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American White Shepherd: Breed Information

american white shepherd

Breed Intro

Do you own a beautiful American White Shepherd? Or are you considering getting an American White Shepherd puppy or an adult rescue? Either way, it’s important to do as much research as you can about the breed. Read on to find out what can you expect from life with an American White Shepherd. Check out the health issues you need to keep an eye out for and get hints and tips on exercise and grooming.

Breed History

The American White Shepherd shares its genetic code with the black and tan German Shepherd Dog. In America, it’s also called a White German Shepherd or a White Shepherd which has its own breed association.

The white-colored coat of the American White Shepherd is due to a recessive gene in the German Shepherd Dog breed. From the founding of the German Shepherd breed in the 1880s, there have been dogs with the white coat gene. The American White Shepherd is not an albino and has dark brown eyes and a black or brown nose.

 A German White Shepherd called Greif is the first recorded White Shepherd show dog. He appeared at dog shows in Germany in Hanover in the 1880s. Greif’s breeding line containing the white coat recessive gene became established through one of Greif’s grandsons. The German Shepherd breed founder, Max von Stephanitz owned Greif’s grandson.

In the 20th century, the ruling Nazi party in Germany discouraged White Shepherd breeding and culled white-coated litters. Since then, White Shepherd dogs have fallen in and out of favor with breeders and owners around the world.

Although the American Kennel Club does not recognize the American White Shepherd as a breed, the United Kennel Club recognized it as the ‘White Shepherd’ in 1999. This means the White Shepherd has a breed standard in America and can compete in UKC events. Breed enthusiasts are still working to gain full breed acceptance in both America and Europe.

Breed Characteristics

As the name ‘shepherd’ suggests, the American White Shepherd is for herding and guarding livestock. Intelligent, independent and loyal the American White Shepherd is a marvelous and protective companion dog. An American White Shepherd should not be timid or aggressive.

Due to the American White Shepherds guardian nature, they may be observant of strangers entering the home or property and somewhat reserved. They rarely bark but will do so in warning to alert the owner if needed.

Temperament and Size

Owning an American White Shepherd is a real treat. Good with children, they keep their family under their watchful eye at all times. Being gently ‘shepherded’, aka followed around by the American White Shepherd may not be for everybody! Given time outdoors this breed know how to have fun. They are easily occupied playing fetch with balls and other toys. 

This breed is usually friendly with other dogs. Some individuals may be less tolerant of dogs of the same sex.

The American White Shepherd is sweeter in temperament than a standard German Shepherd Dog. This makes them a little more sensitive than their black and tan cousin and less prone to aggression. It is for this reason that American White Shepherds are not generally used as police or guard dogs.

The American White Shepherd is a medium-large breed with a strong athletic frame. Adult male dogs make the height of 25 inches to the shoulder, and can weigh anywhere from 75 to 85 pounds. A mature female American White Shepherd will stand at 23 inches high and weigh from 60 to 70 pounds.

American White Shepherds can be prone to vocalize. This means they communicate through a range of noises, often whining or gently grumbling. Whilst this can be endearing, it might get annoying. Try and figure out what your dog is telling you as there is usually a reason for the behavior. Often the dog is expressing feelings such as excitement or dislike.

Grooming and Exercise Requirements

This breed has a straight, medium-length double coat which means regular grooming. Brushing your American White Shepherd dog’s coat helps keep them looking presentable and bonds you and your pet. The breed is not hypoallergenic, so not good for people with allergies. Seasonal shedding is heavy. During these periods of heavy shedding, brush daily. This will keep the coat looking good and minimizes shedding on clothes, furniture, and carpets. At other times of the year, light shedding occurs and weekly brushing is enough.

Bathe the White German Shepherd infrequently using a mild dog shampoo specially formulated for dogs with white coats. A bath before seasonal shedding will help loosen the undercoat.

Don’t forget to get their nails clipped regularly. Some dog owners do this themselves, providing they have purchased the right equipment. It is more advisable to get this done at the grooming parlor or at a veterinary check. Cutting nails too short can cause the nail to bleed and discomfort for your dog.

Owners can complete teeth-cleaning at home. A dental hygiene routine is very important for overall good health. Clean the dog’s teeth at least weekly. Introduce the dog’s grooming routines from puppyhood so the stress is minimal for all concerned.

The American White Shepherd is an active dog and will need an owner that gives them an average of 8 miles exercise every week. If this does not fit with your lifestyle, or you do not have any fenced and accessible outdoor space with your home, this breed is probably not for you. 

The breed is clever and with the right training can learn to use treadmills and do agility courses. Any activity that involves time with the owner and using their intelligence or provides mental stimulation is a great idea.

Longevity and Health Considerations

Do take steps to ensure your dog enjoys the best health and wellbeing. Health checks, exercise, and a nutritious diet are all important investments in your American White Shepherds quality of life.

With good nutrition, health care and exercise your American White Shepherd can expect to live anywhere between 10 to 14 years. As with any breed, there are a few health considerations to watch out for.

Unfortunately common with larger breeds, American White Shepherds may suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia. Be aware that the rates for dysplasia are nearly as high as 1 in 5 for this breed. Selecting a reputable breeder helps minimize this risk. Other problems can include skin problems and allergies, autoimmune disease, eye problems, heart problems, cancer, epilepsy, digestive problems, and bloat.

To enjoy peace of mind and protection in case your dog develops any health issues, it is vital to take out a comprehensive pet insurance policy. This covers the bills for an affordable fixed monthly cost.

The American White Shepherd Appreciation Society

Ok, we made the Appreciation Society up, but the American White Shepherd Owners do sing the breed’s praises. 

‘They are incredible dogs. She makes lots of little noises to make us understand what she needs!’

‘A perfect boy who gets along with everyone he meets.’

 ‘Extremely sweet.’

 ‘This dog has got my back and he is so smart it’s unbelievable.’


The American White Shepherd makes a trusted pet. Owners who have the time and energy to train and exercise these faithful companions never regret choosing the breed.

Remember the American White Shepherd may have a few potential health issues during their lifetime. Avoid the stress and worry of large veterinary bills and insure your dog. Before you bring your American White Shepherd home compare reputable pet insurance companies free quotes in one place at Pet Insurance Quotes. With the right health insurance cover in place, you will be free to enjoy quality time with your best four-legged friend.

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