"Berger Blanc Suisse" now recognized by the F.C.I. - The situation in Germany

(last updated in July 2003)

Many things have been written, thought and many things are still not clear. During the past years often enough there were rumours about a club becoming member of the VDH (the German FCI-member). It is not my idea to discuss whether this was true or not. Fact is, in Germany the breed was not officially recognized until 1.1.03. "Official" means the VDH.

Now something has changed and we will try to make some things clear. We are quite involved in the matter:

The F.C.I.

The FCI is the main organisation concerning dog breeding in the world. Kennel clubs from most European countries and from some overseas countries are member. The VDH (Verein für das Deutsche Hundewesen) is the German member club in the FCI.

When talking about "FCI-papers", this expression does not mean pedigrees given out by the F.C.I. These papers are pedigrees, given out by a member club of the F.C.I. (for example the SKK from Sweden, the DKK from Denmark or the GWS from Switzerland). This is possible in countries where the breed is NATIONAL recognized.

Here were are: in the middle of the often chaotic situation. We have to differ between the NATIONAL recognition and the general breed recognition by the FCI.

The NATIONAL recognition

In some European and Overseas Countries the breed is already recognized by the national kennel club. Switzerland was the first country, followed up by Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Slovenia and South Africa. There may be one or another country missing; during the past years many national kennel clubs were willing to accept the White Shepherd as own breed. In the last time it was no longer something special when the breed was nationally recognized in a country.

The NATIONAL recognition means that the national kennel club accepts the White Shepherds as own breed. The rules for breeding and recognition are different from nation to nation. Dogs from other countries (without national recognition) were in some countries not allowed for breeding, others accepted them unter certain circumstances.

In many countries the situation in breeding became quite difficult after the recognition. One club with "recognized" dogs, the others as "second-class" clubs with "second-class" dogs. "Second-class" just since the recognition. In some countries this leaded to strong disputes that are still lasting. In any case, disagreements between clubs are neither a German nor a breed specific problem.

The national recognitions were necessary and important as they were a sign. A sign to the F.C.I. that something must happen. It was task of each national kennel club to check beforehand, that the breed has acutally developed to an own and seperate breed. One country after another came to the conclusion that the White Shepherd is an own breed, no longer comparable with German Shepherds or other FCI breeds. A sign, the FCI itself could not ignore any longer.

Germany is the country with the most White Shepherds. These dogs were not or not always allowed in the breeding of other countries. Germany was not much involved in the European breeding and it was not possible to reach a national recognition by own forces. Prejudices were the reason and a powerful SV (German SHepherd Club) may also have been a reason that the VDH did never accept an inquiry. They informed about their rules that said that a national recognition is never ever possible.

The only chance for Germany was the general recognition by the F.C.I.

The general recognition by the FCI

The F.C.I. is the top of all national kennel clubs. And the F.C.I. can recognize a breed generally. This means that EACH kennel club being member is FORCED to accept a kennel club (or more) as member to realize an organized breeding. Concerning Germany this meant that the German member club of the FCI, the VDH, was now forced to accept one or more club/s. The FCI is the boss, the VDH has to follow.

"Why did not they go this way from the beginning" you may ask now. The general recognition by the FCI is much more complicated than a national recognition. You need exact information about population, kynologic dates and 8 different and non-related blood lines you want to breed with. The latter was the worst problem, there were no common data information available. Each country had its own stud books (sometimes each club had its own stud books and as there were disagreements, they did not exchange the dates). Futhermore there were language problems so that each country acted on national basis first and for the most countries this was absolutely sufficient.

Nevertheless, many people fighted for a general recognition and it was more and more visible that escpecially Germany had no other choice. But, unfortunately, Germany itself was not able to act as the application must come from an FCI-member club. Even if a German White Shepherd Club were able to fulfill all the needs, they needed the help of the VDH.

Finally, the application was done by Switzerland. Probably this was the best decision for the White Shepherds. The first national recognition was in Switzerland. The first dogs coming back to Europe, lived in Switzerland. And: since more than 10 years the GWS (Gesellschaft für Weiße Schäferhunde SChweiz) is working close together with the SKG (Schweizerische Kynologische Gesellschaft, the Swiss member of the FCI). An experienced team, informed about everything, working in the white shepherd breed for long, long years. With international help the dates were collected. The blood lines were delivered from Germany by Birgit Stoll. She collected pedigrees from all clubs for many years which made an enormous number of dates. Of course, many people from different countries were involved, such a big work needed international cooperation.

