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American White Shepherd
|Here is the American White Shepherd at a Glance|
|Name||American White Shepherd|
|Average weight||75 to 85 pounds|
|Average height||24 to 26 inches|
|Life span||12 to 14 years|
|Coat type||Long, stiff double coat|
|Tolerance to heat||Average|
|Tolerance to cold||Above average|
|Drooling||Not a drooler|
|Barking||Not a big barker|
|Exercise needs||Very high|
|Good first dog||For experienced dog people|
|Good family pet||Yes|
|Good with children||Yes|
|Good with other dogs||Okay|
|Good with other pets||Okay|
|Good with strangers||Wary, suspicious|
|Good apartment dog||Not the best|
|Handles alone time well||No|
|Health issues||Hip dysplasia, malabsorption syndrome, megaesophagus.|
|Medical expenses||$260 annual average|
|Food expenses||$235 annual average|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$65 annual average|
|Average annual expense||$635|
|Cost to purchase||$700|
|Biting Statistics||Human attacks: 113 Maimings: 73 Deaths: 15 Child Victims: 65|
|Organizations||Echo Dogs White Shepherd Rescue, White Paws German Shepherd Rescue, American White Shepherd Association|
The American White Shepherd’s Beginnings
This dog’s story begins with a breed familiar to everyone, the German Shepherd, which was itself formed from a mix of various European dogs, including some herder dogs that happened to be white. The classic German Shepherd comes in various mixes of black with other colors, but an all-white dog occasionally appears. However, it was officially decided by the Germans in the nineteen-thirties that the white varieties could not be registered as German Shepherds.
This was later carried over to other countries, including the United States and Canada. The American Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club, for instance, do not allow white versions of the dog to be registered as German Shepherds.
Many breeders, however, like the white variety, and because the white color is due to a recessive gene, mating two white Shepherds consistently produces more white Shepherds, and so this version has continued, and will probably eventually be accepted as an official registered breed. In the meantime, aficionados have founded their own American White Shepherd clubs.
The Dog You See Today
The American White Shepherd is essentially indistinguishable from its German progenitor except for its color. It is a medium-large dog that weighs seventy-five to eighty-five pounds and stands twenty-four to twenty-six inches at the shoulder. It has a double coat, straight, and dense. The color is of course white, although in some cases more of an off-white. The ears are erect, and the nose is always black. The body is strong and extremely muscular, but lean, long, and somewhat taller at the shoulder than at the hip.
The Inner American White Shepherd
These dogs are extremely intelligent and aware of their surroundings. They are alert, fearless, and very protective of their people. They respond well to discipline, but not to abuse. They are not innately aggressive, but are wary and suspicious of strangers, and will not hesitate to confront any animal, person, or situation they see as threatening. Early and intense socialization is a necessity for these dogs.
American White Shepherds are not frequent barkers, although they may bark when a stranger approaches. On the other hand, they are constant talkers that will whine and mumble and grumble when they need your attention.
American White Shepherds are good family dogs as long as they are well socialized from day one. They will bond with all the family members, although the closest bond will be with one person in the family. They are wary of strangers and tend to be protective, so they need to be well trained to accept visitors to the household.
Living with an American White Shepherd
As is true of most working breeds, the American White Shepherd loves and requires training beyond basic obedience drills. It absolutely needs a job to do. The owner of one of these dogs needs to be prepared to invest considerable time and energy into working with it. This is a great companion dog, but not a pet. It also does not handle alone time well at all. American White Shepherds don’t need constant overt attention, but they need to know that their people are aware of them and paying attention to them. If left on their own too frequently they become sulky and destructive.
Training an American White Shepherd requires someone who can exercise firm, consistent control. These dogs are not stubborn; if anything, they are eager to please. But they also have a fairly strong drive for dominance, and if their owner allows it, they will take over. An American White Shepherd that is allowed to be the alpha in the household can be dangerous.
How active are they?
American White Shepherds are, first and foremost, working dogs. They are smart and learn quickly, and don’t do well just lying around. They are good guard dogs but are also used for search and rescue, and as guide dogs for blind persons. They have an acute sense of smell and are often used to detect such things as drugs and gas leaks.
These are not the best apartment dogs going, but that living arrangement is possible under certain conditions. First of all, as noted, they do not handle extended periods of time alone. A solitary owner who will be away from home for work, for instance, is not the proper person for this dog. They also need a lot of exercise, and the owner needs to be in a position to meet that need, which means in this case more than just going for walks.
Caring for the American White Shepherd
The American White Shepherd does not always have the undercoat of German Shepherds and has a long coat. It sheds hair all year round in moderate amounts and then has a seasonal shed where it gets very heavy also. The coat needs to be brushed every day and there will be hair around the home to deal with. As giving a bath too frequently can irritate the skin because it dries out the natural oils just give a bath when it is really needed.
