American White Shepherd Association
Established in 1995
AWSA White Shepherd Breed Standard
AWSA Membership Approved - October 12, 2002
The White Shepherd is a direct descendent of the German Shepherd Dog and the two breeds share common roots and are similar in
appearance. However, the White Shepherd evolved from a continuous selection for a working companion dog with that exclusive color,
beauty and elegance as seen both standing and in motion. His high degree of intelligence and sense of loyalty have allowed him to
become one of the most versatile working dogs serving mankind.
The White Shepherd is a well developed and balanced animal with the look of intelligence, energy and purpose in life. It should have a
regal appearance with secondary sex characteristics being distinctive. The dog should be somewhat longer than tall, with smooth
curves rather than sharp angles. Extremes of anything distort type and are to be strongly discouraged. This is a herding dog that must
have the agility, freedom of movement and endurance to do the work required of it. When gaiting, the dog should move smoothly, with
all parts working in harmony. Overall balance, strength, and firmness of movement is to be given more emphasis than a side gait
showing a flying trot. Staying true to type is defined by the following word picture and this diagram.
SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE
Body Proportion -- The dog is somewhat longer than tall -- the ideal ratio of length to height being 10 to 8.8. E.g., 28.4 inches (72.1 cm)
long to 25 inches (63.5 cm) high. Body length is measured from the prosternum to the point of the buttocks. Height is measured from
the highest point of the shoulder blade to the ground. Ideal height and weight is 25 inches (63.5 cm) and roughly 75-85 pounds (34-39
kgms) for males, and 23 inches (58.4 cm) and about 60-70 pounds (27-32 kgms) for bitches. Acceptable range of height is about 1
inch (3 cm) in either direction of the ideal. Any dog that is so over or undersize as to be outside of the acceptable range is highly
objectionable and should be faulted.
Proportionate in size to the body. Males should show masculinity without coarseness; bitches should show femininity without being over-
refined. Both sexes should exhibit a look of intelligence and nobility. Skull -- Viewed from the top, the skull is wedge-shaped, clean cut
and strong. When viewed from the side, the topline of the skull should parallel that of the top of the muzzle and there should be a
moderate stop. There should be no tendency toward an overly long, narrow or Collie-like head. Insufficient stop or a round or domed
skull is faulty. Muzzle -- The muzzle is strong and dry and the lips fit tightly over the well-developed jaws. The nose should be black.
Viewed from above, the muzzle appears wider at the stop than at the tip and there should be no tendency toward cheekiness. A snipy
muzzle or a receding lower jaw is faulty. Eyes -- Brown, dark for preference. The eye rims should be black. The expression is keen and
intelligent, yet composed. The eyes are medium sized, almond shaped, and set a little obliquely. Round or protruding eyes are faulty.
Blue or pink eyes disqualify a dog. Ears - Size in proportion to the rest of the head. The ears are moderately pointed and open toward
the front. They are carried erect when at attention. The ideal carriage is one at which the center lines of the ears, from the front, are
parallel and perpendicular both to each other and to the ground. Soft ears spoil the desired noble and alert expression and are faulty.
Cropped or hanging ears are a disqualifying fault. Teeth -- 20 upper and 22 lower; a full mouth is preferred. Dogs missing more than
one premolar should be faulted. Broken teeth are not considered a fault. The teeth meet in a close scissors bite. A level bite is faulty.
An overshot bite is a severe fault. A dog exhibiting an undershot mouth must be disqualified.
NECK, TOPLINE, BODY
Neck -- Length is proportionate to the size of the head. The neck is strong, muscular and dry. Except when at attention or excited, the
typical carriage of the head is forward rather than up, particularly in motion. A ewe neck or one that is too short or throaty is faulty.
