The White Swiss Shepherd aka “Berger Blanc Suisse” is a beautiful pure ivory breed popular in Switzerland. This medium sized herding dog descended from the White Shepherd originally imported into Switzerland. It has roots in Canada, England and the United States. It has a beautiful wolf-like appearance enhanced by its fluffy light double coat of fur. Similar to the GSD, they are easy to train, highly alert and extremely loyal.
1. They Descended From German Shepherds
The Berger Blanc Suisse is very similar in appearance and temperament to the German Shepherd. In fact, they share their history. It goes all the way back to the late 1800’s when the first GSDs were under development.
Their lineage first began with a White German Sheepdog named Grief von Sparwasser. He was born in approximately 1879 and was the grandfather of Horand von Grafrath, the very first dog registered by the Society for the German Shepherd Dog.
Horand along with sibling Luchs von Sparwasser generated many offspring that were registered with the SV.
Consequently, the genetic code containing the recessive masking gene was given to their children eventually leading to the White Shepherd in America.
The dogs eventually came to Switzerland from the United States and the very first stud dog came to the country back in 1966.
2. The White German Shepherd Almost Went Extinct
Although German Shepherds blossomed during the 1930’s, things quickly changed. In 1933, the SV decided that the white coat was a fault in GSDs.
For this reason, they stopped registering dogs with the unwanted coat color with the exception of the old traditional German style sheep herding dogs.
In addition, they made another revision in 1960 putting a ban on any dog with a white coat preventing registration. Because of this, breeders started extracting any puppies with that coat color from their litters.
In the years following, countries following the strict guidelines of the SV gradually eliminated the colorless coats from their breeding lines and they became obsolete in those countries.
However, countries like Canada, England and the United States had more lenient standards allowing registration of the breed.
3. The First White German Shepherds Came To America In 1917
The first white GSDs on record in the United States were bred and owned by Anne Tracy, one of the founders of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America. Her litter of milky pups was born on March 27th, 1917.
It consisted of four puppies:
- Eadred of Stonihurst
- Edmund of Stonihurst
- Elf of Stonihurst
- Eric of Stonihurst
Just four years later the first White German Shepherd was imported from Germany by a man named H.N. Hanchett from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
4. White Swiss Shepherds Are Not Albinos
Some people mistakenly believe that their ashen coats are the result of albinism, but this is not true. Albino animals of any kind are extremely rare.
True albino dogs lack the required genes that produce melanin which is the pigment that determines hair and skin color. The best way to tell if a dog is albino is by looking at the skin around their eyes. Dr. Stephanie Pumphrey had this to say about the rare disorder.
Dogs with white coats and dark eyes or noses can sometimes be confused as albino, but unless they have pink noses and pink skin around their eyes, they are not albino, just white coated.Albino Dogs: Interesting Facts You Should Know
The snowy coat of a Swiss Shepherd is the result of a recessive gene that is passed down from their parents. This recessive white gene prevents the color from coming through causing the coat color.
5. The Story Of The Berger Blanc Suisse Began in 1967
The story of this amazing canine started in 1967. A woman by the name of Agatha Burch came back to her home country with a White German Shepherd named “Lobo of White Burch.” (Photo Below From PedigreeDatabase.com)
This stud is credited with being the progenitor of the breed. He was soon paired with “White Lilac of Blinkbonny,” a GSD from England. The two dogs mated, and their offspring received the “Shangrila” prefix.
Their offspring were used in several breeding lines throughout Europe mixing with some other GSDs that had fragments of the neutral-colored breed.
In addition, breeding took place with dogs that came from America and Canada.
6. The First White Swiss Shepherd Dog Club Formed In 1989
Efforts to establish the White Swiss Shepherd as an official breed began in 1989. At the forefront were Mr and Mrs Epprecht whose goal was to get the breed international recognition by the FCI.
To accomplish their mission, they started the GWS or Association of White Shepherd in Switzerland. They made progress when in 1991 the GWS was given entry into the Swiss Kennel Association.
Temporary standards were subsequently formed for the breed and twelve years later it was officially recognized. On January 1st, 2003, the FCI added the “Berger Blanc Suisse” under the number 347.
Finally, the breed was official, and the name paid homage to Switzerland, its main promoter. Unfortunately, it did not receive rights for the “Certificate of Aptitude for the International Beauty Championship.”
This means that it was unable to receive the Award for the prestigious dog show title that pedigree dogs receive at the International Dog Show.
7. A White Shepherd Won Best Actor Dog Appearing In 168 Films
Through the controversial times of the achromatic canine during the 50’s, one important TV personality stood out. Her name was Dorothy Crider, and she was an actress, breeder and trainer of the breed.
She produced some very high-quality dogs and some of them ended up on the big screen in Hollywood. Her most famous canine star was a dog named “Harvey Bindlestiff Offner” known as “Chinook.” He played the companion alongside Darlene Gillespie in Walt Disney’s Corky and White Shadow.
Photo Credit From Amazon.
His son, White Shadow Crider received the Award for “Best Actor Dog” and went on to perform in one hundred sixty-eight movies.
Dorothy was a fierce advocate for the breed and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind concerning the breed.
“I have owned and trained white and dark German Shepherds for twenty-seven years. The difference lies in the individual animal, not the coat color.”WhiteDreamTeam.Weebly.com
Her sentiment was shared by the creator of the German Shepherd dog, Max von Stephanitz. He famously said this about the color of a GSD’s coat.
The coloring of the dog has no significance whatever for service; our shepherd dog accordingly is not bred for color.Max v. Stephanitz Quotes – The Father of German Shepherd Dog
In other words, a dog’s ability to perform didn’t depend on their coat color.
To this day, white coated dogs still spark controversy. For example, some GSD breeders adamantly deny that there is a “White German Shepherd” claiming that it is simply a mix. Whatever the case, the “Berger Blanc Suisse” is an official dog breed in Switzerland that to this day has a beauty and elegance unparalleled by other canine breeds.
Their wolf-like appearance and fluffy coat of alabaster fur makes them a top choice of the Swiss. Like the GSD, they are affectionate, intelligent and loyal to their owner. As an added bonus, they are more friendly with strangers than the original German breed.
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