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. It is a historical fact that 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. “Der Deutsche Schaferhund In Wort Und Bild" ("The German Shepherd Dog in Words and Picture") written by the recognized father of the breed, Rittmeister (Cavalry Captain) Max von Stephanitz, in 1921 included a photo of a White German Shepherd directly descended from Horand.
Information provided in early books on the German Shepherd Dog, such as "The Alsatian Wolf Dog" written by George Horowitz in 1923, as well as "The German Shepherd, Its History, Development and Genetics" written by M. B. Willis in 1977, 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. From the very these direct ancestors of the German Shepherd Dog forward to the German Shepherds of today, the recessive gene for white colored coats has been carried in the DNA of the breed.
White puppies, in some percentage, are born to dark colored German Shepherd parents when both the male and female partners of a mating pair carry the recessive gene for "white coats." The dark coat puppies in such litters will also carry, in some percentage, the recessive white coat gene. When only one partner of a mating pair carries the recessive white coat gene, white puppies will not present in litters, but the dark colored puppies inherit, in some percentage, the recessive white gene. When both the male and female partners of a mating pair have white coats the entire litter of puppies will have white coats.
In 1933 the parent German Shepherd breed club in German rejected white coats as a "defective" breed trait when it elected to adopt an exclusively “wolf-like” breed coloration standard. After WWII German Shepherd breed clubs in countries around the world increasingly adopted the exclusively “wolf-like” coloration breed standard of the parent German breed club. Once adopted, breed club members were required to never intentionally breed dogs that carry the recessive gene for white coats.
Because the German Shepherd dog breed club standard governs the color of German Shepherd dogs that may compete in national kennel club sponsored dog shows, such as the prestigious AKC affiliated Westminster Kennel Club dog show in the United States, white coat German Shepherd dogs were barred from such events in the United States starting in 1959, and other countries of the world through the 1990’s.
During the 1970’s, fanciers of the white coat German Shepherd dog worldwide formed their own White German Shepherd Dog breed clubs to continue to breed dogs that carry the recessive white coat gene to produce white coat puppies. White German Shepherd dog fanciers showed their dogs at small specialty dog shows, but many wanted to show their dogs at the most prestigious national and international dog show events, now open only to “standard color” German Shepherd dog owners.
By the late 1990’s a portion of white coat German Shepherd dog fanciers around the world decided to establish a new White Shepherd breed standard and petition their respective national and international kennel clubs for breed recognition, separate and independent from the German Shepherd dog breed club’s control. To populate the new breed of White Shepherd dogs, breeders around the world continually paired and repaired only white coat German Shepherd Dog sires and dams for several generations to breed what is today considered a "pure" White Shepherd breed.
When recognized as a separate and independent breed, White Shepherd dogs will be eligible to enter any and all dog show events, including the most prestigious national and international dog shows.