What has a snowy white coat and looks like a German Shepherd; but isn’t a German Shepherd? A Berger Blanc Suisse! Sometimes it’s also referred to as a:
- White Swiss Shepherd,
- White Swiss-Shepherd dog,
- Swiss White Shepherd,
- White Shepherd,
- White German Shepherd,
- Swiss White dog
- or a Snowy Shepherd.
The Berger Blanc Suisse, the White Swiss Shepherd, is a beautiful dog. It’s alert, powerful, and a medium-sized breed of dog with erect triangular-shaped ears and a big bushy sabre tail.
It’s attractive and friendly and tends to be more gentle and easy-going than a German Shepherd or other white Shepherd dogs, and for that reason, this Swiss Snowy Shepherd makes an excellent family dog.
A Berger Blanc Suisse puppy is just like a big fluffy white snowball and the cutest puppy you can imagine. While adorable and playful it will be very attentive and show great loyalty. This breed of dog is gentle with children and would be a loyal family pet and a great companion for any dog owner.
A brief history of the Berger Blanc Suisse dog breed
The Berger Blanc Suisse dog, although it is very similar in appearance to the German Shepherd and White Shepherd dog breeds, it is actually another dog breed.
Fact: The White German Shepherd, the White Shepherd, and the White Swiss Shepherd (the Berger Suisse Blanc) are recognized as separate breeds of dog.
What’s the difference?
Somewhere along the strong pure-bloodline of German Shepherds, a white color coat appeared, possibly due to a recessive gene. The German Shepherd was recognized as a purebred dog breed with a traditional Black and Tan color coat, not white!
Around 1880 the white coat color continued to be bred separately and eventually, during the early 20th Century, a dedicated breeding program for the white coats began in Germany.
White shepherd dogs were then imported into the United States, Canada and the UK where their coat color gained in popularity. A breed club was established in the United States and Canada, for this American White Shepherd.
By the 1930s the white color coat for German Shepherds became less popular and was excluded from dog shows as it wasn’t breed standard and not a recognized color for pure breeding purposes by the various Kennel Clubs.
Dog lover, Agatha Burch loved the white color coat so, in 1967, she imported an American White Shepherd dog from the US and another White German Shepherd from the UK, to her native Switzerland, and began to breed Swiss White German Shepherd dogs.
This new dog breed was not recognized as a pure German Shepherd in Switzerland, as it wasn’t breed standard, so it was renamed the White Swiss Shepherd breed – the Berger Blanc Suisse dog.
The Berger Blanc Suisse is not considered a purebred dog breed and is only recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI); it is not a recognized breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) It was only officially recognized as a separate breed by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 2011 and recognized by the Kennel Club, UK in 2017 as the White Swiss Shepherd.
The Berger Blanc Suisse (the White Swiss Shepherd dog)
The White Swiss Shepherd is slowly gaining popularity as a dog breed, but it’s not officially recognized or ranked in popularity by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
It has its origins as a herding and working dog, from the pure and strong German Shepherd bloodline.
The German Shepherd has a reputation as an intelligent working dog that is easy to train. With proper obedience training and socialization, the White Swiss Shepherd dog will also want to work hard and please its master.
Although it owed its origin to the white coat line of the purebred German Shepherd dog, the Berger Blanc Suisse dog has a straighter back than the purebred German Shepherd dog.
It is also shy and sometimes skittish in its behavior compared with the purebred German Shepherd.
Fact: The level back feature of the German Shepherd was bred out over the years for show purposes, and they now have a slightly dipped back. (The Berger Blanc Suisse was originally bred before this happened and retains the straighter back feature of the early German shepherd dogs)
Any shepherd dog is can be used as an expert herding dog, service dog, guarding dog or in search and rescue roles; although the Swiss Shepherd is not as outgoing or aggressive as the German Shepherd can be.
The Berger Blanc Suisse has a high energy level and loves to play and be kept involved.
This dog breed can be a great family dog or working dog as long as it is kept mentally and physically occupied; otherwise, as it is smart with a working instinct it will become bored easily and chew or destroy things.
Any Shepherd breed dogs ar likely to inherit certain health issues: Hip dysplasia, Elbow dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and other eye problems. These can occur at any age, from youth to its mature years.
What are the main characteristics of a Berger Blanc Suisse (White Swiss Shepherd Dog)?
The characteristics of a White Swiss Shepherd Dog are a combination of nature and nurture; genetics of the parents, environment and the quality, type, amount and timing of training and socialization all have a part to play.
Loyalty and companionship
The White Swiss Shepherd will be extremely sociable, affectionate and devoted to its owner although sometimes it may be overly clingy. This breed of dog will seek companionship and inclusion with its extended family and form a close bond in return. It will watch and protect that family strictly.
It’s a very loyal dog that prefers human company over dog company and may try to show dominance over other dogs.