Switzerland sent the application in autumn 2001 and the FCI voted for it in May 2002. At least there were some things, that had to be discussed and that needed compromises. The main thing is that the new breed has clearly to differ from the old and existing breed "German Shepherd". In the official papers and statements you will find no connection between the two breeds.

This means: The history starts with the import of Lobo and Lilac. The home country of the breed is Switzerland.

Standard language is French and the name also: The name was changed into "Berger Blanc Suisse", translated "White Swiss Shepherd". Whether this name will become common - we will see. The story of names of the breed and changes of the names has now one more name at its end.

Because of these changes the answer to this application could not be completely positive. The changes were done by the people responsible in Switzerland and were presented to the standard commission once more at the end of 2002. In December 2002 the FCI accepted the White Swiss Shepherd as new breed. The breed got a Standard Number. The White Swiss Shepherd will be taken into FCI group no 1.

The Breeding Situation

In many countries nothing will change. The national recognition was fact already, so the general recogition will not change a lot. Some pedigrees have to be replaced or they get an additional mark. In most countries this worked quick and without problems. People who importet a dog with papers from an FCI-member-country before 1.1.03 should better ask the responsible kennel club whether these papers are still valid in the "old" form. Maybe they have to be replaced.

Germany and its clubs

In Germany the situation becomes interesting. There are many clubs and there will be a hard fight when it comes to the membership in the VDH.

In Germany we have about 20 clubs for the breed "White Shepherd", if you even count the groups once being member of one of the big clubs. Many of them do not fulfill the presupposes for a membership in the VDH. The club needs a certain number of (non-related) dogs for breeding. At last there will be only a few that are able to fulfill everything.

Application for a membership in the VDH

During the first months in 2003 there were many speculations about the clubs. Meanwhile everything has calmed down and it is clear that only TWO clubs applied for the membership in the VDH. A third club did not apply which is quite amazing. Perhaps this application will come when the situation and the way the VDH is working is much clearer.

The application was sent by the BVWS (Bundesverein für Weiße Schäferhunde). This club is known as quite stable, going back to a foundation about 20 years ago. The number of members is around 400 so it should be easy to present the number of breeding dogs. With the background of 20 years breeding experience and hard breeding rules the BVWS is one of the best and most serious candidates. The application was sent to the VDH in the beginning of 2003. The VDH is now checking the numerous papers - until January 2004 there was no answer, neither positive nor negative.

The RWS e.V. (Rassezuchtverein für Weiße Schäferhunde), a former group of the BVWS is working alone since a couple of years. They have reached quite a number of members and breeders. The RWS sent the application in December 2002 already. Some weeks before, there was a fusion with the WSR Deutschland e.V. (the WSR belonged to the former 1.DZV, but worked also alone since 1999). The fusion with the RWS was very surprising as the interests of both clubs are very different.

Both clubs, the BVWS and the RWS asked for a permission for breeding during the time the application is checked by the VDH. This permission was given to the clubs meanwhile. This means that under certain circumstances the breeders of both clubs can produce litters. The papers are given out by the VDH.

The third club that might be able to apply for the membership is the 1. WS e.V., a new name for the "old" WACSR e.V. A very old club that was divided into many small clubs. Some of them are still working, one is the 1.WS e.v. When the general recognition was announced this group activated its breeding and had an enormous increase in members and breeders. The club announced the application of membership but they never sent it. Of course, the clubs' breeders got to know the problems and the breeding stop for BVWS and RWS breeders (until they got the permission). When the permission came, the breeders of RWS and BVWS had to visit VDH shows with their dogs, there were problems with the x-ray results: to cut a long story short: the WS-breeders realized that in the other clubs were lots of problems occuring they had never thought of before. Perhaps this was the reason why the 1.WS did not sent an application.

At the moment, the breeders of the 1. WS can breed up to the clubs' rules but they can also register and show their dogs in the VDH. For a breeding with VDH-papers they have to leave the club. After acceptance of the BVWS or RWS they HAVE to become member there to receive VDH-papers.

