This is a very controversial topic because the White German Shepherds are not really “white”, they are albino, or what is medically referred to as Oculocutaneous Albinism type 1.
Some info to help you understand the difference.
Oculocutaneous Albinism type 1 (OCA1) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder. It affects melanin production in the body, making sufferers totally or partially devoid of pigment. There are three types/forms of OCA: OCA1a, OCA1b, and OCA1c.
Oculocutaneous Albinism type 2 (OCA2) is an autosomal dominant genetic disorder. It also affects melanin production in the body, making sufferers totally or partially devoid of pigment. There are three types/forms of OCA2: OCA2a, OCA2b, and OCA2c.
Heterozygous is when you have one dominant gene and one recessive, so it’s “halfway” OCA2. If the dog has two of these genes (homozygous), then it will be a carrier, but it won’t have symptoms associated with the disease itself.
These are the only two “albino” forms of albinism known in canines, but it is possible for a dog to have an OCA type 1 with some white patches.
The white spotting factor is a separate gene from the albino factors altogether. That will not cause any health problems.
Every single White German Shepherd out there, even if they have no other color on their body, is a White German Shepherd with Oculocutaneous Albinism type 1.
The only difference between the true albino dogs and the white german shepherds that people breed to get “white” puppies, is that one has an actual albino gene, and the other has a dominant gene.
There is no difference in health or temperament between the two, as far as it is an actual albino german shepherd, as opposed to a white german shepherd with some color. The White Shepherd Club of America has been very clear on this subject for many years now.
In fact, someone actually bred a white german shepherd with some black color on it to get the recessive gene, so that it could be added back into the gene pool for use in breeding “white” GSD.
So if you have a White German Shepherd, and there is no other color on their body, chances are they are an Oculocutaneous Albinism type 1.
There are no health problems, other than a sunburn in all areas of the body where there is no pigment. This includes the nose, lips, and pads of their feet. If these areas are exposed to direct sunlight without protection for long periods they will start to develop skin cancer/sun damage similar to a human. OCA1 does not affect a dog’s intellect, health or temperament, and is not linked to deafness as some people have claimed.
Both OCA1 and OCA2 are considered “lethal” in the homozygous form, meaning that if a puppy inherits two albino genes it will die either during birth or shortly thereafter, as the puppies cannot produce enough melanin to keep them alive.
The albino German Shepherd dogs are not that common compared to the traditional breed. This is perhaps the reason why many people want to have one. They might be a bit rare but they are affordable too. Countless similarities are present between the two, such as their build, size, and abilities.
However, there are unique traits that the White German Shepherd mix possesses, often seen in their temperament and of course, their color. But instead of admiration, it was originally seen as a negative trait. This has caused many misconceptions to rise from this uniqueness.
And today we’ll look at 8 of these common myths as we explain how it’s baseless and the truth behind each of them. Let’s start with the most common myth of them all.
Can German Shepherds Be White
Yes, German Shepherds can be white. The color of a dog is determined by two gene series that are separate from breed and ancestry determination genes. One gene series determines the coat color (which includes the color white) and the other gene series determines if the dog has an agouti or solid coat pattern.
There are four other possible coat-color series that can take place in dogs including white. These are black, chocolate, yellow, and isabella which was previously known as a fawn.
On the other hand, there are three possible agouti patterns that can be present on a dog’s coat including solid, ticked, and grizzled. A German Shepherd with a solid coat pattern can have a white coat.
A German Shepherd with an agouti coat will have a solid colored back and a ticked pattern down its legs, front chest, belly, and head which is known as a black overlay or black trim.
The German Shepherd that does not seem to fit into the above colors or patterns is the one that has an extremely rare solid grizzled coat that is also known as a sable German shepherd.
Pure White German Shepherd is a Separate Breed
It’s only natural to believe that this is the case, but that’s not true, although it’s not entirely false either. Here’s why:
The Origins of White German Shepherd Dogs
White German shepherd dogs are known to be descendants of traditional German shepherds.
They surfaced from German shepherd dogs in the United States and Canada belonging to the white-coat line.
Due to the unusual color of their coat, white GSDs are often disqualified in dog competitions and shows.
