From the book "Weisse Schäferhunde" by Gaby & Peter von Döllen, Monika Bender
It is you who takes over a big responsibility
for a long time when you buy a White Shepherd puppy. Many wishes
your child asks are only for a short time. You can throw away
dolls, games etc, they are only an investment of money. However,
a dog will always ask for your care, your love and your attention
and means additional costs for his lifetime. Of course, your
child can - depending on his age - take over some responsibility,
but you should always know that the MAIN work will be up to you,
the parents. It is possible that, as soon as the cute puppy has
grown to an adult dog, with all his special character sides, the
child will soon loose interest.
The whole family should agree to the new family
member as nothing will be normal. It is absolutely necessary that
you are responsible for all points of education. Even if a White
Shepherd is intelligent and will learn very fast and easy, your
child or teenager is not able to do this, especially in dog education
you are responsible, your child is simply too young. And the whole
thing is too important, the dog MUST learn to respect and to accept
your child and only you can teach it.
If you have thought about all these points
and you are still prepared to buy a dog, everything will probably
turn out well. Perhaps your child will discover a new hobby called
agility or other dog sports and White Shepherd and child will
make a wonderful team. We are crossing the fingers for you that
both, your child and your new White Shepherd will grow up as a
team, will respect each other as partners and will have adventures
together. Then there are the best prerequisites that your child,
too, will learn how to treat dogs right and will become a perfect
partner for our White Shepherds for his lifetime who appreciates
the value and trust of this wonderful breed.
A child who owns (or better: who's family owns)
a dog has an enormous advantage especially when the child is a
bit shy. The dog at his side will offer him the chance of being
interesting for other children, to get the necessary contacts,
he offers safety and will always listen to the big or small problems.
The dog will listen, he won't argue, he does not try to educate
and he never poses questions. But he is alive and more able to
comfort. He is never in a bad mood or has to do more important
things than to play with the child. Another effect is, that the
child is more or less forced to outside activities. Playing outside,
shopping or even a small walk is much more fun with "partner
The child will learn to respect and accept
animals in general. He/She will learn that a dog is a personality
that has rights and means responsibility. Because of being outside
quite often the child will get a special relationship to nature.
A special event are the successes your child
will get when it tries to learn one or another trick with the
dog. It means an opportunity for the self-confidence but on the
other hand, it will know when the dog does not follow. Difficult
subjects like birth or dead can more easily be explained to the
child in connection with the dog ( or any other pet). It is known
that dogs are able to motivate children, therapies with animals
are becoming more and more usual in our lives.
The dog is and will always be an animal, of
course, it never ever replaces the social contacts with other
children or adults. Furthermore, even if there are many advantages
for your child, your whole family should be convinced that the
dog is a correct decision. If a family member hesitates, your
child will also grow up without a dog.
Before buying a dog you should, especially
when there is a child in your family, look for a good breeder.
You should have a lee whether the puppies get positive contacts
to children within the 8 weeks they are spending at the breeders
home. During the first weeks the puppy learns to respect and to
love or (when there are negative or no contacts) hate children.
If the latter is the case your dog will always have problems with
children and you will hardly be able to change his attitude with
love and patience. Ask the breeder AND (!!!) look very carefully
at how the dogs and puppies are reacting to your own children.
A breeder can tell you a lot just to sell his dogs, the dogs themselves
The White Shepherd has a reputation as a family
dog and you should not be confused by the name "German Shepherd"
- the Whites' character is quite different. Especially in Germany
the breeding went in direction family dg and the character clearly
shows this direction.
The fanciers of the colored German Shepherds
often call the Whites as "fearful and not protective".
His place is in the family so please do not put hi m outside in
a kennel. He is attentive, curious and always open for new things
to discover, a perfect partner who will feel enthousiastic for
the ideas and games of your children. Perfectly socialized, he
will be a wonderful partner and a sensible and loyal "cuddling
pet". From own experiences we can say that our White Shepherd
never growled (or worse) although she has been treated sometimes
very painfully by our daughter.
When you visit shows you will soon realize
the perfect suitability as family dog. The White Shepherds are
running around, mostly without any leashes and the children are
playing around them, touching dogs they have never seen. I have
never seen any aggression.
In spite of the trust you may have in the loyalty
of your White Shepherd concerning the treatment of your children
please look after dog and child when they are playing together.
