Few dog breeds come exclusively in solid white coats. Some of these are purebred dogs registered by national kennel clubs, and others are not or are only recognized by some clubs. One such dog with partial recognition is the White Swiss Shepherd.
The Swiss Shepherd is a medium-sized dog notable for its lively and lovely temperament. The lineage of the Swiss Shepherd is linked to that of the German Shepherd, and the breed is thought to have originated in Switzerland, although its predecessors were imported from the Americas.
This article focuses on the beautiful White Swiss Shepherd to explore issues on the breed’s history and origin, appearance and size, and care requirements. The article also explores a few other disputed matters about the breed’s recognition at global and national levels and its supposed rarity.
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So, if you are considering this breed and want to learn all about the White Swiss Shepherd, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive in!
- Origin and History
- What Is a Swiss Shepherd?
- Appearance and Size
- What Does a Swiss Shepherd Look Like?
- How Big Do White Swiss Shepherds Get?
- Are Swiss Shepherds Good Family Dogs?
- How to Care for a White Swiss Shepherd
- How Much Exercise Does a White Swiss Shepherd Need?
- Do White Swiss Shepherds Shed?
- How Much Does a Swiss Shepherd Cost?
- FAQs About Swiss Shepherds
- Is a White Swiss Shepherd Right for You?
- Final Thoughts
Origin and History
Below is an introduction to the origins and history of the Swiss Shepherd. But first, here is a quick look at the breed profile.
|Type||Working / Companion|
|Other Names||Berger Blanc Suisse,|
White Swiss Shepherd Dog, Snowy Shepherd, Polar Bear Shepherd
|Breed Size (FCI)||Medium|
|Height||23-26 inches (Males)|
21-24 inches (Females)
|Weight||Between 66 to 88lbs (Males)|
Between 55lbs to 77lbs (Females)
|Temperament||Balanced Temperament, Affectionate, Territorial, Social, Alert, Courageous, Playful, Energetic, Friendly, Gentle, Loyal, Sensitive, Intelligent, Independent, Versatile|
|Appearance||Well-muscled, Well-balanced, Powerful, Elegant, Erect ears, Thick Saber Tail, Long Muzzle, Brown Almond Shaped Eyes|
|Lifespan||10 – 12 years|
|Health Issues||Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, Degenerative Myelopathy, Bloat (GDV), Eye Problems|
|Coat Type||Double-coated, Medium or Long|
|Easy to Train||Yes|
|Good for new owners||Yes|
|Cost||$3,000 on average|
What Is a Swiss Shepherd?
The Swiss Shepherds’ history is closely intertwined with that of the German Shepherds, but the white dogs have a complicated record of registration and recognition as a breed.
The Swiss Shepherd, also called the White Swiss Shepherd dog or Berger Blanc Suisse, is originally a strain of the German Shepherd dog. The dog is known for its loyal, alert, friendly, lively, and balanced temperament and its notable ability to be trained.
It is thought that the White Swiss Shepherds have remote roots in the white lines of the Thuringian Shepherd, which was the shepherd dog typical of the German region with the same name.
The Thuringian lineage existed even before the German Shepherd dog and was used in the interbreeding process that created the GSD.
Check out this article to learn the difference between the GSD and the Swiss Shepherd, German Shepherd vs. Swiss Shepherd: What’s The Difference?
In the early years of the GSD, white dogs were accepted as one of the coat color variants of the breed caused by a recessive gene. However, during the world war years, the white GSDs started to be considered a genetic fault by the Germans and were consciously eliminated from the breed in Europe.
In the US and Canada, white Shepherd dogs were gradually accepted as a distinct breed in the 1960s. An offspring of the American white Shepherd “Lobo,” whelped in March 1966, was imported in Switzerland in the 1970s.
Lobo is considered the progenitor of the White Swiss Shepherd dogs we see today, and Switzerland is the place of the breed’s origin.
The descendants of “Lobo” are registered in the Swiss Stud Book (LOS). Together with other white Shepherds imported from America, they created the very first dogs of the breed. Berger Blanc Suisse was recognized in Switzerland in 1999.
However, the registration of White Swiss Shepherds in other countries has not been so smooth. First off, the AKC does not recognize Swiss Shepherds as a breed. Instead, the FCI registered White Swiss Shepherd as a breed in 2011, and so did the British Kennel Club in 2017.