This is a strong, highly active dog that will have a herding instinct and a strong working nature. As part of the Shepherd dog world, it will have a reputation for being protective, but generally easy-going. However as with all dogs, when trained and socialized early this dog will use its energy and drive for positive activities.
The Berger Blanc Suisse will show lots of resilience and endurance and want to be kept busy so it’s not for anyone with a slow lifestyle. It’s highly intelligent and although loyal to the family it can be wary of strangers.
Any dog with herding instincts will want to search and find order, so socialization and proper obedience training need to begin at a young age otherwise this breed might attempt to herd young children and small animals if bored.
The White Swiss Shepherd dog is not known as an aggressive dog; providing it’s trained, socialized and treated well. It is very athletic with long-lasting energy and likes to keep busy so it may become destructive or mischievous if bored or left alone for long periods of time. This breed of dog excels at dog sports as it is agile, fast and smart.
The White Swiss Shepherd is an elegant looking dog and often rare to find.
It is muscular with a straight back and is well-proportioned. It has a handsomely chiseled face with large upright triangular-shaped ears that makes you think it’s giving you its complete attention. It’s been gaining in popularity over the years but doesn’t feature in the AKC rankings as it’s not considered a pure breed dog.
A Berger Blanc Suisse puppy will need to be behavior trained and socialized early as it will inherit herding instincts and be energetic. The trick is to keep it busy and interested so it will not become mischievous.
This is an intelligent breed and will be easy to train using different training techniques as it will enjoy a variety of challenges. Positive reinforcement and small food-based treats work well but not harsh discipline, or any form of negative punishment or physical restraint; as shepherd dogs can be stubborn and may rebel.
Power and intelligence:
A Berger Blanc Suisse dog is highly intelligent, strong and active with a passion for working.
It will have resilience and drive with a high level of curiosity. This breed will need to be controlled and challenged to keep it satisfied. Challenges should be a mix, of both mental and physical games, fun, tasks and activities. This dog is curious and easily bored so it may decide to go off and investigate somewhere new to play.
Early socialization and discipline are highly recommended for any shepherd-type dog from a herding and working dog heritage.
The Berger Blanc Suisse is intelligent and strong-willed too.
It’s not overly friendly with strangers or other dogs and will be highly protective of its family members. It will, therefore, need to be behavior trained and socialized early, as a puppy; that will help when it is meeting new people and when in public places as it may get overly busy and attempt to herd up those around it.
It will enjoy being challenged and having a purpose. It needs to be exercised often and let run around. They don’t thrive in a lazy style environment, as they need a lot of exercise, and preferable a big living outdoor space but will enjoy any activity like running or fast walking; the more fun the better!
When trained and socialized early this dog will be playful and disciplined around children and behave on command.
Any herding-type dog with determined working instincts will want to be kept busy and to be useful wherever it lives or whomever it lives with. It will be content when kept busy and when it understands what’s expected of it.
The White Swiss Shepherd dog is protective, agile and gentle. It will be affectionate around people and other animals if socialized as a puppy.
This is a strong-willed dog breed so it needs to have various types of training at a young age or it may show its independent streak in a negative way; becoming destructive or mischievous.
When properly trained and providing it’s not left alone for long times or under-stimulated, it will be a playful and energetic, happy family pet.
Physical Characteristics of the Berger Blanc Suisse
This dog has an elegant appearance, with big brown eyes and a beautiful pure white coat.
|Height||24-26 (60-66cm)||22-24” (55-61cm)|
|Weight||66-88lb (30-40kg)||55-77lb (25-35kg)|
|Lifespan||12-13 years||12-13 years|
|Litter Size||average 8 puppies|
Eyes: Brown – Dark or medium color
Ears: Large pointy ears, triangular-shaped set high on the top of the head
Coat: A medium or long-length, thick double coat of pure white hair. The topcoat is dense and rough and the undercoat is fine and shorter. It has a big fluffy sabre tail and it’s a big shedder
Color: Single color coat – Pure White.
A Berger Blanc Suisse loves lots of interaction and to be at the center of the activity. It will be an obedient, loyal, and protective member of its family. It has a gentle and easy-going nature and loves the company but can be alert and cautious too. It will want to watch over and protect its loved ones and feel at ease with those around it.
This Shepherd dog breed needs to be kept busy as it has a hard work ethic, herding instincts and can be mischievous, destructive and go exploring or searching if bored. It can be stubborn if asked to do something it doesn’t want to do and may even sulk if it doesn’t feel it is getting enough attention or action.
How should you train a White Swiss Shepherd?
White Swiss Shepherd puppies need to be trained and socialized early, with strict boundaries set. They will be strong-willed, physically strong and active even as puppies so get them used to your controlling techniques at a young age.
This puppy will get excited easily and be energetic so will, therefore, need lots of daily exercise, like long walks. 1 hour a day minimum as a pup increasing to at least 2 hours a day as an adult dog.
