white German Shepherd has the same high activity needs as other purebred dog breeds born and bred to work.
This thorough overview of the white GSD will help you decide if a white German Shepherd is the right canine companion for you!
In This Article
This article contains everything you need to know about white German Shepherd Dogs.
To skip to a topic which particularly interests you, use these links:
To find the answers to our readers’ most frequently asked questions, use these links:
- What causes a white German Shepherd?
- Is a white German Shepherd rare?
- Are white German Shepherds aggressive?
- Are pure white German Shepherds expensive?
- Is a white German Shepherd a good pet?
The White German Shepherd Dog
The white German Shepherd Dog has endured a long and difficult battle to earn its place as a purebred dog breed worldwide.
It takes a deliberate and consistent breeding strategy to reliably produce all white German Shepherd puppies.
Historically, white puppies would sometimes pop up amongst a litter of puppies bearing the more common black and earth tones.
Breeders often didn’t know what to make of these white puppies, and some (erroneously) assumed the white coloration denoted a weaker dog.
During World War II Hitler himself decided white was not a proper German Shepherd coloration.
Efforts began to erase all traces of white coat genes, but thankfully this didn’t catch on in many places outside of Germany.
The Modern White Shepherd
Even today, GSD purists prefer rich, dark coat colors over pale tones.
A white coat disqualifies a German Shepherd from American Kennel Club shows.
In the UK the Kennel Club breed standard recognises that coat color is “of secondary importance, having no effect on character or fitness for work”.
However, your white German Shepherd’s coat color will still be counted against them in shows.
What Causes A White German Shepherd?
Our understanding of the genes which control canine coat color is increasing all the time.
There was a time when all white German Shepherds were thought of as albinos.
Whilst the gene for albinism does exist in the GSD population, the majority of white German Shepherds don’t carry it.
White German Shepherd Genetics
At the time of writing, in 2019, the most widely accepted theory is that German Shepherds all have one spot in their genetic code which acts like a switch for white and non-white.
If a puppy inherits the non-white gene in this location from either mom or dad, then they’ll be one of the other possible German Shepherd colors, depending on the other genes they have.
But if they inherit the white gene for from both mom and dad, then all else in their genetic code is forgotten, and they are white.
Is A White German Shepherd Rare?
Recessive sounds rare, right?
And to a degree, that is correct.
In the wild, recessive traits are frequently rare.
Only two white German Shepherds are certain to have a litter of all white German Shepherd puppies.
But it’s also possible that two non-white GSDs can produce a small proportion of white puppies is a litter, if they both carry the white gene.
And of course, GSDs are not wild dogs.
A careful breeder who understands German Shepherd coat color genetics can reliably produce a litter of white German Shepherd puppies by mating two white German Shepherd dogs.
So in reality, the availability of white German Shepherd Dogs is a matter of supply and demand, fashion, and the GSD-owning community’s preference.
White German Shepherd Appearance
What can you expect from a white German Shepherd’s looks, besides a sea of snowy white fur?
A solid white German Shepherd adult dog can range in weight from 60 to 85 pounds, with adult males outweighing adult females.
As adults, the white GSD will stand anywhere from 22 inches to 26 inches high at the shoulder.
Here again, males tend to be taller than females.
White German Shepherd eye color
The gene for a GSD’s white coat only affects coat colors, and does not have any impact on eye or skin pigmentation.
Like the rest of their pedigree, the most common eye color for a white German Shepherd is dark brown.
However, coloration can range from a lighter amber to a dark mahogany color.
Every so often, a white German Shepherd with blue eyes will be born.
However, this is a rare trait attributed to expression of a recessive gene for eye color.
Long Haired White German Shepherd
Do you think a white German Shepherd is a rare sight? A long haired white German Shepherd Dog is even rarer!
Long haired German Shepherds of every color owe their coats to a recessive gene for long hair.
Historically, long haired GSDs were considered a genetic fault. Long haired dogs lack a waterproof, insulating undercoat, so they were unsuitable for working.
But they are famously good-tempered and devoted, so modern long haired German Shepherds of every color are gaining popularity as pets and companion dogs.
Short Haired White German Shepherd
The short haired white German Shepherd Dog is more common than the long haired white GSD.
A German Shepherd with short hair has the same insulating undercoat as any German Shepherd, regardless of coat color.
These dogs make for hard-working dogs who excel in guarding, herding, service, search and rescue, police, military and protection jobs.
They are sometimes favored by farmers and ranchers.
White German Shepherd Grooming
In terms of coat care, the short haired white German Shepherd has the same basic grooming and coat maintenance needs as any short haired German Shepherd.
All German Shepherds shed a lot, but white hair has a special talent for showing up against floors and furniture.
They also shed out their short undercoat during the warm season.
Frequent brushing and grooming can help keep shedding localized and manageable.
The long haired white German Shepherd will need more detailed and frequent grooming.
You will need to pay special attention to cleaning and grooming their ears.
Bathing should always be done sparingly to avoid removing necessary coat oils.
Excessive washing can cause skin dryness that could lead to irritation or illness, so invest in a gentle shampoo.
