In German Shepherd Dogs the recessive gene for white coat hair was cast in the breed gene pool by the late 19th and early 20th century breeding program that developed and expanded the German Shepherd Dog breed in Germany. A white herding dog named Greif was the grandfather of Horand von Grafrath, the dog acknowledged as the foundation of all contemporary German Shepherd Dog bloodlines.
Information provided in early books on the German Shepherd Dog make mention of Greif and other white German herding dogs, with upright ears and a general body description that resembles modern German Shepherd Dogs, shown in Europe as early as 1882. The early 20th century German Shepherd breeding program extensively line bred and inbred "color coat" dogs that carried Greif's recessive gene for "white coats" to refine and expand the population of early German Shepherd Dogs. White coats were made a disqualification in the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany breed standard in 1933 after the breed club came under the control of the German Nazi party that took over all aspects of German society in February 1933 when Hitler declared a state of emergency. The German breed standard remained unchanged as German breeders repopulated the breed in the years after the conclusion of WWII.
In 1959 the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA) adopted the exclusively colored breed standard of the parent German breed club. White-coated German Shepherd Dogs were officially barred from competition in the American Kennel Club conformation ring in the United States starting in 1968. AKC-registered white German Shepherd Dogs may still compete in performance events.
During the 1970's, white dog fanciers in the United States and Canada formed their own "White German Shepherd" breed clubs, breeding and showing their dogs at small specialty dog shows throughout North America.
The White Shepherd Club of Canada (WSCC) has been dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the White Shepherd since 1971. Originally formed as a Chapter of the White German Shepherd Dog Club of America, the club was renamed White Shepherd Club of Canada in 1973. Its first conformation show was held that year with 8 dogs entered and 25 people in attendance.
Rittmeister Max Von Stephanitz
December 1864 to April 1936
In Canada, the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) is incorporated under the Animal Pedigree Act, a federal statute under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, which is the governing body that sets down recognition and standards for all pure animal breeds. For a long time, Agriculture Canada had protected white German Shepherds from the many attempts by the German Shepherd Dog Club of Canada to have white dogs disqualified from the CKC conformation ring, as had long been the case in the USA. Some brave members of WSCC had shown in the CKC breed rings and had even accumulated points toward their dogs' CKC Championships. Unfortunately, that would all change in 1998, when the color white was officially disqualified from the CKC German Shepherd breed standard.
Disappointed but undeterred, the WSCC continues to work toward full breed recognition of the White Shepherd as a separate breed with the CKC. The club hosts shows several times a year, often in combination with the American White Shepherd Association. Event dates and locations are published in the club's newsletter and on its web site.
In September 1995, a small group of fanciers of the white-coated German Shepherd Dog established the American White Shepherd Association (AWSA), a new club to advance, promote and protect the White Shepherd breed in the United States. In cooperation with the White Shepherd Club of Canada, AWSA wrote and published a new breed standard, and eventually petitioned the American Kennel Club for full recognition as a unique pure breed, separate from and independent of the German Shepherd Dog. As of this writing, AKC has not granted recognition or registration for the White Shepherd breed, but the breeders, fanciers and members of AWSA carry on with independently-held club activities as well as running and maintaining the private club registry. AWSA continues to negotiate with the AKC for breed recognition as well as with the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA) for breed separation. Until such time as GSDCA can be persuaded to grant official release of the white dogs, AKC must continue to register all white German Shepherd Dogs born from two AKC-registered German Shepherd parents as German Shepherd Dogs.
In 1999, a group of AWSA members organized and established the United White Shepherd Club (UWSC) as a United Kennel Club affiliated parent club. They immediately petitioned for a new White Shepherd breed classification within UKC. The United Kennel Club accepted the UWSC's petition and created a new and separate White Shepherd breed conformation standard and registry. The White Shepherd breed was officially recognized by UKC on April 14, 1999. Today, United Kennel Club recognizes both the White Shepherd breed standard as well as the original German Shepherd Dog breed conformation standard where white and colored dogs continue to be considered together as one breed.
Neither UKC nor AWSA-registered White Shepherds can be registered with FCI as White Swiss Shepherd Dogs (Berger Blanc Suisse). Breed clubs associated with each of these unique breed lines maintain their own breed standards for appearance and temperament. The breed "appearance" standard given below is appropriate to the UKC-registered White Shepherd Dog and, with a few very minor changes - mostly in wording and layout - to the written standard of the AWSA club as well.
No matter which country they hail from, White Shepherds excel in performance events such as competition obedience and rally obedience, tracking, flyball and agility. Many fine dogs have also earned titles in herding, proving that the herding instinct and ability has been retained in this versatile breed.
Original article courtesy of Wikipedia.