Positive reinforcement and small food-based treats as a reward work well with this breed.
Early leash training is a must for the ongoing safety of this strong and energetic puppy that will grow into an even stronger and muscular dog. It is important to teach road and traffic awareness too just in case the puppy escapes and decides to go exploring.
What’s learned as a puppy with this clever dog will remain with it until adulthood and hopefully keep it safe outside its boundary walls.
A mix of training is most effective: obedience, discipline, agility and socialization.
So, if you are not going to use a professional dog trainer:
1) Develop your basic command words: Find command such as Stop, Sit, Wait etc. and be consistent and firm each time you use them.
2) Crate – Buy a crate and practice using it. You will have to lock the cage in the early days so it knows it has to sleep there and be transported in it.
3) Potty training – Can be hit and miss for any new puppy that gets easily excited and lacks control, however products are available, such as mats and odor sprays to attract puppy go to the same spot each time.
4) Leash Walking – Consistency and clear voice commands with road awareness is important for this very active puppy’s safety.
Health problems and health issues
The White Swiss Shepherd or any descendent from the German Shepherd bloodline might suffer:
Hip Dysplasia – this growth abnormality is a malformation of the joint, where the ball at the top of the limb does not fit properly into the socket and the ligaments attaching it are weak. This allows excess movement of the fitting causing eventual stiffness and pain.
Elbow dysplasia – where the three bones in the dog’s elbow grow at a different rate and size, or a piece can even break off, causing pain.
Early warning signs are visual stiffness when walking, a reluctance to get up when prompted, and a difference in walking style; limp, or with caution. It can occur at any age.
There is no cure; pain management and anti-inflammatories may be prescribed by the Vet.
Bloat – eating quickly, too much, or drinking a lot before exercising can cause this dangerous, excessive gas build-up, causing the stomach to extend or twist putting pressure on organs. This can cause extreme pain and be fatal.
Degenerative Spinal Stenosis: a narrowing of the spinal canal causing nerve damage
Various Eye diseases – Cataracts, where the eye lens clouds over and affects vision, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, degeneration of the retina leading to blindness, Collie eye anomaly or Primary lens Luxation.
How do you care for a Berger Blanc Suisse?
The Berger Blanc Suisse puppy is very energetic and needs to be kept busy with at least one hour of exercise per day, building up 1-2 hours a day in adulthood, therefore not suitable for any dog owner who cannot manage an active dog.
Feed as a medium to large-sized dog depending on activity level. Split portions of dog food to prevent Bloat: an average 2-3 cups of Kibble formulated food per day.
This mixed breed dog has a thick double coat that will shed a lot and twice a year will lose more of its coat as the season changes. It requires regular brushing, at least 2-3 times a week is recommended.
Only bathe when required as their coat has natural oils that would be stripped through excessive washing. Certain dog formulated shampoos have a double effect of cleaning while protecting its coat against fleas and insect bites.
Cleaning teeth, nails and ears
Teeth need to be cleaned regularly to prevent plaque build-up. Chewing breaks down plaque, so use doggie chew-toys, bare-bones and soft toothbrushes and toothpaste. Nails grow quickly in any active dog and need trimming regularly and checked for debris that could cause infection. Don’t forget to clean their ears!
What’s life like for a Swiss White Shepherd dog?
- This Swiss White Shepherd dog loves playing, purpose and challenging activities.
- This dog needs to run around and suits a home with a big yard and lots of activity.
- They get bored easily and will destroy and chew things if continuously left alone. So keep them busy.
Positives and Negatives of ownership
- Intelligent and easy to train
- Extremely loyal and protective of family
- Great stamina
- A very independent and strong-willed dog
- A heavy shedder
- Wary of strangers
- Needs activity and company, wouldn’t suit a sedentary owner
- Can be mischievous if under-stimulated
- Commonly Asked Questions:
Q: What is the proper name of this Swiss Shepherd dog?
A. It’s a Berger Blanc Suisse (White Swiss Shepherd). Sometimes the Shepherd breed name is misspelled as Shepard, Sheppard, Shephert or Shepperd. As it’s pure white it’s sometimes called the White Shepherd or Snowy Shepherd.
Q. How much does a White Swiss Shepherd puppy cost?
A. Buying from a reputable dealer costs around $1,300, as they are difficult to find
An alternative is to adopt from a rescue center – puppy or adult. The cost of adopting a rescue dog is much less than from a breeder, could be around $150, however it may be difficult to find one for adoption as they are very popular.
Warning: If considering adopting a rescue dog it is important to find out about the circumstances of why it’s in a rescue center, especially if it is a working/ dog or a herding dog – abuse, neglect, behavior or any other available details of the temperament or health issues of the parents.
Food costs around $40-$50 per month for an adult, and given their possible health problems you must factor in Vets fees, accessories and toys from a retailer like Amazon