While often thought as 2 separate breeds, German Shepherds and White Shepherds are better thought of as variants of the same breed. White Shepherds were developed from German Shepherds selectively bred to display white coats. The primary difference between these populations, then, lies mainly in coat color, which is not considered in our ancestry assignment.
To understand a bit of the complexity here, it may be helpful to delve into our ancestry assignment process. Our pipeline works by comparing the DNA from each dog we test to a reference database of tens of thousands of dogs from over 350 breeds, landraces, and populations. This process is designed to identify long stretches of identical DNA between test dogs and our reference dataset. Relying on long segments of shared DNA tells us about the most recent and closest relatives of each dog within our reference dataset across each segment of its genome.
When two populations are extremely closely related, such as White Shepherds and German Shepherds, dogs representing either population may share long tracts of DNA with dogs from the other. These shared tracts, which reflect real shared history, can cause issues in ancestry assignment.
While we do have enough White Shepherds in our reference panel to distinguish them from German Shepherds in most cases, surprises like this do arise! Importantly, genetic results do not affect registration status in any way.
If you believe you have a White Shepherd that has been incorrectly assigned German Shepherd ancestry or vice-versa, please contact us so that we may take a closer look.
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