The first rumors :
Messages and stories about the breeding of White Shepherd dogs started before 1900 and were originating from Alsace-Lorraine. In the residence of the Royal Family from the House of Habsburg, there was a pure line breed of White Shepherds. According to articles ,the ladies of this residence liked the looks and the color of this athletic and gracious white dog. Especially because they looked beautiful together with their silver or white colored Lippizaner horses who drew their royal coach. The royal family von Habsburg was then at that time a family with a lot of influence in the whole of Europe, and their beautiful dogs are famous.
This could be one of the reasons why the English have given these dogs the name : White Alsatian (White dog from Elzas)
1882 was the year of the exhibition in Hannover. On this exhibition they showed only 2 Shepherd dogs, the grey-white male : “Kirass” and the pure white male Greiff. The white Shepherd Greiff was born in 1879, it was a white dog with his ears up and a stock hair coat. Unfortunately his parents are unknown. This male dog “Greiff” we see him back again in 1887 , now accompanied by his 2 white daughters “Greiffa and Russin” There is no further information about the lives of these 3 dogs. There is also no information available about breeders from pure White Shepherds in this period. A fact is that the white “Greiff” can be considered as the grandfather of the first German Shepherd, that has been registered ever. The name of this first registered dog was “Hektor Linksrhein”, and his new owner “Rittmeester Von Stephanitz” gave him the name : “Horand von Grafrath”
20e century :
In the first 15 years of the new age, the history of the White Shepherd is equal with the breeding of the German Shepherd. In fact nobody knows a lot about the White Shepherd then at that time. They do not breed on the colors, and colour was not excluded for breeding. Although you can see in the book from “Von Stephanitz” (1921) a photo of “Berno von der Seewiese” he was the first registered White Shepherd in the SZ. He was born on the 24 of March 1913 and breed by G. Uebe von Seehausen. He was a beautiful white male, with an external look which is very similar to our stock hair dogs of now a days. “Berno” is the son of “Tyranin von Maingau” and “Gisa von Kameltal” and he is in the 5e generation a direct descendant of “Horand von Grafrath” and “Mores Plieningen” (SZ159) by “Champion Hektot von Swaben and his son “Beowulf von Nahegau”.
In 1906 the first German Shepherd was imported to America. It is “Mira von Offingen” who was not be accepted in America. After she had competed at show in New York against “Queen von Switserland” she was sent back to Germany without being subscribed in the American pedigree base.
The name of Ann Tracy is very famous to the White Shepherd lovers all over the world. Ann was a member of the “German Shepherd Dog Club of America” and she breed German Shepherds. The White Shepherds from her kennel are related to the first German Shepherds “Horand von Grafrath” and his litter brother “Luchs”. Ann had probably seen the White Shepherds in the Royal house of “Habsburg” (were she visited often) but she never imported a White Shepherd back to her home in America, and never used one for breeding in her kennel. In 1917 there were born in her kennel “Stonihurst” , 4 white puppies from 2 colored parents, of whom “Luchs” is the grand father. The first born puppy is “Edmund” , his litter brothers and sisters are “Eadrid”, Eric, en Elf. Edmund is also the first registered White Shepherd in Amerika. With these dogs Ann had started the first White Shepherd bloodline in America.
Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge:
In 1923 Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge imported a number of German Shepherds from the German top lines. Madam Rockefeller lived on an estate of more than 2000 acres in MorrisCounty (New Yersey) where she kepts more than 150 dogs. In her kennel “Giralda Farm” she bred pure black and gold and pure white lines. Her dogs were of a superior quality, and these dogs from this kennel are the very important roots of our White Shepherds today.
Photo from a magazine in 1906. The name of the magazine is unknown and also the name of the dog on the photo. © Ari ValkhoffRuut Tilstra
It is not very clear when the first German Shepherd appeared into Canada. In 1919 the first German Shepherd was registered into the Canadian kennelclub. Because this kennelclub did not register the color, it is impossible TO be sure in which year the first White Shepherd was registered. In 1922 the first Canadian German Shepherd Club is founded by Mr. H.B. Boyd. The breeding program of this club is nearly exactly the same as the breeding program of the American club. Unless there are a lot of excellent German Shepherd kennels in Canada, the only trustfully dates about the white dogs are only from the last 50 years.