Especially babies or children in their "experimental phase"
have an enormous creativity and strange ideas of what they can
do with the dog. They want to know how deep is a dog's nose, what
they can put into an ear and so on. You should tell your child
that the dog is alive and feels pain and can be hurt. He has a
right of being treated carefully and with love. If you have a
puppy or a young dog, please think that also your dog is in a
special phase of development. Your dog has an enormous power and
biting your child would have extreme consequences. He will never
do so (supposingly a correct breeding and education) even if he
feels pain. We can just ask you to take special care that your
child soon learns to respect the dog as a living creature and
for a place where he can lie down in peace when he wnats to be
When the puppy is correctly socialized, he
will be friendly towards all children, he will try to play and
to get contact. We had much fun during the first time with our
puppy until a bad event destroyed the trust of children within
one minute. I will tell this story in part II (own experiences).
Our advise is to look after your puppy whenever children are around,
the friendly situation can suddenly change into a bad and negative
experience and it is very difficult to change the dogs attitude
Other children will come and play with your
puppy. All in all, there is no objection and also your dog takes
profit and strengthens his character. It is necessary to see that
the games will not be too wild for the puppy and to stop as soon
as you see that he feels afraid or tries to run away. Keep in
your mind that your dog accepts your OWN child as a family member
and so it will always have more rights in treating him than other
children. The White Shepherd is known for his patience but there
may be a point where he says to himself that this is more than
enough. Always have a look on the situation and your dogs reaction.
Unfortunately, there are also children who
have never been told to respect animals and who love to annoy
them. This reaction is not normal for children and so you can,
more or less, be sure that the parents, too, will not have a sense
for the feelings of your dog. Try to avoid any contact with these
children in your own and in your dogs interest. In case these
children are annoying your puppy, they may get into troubles when
he has grown to an adult dog.
I hardly can describe how unbelievable reactions
you will get from other parents. As long as your puppy is small
and cute there will be no problems. The parents are telling their
children that they can touch and cuddle your puppy. As soon as
you walk around with an adult White Shepherd, their mind has changed.
The cute puppy their children were allowed to play with has suddenly
changed into a white, dangerous monster trying to kill everybody
around, especially helpless children. First, it is inexcusable
that you are walking in "their" area. And if your White
Shepherd is without leash (because he really comes when you ask
for it and stays beside your side) his is nearly a reason to call
the police. You get to hear stories like "last week a German
Shepherd bite a neighbors child" and so on. I would like
to point out that it is really inexcusable to leave a biting or
aggressive dog without a leash especially in an area where children
are playing. But, not all free running dogs are children killing
I do not want to judge all parents, this would
be unfair, as there are many who are reacting reasonable and try
to make a good contact between their children and the dog. The
reason of writing this chapter is that I never thought in advance
that there are so many problems and that there are so incomprehensible
reactions by adults. Sometimes I have been asked whether the parents
can show the correct treatment to their children or they told
their child that he/she has to ask me before touching an unknown
dog. These are positive and rare events. More often I heard sentences
like "no, do not touch the dog, it will bite", "no,
dogs are dirty", "don't touch the dog, there are perhaps
fleas around" (our dogs lives with usin the flat, she never
had fleas and the coat is -except after playing - white and combed).
The worst I heard was "if you touch dogs, you will become
An adult White Shepherd (like all bigger breeds)
is a danger in the eyes of some parents. However, you are the
owner and know your dog. You should think that many children are
afraid of dogs for one or another reason. It is often a result
of education but nevertheless, it does not change the FACT itself.
When you let your dog run free and the child runs away just because
of it's fear your dog probably will forget everything you have
taught him (especially when he is still young) and think here
is a new game to play. He will follow the child, perhaps barking
loudly. The child's parents are obviously no longer your friends
after such a "hunt game". Of course, every dog fancier
will know and accept the natural behavior of your dog and understand
the reason, but, the child itself will survive this situation
as extremely dangerous. This scene will certainly intensify the
fear against dogs. This cannot be right because this child will
never be a dog-lover.
I usually tell Fiala to come at my side as
soon as children are appearing. I know she will stay there but
nevertheless, I am always prepared to take her necklace. After
a certain time you know the fearful children and you can see when
they are afraid. In this case it is really wise to take the leash
for a moment.
It would be great if both sides, parents and
dog-owners, could try to get along with each other without any
prejudices. It could be a big advantage for the children and for