The VDH will accept the application of those clubs that are correct. The idea, only ONE club can become member, is completely wrong. Of course, one club sounds as the best solution for the breeding efforts themselves, but there are so many differences between the clubs and their rules. It is a future dream that ALL clubs will be working together stable for a longer time.

Even though the chances are absolutely equal some people started a kind of race. They try to argue, they tell wrong things just to get more members or to be in a better position. Each fact published should be checked properly, many of them are simply wrong. Many people are not able to understand the things that are written down. Those, who are working correct and fulfills the restrictions of the VDH is not allowed to make propaganda with the fact that there is an application of membership.

The phase of checking the papers will take some time. 2-5 years is a normal time schedule. One year is over now. A long time where the clubs and the patience of the breeders will be tested.

The breeding situation when one/more clubs are member in the VDH

Many things will change. First of all, in the show scene. Shows were organized by the clubs, as shows especially for White Shepherds. Now, the breeders and owners are able to take part at VDH shows. Perhaps there will be one special show for White SHepherds per year but even there the VDH rules have to be used. This means to become familiar with some points. The clubs that send an application to the VDH are not allowed to organize these shows within the first year of their membership. Registered dogs can participate at VDH-shows in 2003 and 2004.

The breeding.... The clubs were free in their decisions which dogs can be used for breeding. When they came up to the standard and had a pedigree, they could be used in breeding. Even import dogs could be used for breeding.

This will change even though some points are not yet clear. MAny things will be decided nationally. One thing is clear: whoever thought that a White Shepherd is a White Shepherd has to change his mind. The puppies from coloured ( or half-coloured) litters cannot be integrated any longer. We have a complete division from the German Shepherd breeding. In some european countries this is no big change but there are facts that can lead to difficult situations.

One of the import countries are the United States, furthermore Great Britain and Canada. In these countries the White Shepherds get pedigrees as White German Shepherds. The name alone may be acceptable. Not acceptable is the fact, that in these countries coloured shepherds are still involved in the breeding scene. From England we heard that they will not accept the European decision - there will be no change of the name "White German Shepherd" into "White Swiss Shepherd" (Englands kennel club is no member of the FCI so they are not forced to act in any way). So an import to and from England and an integration into the genpool will no longer be possible.

The FCI-countries are forced (mainly with view to the final recognition in 10 years) to eliminate ALL white shepherds with coloured ancestors (until 3rd generation) from the breeding pool. This is one of the compromise combined with the recognition. We no not lose the general import chance but we lose a lot of dogs that could have been useful for the breeding.

A lot of work has to be done by clubs and breeders. The target must be to guarantee a future in the kynology for the Berger Blanc Suise. The breed must stay healthy and fit.

Shows and Registration by the VDH

Apart from usual White Shepherd Shows those White Shepherds, registered in the VDH can be presented at VDH-shows.

Apart from a big registration event in Dortmund back in February 2003 the White Swiss Shepherds can be registered on official VDH-shows. An application for registration must be sent to the VDH. There must be certain judges at the show so that a registration is not always possible. You can ring the VDH to get information. The form for application can be downloaded at www.bvws.de

When the dogs are registered, their former pedigrees will stay at the VDH office. You will get a copy. This is a fact, many people critisized. A long breeding time, kennel names, breeding lines - all this disappeared in the VDH office. "Replacement" are the register papers given out by the VDH with only the dogs' name on it. (i.e. "Fiala"). No kennel name, no parents, no grandparents. Of course, there is a risk of inbreeding without the knowledge of these facts. But this is not THAT easy: for a inbreeding or a bad breeding choice you need a breeder and an owner of the sire. The ancestors are not forgotten and deleted, they are still existing in the stud books of the clubs. It is always possible for a breeder to get these information.

Concerning the "WHY": To the VDH these papers are documents. The VDH can only accept those information that has been checked: the dogs, presented at a show. The VDH does not know whether the parents of this dogs are correct, they even did not allow the litter. OF course, the clubs are upset as they have always worked properly and seriously. (in any case they say they did!) However: as soon as you do not take it personal but see it general the dramatic disappears. Fact is, that some countries took over kennel names and parents, grandparents etc. (Austria did so). Fact is also, that some other countries did the same as the VDH (Sweden did so). The original pedigrees will stay at the VDH office. When a owner wants to do its breeding without the VDH he can ask his papers back. He gives back the registration papers and gets back his original papers.

