History


History of the White German Sheperd

 

1882

Hektor Linksrhein, named Horand von Grafrath

Hektor Linksrhein, named Horand von Grafrath

Horand von Grafrath, SZ1, (left) with his daughter Marie von Grafrath, SZ2

Horand von Grafrath, SZ1, (left) with his daughter Marie von Grafrath, SZ2

1882 is the year of the Hanover exhibition. Two shepherd dogs were shown there: the grayish white male Kirass and the pure white stud Greiff. The white shepherd dog Greiff was born in 1879, he was a white short coated dog with  standing ears. Unfortunately, there’s nothing known about his ancestors. The same Greiff was seen again in 1887, that time accompanied by his two white daughters Greiffa and Russian. What happened with these three dogs is still unknown. Further records from breeders of pure White Shepherds don’t exist. Fact is that the white Greiff would turn out to be the grandfather of the very first German Shepherd ‘Horand von Grafrath’. The irony of this story is that it will remain a question forever whether the White Shepherd primarily survived due to this fact or has it actually nearly caused their extinction in Europe. Still the issue of the origin of the White Shepherd gives rise to intense discussions.

 

20th Century

Berno von der Seewiese

Berno von der Seewiese

The first 15 years of the new century history of the White Shepherd runs parallel with the breeding of the German Shepherd. In fact, there is little to tell about White Shepherds in those days. Dogs were not bred for color back then which means that no colors were excluded from breeding. Looking back at the descriptions of the dogs we can often see: ‘yellow and gray’,  ‘gray and tan’, ‘white and gray’ or ‘wolf gray’. Should there have been any White dogs used for breeding in the first two decades,  there’s little to nothing known about this fact. There is, however, a picture of Berno von der Seewiese, born march 24, 1913 and bred by G. Uebe of Seehausen. A beautiful White stud, with an appearance apparently hardly different from a short coated stud nowadays. Berno is the son of Tyranin von Maingau and Gisa von Kameltal and is in the fifth generation a direct descendant from Horand von Grafrath and Mores Plieningen SZ 159 through Beowulf and his son Beowulf von Nahegau.

 

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Ann Tracy

Ann Tracy
It wasn’t for nothing that Ann Tracy’s name became known worldwide to admirers of the White Shepherd. Ann was a member of the association and a breeder of German Shepherds. She was an enthusiastic admirer of the breed. The White Shepherds coming from her Kennel were connected with the first German Shepherds, Horand V Grafrath and his littermate Luchs.Also, she met the White Shepherds of the von Habsburgs Court (were she was invited many times); she never took one home and she never used one of them in her breeding program. In 1917 four white puppies were born in her kennel from two colored parents, with Luchs as the grandparent. The firstborn was Edmund, his brothers and sisters from that same litter were Eadrid, Eric and Elf. Edmund was also the first White German Shepherd ever, to be registered in America. With these dogs Ann started the first white blood line in America.

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Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge

Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge
In 1923 Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge imported a few German Shepherds from the best German lines. Miss Rockefeller lives in an estate of more than 2000 acres in Morris County (New Jersey) with kennels for over 150 dogs. In her Kennel "Giralda Farm" she bred pure black, colored and white German Shepherd lines. Her dogs are famous for the best quality and lots of dogs today have their roots in this kennel.

 

Canada
It is not really clear, however, when the first German Shepherd entered Canada. Only in 1919 the first German Shepherd was registered in the Canadian stud book. Since the stud book didn’t record colors until 1959 it is impossible to determine for a fact in what year the first White Shepherd was registered. In 1922 the first Canadian German Shepherd Association was founded by H.B Boyd. The breeding program of this association was almost identical to that of America. Despite the presence of numerous good German Shepherd Kennels in Canada, reliable data about the White dogs are only available since a decade after the second World war.

 

Rough Times
In 1959 the 'VS' (‘Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunden’ - German Shepherd Association) decided to declare the White Shepherd as albino and gave a prohibition to using those dog in the breeding programs of the German Shepherd. The standard was changed: dogs with more than 50% white and the so called albinos were disqualified. In spite of a tremendous opposition, the new standard was accepted by the GSDCA (‘German Shepherd Dog Club of America’) with 306 votes on favor and 110 against this decision. Most of the important breeders agreed that breeding with white dogs gived paling of the coat and loss of the black saddle. In those years, just after World war Two, the White and the colored dogs were often bred together (too often) and 90% of the American German Shepherds are carriers of white genes. The Whites got the name to be albino, with blindness, deafness, bad temperament and a total absence of 'soundness'. In 1968 the prohibition to breed and to show white dogs was a fact. However, the white puppies were still registered, but with the disqualification of the coat color white. The changes in the standard from 1959 made the European breeders kill their white puppies immediately after birth. In no-time the White German Shepherd disappeared completely in Europe.

 

Opposition
To protect the White German Shepherd, the first White Shepherd Club was founded in 1964. Another followed. This Club (Maryland) is named ‘White German Shepherd Club'. In 1976 the club changes the name into ‘American Shepherd Club International’  and again in 1977, this time into ‘White German Shepherd Dog Club International’ (WGSDCI). Also, Canada founded a White Shepherd Club in 1970. The WSCC (White Shepherd Club of Canada). The fight to save the white shepherd had begun.

 

Europe

Saunders of Silverspring, Maryland

Saunders of Silverspring, Maryland

Ch. Scofield Rex von Finn, owner: Terry Scofield

Ch. Scofield Rex von Finn, owner: Terry Scofield

In the '70s and '80s the white German Shepherds were brought to Europe. Mrs Agathe Burch moved from the United States to Switzerland, her native Country, bringing with herself her male White Shepherd "Lobo" and she mated him with a female, also white, bought in England. This was the first litter to be officially enrolled in the book of the origins. Therefore, the progenitor of this breed in Switzerland and in Europe can be considered the American male "Lobo" born in 1966. In the last 20 years the American and Canadian White Shepherds spread to Europe and became so successful that in 2002 FCI recognized the breed that was officially denominated "White Swiss Shepherd", defined with the standard FCI 347.

1999

Caesar & Goliath

The United Kennel Club accepted these white dogs as a breed apart from the German Shepherd Dog. At this time these dogs became known as the White Shepherd Dog.They also strive to breed the White Shepherd with less angulation than their colored counter part, believing the less angulation to be better for the working ability of these magnificent dogs. They have been breeding these dogs with different goals in mind than the breeders of the colored German Shepherd Dog. Doing so has made these dogs different in "type" than the colored dogs. The White Shepherd should be a medium sized, well balanced, muscular dog, slightly longer than tall, with a medium length coat. Though some bis quite color is acceptable, a snow white coat is preferred. Erect ears, a low set natural tail that should reach the hock and is carried at a slight curve.The White Shepherd is extremely intelligent, easily trainable, versatile working dog that strives to please and thrives on human companionship making them a highly desirable dog to own.