Originally bred as herding, working and draft dog, the White Swiss Shepherd Dogs (WSSDs) have now become companion dogs or protector dogs. WSSD retains many of the wonderful traits of the German Shepherd Dog (GSD), but has a more compliant temperament.
The epitome of power…
WSSDs are powerful, well-muscled, medium-sized dogs with erect ears. They have a moderately long rectangular shape and have a double coat (both shorthair and longhair). Their head is strong and finely chiselled. Their eyes are medium-sized, almond shaped and placed a little obliquely. The colour of the eyes varies from brown to dark-brown and eyelids have black eye-rims. They have a bushy sabre tail, tapering to the tip. These white colour dogs have a height of 60-66 cm for males and 55-61 cm for females. While, the males weigh around 30-40 kg and females weigh around 25-35 kg.
Lively, without nervousness, attentive and watchful, WSSDs are sometimes slightly aloof towards strangers, but never apprehensive or aggressive. If socialised from a young age, they get on with all other animals and if raised with cats, they get on with them too! They learn quickly and are very willing to please their pet parents. If the WSSD barks, you must know there is something there.
Living with them…
Most people who live with a WSSD feel that their dog is much smarter than they are! They are clever, imaginative, intuitive and eager to please, so much so, they only respond to positive training methods. They need to bond closely to you and your family and they demand to be an active participant in your life.
WSSDs are excellent with children, if they have been raised with children. Their compliant nature makes them more willing than many other breeds to take instruction from children.
They are physically demanding and have lots of drive and stamina. If they are bored or neglected, their frustration is vented by destructive behaviour. If they are loved and educated, their abilities are without limit. If kept in an average garden they should be taken for regular walks or a run. WSSDs love to have fun while doing agility and jumping.
WSSDs were originally bred for the traits that make a good herding dog. Because they are so attuned to changes in the environment and they are in a constant state of ‘alert’ and may appear nervous and fearful. They were also developed to react to these changes in the environment. So, they have extremely high reactivity to stimulus. This trait makes them very ‘trainable’ and this is one of the reasons that socialisation is vitally important to them. What socialisation means to a GSSD pup is that they need to be taught what ‘normal’ is, because if they do not have a large toolbox of ‘normal situations’, they may go off like firecrackers at every little thing around them and find lots of things to be ‘nervous and fearful’ about. Puppy socialisation in GSSD is the process of exposing the young ones to small doses of all sorts of normal situations they may encounter later in life.
As versatile as GSD
Is GSSD as versatile as GSD? Of course, they are! GSSDs have been proven themselves over and over again as police dog, search and rescue dog, service dog, therapy dog, flyball dog, agility dog, obedience dog, herding dog, carting dog and anything else you can imagine that you would like your dog to do.
Their coat seems to ‘self-clean’, however, they shed twice a year when regular grooming is needed.
WSSDs suffer less genetic disorders than their coloured relatives but Hip & Elbow Dysplasia should be checked out before breeding. Megaesophegous as well as monorchidism has occurred in a few dogs but not many. However, missing teeth is also quite a common genetic fault but definitely not life threatening!
(Stephanie Bridge is a breeder at White Knight Kennels, which is one of the leading kennels in South Africa producing both long and short coat breeds).
Duzi is a White Swiss Shepherd Dog (WSSD) who became the 1st Carting Champion in the world and also the 1st Grand Champion in South Africa. He has also excelled in the breed ring, and is the only dog to have been awarded more than 60 Best of Breeds. In 2009, Duzi won the National Carting event and so being the only WSSD with a National Champion title to his name. Duzi is named Kusa Natl Ch. 2009, Gr.Ch & Ch Cart. Ch White Knight Imperial Duzi cgc PC (Gtg).
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