Although the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized Swiss Shepherds in 1999 and the dogs were welcomed back into the ring in the US, the club is not recognized by the FCI. This means that the club’s recognition of the Swiss Shepherd does not have much weight even in the US.
Efforts to have the Swiss Shepherd fully registered have continued over the years. To this endeavor, the American White Shepherd Association was established in 1995 and has worked diligently towards the recognition of White Swiss Shepherds as a distinct breed in America.
Watch This Gorgeous Swiss Shepherd on YouTube…
Are Swiss Shepherds Rare?
Swiss Shepherds are considered rare by some and common by others. The lack of consensus on the rarity of the Swiss Shepherd could be informed by the fact that the breed is recognized in some countries or states and not in others.
For example, some sources on the web indicate that White Swiss Shepherds are rare, while others state that they are pricey and hard to find.
For example, the White Swiss Shepherd Dog Club of Australia (WSSDCA) does not consider the breed rare, as there are hundreds of dogs registered with the club. In addition, the club prohibits registered breeders from advertising their Swiss Shepherds as ‘rare’ dogs.
The White Swiss Shepherds’ rarity myth may be linked to the fact that the white German Shepherd is rare. In reality, the thinking that White Swiss Shepherds are merely the white German Shepherds that were considered a fault at some point in history still lingers around.
If you want to know more about the white German Shepherd? Check out this article, White German Shepherd.
Appearance and Size
Let’s take a look at the appearance and size of the Swiss Shepherd.
What Does a Swiss Shepherd Look Like?
The Swiss Shepherd is a medium-sized dog that’s well-muscled and bears a powerful, elegant, and well-balanced body outline. Like its German Shepherd counterpart, The Berger Blanc Suisse has erect ears open to the front. Its all-white double coat can be medium or long.
The White Swiss Shepherd dog’s body is longer than tall, with the hind feet slightly longer than those at the front. The dog’s head is carried moderately high.
Swiss Shepherds have a thick saber tail (with a gentle curve at the end) that reaches the hock and is typically carried low. When aroused, the Swiss Shepherd may carry the tail higher, but never over the topline.
On the face, the Swiss Shepherds have an elongated muzzle, similar to the wolf-like muzzle of the German Shepherd. The nose is medium-sized and black, but a lighter nose is common. The eyes are brown or dark-brown, almond-shaped, and placed obliquely.
The skin under the White Swiss Shepherd’s coat is all dark, and so are the paws.
How Big Do White Swiss Shepherds Get?
The White Swiss Shepherd is a medium-sized dog with the following measurements:
|Male Height:||23-26 inches (58-66cm)|
|Male Weight:||66-88lbs (30-40kg)|
|Female Height:||21-24 inches (53-61cm)|
|Female Weight:||55-77lbs (25-35kg)|
If you are thinking about getting this gorgeous breed and have a family, you’ll want to know more about its temperament.
Are Swiss Shepherds Good Family Dogs?
Swiss Shepherds are good family dogs because of their lively, friendly, attentive, and generally stable temperament. These dogs are very intelligent and receptive, making them highly trainable and an excellent choice for a family with children.
In the common descriptions for a good family dog, White Swiss Shepherds have these traits:
- They are lively and friendly with the family.
- They are extremely good with children.
- They are friendly with other pets.
- They have a calm and composed demeanor towards strangers.
- They are playful and joyous.
- They are loyal and utterly devoted to the owner.
- They have high social competence.
- They are highly adaptable and will fit in any situation.
- They are never aggressive (unless provoked).
Of course, you’ll need to train your Berger Blanc Suisse from when it’s a puppy to bring forth all these good qualities. Ensure you use positive reward-based training, as White Swiss Shepherd dogs can be overly sensitive to how they are treated.
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How to Care for a White Swiss Shepherd
Below is an overview of how to adequately care for your White Swiss Shepherd.
How Much Exercise Does a White Swiss Shepherd Need?
The White Swiss Shepherd needs plenty of exercise since it is a high-energy dog that enjoys action. You should spend at least 2 hours or more running, walking, or playing with your pet daily. Mental stimulation is also important.