Topline -- The withers should be higher than and slightly sloping into the back. There should be no evidence of a dip behind the wither,
nor should the topline itself sag or roach from the wither to the croup. Body -- Solid without bulkiness. The White Shepherd should be
shown in lean, hard physical condition. Chest -- The forechest is well filled and the prosternum is prominent. The chest is deep with the
brisket reaching to the elbows. A shelly chest is objectionable. Depth of chest should be approximately 48 to 50 percent of the total
height of the dog. Ribs -- The ribs are long, well sprung, and are carried well back. The shape of the chest is important. It must never
be so wide or round as to interfere with the action of the elbows and the forelegs. Neither must it be so flat as to cause the elbows to
pinch in. Underline -- Only moderately tucked up in the flank -- never like that of a Greyhound. The abdomen is firmly held and never
paunchy. Back -- The back is short, straight and strongly developed. Loin -- Viewed from the top, broad and strong. From the side, the
loin is relatively short and blends smoothly into the back. Croup -- Long and gradually sloping, flowing smoothly into a low set tail. In the
ideal dog, the croup slopes gently away at an approximate angle of 23° from the horizontal. Too level or flat a croup prevents proper
functioning of the hindquarter, which must be able to reach well under the body. A steep croup also limits the action of the hindquarter.
Tail -- Bushy, with the last vertebrae extended at least to the hock joint and usually below. At rest, it hangs straight down or in a slight
saber-like curve. Even in excitement, the dog should never lift its tail higher than right angles to the backline. The tail is important. The
dog uses its tail like a rudder enabling it to keep its balance while being able to turn instantly. In motion, the ideal carriage of the tail is
at or slightly below the natural extension of the topline. It is permissible for a dog to carry its tail a bit higher, although the tendency
toward a gay tail spoils the overall outline of the dog. A dog with a too short tail or a docked tail must be disqualified.
Shoulders -- The shoulder blade, or scapula, should be long and well laid back, the ideal angle being about 35° from the vertical.
Shoulder layback is estimated by taking a line from the uppermost tip of the scapula to the point of the shoulder (where the scapula
meets the humerus) to the ground. Lay-on is flat against the body, with the upper ends fairly close together, forming the point of the
wither. Shoulder and upper arm are well muscled but never loaded. The upper arm (humerus) is almost equal in length to the scapula.
In the ideal dog, a 102° angle is formed by imaginary lines connecting the point of the elbow with the forward-most point of the shoulder
joint and with the highest point of the scapula. This angulation permits the proper maximum forward extension of the foreleg in the
working shepherd dog. Faults in the shoulder assembly include: loose or loaded shoulders (bulging muscle pads), a pushed forward
shoulder assembly, not enough length in the humerus and a scapula that is too short or steeply set. Forelegs -- The forelegs are
straight and parallel with each other. Lower leg bones are oval in shape. Bone substantial but not excessive. Elbows are well held in
with no tendency to turn in or out. The point of the elbow lies roughly in a vertical line under the point of wither. Pasterns -- Strong and
springy with the ideal angle being about 25° from the vertical.
Short and compact, toes held closely together and well arched. Pads are thick and tough affording the dog protection over rough
terrain. Dewclaws appearing on the rear legs should be removed, those on the front legs may be removed but are usually left on. Nails
should be short. Faults in running gear include: terrier-like feet, hare feet, thin pads or splayed feet.
The whole of the rear assembly somewhat mirrors that of the front. In length and angulation, the scapula and the pelvis roughly equal
each other, and the slant of the lower thigh bones roughly approximate that of the pelvis and of the humerus. The pelvis lies tilted
backward at an approximate angle of 35° from the horizontal. Whether standing four-square or firmly and naturally with one rear leg
extended behind the pelvis, the femur drops almost vertically from the hip socket, forming an approximate 125° angle with the pelvis.