Introduction of White Coat Recessive Gene
Since the 1930s, it’s been a common misconception that white GSDs are a breed defect in line with German shepherds.
Thankfully, it did not take long for the kennel club to find out the reason behind their color.
In 1999, the recessive gene responsible for their white color was finally recognized as a member of the breed gene pool.
Eventually, white German shepherd dogs were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a separate breed.
It was also then that the repopulation of white GSDs started.
So technically speaking, it is a separate breed when scientifically, the German shepherd and the white German shepherd are the same dogs.
However, sometimes people tend to think of white GSDs as a traditional German shepherd breed, only with a gene for albinism.
White GSDs = Albino German Shepherds
When people see a white GSD, such as white German shepherd husky mix, they’ll assume they’ve seen an albino. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Genetic Structure of Albinism
An albino German shepherd must carry a genetic structure from albinism, as with albino animals.
But even all-white German shepherds show no trace of albinism in their genes.
The gene responsible for the white color is the same gene that makes Labradors yellow, or have fading colors.
There are many issues regarding albinism as well, but you won’t find any of them in white German shepherd dogs.
Symptoms of Albinism
The following are the symptoms of albinism. No matter how you look at white GSDs, you won’t find any of these in your dog.
- Absence of color, typically in the eyes, skin, and hair
- Lighter colors in the same parts of the body
- Sensitivity to light
- Impaired vision
Albinism is a genetic disorder, so once you determine that a living creature isn’t an albino, they will never be.
White German shepherds are not colorless, they’re colored white. They have perfect vision, with no other vision problems.
Simply put, white GSDs have the same genetic structure as that of the traditional German shepherd.
But albinism is the least of the concern of dog lovers when it comes to the genes of white German shepherds.
Pure White German Shepherds are Defects
This is the most common problem faced by breeders who sell white German shepherd puppies.
Repopulation of All-White German Shepherds
White GSDs are NOT a flaw in the German shepherd breed. They were, in fact, intentionally bred as an all-white German shepherd.
As previously mentioned, the 1990s was the time when the recessive gene for the white color was finally recognized.
This pushed breeders to produce all-white German shepherds.
But even with the number of dogs that are white-colored, they are still frowned upon due to lack of knowledge.
Recessive Gene Acts as a Mask
The only difference in the genetic structure of white and black German shepherds is in the recessive gene.
While the recessive gene of black German shepherds acts as the determinant for their black color, the case of white GSDs is different.
The very same recessive gene acts differently.
Instead of a determinant, it acts as a mask for the dog’s true color (black), making it impossible for them to be colored black.
The same gene is present in yellow Labradors, which is the reason for their yellow color.
The bottom line is, even the purest white German shepherds have defects, not a flaw in the German shepherd breed.
White German Shepherd Puppies Are Prone to Health Issues
So if white German shepherd dogs are not defects, does that mean their health is normal?
The answer to that would be “Yes”. The health of the white German shepherd mix will be the same as that of the standard colored German shepherd.
Recessive Gene isn’t Connected to Health
The recessive gene is limited to the color only. So there’s no connection to the white shepherd’s temperament or health, whatsoever.
With that said, different mixes of white GSDs will also have the same state of health as that of their counterparts in the breed line of German shepherds.
For example, white shepherd-lab mixes share the same health issues as normal German shepherd-lab mixes.
This also applies to the white German shepherd husky mix or the white long-haired German shepherd.
Common Health Issues
Generally speaking, the common health issues of German shepherds will also be present to white GSDs.
And just like any other dog breed, “dwarfism” is also an issue that has resulted in the “white miniature German shepherd”.
The most common problem among these dogs is bone defects. 1 out of 5 German shepherds suffers from hip or shoulder dysplasia.
If your dog is diagnosed with some health issues, you can assume that it was caused by factors other than their being a white German shepherd.
It’s also worth noting that health issues may show themselves if the dog was bred in an unfriendly environment.
This puts us to the next myth, breeding white German shepherd dogs.
White German Shepherd Dogs Can’t Give Birth to Non-White GSDs
There are many misconceptions with how white German shepherds are bred.
