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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a White Swiss Shepherd
Average Cost to keep/care for a White Swiss Shepherd
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The White Swiss Shepherd is an elegant, handsome dog and one that shares a common ancestry with the German Shepherd. For years they have been a popular choice with people in Europe, but not as popular here in the UK although breed numbers are slowly rising. Often called the Berger Blanc Suisse, these charming dogs are renowned for being even-tempered and extremely kind around children as such they make great family pets for people who enjoy spending lots of time in the great outdoors with their canine companion at their side.
The breed was recognised by the Kennel Club in October of last year although in Switzerland, White Swiss Shepherds were recognised in 1991 as a separate breed. As previously mentioned, the number of well-bred puppies remains low and as such anyone wanting to share a home with a White Swiss Shepherd would need to register their interest with breeders first and go on a waiting list for the pleasure of doing so.
The White Swiss Shepherd is often referred to as a Berger Blanc Suisse and as their name suggests, they were recognised as a unique breed in Switzerland in 1991 and where they have always been highly prized for their intelligence and handsome looks. Ten years later, the FCI also gave the breed full recognition when dogs were exhibited at the Paris World Dog Show. They were developed using white “lines” of German Shepherd Dogs and although the two breeds are the same “genetically”, the White Swiss Shepherd and the German Shepherd differ both in their conformation and the way they move.
Over many generations, White Swiss Shepherds were developed using American and Canadian White Shepherds thanks to their dark pigmentation and their pure white coats. As such, the two are the foundation dogs of the breed. It is thought that in Switzerland, a dog called “Lobo White Burch” was an American White Shepherd called “Lobo White Burch” whose owner was Miss Agatha Burch. She took him to Switzerland on her return from the USA. She later imported a female White Swiss Shepherd from the UK, a dog called “White Lilac of Blinkbonny. They were crossed with other imported dogs both from the UK and the USA.
The great grand sire of the first German Shepherd to be registered was white in colour and it's thought that this was the founding dog for the White Swiss Shepherd. At first all colours were accepted for the German Shepherd, but over time more white dogs started to appear on the scene. These white dogs were eventually rejected in many European countries and as such local WSS clubs were set up in many countries including Switzerland, Germany and Denmark, but other countries were quick to follow suit. However, these elegant dogs are not yet recognised by The Kennel Club (March 2018) and anyone wishing to share their homes with a WSS would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few well-bred puppies are available every year. The good news is that the wait would be well worth it.
Height at the withers: Males 60 - 66 cm, Females 55 - 61 cm
Average weight: Males 30 - 40 kg, Females 25 - 35 kg
The White Swiss Shepherd is a well-muscled, powerful looking medium sized dog and one that boasts having a pure white coat that sets them apart from the German Shepherd cousins. They give the impression of being athletic, alert being very similar in shape to the German Shepherd and are longer in the body than they are tall. They have strong, finely chiselled and clean-cut heads that are nicely in proportion to the rest of their bodies. From above their heads are wedge-shaped and they have slightly rounded skulls with a very slight central furrow and clearly perceptible stop.
Their noses are medium in size and typically black in colour, although some dogs have a "snow" or lighter coloured nose which is acceptable. Their muzzles are moderately long, straight and powerful looking being longer than a dog's skull. Eyes are medium in size and almond shaped being set rather obliquely on a dog's face and a brown to dark brown in colour. Eye rims are black which highlights the shape of a dog's eye against their white coats. Ears are set high and are an elongated triangle with slightly rounded tips which dogs carry erect and forwards. The White Swiss Shepherd has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.
They have moderately long, well-muscled, nicely arched necks that merge smoothly into their shoulders without any dewlap which allows dogs to carry their heads proudly. Shoulders are well laid back and long and a dog's front legs are strong, straight showing a medium amount of bone and quite sinewy. Their front feet are oval shaped with tight, well arched toes and dark nails and strong, firm pads. They have muscular, moderately long and strong toplines with pronounced withers and backs are level and firm.
Their chests are deep, but not too broad with a prominent forechest and Swiss White Shepherds have nice oval ribcages that extend well back down their body. Bellies are moderately tucked up which adds to their graceful appearance. They have well-muscled loins and long, moderately wide croups that slope gently to where a dog's tail is set. Their tails are well covered with hair making it quite bushy. It’s set low being thicker at the root before tapering to the tip. Dogs hold their tails down when relaxed, but with a curve in it and raised when they are alert or excited.
Their back legs are strong and sinewy showing a moderate amount of bone with well-developed first and second thighs. Their back feet are slightly longer than their front feet and are oval shaped with dark, firm pads and dark nails.
When it comes to their coat, the White Swiss Shepherd boasts having a thick, close lying double coat with a profuse, soft and dense undercoat. The hair on a dog's face, ears and on the front of their legs is shorter whereas on their neck and on the backs of their legs it is that much longer. A White Swiss Shepherd can have a slight wave in their coats too. The only acceptable colour for Kennel Club registration is as follows:
When a White Swiss Shepherd moves, they do so with a lot of power covering a lot of ground when they do and showing tremendous drive from behind.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
The White Swiss Shepherd boasts having a well-balanced, kind temperament. They are lively, friendly, highly intelligent dogs and with the right amount of socialisation and training, they are known to make wonderful family pets and companions. They become totally devoted to their owners and families, enjoying nothing more than to be included in everything that goes on in a household. As such they are a good choice for families where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out of the house, so a dog is never left on their own for very long.
