White Swiss Shepherd Dog
Other names: Berger Blanc Suisse, White Canadian Shepherd, White American Shepherd, Weisser Schweizer Schäferhund
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The White Swiss Shepherd Dog is a robust dog, of medium size, sporting an immaculate white coat that differentiates her from her close cousin, the German Shepherd. She is a particularly intelligent, well-balanced and athletic dog who can, nevertheless, by virtue of her natural sensitivity, fall victim to a delicate syndrome: hyper-attachment to her master. She can, however, adapt to many family constellations and various ways of life, as long as she is given sufficient attention.
Key facts about the White Swiss Shepherd Dog
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Origins and history
The colour white being excluded from the German Shepherd breed, this breed was raised and selected as a completely separate breed (first under the name: White Canadian Shepherd). The first traces of White Shepherd dog-breeding before the 1900s are to be found in the Alsace-Lorraine region: pure-bred White Shepherds were raised at the royal Habsburg court.
In 2002, Switzerland, which imported its first units in the 1970s, claimed ‘paternity’ over the breed, which was officially recognised by the FCI under its current name.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 1 : Sheepdogs
Physical characteristics of the White Swiss Shepherd Dog
Female : Between 21 and 24 in
Male : Between 23 and 26 in
Female : Between 55 and 77 lb
Male : Between 66 and 88 lb
The only coat color of the White Swiss Shepherd breed that is admissible by official standards is, as the name indicates: white.
Type of coat
Two varieties exist, the long-haired White Shepherd Dog and the medium-long haired White Shepherd Dog.
She dons a double coat, with a smooth and coarse overcoat, which is dense and flat. The undercoat is abundant .
Some subtle waviness is admissible for both varieties, and the long-haired variety has a distinct mane around the nape.
Colours vary from brown to fawn-brown.
She is similar to the German Shepherd in all aspects, save for the fact that she is slightly leaner and less angular than the model black-and-fawn German Shepherd. The standard presupposes a robust and strong shepherd dog, well-built, medium-sized, with ears pointing upwards and a white double-coat, either long or medium-long. The eyes are almond-shaped, slightly oblique. The ears are large, triangular and perfectly straight. The tail is tucked in and attached rather low, reaching mid-hock.
Good to know
The rumour that has the White Swiss Shepherd’s white colour linked to pathologies is completely unfounded, as proven by this breed’s demonstrably excellent health.
The White Swiss Shepherd Dog is a dog that stands out in terms of her gentle and flexible nature. She is loyal, faithful, and very attached to her master, even a touch too much at times.
One should demonstrate clear gestures of affection towards her, but not go overboard, so as not to reinforce her hyper-attachment.
This pooch's biggest source of joy consists of spending time with members of her social group, be they big or small. Playtime is thus particularly enjoyable with this dog who also has quite a big need for energy expenditure.
Even if she grows more docile with age, and can prove to be very discreet when needed, this big white dog is particularly animated when still a pup, and requires heaps of attention.
The White Swiss Shepherd is a very versatile dog, which means that she is of exceptional intelligence. She excels in many canine activities (such as tracking, agility, obedience, etc.), but also in various service-type functions such as guide dog for the blind, police dog, tracking dog, or as a search and rescue dog. Her intelligence will need to be catered for with plenty of mental stimulation.
Also known as the White American Shepherd, this dog's predatory instinct is present without being overly developed. It can easily be sharpened though, with the appropriate training.
Fearful / wary of strangers
The White Swiss Shepherd Dog can be slightly wary of strangers, but never aggressive nor scared. She doesn’t trust easily and will tend to show signs of affection only towards her owners or the people she encounters regularly.
Very attached to her master, this breed often presents issues with hyper-attachment. Measures can be taken to alleviate this while the Swiss Shepherd is still young, most notably by introducing progressive detachment, as well as teaching her to spend time alone and to manage her stress well.
Behaviour of the White Swiss Shepherd Dog
Particularly close to her owners, and very dependent on her social group by nature, this swiss dog cannot stand to be alone. Isolation is, in fact, the stuff of horror to her, so she will have to be progressively taught to stay alone from a very young age, all the while providing her with occupational games and maintaining a coherent attitude, whether it is during times of departure or homecoming.
Easy to train / obedience
This shepherd dog is particularly docile, as she is so receptive given her undying devotion to her owner. She wants to spend time with him or her and please them above all else, which facilitates training sessions.
What’s more, her intelligence allows her to quickly understand what is expected of her.
Be careful nonetheless, this sensitive dog will not tolerate any kind of brutality or injustice! Firm yet delicate training will be necessary, in accordance with the principles of positive reinforcement (rewarding good behaviours).
Rules of conduct will have to be introduced bit by bit as soon as the Shepherd puppy integrates the home, in order to avoid her from picking up bad habits.
In spite of this dog’s enthusiasm and overflowing energy, she is, all things considered, quite discrete, and does not bark without reason.
She will, however, let herself be heard if she senses a menacing presence on her turf, or if she is left on her own for several hours, for instance.
Tendency to run away
For this dependent and sensitive dog, finding herself alone and far away from her owners would be the worst of nightmares. Yes, escapades are a rare event for this breed.
She doesn’t tolerate loneliness well and can become very destructive and frustrated if she’s alone for more than a couple of hours a day. She will mainly have a tendency to destroy objects, clothes and fabrics that bear the scent of her owners (remote control, cushions, shoes etc.). It is a gesture symptomatic of hyper attachment and separation anxiety, often observed in this breed.
Greedy / Gluttony
The White Canadian Shepherd, as it has also come to be known, is a good eater but knows how to wait for her ration patiently if she is trained well. Snacks are particularly appreciated when encouraging her to work.
Her cautiousness towards strangers makes her a particularly good watchdog. Don’t forget that this dog is very close to the German Shepherd, who has a very sharp guarding instinct.
She is a very good life companion who can adapt to various households. Smart, balanced, gentle and affectionate, she seems to be the perfect dog for first time owners.
However, novice owners could turn a blind eye to certain undesirable behaviours that would only serve to strengthen this big white dog’s predisposition to hyper attachment.
Neophytes will thus have to do sufficient research on what to do and what not to do, in order to avoid or at least manage this potential problem, which can become very tiresome on a day to day basis. It is advised to consult a dog training professional for help.
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White Swiss Shepherd Dog in a flat
In spite of her similarity to a white wolf, the White Swiss Shepherd is a rather calm dog who knows how to adapt to her master and his lifestyle.
Living in a flat is possible for this dog if she expends herself enough physically every day. Nevertheless, she will still be happier if she has a garden she can run around in too!
Quite dependent on her owner, the top priority to her is to be surrounded by members of her social group.
Having said all of the above, whether or not this shepherd dog has access to a garden, she will still have to be exercised for a minimum of two hours a day to be happy. This intelligent breed also requires a lot of mental stimulation to be happy and confident.
Need for exercise / Sporty
The White Swiss Shepherd is an athletic dog that requires a lot of daily exercise to feel content.
Regular exercise, be it physical or mental, olfactory or social, helps on the one hand to expend the big amount of energy the White Swiss Shepherd has and to strengthen the relationship between the owner and their dog, while on the other hand, to stop behavioural issues from emerging, such as those that are boredom-related.
Travelling / easy to transport
Even if this dog is of considerable constitution, she is very adaptable and knows how to make herself small, especially if it is to accompany her master and not be left behind.
Warning! Some Swiss Shepherds are very sensitive, not to say anxious. Coherent training and proper socialisation will allow transport and travel to be safe, and tolerated by the dog.
White Swiss Shepherd Dog and cats
Of a very sociable nature, this dog gets on well with all animals, be they of the same species or not - and especially so if she has been exposed to them at a young age, growing up alongside cats for instance.
Be careful, however - just because she gets along with the household cat, does not mean she will get along with all cats.
White Swiss Shepherd Dog and dogs
Socialising the White Swiss Shepherd pup to other dogs in her first few months of life will allow her to develop and reinforce a canine code of conduct, and have pleasant encounters with her fellows.
At home, she will absolutely be able to cohabitate with another dog and will appreciate their presence, especially when left alone.
You should not, however, resort to getting a second dog just to keep the first one company and have her better tolerate her owner’s absence. By proceeding this way you risk ending up with not one, but two dogs that suffer of loneliness.
White Swiss Shepherd Dog and children
If the children respect the dog and learn to communicate intelligently with her, the cohabitation will be seamless. Actually, the White Swiss Shepherd Dog is a great family dog, delicate and patient with the children.
However, some rules of conduct must be implemented and respected, and this goes for all dog breeds.
For instance, children must be taught not to bother the dog when she’s sleeping in her basket, not to feed her at the table, not to tease her etc. What’s more, an adult should be present at all times and exercise control over the dog when she’s with the children.
White Swiss Shepherd Dog and the elderly
Recently retired persons who are still sufficiently active to respond to the physical needs of this shepherd might be the perfect match for this dog who abhors loneliness above all else. Owners that stay at home all day could thus provide the ideal environment for this sensitive dog.
Please note, however, that a sedentary life is not at all suitable for this pooch who needs to get exercise every day. Dog-walking services could or must be to be taken into consideration if need be.
The price of a Swiss White Shepherd varies depending on its origins, age, and gender. You have to count an average of £920 for dogs subscribed to the Kennel Club.
The required monthly budget wavers in between £45 and £55 to cater to the needs of this big white dog, including food and basic care.
Contrary to what you may think given the dog’s pearly white coat, she is actually very simple to groom. Though brushing once a week will suffice for the short-coated variety, the long-haired White Swiss Shepherd will need more regular grooming.
Only one to two baths a year are recommended as this white dog has the added advantage of possessing self-cleaning hair.
The dog’s eyes and ears need to be checked and cleaned regularly.
Hair loss is moderate but steady, reaching its peak during both moulting seasons, autumn and spring. During these periods, daily brushes are recommended.
Nutrition of the White Swiss Shepherd Dog
Daily rations, be they dry (kibble), raw (B.A.R.F.) or homemade (home-cooked rations) must be adapted to the dog’s age, physical shape and health.
Warning: this dog is sensitive and can experience bouts of diarrhea. If it is a recurring case the food will have to be modified under a veterinarian’s supervision.
For puppies, a vet’s supervision is also advised in order to secure a healthy and steady growth.
The meals can be split in two (a light one in the morning, and a more substantial one in the evening), in order to avoid ingesting too much at once and exclude as much as possible the risk of gastric torsion.
Elevated bowls can be provided for better digestion.
Health of the White Swiss Shepherd Dog
The average lifespan of the White Swiss Shepherd is estimated at 12 years.
Strong / robust
This white shepherd dog is robust and solidly built, and is actually blessed with an exceptionally long life expectancy since she can live up to 14 years without experiencing major health issues.
Fresh refills of water must be provided regularly in times of heat. Moreover, a cool spot in the shade will have to be set aside for the dog in times of strong heat.
Actually, excellent service dog that she is, she might need to be stopped in her activities now and again during the summertime, as she will have a tendency to never renounce to a mission, even in the blazing sun.
Her double coat is made up of an abundant undercoat that endows her with good protection against bad weather, but when it’s cold, this shepherd dog prefers to stay in the warmth, by her family’s side.
Tendency to put on weight
If high quality food is provided and she gets enough daily exercise, there is no reason this dog would become overweight. You must still monitor her cautiously though.
Frequently asked questions
Is a White Swiss Shepherd a German Shepherd?
The White Swiss Shepherd was developed by inter-breeding German Shepherds that were born white due to a randomly occurring recessive gene. However, the White Swiss Shepherd is now recognised as its own separate breed (even if only since 2017 by the UK Kennel Club). Besides colour, they are pretty much the same dog as the German Shepherd in terms of morphology and lifestyle requirements.
Find out more about the German Shepherd!
Are White Swiss Shepherds aggressive?
While German Shepherds are known to be outgoing and brave, White Swiss Shepherds are a lot more shy and skittish. While they can be good watchdogs, they wouldn't make good guard dogs simply because they tend to avoid strangers when they can. In this sense, it is very unlikely that a Swiss Shepherd would develop aggression.
What is the most important thing to train a White Swiss Shepherd Dog?
The most important lesson you should teach your Swiss Shepherd puppy is how to stay alone in your home. If these dogs are not properly habituated to staying alone from a young age, they can easily develop separation anxiety as they get older. Additionally, another very important thing to start early with Swiss Shepherds is socialisation. These dogs should be used to meeting a variety of people and animals, as well as visiting many different places with different sounds and smells very early on. This will avoid them developing anxiety and nervousness as they get older.
Do long haired White Swiss Shepherds shed more than short haired ones?
Both varieties have double coats and therefore shed profusely all year round, though they'll shed even more in the fall and the spring. The main difference between them is that the long haired variety will trap dead fur in its coat whereas it'll drop more easily from the short coated dogs. Additionally, short fur tends to be harder to remove from clothes or furniture than long fur. So contrary to common belief, if you're not a fan of shedding, you're better off getting a long haired dog!
Learn how to groom a dog!
How can you find a reputable dog breeder?
White Swiss Shepherds are a pure bred dog, which means you're more likely to find them with breeders than with rescues, although its always recommended that you check with rescues before you decide to purchase a puppy! If you do decide to contact a breeder, check that they have all the right certifications to breed dogs professionally. Look them up - there should be reviews online. A good breeder will also let you meet your puppy before you take them home, and will allow you to meet the parents too. You shouldn't have to pay for your puppy in full before actually meeting them either. Ensuring you're dealing with a professional is of the utmost importance to avoid supporting the puppy mill industry as well as avoiding health problems for your future dog.