Difficult times :
In 1959 the VS (“Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunden”) states that the white dogs are albino´s and they give urgent advice not to breed with white dogs anymore. The breeding standard will be changed : Dogs with more than 50% white and the so called “albino´s” have been disqualified. Under heavy protests, the new standard is also accepted by GSDCA (“German Shepherd Dog Club of America”) accepted by 306 voices for and 110 voices against the new standard. The most important breeders agree that breeding with the white dogs will make the coat of the German Shepherd lighter and the coat will loose his “sable-patron”. In the years after the 2e world war, white coat and colored coat were mixed very often for breeding , especially in America. In these years about 90% of the German Shepherds in America were influenced with the recessive white Gene. The white dogs it was claimed had albinism, blindness, deafness, and a bad temperament, skin diseases and will cause a common”unsoundness”in the German shepherd breed. The 1959 directive advised a stop for showing, breeding and training of the White German Shepherds. They were to be banned, or disqualified at expositions. But white puppies were still allowed to be registered, but only with the remark : “disqualified color white”. Because of this change in the American breeding standard in 1959 ,The Europeans followed and white pups that were born in litters from colored parents were immediately eliminated after they were born. Because of this the White Shepherd population disapeared within a few years
In 1964 the first White Shepherd Club to protect the White German Shepherd was formed in America. And than the second White Shepherd Club was founded. This club, situated in Maryland (America) is called the “WGSD” White German Shepherd Club. In 1976 the WGSD change his name into “American Shepherd Club International” and they changed the name again in 1977 into : “White German Shepherd Dog Club International” (WGSDCI). Canada also followed in 1970 with the founding of a Canadian White Shepherd Club, the “WSCC” (White Shepherd Club of Canada). The fighting for the conservation of the White Shepherd breed was now fully started.
Strangly enough there was no repercussion at all ,to use the White Shepherd in the movie industry. The dog is extraordinary good in a lot of movies and is very popular, as well in the movies as behind the screens. The most famous personality in those years is the movie star, dog trainer and breeder : Dorothy Crider. She owns an excellent very good and strong bloodline, that leads to “The White Lines of “Von Habsburg”. Her White Shepherd Harvey Bindlestiff Offner (Chinook) is a star in more than 184 movies. His son “White Shadow Crider” wins an award for the best actor/dog, he has acted in 168 movies. Dorothy herself becomes the “Musart Best Actrice Award”. She tell the whole world her opinion about the discrimination of the White Shepherd :
“Since 27 years I own and train the white and the dark colored German Shepherds. The difference is in the individual dog, and not in the color of the coat. Something I will never allow is cruelty with animals; in my opinion the eradication of the White Shepherd just because of the color of his coat is a crime. My “White Shadow” line you can see in a lot of movies and my dogs received the “Pasty Awards” as proof of their huge intelligence. This bloodline leads tol the line from the Austrian “Von Habsburg” from the 19e century. If the White Shepherd really is inferior, would they not of already degenerated, after all these years ? Well, it is not happened !! “
In spite of the dominating discrimination, but thanks to the movie industry the times will become better for the White Shepherd, and the breeding starts fully again. Nevertheless the years of war are not yet over for the dogs, and we still have to fight until people fully accept the white coats of these dogs, without the label “albinism or degeneration”. and recognition as a separate breed , without being linked to the German Shepherd, in these years it is still not done. The white Shepherd is still officially called l : “German Shepherd with a disqualifying color white”. The history of the White Shepherd in Canada is equal with the history in America. Also in Canada the breeding is slowly coming up again.
Back to Europe :
Lobo White Burch White Lilac of Blinkbonny Champion von Kron en Rani von Finn
In Europe the White Shepherd had already disappeared for years; the pups were eliminated when they were born. Very rarely is a White Shepherd mentioned. But occasionally a single pup survived the slaughter and found a home as a pet. In 1967 things start to change with the arrival of “Lobo White Burch” in Switzerland. This dog is born in 1966 in the United States. The owners of Lobo, the Swiss Mrs. Agatha Burch, has lived for years in the United States. When she goes back to Switzerland she takes her very young dog home with her. Once she is back in Switzerland, she imports a White Shepherd from England, named : “White Lilac of Blinkbonny”. From the first litter of Lobo and Lilac, the Swiss Mr. Kurt Kron bought a puppy. In 1980 Martin Faustmann buys a pup from the kennel of Mr. Kurt Kron, a son of “Kokes Mahalo” and the daughter of “Lobo White Burch” he called her “Shangrila´s Sweetgirl” and takes her with him to Germany. This will be “Champion von Kron” a stock coat male. Champion von Kron will have a large unknown number of descendents and his influence on the European breeding is indelible.