The upper and lower thigh bones are all roughly the same length. The thighs themselves, both upper and lower, are broad and heavily
muscled. The stifle is well bent; its angulation must never be so steep that the dog’s hocks lie directly under any part of the croup or
pelvis. In a correctly angulated dog that is standing in a natural three-point stance (show pose), an imaginary line dropped plumb from
the point of the buttocks would land roughly 2 inches (5 cm) in front of the dog’s extended hind foot. Stifles that are too straight or
overly long are faulty. The hock joints are strong and the hocks themselves, relative to the rest of the rear assembly, are short, clean
and perpendicular to the ground. Whether in motion or at rest, there is no tendency for the hocks to turn in or out. From the rear, the
hindlegs drop straight and parallel to each other and the feet point straight ahead.
Soundness is of paramount importance. Capability of quick and sudden movement is essential. The action is free, supple and tireless
with the dog covering the most amount of ground with the minimum number of steps, all of the parts working together in harmony. From
the side, the hindquarters drive forward with the hindfoot reaching far under the body to take firm hold of the ground. The powerful
backward thrust is transmitted through a firm back to the front end, where the shoulder opens to the fullest extent possible and the foot
reaches out toward the nose. The entire motion lifts the dog’s body slightly and carries it forward. The feet track close to the ground on
both forward reach and backward push. At full trot, the back must remain firm, level, and free of roll, whip, or roach. At the extended
trot, the dog may appear to overreach, with the hind foot passing to either side of the front foot. This is not faulty unless it causes the
dog to move in a crab-like fashion. From both front or rear, the action is that of a single track. From the front, the legs move inward
toward a center line under the body in a straight column of support from the point of shoulder to the pad. From the rear, the legs track
inward toward a center line in a straight column of support from the hip to the pad. Moving close is faulty. Sidegait, coming and going
are equally important and movement front and rear are not to be overlooked in favor of sidegait. Incorrect structure will be revealed in
the moving animal. Flaws in gait such as weaving or interfering, paddling, flipping the front paws, weakness at the elbows, stiltiness,
moving cow or bow-hocked or in a hackney fashion are highly objectionable and must be regarded as serious faults.
The White Shepherd has a weather-resistant double coat. The outer coat is medium length, dense, straight, harsh and close lying. The
undercoat is short, thick and fine in texture. The head and ears are covered with a smooth, somewhat softer 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. Both a short coat and a long coat are equally acceptable. An open coat is faulty.
The coat color is white as defined by the breed’s name and the ideal is pure white. Other coat markings that range from a very pale
cream to a light biscuit tan are acceptable, but not preferred. It is important to note that when judging the White Shepherd,
temperament, overall quality and movement are to be considered more important than coat color alone. Pigment -- Skin color is pink to
gray with gray being preferred. The nose, lips and eye rims should be fully pigmented and black in color. A snow nose is acceptable but
is not preferred. Deficiency of pigment is objectionable and dogs exhibiting faded or spotty pigmentation on nose, eye rims or lips
should be faulted. Dogs exhibiting the total lack of pigment in the above named areas indicating possible albinism or those that
definitely exhibit albinism (such as dogs with blue or pink eyes) must be disqualified.
The White Shepherd has a distinct personality marked by a direct, but not hostile expression of self-confidence. It is poised but when
the situation demands, it should be eager and alert, ready to serve in any capacity such as companion, watch dog or service dog. To
his inherent aptitude as a guardian of flocks should be an added protectiveness of the person and property of his family. With those he
knows well, he should be open and friendly. With strangers, he should be observant and may be somewhat aloof but never
apprehensive. Timidity, shrinking behind the handler, lack of confidence or any other display of poor character or aggression are
severe faults. Dogs displaying such pronounced character flaws should be excused from the ring. Any dog that attempts to bite the
judge must be disqualified.
Any deviation from these listed specifications is a fault. In determining whether a fault is minor, serious or major, these two factors
should be used as a guide:
The extent to which it deviates from breed type.
The extent to which such deviation would actually affect the working ability of the dog.
Blue or pink eyes
Cropped or hanging ears
Tails that are too short or docked
Total lack of pigment on the nose, eye rims or lips or dogs that exhibit definite signs of albinism
Monorchids or cryptorchids
Any dog that has been surgically or cosmetically altered
Any dog that attempts to bite the judge