Your Berger Blanc Suisse will not enjoy hours spent alone in the house or low-energy exercise in the backyard all day. Instead, the dog needs some hours of vigorous exercise daily. Exercise is also vital to help keep your dog healthy, happy, and in good shape.
Left alone and idle, Berger Blanc Suisse will be bored and can turn to destructive behavior. These behaviors can include excessive barking, jumping fences, or digging holes.
Do White Swiss Shepherds Shed?
White Swiss Shepherds shed a lot because of their double coat. They will shed consistently all year long and heavily during the spring and fall when the seasons change. This is when they “blow their coat” in preparation for the season ahead.
As such, your Swiss Shepherd’s coat should be brushed at least two to three times a week. During seasonal temperature changes, daily brushing is advised to keep heavy shedding controlled and avoid hair all over the house.
A de-shedding tool will come in handy, especially during the heavy shedding seasons. The FURminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool from Amazon comes highly recommended for the following features:
- It controls shedding by up to 90%.
- It gets rid of loose fur without harming your dog’s skin.
- It has a stainless-steel deshedding edge.
- It removes loose hair from the tool by simply pressing a button.
- It has an ergonomic handle.
Plus, it’s the tool that I use, and although I’ve tried many others over the years, I’ve never found one as good as the FURminator.
So, what about bath time?
Since the White Swiss Shepherd coat can get dirty easily, an occasional bath is required. The general rule is to bathe your Swiss Shepherd only when needed. Frequent baths can rid your dog’s skin of its natural oils.
Other aspects of care you should consider for your White Swiss Shepherd include:
- Frequent nail clipping to prevent them from getting too long and “digging” while your dog walks. Long nails can make walking uncomfortable for your dog or cause other complications like limping and bleeding.
- Regular teeth brushing. This is needed to preempt bacterial and tartar buildup.
- Regularly cleaning the ears to prevent bacterial buildup and ear infections from accumulated wax. Deafness is a risk issue in Swiss Shepherds, so proper ear care is essential.
How Much Does a Swiss Shepherd Cost?
Swiss Shepherds cost approximately $3,000 on average, so they can be considered quite pricey. A visit to the breeder websites accessed through the White Swiss Shepherd Club of America website indicated that White Swiss Shepherd prices range between $1,500 and $5,000.
From the explored breeder websites, Swiss Shepherd puppies will tend to cost more if:
- They are breed-quality puppies (breeders on the visited sites seem to sell non-breed-quality puppies on a spay/neuter contract in most breeder sites).
- They are bred to meet show-quality.
- The buyer can choose between a male or female puppy.
While the indicated cost only accounts for the buying price, the cost of a Swiss Shepherd will go up with other care costs for food and veterinary services. Regarding the vet costs, White Swiss Shepherds are susceptible to specific health issues.
According to the White Swiss Shepherd Club of America, these health issues include:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia.
- Eye problems.
- Autoimmune thyroiditis.
- Congenital Cardiac diseases.
- Congenital deafness.
- Degenerative Myelopathy.
- Multiple Drug Sensitivity (MDR1). A study found that White Swiss Shepherds were among dog breeds commonly affected by MDR1 mutation (ABCB1 gene).
FAQs About Swiss Shepherds
Here are a few frequently asked questions about White Swiss Shepherds:
Is a White Swiss Shepherd Right for You?
Despite the debates that still surround the recognition of the White Swiss Shepherd in some countries like the US, there is no doubt that the Berger Blanc Suisse is an excellent family dog with a pleasant and irresistible personality. But is the Swiss Shepherd good for every category of dog owners, and is it right for you?
The White Swiss Shepherd is right for you if:
- You are looking for a family dog that gets along well with children and other pets.
- You want a dog that is easy to train.
- You want a dog without any tendencies of aggression.
- You love pure white dogs.
Instead, the Swiss Shepherd dog is not suitable for you if:
- You have an allergy to dog fur and are looking for a hypoallergenic dog.
- You want a sporting dog that you can take to the AKC’s events.
Overall, the Swiss Shepherd would be right for any dog owner, considering its lovable temperament. But you need to weigh these Swiss Shepherd pros and cons to reach your verdict.
The Swiss Shepherd has many admirable traits that make it a perfect choice of pet for any family. While their status has been debated throughout the years, White Swiss Shepherds are fun-loving and easy-going and deserve international recognition.
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