Hoofprint Ocan Hoofprint Utopia Bel-Ami von Wolffsblutt
en Indra von Wolfsgehege
The Dutch family Timmermans brought 2 dogs with them from Canada : “Hoofprint Utopia” and “Hoofprint Ocan”. From the combination of these 2 dogs will be born : “King Misty of the first Choise”. Unfortunately, Ocan died very young by a car accident. Despite that he has made his mark had through his son “King Misty” a very large influence on the breeding in Europe. A short time later the males : “Bergeron´s Patton” and “Winterpalace Masterpiece” both from Canada, would arrive also in Holland. Also now in Holland the breeding will slowly start. Mr. Jan Jansen bought some dogs in Germany : “Bel -Ami von Wolffsblutt”and the 2 sisters “Indra and Iowa von Wolfsgehege”. The total inventory of the Dutch White Shepherds, leads to the dogs of the Family Timmermans and to Jan Jansen.
The start years in the beginning of 1990 were difficult and tumultuous. The registration of the dogs had been done by innumerable clubs and everything was very complex. There was no overview at all, and even less insight. It was even the case that the pedigrees were written by hand over and over written again, because of this there were a lot of mistakes with the names on the pedigrees. One example is that a registered litter had a parent of only 4 months shown on his pedigree, this mistakes happened because of the handwritten paper works and pedigrees. Of course something like this can not be correct, and because of this it is often very difficult to retrieve the real grand parents of certain dogs. A organized registration is a must.
Developments World Wide :
In this same period the development of the breed starts slowly in the whole world. And it starts to work out synchronous. People are going to be more and more persuaded that it will be never possible again to maintain the white colored German Shepherd as a fully accepted type in the German Shepherd breed. These thoughts dominate not only in Europe, but also on the other side of the world the situation is starting to be more and more difficult. The communication between the 2 continents becomes better and better, also thanks to the computer, that works quicker, more effective and cheaper than by telephone or post. Also the people realize themselves that only cooperation on both continents can lead to good results. Nowadays there are clubs founded all over the world. In Europe, but also in America, seems that there is a lot of confusion about the ideas to get the breed recognized. Fragmentation’s can be again the fatal consequence. The “WGSDCI” thinks the idea to recognize the breed as an independent breed with another name “White Shepherd” contemptible, and they absolutely want to go on to get recognition within the German Shepherd Club. That this possibility will never come, they certain will deny. This is also the reason for a large number of breeders, to start a new club. In 1998 the “AWSA” is founded (American White Shepherd Association). The “AWSA” is going to become a very important issue and plays an important role in the fight for recognition, and it will be soon the worlds most influential source of information.
It has been Switzerland that brought the first White Shepherd back to Europe with “Lobo White Burch”, in 1967. In 1989 the Swiss club is founded, “Gesellschaft Weisse Schäferhunde Schweiz” (GWS). In 1991 this club is registered into the Swiss Kennel Club (SKG). The dogs are being registered now by SKG in a special register and will be also accepted on all national shows and in all kind of dog sports. This is the first step on the way for recognition by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)
In 1988 the first Dutch club is founded, the “Witte Herder Club Nederland” (WHCN). Already after a short period they arguing and in the same year is founded a second club, the “ACWSR” (American Canadian Weisse Schäferhunde Rasse Verein), a sister club from the German breeding club. The White Shepherd appears to be a beloved dog in Holland and both of the clubs very soon exists out of a large number of members and a flourishing breeders group. After a fight for years between these 2 clubs, they decide in 1994 to stop arguing each other, and will go on together in a new founded club the “Witte Herder Vereniging Nederland” (WHVN), founded in June 1995. After Switzerland, the Dutch Kennel club decided in 1993 to register the White Shepherd in a “provisional” register. Holland and Switzerland are the designated countries to function as country of origin in case of the recognition by FCI. The Swiss standard of breed is adapted now and is introduced now also in Holland. Also the breeding rules are adapted and the understanding between the breeders has improved.
In 1999 the White Shepherd is nationally recognized by this name, and is allowed to enter all exhibitions. In 2002 finally follows the so wanted (provisional)recognition of FCI. Also we have a number of official judges who are trained and sworn in. That this recognition not always results in the importance of the breed, is clear. Because only the FCI has carried out the recognition and the rest of the world did not, there has become a radical splitting between the dogs registered by FCI (The White Swiss Shepherd Dog) and the dogs in America, Canada and Australia, where they still have been registered as German Shepherds. Because of this it has become impossible to import/export dogs, and with that, the basis to breed has been reduced. Dogs from FCI registered countries of whom the pedigree is known only partially, or worse, with false pedigrees, can be exported and registered with all consequences. The looks and the character of the White Swiss Shepherd (Berger Blanc Suisse) is also changing over the last few years, this because of the preference of the individual breeder for the looks and/or the character.
The history of the white Shepherd.
Source : W.R. Tilstra Holland – Text written and [email protected] by : W.R. Tilstra Holland.