The American Alsatian is not just the German Shepherd’s American counterpart; he is a pure-bred dog who is a completely separate breed from the German Shepherd Dog. He has been cleverly engineered by one American woman who has bred him to be a large dog solely used for companionship purposes, so he really is one of the loveliest and gentle canine giants around.
The American Alsatian is commonly mistaken for a German Shepherd, Shiloh Shepherd or even the King Shepherd. It’s easy to see why that happens, given that each breed looks somewhat similar, but with size and coat being some of the major differences between each of them.
He is not a guard dog, and he is not particularly barky, and he will most certainly not stop any intruders from entering your home, so if you are looking for a protective but larger German Shepherd, this guy does not fit that bill! But if it is a large and fluffy hot water bottle that you are after, who is devoted to and affectionate with his whole family, then you are in the right place to find out all you need to know about him! So, without further ado, let me introduce the American Alsatian.
In order to understand the American Alsatian it is important to understand his history and how his journey started. He originates from America, the Schwarz Kennels in Oregon to be exact. In 1987, a woman called Lois Denny, began the Dire Wolf Project. She has long had a fascination with dogs and wolves, but she realized that the wolf dog hybrid was a difficult dog to have for most, if not all, families. She desired a dog that looked exactly like a Dire Wolf, but one who was a gentle and affectionate companionship canine, and so she began her journey to create him.
Dire Wolves are now extinct, but fossils dating back hundreds of thousands of years ago show that he was a little larger than the grey wolf that we know today. First, she mated a German Shepherd with an Alaskan Malamute, in order to achieve a larger dog just like the Dire Wolf. At this point the puppy product was named the Alsatian Shepalute, but those puppies were not quite what she wanted.
She then bred the English Mastiff and the Great Pyrenees into the line to make them larger, and then she added the Anatolian Shepherd and the Irish Wolfhound into the mix for their extra height. And from here she only selected the healthiest and most gentle of puppies to breed the next generation of the American Alsatian.
With over five steady generations of the American Alsatian he is considered to be a purebred dog himself, however he is not yet recognized by any major kennel club. He does have his own breed club, called the National American Alsatian Breeders Association (NAABA). It is claimed by his club that he is the only large dog that is bred purely for companionship purposes. So if this appeals to you, then read on to find out more about him.
Being the only large dog that is bred for his companionship qualities, and companionship being Lois Denny’s primary aim, you know that you are going to receive a lot of affection and devotion from this loyal dog. He is a gentle giant who will be by your side whenever you are around. He is not focused on a sole caregiver like the German Shepherd, and so he dotes on all family members. This snuggle bug will take all the cuddles that he can get, so you best be prepared to share your sofa and lap with him!
Whilst forming strong bonds with his human pack is a fantastic quality in a dog, it can also generate trouble when it comes to leaving him at home. He does not like to be left at home at all, and if he is left for more than a few hours then he will become anxious and worrisome, which often results in destructive behaviors. For this reason, he should only be placed with a family whereby someone will be at home for most of the day.
Another one of Lois Denny’s aims for the American Alsatian was to create a quiet dog who rarely barks. He is a docile pup who likes a quiet and chilled family environment. If you are after a calm family dog then he would be the perfect fit for you, but if you are after a more alert and proactive guard dog then you should consider the traditional German Shepherd, or another dog with a similar temperament, for the American Alsatian does not make a great guard dog.
Size & Appearance
The American Alsatian is a big boy, who is much larger than the German Shepherd. The male American Alsatian should measure up to 32 inches tall, and the female should measure up to 28 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. The male American Alsatian should also weigh no less than 90 pounds, and the female no less than 85 pounds. To put that into perspective, the male German Shepherd weighs between 65 and 90 pounds, so the largest German Shepherds are the same size as the smallest of American Alsatians.
The desired appearance of the American Alsatian was for him to look more like a wild wolf than a domesticated dog. He looks like a cross between a German Shepherd and a Alaskan Malamute, with the structure of the larger dogs described above. Overall, he is described as looking like a wolf of yesteryears, so expect heads to turn when you are walking him in public. He is longer than he is tall, and he has a deep chest and heavy-set bones, which gives him an overall sturdy appearance.
His eyes tend to be light amber to brown, which gives him his wolfy gaze, but his other features should all be dark brown to black, such as his nose, eye rims and lips. His ears are triangular with a rounded tip and should stand alert for the majority of the time. His tail should be short to medium length, never past his hocks, and it should be straight and never curly. The Schwarz Kennels outline his full breed standard, so check this out for more detailed information.
