White Swiss Shepherd


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Contents

Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Introduction
History
Appearance
Temperament
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Health
Caring for a White Swiss Shepherd
Grooming
Exercise
Feeding
Average Cost to keep/care for a White Swiss Shepherd


Key Breed Facts


Popularity #200 out of 238 Dog Breeds.


The White Swiss Shepherd breed is also commonly known by the names Berger Blanc Suisse, WSS.
Lifespan
12 - 14 years
Pedigree Breed ?
No - Not Currently KC Recognised
Height
Males 60 - 66 cm
Females 55 - 61 cm at the withers
Weight
Males 30 - 40 kg
Females 25 - 35 kg
Health Tests Available
BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme
Average Price (More Info)
£677 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics



Introduction

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.


History

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.

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 (July 2016) 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.


Appearance

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 accepted colour is white.


Temperament

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 has to start early and it has to 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 really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to 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 has to 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 is the alpha dog 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.


Intelligence / Trainability

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 has to start early and it has to 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.


Children and Other Pets

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 has to 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.


White Swiss Shepherd Health

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:

  • Hip dysplasia - Breeders should have stud dogs hip scored
  • Skin issues
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Bloat

Caring for a 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.


Grooming

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 is allowed to build 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.


Exercise

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 has to 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.


Feeding

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.


Average Cost to keep/care for a White Swiss Shepherd

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 £22.01 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £83.08 a month (quote as of July 2016). 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 or not 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 all 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 puppy.


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