White German Shepherd Temperament
But there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to support this bias.
As with any working purebred dog breed, it is important to realize right away that these dogs are not bred to be lap dogs.
They demand high level of work and interaction, or they will become bored and destructive.
The recipe for a content German Shepherd includes lots of mental and physical exercise.
Are White German Shepherds Aggressive?
German Shepherds of all colors are strong dogs. In the past, many people trained them to be wary of strangers, and aggressive towards trespassers.
Most German Shepherds today are still wary of new people, and take a while to warm up to them.
However, there’s no reason a well raised white German Shepherd should be aggressive.
Early, daily, consistent and continuous socialization as a puppy will give them the confidence to greet new faces and situations calmly and confidently.
From 8 to 14 weeks old, have visitors around every day, and take your puppy to plenty of busy locations.
White German Shepherd Health
All German Shepherds are vulnerable to a number of inheritable health concerns.
All breeding dogs should be screened for these conditions before they mate, and good breeders happily offer proof of their dogs’ hip and elbow scores.
Good breeders also keep a detailed medical history of their breeding lines, and carry out extra screening for the following conditions if there’s any family history of them:
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
- Eye disorders
- Degenerative myelopathy
For more information about the overall health of German Shepherds, visit our German Shepherd Dog Breed Information Center.
White German Shepherd health problems
Generally speaking, white German Shepherd Dogs have the same health problems as all other GSDs.
However, there is one condition that white German Shepherds might be more predisposed to.
This study proposes a link between the white coat of the GSD and spontaneous laryngeal paralysis – a condition where the airway doesn’t open properly to let a dog inhale.
But further research is needed to see if this is correct.
Does a White Coat Affect Hearing?
Has anyone ever told you that white dogs are more likely to be deaf?
There’s some truth in it. Dogs like Dalmatians, who owe their white coat to the extreme piebald gene, are more likely to have hearing loss.
That’s because the same cells which produce skin and hair pigment also play an important structural role in the inner ear.
Dogs with the piebald or extreme piebald genes lack these cells, so they are white, and they may have hearing loss.
But remember that white GSDs inherit their white coat, by a different, special gene?
That means their coat is white, but their skin is still normally pigmented, and their hearing is unaffected!
How Long Do White German Shepherds Live?
The average German Shepherd Dog lives to 11 years old.
There is no evidence that this would be any longer or shorter for a white GSD.
Overall, ensuring your White German Shepherd puppy enjoys a lifetime of good health rests on choosing a breeder who invests in health screening for their sire and dam.
White German Shepherd Breeders
As we’ve seen, white German Shepherds are frowned upon by purists.
But their striking looks are gaining legions of fans among a new generation of GSD lovers.
It’s very important when breeding puppies for a recessive trait like white fur, to resist breeding from individuals who are too closely related.
But for unscrupulous breeders, this is exactly the way to get the litter they want, without travelling to reach a breeding partner who is unrelated enough.
Good breeders will:
- Provide the results of hip and elbow dysplasia exams, and well as other health tests.
- Show you the full family tree of their puppies, and their co-efficient of inbreeding.
- Invite you to meet mom with her puppies, and dad if possible.
- Offer references from the buyers of previous litters, if this isn’t their first litter.
How Much Is A Pure White German Shepherd?
White German Shepherd price can fluctuate depending on demand, breeder reputation, appearance, coat and eye color and gender.
The top priority for a responsible breeder is raising a litter of happy, well-socialised puppies, and settling them into good homes.
This is no cheap endeavour, but beware of breeders who charge an undue premium purely for the color of their puppies’ coats.
This should be of secondary concern, and suggests a breeder might have more regard for pursuing profit than their dogs’ welfare.
Are White German Shepherds Good Pets?
In conclusion, a white German Shepherd Dog can be a fabulous canine companion.
However, having the most successful experience will depend greatly on doing your research into a puppy’s history.
Meeting the parent dogs and making sure a vet has conducted appropriate genetic tests on both parents.
Your puppy will also need lots of time and interaction with you and plenty of physical activity daily. Socialization and ongoing training, as well as a whole lot of exercise, are also essential.
All GSDs need a home where someone is around during the week as well as at weekends, to prevent them becoming bored and destructive.
If you can provide these essential needs, then a white German Shepherd may be a fun and rewarding pet dog choice for you!
Do You Have a White German Shepherd?
Please tell us more about them in the comments section!
Wahl, J., et al, “A review of hereditary diseases of the German Shepherd Dog,” Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 2008.
Carver, E., 1984, Coat color genetics of the German shepherd dog, Journal of Heredity.
Ridyard et al, 2000, Spontaneous laryngeal paralysis in four white-coated German shepherd dogs, Journal of Small Animal Practice.
Fryer, K., 2016, “Laryngeal Paralysis, the inspiration and the aspiration”, VetBloom.
Strain, G., 2003, “Hereditary Deafness in Dogs and Cats: Causes, Prevalence, and Current Research”, Tufts Canine and Feline Breeding and Genetics Conference.
This article has been fully revised and updated for 2019.