RIGHT FOR ME?
Do you have the time necessary to devote to a White Swiss Shepherd dog?
Dogs are dependent creatures and depend totally upon you for their care and well being. There are many elements necessary for your dog to become a happy and healthy pet, all of which require YOUR time and effort.
General care – much like any dog, White Shepherds require regular grooming, including bathing, brushing (coat and teeth), a regime of preventative medications for intestinal worms, heartworm and external parasites such as fleas, ticks and mites etc. and annual trips to the vet. Being a large dog, there are also routine chores in the backyard which cannot be overlooked as easily as with a small or medium breed.
Exercise – do not expect that your White Shepherd will gain enough physical or mental exercise wandering around the backyard by themselves. Shepherds require regular daily exercise as well as mental stimulation. Otherwise they will become bored and destructive, jumping fences and digging holes, nuisance barking etc.
Training – do not expect a White Shepherd to learn how to properly behave in a home without training. White Shepherds are BIG dogs with high energy and prey drive. Training, along with proper socialization, is absolutely essential to ensure a well behaved White Shepherd.
Family Time – it’s important to take the time to make your White Shepherd part of your family. Snuggle with him, include him on family outings, give him the attention an animal with feelings needs.
Are you financially able to support a large breed of dog?
Large dogs eat more, meaning of course more cost on a weekly basis to feed them. Cheap and nasty dog foods produce a cheap and nasty looking dog, with a lacklustre coat and other health related issues, so this is not an ideal option for making it viable to afford the feed bills. On top of the weekly feeding expenditure, you will have the costs of internal and external parasite control to prevent disease and health problems, including parasites which can be transmitted to humans.
Regular heartworm preventative treatment is especially important for your dog due to its serious, perhaps fatal consequences. There is also the yearly vaccinations, again a necessary expense to prevent a costly vet bill for nursing a dog through parvo-virus, kennel cough, or distemper. And speaking of vet bills, they will always be unexpected and expensive.
Are you looking for a guard dog?
White shepherds can make excellent watchdogs, but this is not a suitable reason for choosing this breed. They are a sensitive breed of dog that thrive on human interaction, affection and play. If you intend to keep your white shepherd chained in the yard with little human interaction, please do not own one, otherwise you will end up with a broken, miserable animal. All dogs deserve a better fate. Taking into consideration dogs can be tampered with if somebody was determined to enter your premises, a modern security system would be more reliable (and more economical).
Are you looking for a companion or playmate for your children?
When buying a dog to co-exist with children, many things must be taken into consideration. Whilst White Shepherds can be great with children given proper training, do not expect to leave any Shepherd breed with small children unsupervised. They are a large, powerful breed, with a large strong jaw. It can not safely be assumed or expected that any child under 12 has developed the judgment necessary to treat animals respectfully, on a consistent basis.
To expect the dog to automatically know how to behave appropriately around children, without training or guidance, is setting yourself up for disastrous consequences. If you have small children, expect to watch all dog/child interactions closely. Also, it is unfair to expect a child to take on the responsibility of caring for a dog. It may be a great learning experience for a child to HELP with caring for a dog, but the ultimate responsibility remains with YOU.
Are you looking for a loyal companion and beloved family member?
This is the role that the White Shepherds excels in. A thoughtfully raised and cared for White Shepherd that has confidence and trust in their handler and family, through the setting of fair limits and consistent reinforcement of training while young, will be a never forgotten asset to the home.
Are you able to make a long term commitment to a dog?
This is an important consideration before deciding to own ANY dog. Shepherds have a life expectancy of 10-13 years. Be prepared to honor a commitment to the dog for the remainder of its life. The adoration and devotion you will receive in return deserves nothing less.
Does your long term housing situation make it viable to own a dog?
Is your current housing situation stable enough for a dog? Do you own your home? (some breeders may ask you this) If not, does your landlord agree to allow a big dog to reside at their premises? Do you have adequate space, including a completely fenced yard for a large active dog? What about your neighbors? Will they tolerate a large dog with a loud bark living next door?
Do you anticipate a move in the coming years? “We’re moving” is one of common reasons dogs are dumped in pounds. If you are expecting a move, please give serious consideration to the viability of getting a dog, unless you are certain you will be taking your dog with you. They are not a disposable item, and the puppy you brought but are now unable to keep, could have gone on to have a lifetime home with somebody who had made this consideration.
Are you a strong leader, have you had experience handling a large active breed?
Do NOT expect a Shepherd to respond to your commands if you are a weak leader. A strong minded dog can end up running your household if you do not use consistent and fair discipline. As Shepherds are bred to move livestock, they can be a dominant breed of dog. Many problems arise from a lack of clear leadership in a dogs social structure, which can progress on to dangerous displays of aggression and territorial behaviour if the dog feels its alpha rank is being questioned or challenged.
Are you looking for a dog that will be gentle with all living creatures?
All dogs have hunting instincts, and birds, rabbits, cats (and potentially small dogs), and livestock fall into the category of “things to be hunted for fun”. Due to their size and jaw strength, even a game instigated by the dog/puppy in play can end fatally without consistent training and supervision. Even with training, it may not be wise to leave a Shepherd unattended with these sorts of critters. If living on acreage your fencing will be an extremely important consideration, as the damage to your neighbours prize livestock may end up being very costly.
Are you comfortable with a Shedders, Ooops, Shepherds hair?
White Shepherds can shed heavily, pretty much all year round. Consider whether your decor or carpet is going to be a suitable match with white fur. A good vacuum cleaner and regular grooming are key.
If you answered ‘NO’ to any of these questions, you should reconsider your decision to own the Shepherd breed. Maybe this just isn’t the right time in your life for any dog, or maybe another breed would fit your needs and expectations better. You have a responsibility to yourself and the dog to make a reasonable decision as to whether this is going to be the best decision in the long term (9-14 years).