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 in Europe. 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. An increasingly negative attitude toward these dogs led to an overall decline, so breed advocates in the USA created White Shepherd clubs and breeding programs in an attempt to save the White Shepherd. American White Shepherds were exported to Europe and became the predecessors of today's White Swiss Shepherds.
In 1991 the White Swiss Shepherd was officially recognized as its own distinct breed in Switzerland. The UKC officially recognized the White Shepherd in 1999, and once again they were welcome back in the conformation ring in the USA. In 2011 the FCI and all affiliate kennel clubs throughout the world officially recognized the WSS.
Registration & Recognition
No outcrossing was done during the development of the White Swiss Shepherd, so they are pure descendants of the German Shepherd. At the risk of over-simplifying, registration can be broken down geographically.
AKC White German Shepherds (USA): AKC German Shepherds color White pop up in colored breeding's when two colored parents both carry the white masking gene. If both parents are White German Shepherds, they will have all white puppies. White GSDs go against the AKC breed standard.
UKC White Shepherds (USA): USA bred White German Shepherds that have been bred white to white for many generations and trace back to the original White Shepherd advocates and breeders who saved the color gene from being eradicated from GSD lines. The UKC closed their White Shepherd studbook in 2012 and no longer allows for entry of AKC registered GSDs, unless under specific circumstances.
FCI White Swiss Shepherd / Berger Blanc Suisse (worldwide): USA bred White Shepherds and White GSDs that were exported to Europe and selectively bred over generations. The FCI circular, written in 2007, closed the studbook on the FCI WSS and further breeding's to White Shepherds and/or White GSDs that were not already entered as FCI WSS became prohibited.
USA Resident FCI WSS: FCI WSS imported to the USA can maintain FCI compliant registration through the partnership program FCI has with AKC. This allows USA resident dogs of FCI recognized breeds that are not yet recognized by the AKC to be registered through FCI member club Federacion Canofila De Puerto Rico (FCPR). USA WSS owners and breeders who want to compete with their dogs in conformation and/or sports, often dual register their dogs with UKC as White Shepherds and the FCPR (FCI) as White Swiss Shepherds. The FCI does not recognize the UKC, therefore UKC registration in addition to compliant FCPR registration does not impact FCI recognition of any dog. Re-registering an FCI imported White Swiss Shepherd as an AKC German Shepherd will revert the dog's breed back to German Shepherd and it may be impossible to ever have that dog or it's progeny recognized as an FCI White Swiss Shepherd.