The White Swiss Shepherd, also known as the Berger Blanc Suisse, shares its lineage with the German Shepherd. From the beginning, the recessive gene for a completely white coat was present in German Shepherd lines and White Shepherds were an acceptable variation within the breed. In 1933, under Nazi leadership, White Shepherds were deemed a genetic malfunction and were actively eliminated from breeding programs. The claim was that the white gene was responsible for genetic disorders and coat fading associated with albinism. In fact, the recessive gene that causes an all white coat in shepherds is a masking gene that covers other colors vs. albinism which is a lack of pigmentation and associated with skin problems, blindness, deafness, and other health issues.
The AKC soon followed suit. In 1959 the AKC adopted the exclusively colored breed standard and in 1968 White Shepherds were banned from the conformation ring altogether. White Shepherds can still be registered through these clubs, however they are disqualified from participating in conformation shows. An increasingly negative attitude toward these dogs led to an overall decline, so breed advocates created White Shepherd clubs and breeding programs in an attempt to save the White Shepherd.
In 1991 the Berger Blanc Suisse was officially recognized as its own distinct breed in Switzerland. In 2011 the FCI and all affiliate kennel clubs throughout the world officially recognized the BBS. The AKC and UKC do not recognize the Berger Blanc Suisse as a separate breed from the German (AKC) or White (UKC) Shepherd, despite the two having different breed standards as outlined by the FCI.
Like German Shepherds, BBS are exceptionally intelligent and athletic dogs that excel in various disciplines. They make wonderful family pets because they are great with children, but are also very protective and loyal. Breed enthusiasts believe that the BBS will be the therapy and service dog of the future because while easy to train like German Shepherds, they tend to display a milder temperament and are a relatively healthy and sturdy breed that has not been subjected to extreme inbreeding or overproduction.
The Berger Blanc Suisse is considered a rare breed and is often subject to breed misrepresentation. Because the AKC and UKC do not differentiate the BBS from the German/White Shepherd, many breeders in the United States sell German/White Shepherd puppies and call them BBS or they interbreed their BBS with German/White Shepherds. These breedings are not in compliance with FBBSI standards.