The registration papers are accepted at VDH shows. You will be surprised when you only know the "usual" shows. The shows are bigger, all breeds are presented. The long coated and short coated white shepherds are in one ring. There are no baby classes. For the breeding result the youth classes are no longer permitted.

Once more: the breeding scene!

People could read awful things in the internet. X-raying of all dogs! Breeders getting heart attacks because the always-winning-champion gets a "SG" at the VDH-show. Many things have changed and many things will change in the future. Some changes are hard to accept, they mean work and costs for the breeders. HOWEVER: those who want to go the "serious" way of the VDH-breeding has to do these efforts. And sometimes it is only the first view....

Unfortunately the atmosphere is negative. Nobody can say, WHY and WHAT it is. Perhaps it is the feeling that an institution (the VDH) says what breeders have to do. And that some things have to be repeated (x-raying) because the VDH rules differ from the clubs' rules. I would like to point out what a breeder has to do for a VDH-conform breeding.

Owners of Males:

The male has to be presented at a registration when he is at least 15 months old. You have to call the VDH, pay a trip to the show and a 1-2 minutes presentation at the show. A long trip for 2 minutes: maybe, if you want to critizise, you will always find something.

Some weeks later, the VDH sends the registration papers. Now you can show your dog at VDH-shows. For a breeding permission the male needs two shows in the Open Class, two different (GERMAN VDH) judges. The mark must be "V" or "SG" .

Furthermore the dog must be x-rayed. The dog must be 15 months or older when the picture is taken. This leaded to discussions as the clubs accept an age of 12 months, so many dogs were x-rayed at an age of 12-15 months. At the moment, the pictures have to come up to VDH rules and this may mean a second x-ray for one or another dog. The pictures are sent to the VDH. The whole matter is quite complicated, whoever needs any explanations or facts should not hesitate to call the BVWS, RWS or the VDH.

As soon as these facts are given, your male can be used for breeding. Of course, you have to apply for the permission at the VDH office. He can be used for females that also fulfill the rules of the VDH. Other matings are no longer possible!!!

Owners of females have some more rules to think of. The females themselves have to fulfill the same things as the males.

The breeders have to ask for "Zwingerschutz" (kennel protection) at the VDH office. You have to do so in any case even though you have a kennel registered at a White Shepherd Club. Unfortunately, many breeders cannot continue breeding at their old and well-known kennel name. On the other hand your "dream-name" not accepted by the WHite Shepherd Club might be accepted by the VDH.

A breed warden accepted by the VDH has to check your kennel. I do not want to inform you about all the points a kennel must have. There are various things but you better refer to the VDH.

At the moment, you need neither a "Begleithundeprüfung" (BH) nor a temperament test for breeding with your dog. A thing RWS and BVWS do not like a lot, because their breeding rules are much higher.

This is the situation now. Each breeder can breed unter the VDH. It is not necessary to be member of BVWS or RWS but it is not allowed to be member of another club. Neither BVWS/RWS-member or non-club-member. After acception of BVWS or RWS this will change.

Unfortunately, many breeders still hesite to register their dogs. Each dog, staying out of the registration and / or -breed, reduces the genpool and the dogs we have at our disposal. The breed is recognized, many people have spent hours and hours, they have worked and invested money and spare time to reach this high target. They succeeded. Two clubs built the basis to guarantee their breeders a serious breed unter the roof of the VDH. The application meant paperwork, enormous costs and time, too. This work, done without any payment, was not easy. It is a pity that so many breeders now hesitate because it is now THEIR turn to act, to invest a little time, some Euro and some efforts. Their result will be a kennel with VDH-logo. The responsibles in the clubs did it often for nothing.

Those, who thought to avoid the German Mess by importing a dog from a FCI-country, has to realize that these papers will not be valid any longer. All papers written before 1.1.03 have to be renewed in one or another way. Owners of import dogs should ask the club of the dogs' home country about the steps they have to do. .

copyright: Gaby von Döllen, September 2002 - Juli 2003

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