Some say that the white gene can make the coat color of a puppy lighter. Others say the product of two white GSDs will always be white German shepherd puppies.
There are many other issues with white German shepherd dogs in terms of breeding.
As previously mentioned, it’s thought that if you mate a white GSD with another colored German shepherd, it will result in a lighter color.
However, this is not the case.
In fact, the “white gene” doesn’t really exist. It’s the same gene every German shepherd has, but with the masking function.
2 White GSDs Produce Another
White German shepherd puppies aren’t the only offspring that can be produced.
Contrary to your belief, mating 2 white German shepherds, will definitely result in a standard colored offspring.
In fact, it’s only when with one white GSD that you can get different breeds such as a cute white German shepherd or a standard colored dog. So, there’s no assurance.
Even without any genes of dwarfism, there’s an off chance that a white GSD may produce a white miniature German shepherd offspring.
Are White German Shepherds Rare?
As previously mentioned, white GSDs are not common, but they’re not that rare either.
Plus, you already know that breeding different colored German shepherds can result in a white GSD.
So there’s no reason to think of white German shepherds as one of a kind in the line of GSDs.
Breeders Charge More
Yes, they’re not too rare, but they still possess distinctive features, especially their color.
That’s why breeders may charge more for white German shepherd puppies. Standard German shepherds may cost about $300 to $900, but white GSDs may differ.
Keep in mind that the best breeders should give you details about the puppy’s parents, its health issues, and more.
Watch Out for White GSD Breeders
Take note, however, that most breeders breed for money. So you’d better be cautious when looking for a cute white German shepherd.
Some of them will breed those that even have health issues, assuming that they’re still worth every buck because of their rarity.
Keep in mind that normal white German shepherd price ranges from $750 – $1000. If the price seems too low, then it is too good to be true. You better look for a reputable breeder.
There is no Other White German Shepherd Mix
As rare as they may be, there are many other mixes that a white GSD can produce aside from a pure white German shepherd.
White shepherd-lab mix. White German shepherd husky mix. White long-haired German shepherd.
This gives you countless options to choose from.
Speaking of a mix, the last myth is what drives people to mix up Swiss shepherds and White shepherds.
Swiss Shepherd vs. White Shepherd
There are many differences between the two, both physically and with technicalities. Let’s first talk about the technical stuff.
FCI and AKC
In terms of technicalities, they are two different breeds.
This is because they are recognized by two different organizations.
Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) for the Swiss shepherd and white shepherds with the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Other than this, they still have many differences. Most of the differences are with their physical appearance.
The first way to distinguish between the two is their stance. Swiss shepherds have an upright stance while the white German shepherd has a severed poise.
Swiss shepherds also have a more dark color. For example, they have a black nose while white German shepherds have a white one.
There are many more but we’ll save that for another day.
Additional Facts About White German Shepherds
Aside from the common myths about white German shepherds, there are facts about them that most people don’t know.
White German shepherds are known for being a breed of barkers.
So for those who can’t tolerate too much noise, they’re not the best pet for you.
This breed is also more energetic than the standard colored German shepherd, so there’s no point waiting for them to get tired from barking or even from running around.
Typically, white GSDs have longer fur than traditional German shepherds. However, the traditional breed sheds more than white GSDs.
That’s not to say white German shepherd dogs don’t shed. They only shed less than their standard counterpart.
So if you’re looking for a German shepherd but can’t tolerate too much fur in your house, white German shepherd puppies might be for you.
Unique Watch Dogs
German shepherds are known for being great watchdogs, but white German shepherds acts differently than most.
They aren’t aggressive, like most German shepherds.
The most they can do for you is to let you know if someone is suspicious or if you’re in danger.
When left unattended, white German shepherds can be a bit too destructive.
They are more energetic than traditional German shepherds, so they need more than normal exercise.
Most trainers suggest increasing their exercise regimen.
And don’t leave them alone for too long, unless you want your house to sustain serious damages from these cute white German shepherds.
Now you know the truth behind the 8 most common myths surrounding the white German shepherds.
Most of these myths were caused by their unusual color, when in fact it’s what makes them unique.
Remember that awareness will not only help you understand but can also clear some misconceptions that you have come to believe.