White Shepherd, Berger Blanc Suisse or White German Shepherd?
What's the difference??
Since the Berger Blanc Suisse, or White Swiss Shepherd, is not yet a common breed in the U.S.A. many people mistake them for a white colored German Shepherd. There is however a distinct difference in many aspects of these breeds.
Below you will find an outline and explanation to help make understanding some of the differeces between these breeds easier!
GSD, white GSD, and WSS
The German Shepherd and White German Shepherd
The first point that should be outlined is that the German Shepherd and white German Shepherd are the same breed; the only difference is the color. They should be bred to the same breed standards and have the same temperaments and health concerns.
The German Shepherd is NOT a "rare breed" by any standards and neither is the white color. The white color is however against breed standard and not allowed to be shown in the ring. The U.S. and Canada are the only places that even allow the white color to have a registration. The parent club for the German Shepherd Breed in Germany has made a clear statement that white colored dogs produced are not allowed to become part of the breeding pool for the GSD, are not registrable, and are not part of the GSD breed. Internationally speaking, the white colored German Shepherd is a breed fault and not desired. This is similar to how a Dalmatian is supposed to have spots; if it doesn't have spots, it is against breed standard and not wanted for the breed. A dog that is being bred to the German Shepherd standard should have an AKC registration.
*Beware of any breeder who advertises AKC white German Shepherds as a "rare breed"*
The Berger Blanc Suisse
The Berger Blanc Suisse, which translates to White Swiss Shepherd, is a distinct and separate breed from the German Shepherd Dog. It is an internationally recognized breed, recognized almost everywhere except the U.S. and Canada. The official breed is still limited in America because of the lack of universal recognition.
This breed originated with the same ancestors as the German Shepherd and has, in the past, used white colored German Shepherds to supplement their gene pool. The White Swiss Shepherd Dog however, has a different temperament from the GSD and has a distinctly different appearance. WSSD tent to be easier to train and much more family oriented. They are typically very gentile dogs with confident, intuitive, and self assured temperaments. They have a straight topline without the distinct slope seen in GSD's. WSSD also have fewer than half of the genetic health problems documented in GSD's.
The Berger Blanc Suisse is an FCI recognized breed and will have an FCI recognized pedigree. Having FCI papers means that the dog is internationally recognized and considered to be a Berger Blanc Suisse (White Swiss Shepherd). If this dog lives in the U.S. it's pedigree will be from the organization FCPR, a Puerto Rican registry that accepts imported registrations for dogs living in America.
White Swiss Shepherds are currently not recognized with AKC and therefore can not have an AKC pedigree since it is strictly against FCI rules and regulations. Obtaining registration papers for an FCI WSS that states its breed as something other than a White Swiss Shepherd under the FCI breed standard is considered unethical and results in crossbred dogs.
The White Shepherd
The White Shepherd is the UKC recognized breed title. UKC has stated that their “White Shepherd” breed is equivalent to the FCI “White Swiss Shepherd” breed. Imported FCI White Swiss Shepherds can be registered with UKC under their White Shepherd breed. Technically speaking, the UKC breed standard for the White Shepherd is similar to the FCI White Swiss Shepherd breed standard. The challenge here is that there are differing views among breeders and show judges as to what the breed actually is. UKC did not establish as firmly a differentiation between their “White Shepherd” breed and a white colored German Shepherd Dog like FCI has. UKC feels they still need to expand their gene pool and therefore continue to allow white colored GSD’s to be registered as White Shepherds if you go through the correct avenues. UKC does not have an established separation from the GSD bloodlines like FCI has established. Because of this there can be a strong variance in the type of dogs you see depending on which breeder you look at. From my experience there are also many judges who still do not understand the difference in the breed standards and are therefore perpetuating the GSD characteristics in the UKC White Shepherd breed despite the fact that UKC has directly stated that they are different breeds with different breed standards. Depending on which breeder you look at, their dogs may be closer in appearance and temperament to the FCI BBS or closer to an AKC white colored GSD. Typically speaking the UKC White Shepherd has a slightly sloping topline, less that than a GSD but more so than a properly bred BBS.
There are some UKC White Shepherd breeders that I would consider to be very similar to the FCI BBS and are working quite hard to establish their domestically established lines as being a separate breed from the GSD. On the flip side however, there are also UKC White Shepherd breeders who still see their dogs as a white colored German Shepherds and will often go as far as to dual register their litters with AKC as German Shepherd Dogs as well.
So how do I tell which one I'm buying?
The easiest way is to look at how they are registered.
Dogs bred in the U.S. will be registered with AKC as white colored German Shepherds, with UKC as White Shepherds, or with FCPR (FCI) as White Swiss Shepherds. As of now, the only way to get a true White Swiss Shepherd is through breeders with imported dogs and FCI recognized pedigrees or by purchasing a dog directly from an overseas breeder.
The puppy’s breed is what their registration papers tell you it is.
If your puppy is not being sold with FCI papers it is NOT a true White Swiss Shepherd.
Right now, the lines between these breeds can be very muddy within the United States. Dog breeders should rely on one breed standard to define what kind of dog they have. Some breeders here in the U.S. breed to the AKC German Shepherd breed standard and have white colored dogs. Others breed to the UKC White Shepherd breed standard. Still others have the goal to align their domestically bred White Shepherds with the FCI recognized breed of the White Swiss Shepherd. Very few breeders here in the States abide by the FCI rules and provide FCI papers for their litters.
My best advice is do your research and find a breeder who shares the goals and qualities you are looking for in a puppy.
Here at Wildwood, we breed to the internationally recognized and accepted FCI White Swiss Shepherd standard. Our breeding line is being established using Berger Blanc Suisse dogs with FCI recognized pedigrees who follow the FCI Circulaire 07/77. Our stock is FCI registered with FCPR and litters produced out of these dogs will come with FCI recognized papers. If you would like to see copies of our dog's official registrations please contact us. Please feel free to contact me if you are looking for more information.