Check the ears for infection and wipe clean once a week and the nails should be clipped when too long. Nail clipping is not a simple task and should be taken care of by someone with knowledge and experience. Seek advice from a professional groomer or vet. Dental care is also important, teeth should be brushed at least two times a week.
A properly fed dog is a healthy, happy dog. Most dog owners settle for commercial dog food, and that is reasonably acceptable, but there is a better way. Remember that canines and humans pretty much evolved together, and nobody had Purina or Alpo five thousand years ago. Dogs ate what people ate, and that is still a good way to go. That doesn’t mean table scraps, though. You can prepare your own dog food, and you will be surprised at how little time it takes. It is simply a matter of grinding up the food your dog needs, and cooking or microwaving it.
In the case of an American White Shepherd, that means chicken, turkey, venison, lamb, fish of any kind, and vegetables. A food grinder or a food processor makes the job quick and easy.
If on the other hand, you are going to purchase commercial dog food, that’s fine, but make sure it contains the same ingredients, and strictly avoid dog foods that are loaded with rice and other cereal grains. Dogs are not vegetarians, after all.
Also, American White Shepherds can be prone to bloating, and so it is a good idea to feed them two or three smaller meals a day, instead of loading up the dish with one large meal.
Kids and other pets
If properly socialized they will do well with other pets in the family, and are not cat chasers by nature. They are playful, and are very good with children, even younger ones; but just as the dog needs to be socialized to deal with people and other pets, children need to be socialized and trained to deal with the dog.
What Might Go Wrong?
American White Shepherds are generally healthy, durable dogs, but they are vulnerable to some disorders. As is true of many larger dogs, hip dysplasia, where the hip joint becomes dislocated, can occur. If this becomes chronic, surgery may be advisable.
Some of these dogs suffer from what is known as malabsorption syndrome, where the digestive tract is not able to take in and digest certain foods. This can lead to such symptoms as hair loss, bloating, and diarrhea.
Another occasional problem is the megaesophagus, where the esophagus—the tube that runs from the throat to the stomach—is abnormally enlarged. The symptoms here are weight loss, vomiting, and stinky breath.
Statistics over the last 34 years have been gathered looking at reports of dog attacks on humans. Over that time while no specific reports name the American White Shepherd, the German Shepherd has a total of 113 attacks. Of those attacks, it is known that 65 were children. 73 of those attacks were classed as maimings, meaning the attack led to disfigurement, loss of limb, and permanent scarring. There were also 15 deaths. This puts the German Shepherd in the top 10% of dog attacks reported and averages at 4 attacks a year.
It is important when choosing a dog that you get one suited to you, your experience, your activity levels, your accommodation. You need to make sure you can meet the needs of the dog and are fully aware of what those needs are. Early socialization and training must not be skipped to ensure you get a more well-rounded and trusted dog. A well-raised and loved dog is going to be a better behaved one too.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
The going price for a White American Shepherd pup these days is around $700. It might be possible to locate one at a pet shelter, in which case the price will be considerably lower—probably in the neighborhood of $175 to $200. This will be an older pup, of course, and it will usually already have been spayed or neutered. If not, that will be the next step. Spaying, if the pup is a female, or neutering if it is male, will usually run approximately $220.
At the same time; you will need to spend about another $70 or so on initial veterinary procedures such as de-worming. Then you will be getting a license, for $15 to $20, and a leash and collar, which will usually cost around $35—more if you decide on something fancy.
Obedience training is a must for this dog. An initial set of sessions will usually amount to about $110 to $125. After that, your American White Shepherd will benefit from advanced skills training, where the cost will depend on the nature and extent of the work involved.
Your dog will need to eat, of course. If you make the food yourself, it will cost less. Otherwise, you are probably looking at a cost of around $235 a year to feed your American White Shepherd. That does not include treats, which can run another $75 a year or more. If you are buying commercial food, look for a brand designed for larger dogs. It will be somewhat lower in calories and will help ensure that your puppy does not grow too fast so that its bones will have time to develop properly.
Overall, after the first year, you can expect your American White Shepherd to cost you around $635 a year to keep it healthy and happy.
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The American White Shepherd is simply a German Shepherd that is white, which prevents it from being registered as a German Shepherd. Otherwise, there is no real difference in size, looks, or temperament.
The American White Shepherd is a working dog and needs to have a job to be happy. Like its traditionally-colored cousin, this dog has found employment as a guard dog, a search and rescue dog, and a guide dog, among other tasks. It is known to be fearless, loyal, and devoted to its humans. It is not aggressive by nature, but it tends to be suspicious of strangers, and protective of its human pack. It needs early and intense socialization, and continued training after that. If those needs are met, it will be a very good family dog.
Featured Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The American White Shepherd’s Beginnings
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner American White Shepherd
- Living with an American White Shepherd
- Caring for the American White Shepherd
- Kids and other pets
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag