While the detail and format among these many breed clubs' standards vary somewhat, they all define a common appearance, transmission and temperament for their dogs. Indeed, each club's breed standard resembles the German Shepherd Dog breed standard set forth by Rittmeister Max Von Stephanitz, who founded the German Shepherd Dog breed in 1899.
Breed standards of the White Swiss Shepherd Dog, White Shepherd Dog of North America, White German Shepherd Dog and German Shepherd Dog can be merged together, with only minor distinctions, to fashion a common description of conformation appearance:
General Appearance – The first impression of a White Shepherd, White Swiss Shepherd or White German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well-muscled animal, alert, full of life, keen, intelligent, and composed. It is well balanced, with harmonious development of forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility–difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex.
Proportion – The Shepherd Dog is longer than tall, with the most desirable proportion as 10 to 8 1/2. Ideal height and weight is 25 inches (63.5 cm) measured to the top of the highest point of the shoulder blade and roughly 75-85 pounds (34-39 kg) for males, and 23 inches (58.4 cm) and about 60-70 pounds (27-32 kg) for females. Acceptable range of height is about 1 inch (3 cm) in either direction of the ideal. A slightly larger dog is not at serious fault, providing it meets the desirable proportion of 10 to 8 1/2. The proportional length measurement is taken from the point of the posternum or breastbone to the rear edge of the pelvis, the ischial tuberosity.
Gait – The Shepherd is a trotting dog with a smooth and flowing gait that is maintained with great strength and firmness of back. The shepherd moves powerfully, but easily, with such coordination and balance that the gait appears to the steady motion of a well-lubricated machine. Even at a walk the shepherd covers a great deal of ground with an economy of long stride on both hind legs and forelegs. In order to achieve ideal movement of this kind, there must be muscular development and ligamentation. The hindquarters deliver, through the back, a powerful forward thrust, which slightly lifts the whole animal and drives the body forward. Reaching far under, and passing the imprint left by the front foot, the back foot takes hold of the ground; then hock, stifle and upper thigh come into play and sweep back, the stroke of the hind leg finishing with the foot still close to the ground in a smooth follow-through. The feet travel close to the ground on both forward reach and backward push. The overreach of the hindquarter usually necessitates one hind foot passing outside and the other foot passing inside the track of the forefoot, and such action is not faulty unless the locomotion is crab-like with the dog's body sideways out of the normal straight line. Viewed from the front, the front legs function from shoulder joint to the pad in a straight line. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs function from the hip joint to the pad in a straight line.
- White Shepherd Short Coat
- White Shepherd Medium Coat
- White Shepherd Long Coat
Coat – The ideal dog has a weather-resistant double coat of medium length. The outer coat should be as dense as possible, hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body. The undercoat is short, thick and fine in texture. A slightly wavy outer coat, often of wiry texture, is permissible. The head and ears are covered with a smooth, somewhat softer and shorter hair while the hair covering the legs and paws is more harsh-textured. At the neck, the coat is slightly longer and heavier. A male may carry a thicker ruff than a female. The back of the legs has a slightly longer covering of hair and there is considerably more hair on the breeches and the underside of the tail. For the White Shepherd specialization, both somewhat shorter and longer coats are acceptable.
Color – The coat color is white as defined by the breed’s name and the ideal is pure white. Any degree of shading that ranges from a very pale cream to a light biscuit tan are not preferred, and is considered a fault for the White German Shepherd and White Shepherd specialization.
Skin Pigment – Skin color on the body is pink to dark gray/black, with gray/black being preferred, and the skin of the belly being the darker area. Pink skin is frequently seen, and though not a disqualification, is less desirable. The nose, lips and eye rims should be fully pigmented and black in color. The more dark in color of the nails, the better, although white nails do not disqualify a dog. The pads of the feet should be black. Very slight snow nose coloration is acceptable but is not preferred. Deficiency of pigment is objectionable and dogs exhibiting faded, pinkish or spotty pigmentation on nose, eye rims or lips are a serious faulted. The total lack of pigment in the above named areas, indicating possible albinism or definite albinism with blue or pink eyes, are a disqualifying fault for both white coat German Shepherds and the White Shepherd specialization.