They are confident, outgoing characters by nature and thrive on being given things to do. Being so intelligent, they are fast learners and enjoy being taught new things with the downside being they are just as quick to pick up bad behaviours and habits which is why their training must start early and it must be consistent and always fair from the word go and throughout a dog's life, so they understand what is expected of them.
They tend to be naturally suspicious of people they don't already know, but rarely would a White Swiss Shepherd show any sort of aggression towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance until they get to know them which in short, means they are very good watch dogs. However, they are social by nature and usually get on well with other animals and dogs, more especially if they have been well enough socialised from a young enough age.
It's important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation must include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it must be consistent throughout a dog's life. A White Swiss Shepherd is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who the alpha dog is in a household, they may quickly take on the role of a dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.
They are known to like the sound of their own voices which is a trait that needs to be gently curbed when dogs are still young and before it becomes a real problem. They are known for their vocal "repertoire" with many owners saying their dogs hold conversations with them and with other dogs.
White Swiss Shepherds are a good choice for first time dog owners providing they have the time to dedicate to such an intelligent, active dog and one that needs a lot of daily exercise and mental stimulation to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs.
Although White Swiss Shepherds are social by nature they do have a high prey drive and will happily chase any smaller animals and pets that try to run away. As such, care should always be taken as to where and when a dog runs free more especially if there is wildlife or livestock close by.
White Swiss Shepherds are known to have a playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They quickly learn new things which includes the good and the bad. However, a well-trained dog is a pleasure to be around and when they are put through their paces which they thoroughly enjoy, they excel at all kinds of canine sports.
White Swiss Shepherds are better suited to people who have large, secure back gardens a dog can safely roam in whenever possible to really let off steam, bearing in mind that the fencing must be high and very secure to keep them in.
White Swiss Shepherds form strong ties with their families and dogs are never very happy when they find themselves left on their own for longer periods of time. They can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone, but any dog left to their own devices for longer periods of time would show their distress by developing destructive and unwanted behaviours around the home which could include barking incessantly to get some attention.
White Swiss Shepherds are not known to be “barkers” and will typically only voice an opinion when they want something or to alert an owner to something they don’t like that’s going on in their environment.
Most White Swiss Shepherds love swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a dog off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
White Swiss Shepherds are natural watchdogs and do not need to be trained to protect or watch over things. However, rarely would they show any sort of aggression unless they feel threatened in any way that is.
The White Swiss Shepherd is a highly intelligent dog and a fast learner. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits as they are the good. As such, their training must start early, and it must be very consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life, so they understand what their owners expect of them. These dogs are never happier than when they are given something to do which is why they are so amenable to learning new things. In the right hands, these highly intelligent dogs can be trained as search and rescue dogs.
They excel at many canine sports which includes activities like flyball, agility and obedience because they thrive on the attention they are given during their training and the one-to-one contact they have when they are competing with their handlers. The key to successfully training a White Swiss Shepherd is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions that much shorter which helps dogs stay more focussed on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored.
Like all puppies, the White Swiss Shepherd is incredibly cute when young and it is all too easy to spoil a puppy when they first arrive in a new home. However, small adorable puppies quickly grow into large mature dogs which means that as soon as a puppy is nicely settled, owners must start out as they mean to go on. It’s essential to lay down rules and boundaries so that a puppy understands what is expected of them and what is acceptable behaviour. It also helps establish a “pecking order” and who the alpha dog is in a household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
White Swiss Shepherds are known to be very good around children thanks to their gentle, placid natures. However, because of their size any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could end up with someone being knocked over and hurt, albeit by accident.
When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, they would think nothing of chasing off any other cats they encounter because they would see them as fair game. Care must be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets because of their high prey drive as such any contact is best avoided.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a White Swiss Shepherd is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The White Swiss Shepherd is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active, handsome dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
White Swiss Shepherd puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different, and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
As with other breeds, some White Swiss Shepherds gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
White Swiss Shepherds are prone to suffering from skin allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible White Swiss Shepherd breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following tests:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the White Swiss Shepherd.
Currently there are not KC Assured Breeder requirements for the White Swiss Shepherd.
As with any other breed, White Swiss Shepherds need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
WSS puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or, so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including White Swiss Shepherd puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Swissy puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older White Swiss Shepherd need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a White Swiss Shepherd in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older White Swiss Shepherds need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older White Swiss Shepherds don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
The White Swiss Shepherd boasts having a heavy double coat that consists of a harsher top coat and a denser, softer undercoat. They are quite high maintenance on the grooming front and need to be brushed several times a week to keep things tidy and to remove any dead and loose hair.
They shed quite profusely throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.
The White Swiss Shepherd is an energetic, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need at least 1 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a White Swiss Shepherd would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden, so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing must be extremely secure to keep these energetic, active dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a White Swiss Shepherd puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise, so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because White Swiss Shepherds are known to suffer from bloat, it is really important for them to be fed twice a day instead of giving a dog one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls which makes it easier for dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more at risk of suffering from gastric torsion.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a White Swiss Shepherd puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a White Swiss Shepherd is 16 months old, they can be fed adult food.
Once fully mature, an adult White Swiss Shepherd should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult dog can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a White Swiss Shepherd, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred puppy.
The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old White Swiss Shepherd in northern England would be £25.34 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £86.11 a month (quote as of March 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a White Swiss Shepherd and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a White Swiss Shepherd would be between £60 to £130 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred Kennel Club registered pedigree White Swiss Shepherd puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Finding well-bred White Swiss Shepherd puppies can prove challenging and they can often command a lot of money. As such, there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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