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German Shepherds come in many different coat colors. Black & tan, bi-color, and solid black are most common, but they also come in other colors that might make you wonder whether they’re of the same breed. Some people are surprised to know that there are also white German Shepherds.
This article will talk about the white German Shepherd, how they get their white coloring and the typical characteristics of this GSD.
What Is A White German Shepherd?
White German Shepherds are the same as any other dog of the same breed. Their only difference is that the cells in their hair follicles don’t produce any pigment. This leaves them with a majestically white coat that is not very common among GSDs.
What Genetic Factors Contribute To The White Coat?
German Shepherds have a white coat when the cells in their hair follicles don’t produce any pigment. This is caused by the Extension (E) locus, which has four variants or alleles:
- Em – Responsible for producing a black mask
- Eg – Responsible for the grizzle pattern
- E – Responsible for black coloring
- e – Responsible for white coloring
To produce the white coloring (or the lack of coloring, to be precise), GSDs must have two copies of the recessive allele (ee). Otherwise, any other combination would involve the dominant E allele, which will be expressed as black.
What Coat Combinations Breed The White Coloring?
Because the allele that causes German Shepherds to be white is recessive, the only sure way to produce white GSD puppies is to mate two white parents.
If only one parent is white, the other parent needs to carry the recessive gene for every puppy in the litter to have a 50% chance of being white.
For example, here’s what you’ll get if you cross a white German Shepherd with a black one that carries the recessive gene:
If only one parent is white and the other parent doesn’t carry the recessive gene, there’s no chance of producing white puppies in the litter.
For example, here’s what you’ll get if you cross a white German Shepherd with a black one that doesn’t carry the recessive gene:
Fascinatingly, there’s still a small chance for you to produce white puppies even if neither parent is white. This happens when both parents carry the recessive gene.
For example, here’s what you’ll get if you cross two black German Shepherds that carry the white allele:
Are White GSDs The Same As Blonde German Shepherds?
Blonde German Shepherds are very likely the same as white GSDs. White-coated dogs were always understood to have no pigment produced in their hair follicles.
For a while, blondes were believed to be a different coat color entirely. This is because blonde is typically produced by the dilution of phaeomelanin, the pigment that produces the red color in dogs.
However, research into the genetics of canine coat colors reveals that blonde German Shepherds have the same ee genotype as the white ones do. So, whiteness and blondeness are likely caused by the same genetic combinations but some are just more lacking in pigment than others, which causes the slight differences in color.
Are White German Shepherds Albino?
White German Shepherds are not necessarily albino dogs. Albinism causes the absence of pigment not just in the hair follicles but also in the skin, nose, and eyes.
This results in a white dog that has pale skin, a pink nose, pink paw pads, and light-colored eyes.
Unlike albino German Shepherds, white GSDs typically have black noses, black paw pads, and dark brown eyes.
How Rare Is The White German Shepherd?
Because producing the white color requires two copies of a recessive gene, whites don’t typically appear in a litter unless breeders specifically breed for them.
Although they might not be among the most common, white German Shepherds are not hard to come by. You’ll find that many reputable breeders specialize in producing them. You might even find several available for adoption in animal shelters.
Are White German Shepherds Purebred?
White German Shepherds are purebred when both parents are purebred. However, white dogs that look like GSDs could also be the product of cross-breeding.
This is especially the case when GSDs are crossed with other breeds that look like German Shepherds.
For example, a German Shepherd crossed with a White Swiss Shepherd Dog could definitely look like a white GSD, but it wouldn’t be purebred. The same is true for a Samoyed-German Shepherd mix.
Does The AKC Recognize The White Coloring?
The American Kennel Club does recognize the white coloring in German Shepherds. However, white and muted colors like liver or silver are considered to be serious faults.
This means that the AKC deems these colors undesirable even when the dog’s form, build, and temperament are the same as any other GSD.
For this reason, white German Shepherds don’t compete in conformation events or any other competitions that supposedly uphold ideal breed standards.
Typical Attributes Of The White GSD
Apart from coat color, white German Shepherds are no different from any other GSD. They may need baths more frequently because dirt is much more noticeable on their pristine white coats. Nevertheless, the care they require is the same as every other German Shepherd.
Even if the AKC considers the white color a fault, the genes that cause this coloring does not affect the dog’s conformation, temperament, health, and longevity.
This discrimination might even go in the white GSD’s favor since the breeders that produce them tend to be true fanciers of the coat color. Therefore, they take special care to ensure their dogs are selectively bred for the best outcomes.
Because of this, it is reasonable to believe that white German Shepherds are less prone to elbow and hip dysplasia, which is common to the breed.
They generally live long and healthy lives as opposed to common GSDs that sell without lineage records and health certificates.
How Much Is A White German Shepherd?
Even if the white coat isn’t a desirable trait according to AKC standards, white GSDs can often cost more than their colored counterparts. This is because they are not quite as common.
Additionally, the breeders that produce them are very much dedicated to this breed variant. So, the puppies they sell are typically of superior health, conformation, and temperament.
While the average price of common GSD puppies is around $900 per puppy, white German Shepherds are commonly sold at $1,000 to $2,000 each. For example, South Carolina’s Great White German Shepherd sells its puppies for $1,400.
Ultimately, the price of a puppy depends on a number of factors including the breeder’s reputation, the dog’s lineage, and its general characteristics. Any additional training and medical certifications add to the cost of these puppies.
Even if you can afford a white GSD from a reputable breeder, you might want to consider checking your local shelter for one you can adopt. Because of breed restrictions and poor handling, German Shepherds are among the most common breeds in animal shelters.
Adopting one will allow you to save a life and enjoy this wonderful breed at the fraction of the cost of buying one.
If you aren’t interested in participating in dog shows and conformation events, a white German Shepherd can be a delight to own. They are beautiful and often turn heads because of their uniqueness. And, they bring with them the energy, intelligence, affection, and many other wonderful traits the breed is known for.
Although white GSDs are uncommon, they aren’t quite as rare as other coat colors. Check out the Panda German Shepherd, which is made unique by a genetic mutation. There’s also the Brindle German Shepherd, which dog enthusiasts believe to be extinct.