Head – The head is noble, cleanly chiseled, strong without coarseness, but above all, not fine, and in proportion to the body. The head of the male is distinctly masculine, and that of the bitch, distinctly feminine. The muzzle is long and strong, with lips firmly fitted, and its top line is parallel to the top line of the skull. Seen from the front, the forehead is only moderately arched, and the skull slopes into the long, wedge-shaped muzzle without abrupt stop. Jaws are strongly developed.
Ears are moderately pointed, in proportion to the skull, open toward the front, and carried erect when at attention, the ideal carriage being one in which the center lines of the ears, viewed from the front, are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. A dog with cropped or hanging ears must be disqualified.
Eyes are of medium size, almond shaped, set a little obliquely and not protruding. The color is as dark as possible. The expression is keen, intelligent, and composed.
Teeth number 42 with 20 upper and 22 lower. Teeth are strongly developed and meet in a scissors bite in which part of the inner surface of the upper incisors meet and engage part of the outer surface of the lower incisors. An overshot jaw or a level bite is undesirable. An undershot jaw or a level bite is an undesirable fault. Complete dentition is to be preferred. Any missing teeth other than first premolars is a serious fault.
Neck – The neck is strong and muscular, clean-cut and relatively long, proportionate in size to the head, and without loose folds of skin. When the dog is at attention or excited, the head is raised and the neck carried high; otherwise, typical carriage of the head is forward rather than up, but a little higher than the top of the shoulders, particularly in motion.
Body – The whole structure of the body gives an impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness.
Chest Commences at the posternum and is well filled and carried well down between the legs. It is deep and capacious, never shallow, with ample room for lungs and heart, carried well forward, with the posternum showing ahead of the shoulder in profile.
Ribs are well sprung and long, neither barrel-shaped nor too flat, and carried down to a sternum which reaches to the elbows. Correct ribbing allows the elbows to move back freely when the dog is at a trot. Too round causes interference and throws the elbows out; too flat or short causes pinched elbows. Ribbing is carried well back so that the loin is relatively short.
Abdomen is firmly held and not paunchy. The bottom line is only moderately tucked up in the loin.
Top Line of the back is straight and very strongly developed without sag or roach. The desirable long proportion is not derived from a long back, but from overall length in relation to height, which is achieved by a length of forequarter, withers and hindquarter, as viewed from the side. The croup is long and has only a very minor and gradual slope when in the show stance.
Withers are higher than, and sloping into, a level back.
Loin viewed from the top, broad and strong. Undue length between the last rib and the thigh, when viewed from the side, is undesirable.
Forequarters – The shoulder blades are long and obliquely angled, laid on flat and not placed forward. The upper arm joins the shoulder blade at about a right angle. Both the upper arm and the shoulder blade are well muscled. The forelegs, viewed from all sides, are straight and the bone oval rather than round. The pasterns are strong and springy and at an angle of approximately a 24 degrees from the vertical.
Hindquarters – The whole assembly of the thigh, viewed from the side, is brood, with both upper and lower thigh well-muscled, forming as nearly as possible a right angle. The upper thigh bone parallels the shoulder blade while the lower thigh bone parallels the upper arm. The metatarsus is short, strong, tightly articulated and no dew claws should be present.
Feet – The feet are short, compact, with toes well arched, pads thick and firm, nails short and preferably dark. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed, but are normally left on. Dewclaws, if any, should be removed from the hind legs.
Tail – The tail is bushy, with the last vertebra extended at least to the hock joint. It is set smoothly into the croup and low rather than high. At rest, the tail hangs in a slight curve like a saber. A slight hook–sometimes carried to one side is faulty only to the extent that it mars general appearance. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve may be accentuated and the tail raised, but it should never curl forward beyond the vertical line. Tails too short, or with clumpy ends due to ankylosis, are serious faults.