Coat & Colors
The American Alsatian breed standards describe that he has a double layered coat, that changes with the summer and winter seasons. His winter coat should be long, thick and coarse. It should be wooly, and the fur should be longer around his neck. As soon as the seasons begin to warm up, his winter coat will heavily shed, which is described by those in the canine world as ‘blowing his coat’, as so much of his fur sheds! It becomes much shorter and thinner, with the undercoat almost completely ‘blowing out’, so much so that he will appear a much darker color because his light fur almost disappears.
The American Alsatian has a wide variety of colors, but the most desirable color coat is the silver sable. Other colors include, golden sable, gray sable, tri sable, tri sable golden gray, tri silver sable, black silver sable, silver and solid colors such as cream. Overall, a wolf like color is encouraged and more desirable than the solid colors.
Exercise & Living Conditions
The American Alsatian will require around 60 minutes of exercise a day, so he will need to be placed with an active family. He would enjoy walks in the forest or even a bit of jogging once he is over 2 years of age. Interactive games are a great way to expel their energy, but they also act as a great bonding session for both you and your pup.
Despite his activity levels, he is relatively docile in the home, and will love nothing more than an afternoon snooze on the sunbed with his master, or to act as a hot water bottle for the children of the family whilst they read their books. He is very gentle and affectionate with children, and because of his calm demeanor in the home he is suited to living with children of all ages. Of course, be sure to teach your children how to behave around him and supervise them at all times to avoid any accidental bumps.
He is also great with other animals, as long as he is socialized early as a pup, and so he makes a great addition to a multi-pet household. His little to no guarding tendencies means that he will not be phased by other animals on his property, and as such he should also welcome and accept other animals who join the animal clan after him. Of course, all animals are different, but with a controlled pre-meet there should be no issues at all with this guy.
Because of his large size, and his love of lying about on the sofa, he should be placed into a large home where there is plenty of room for him, with access to a large yard for him to enjoy a lazy snooze in the shade. Despite being quite docile in the home, he will not be suited to apartment living.
This guy is intelligent and eager to please his master, and as such he is relatively easy to train because a little bit of praise goes a long way with this guy. It is unlikely that he will be food orientated, and he will be more interested in pleasing you, so be sure to verbally praise him a lot.
Unlike his German Shepherd relative, his guarding tendencies should not cause any issues with over protectiveness, so this should not be a worry for you. For this reason, and all the other reasons in this section, he is suited to first time owners. He will still require early socialization with other pups to ensure that he grows up into a well-mannered pooch, and also so that he is confident in different situations.
The America Alsatian, as described above, is prone to suffering from separation anxiety more so than the average dog. A great way to ease his anxiety is to crate train him from a young age as this helps to teach him that his crate is his safe place, so when you do have to leave him, he will find comfort in his crate. It also prevents him from chewing your furniture and home, so be sure to check out this article here for some heavy-duty dog crates.
The American Alsatian is a generally healthy dog, and his lifespan is around 12 to 14 years, which is much longer than his German Shepherd relative, who lives on average 4 years less than him.
The American Alsatian is prone to suffering from Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, which is an abnormal formation of the affected joints which will eventually cause pain when walking, and crippling arthritis. All NAABA registered dogs have to submit their hip and elbow scores. Another bone related illness is Panosteitis, which is where the bones become inflamed in his legs, and again this can cause pain when walking.
Additionally, some American Alsatian owners have reported that their dogs suffer from Epilepsy, which is where the pup has a fit because a burst of electric activity in his brain. Not all American Alsatians have this, but it is definitely important to read about it so you know what to do should your pup experience this.
The American Alsatian will consume around 3 to 3 ½ cups of food every day. Be sure to feed him high-quality kibble that is aimed at large to extra-large dogs, as this will provide him with the sustenance that he needs for the day. Be sure to discuss any nutritional questions with the Veterinarian, as he will be the best point of contact regarding his health and other queries.
Large dog breeds such as this guy tend to be at risk from bloat, and so be sure to feed him the above recommended food across at least 2 different sittings, and not immediately before or after intense exercise. Bloat is a life-threatening condition, and he should be taken to the Veterinarian immediately should you suspect that he is displaying associated symptoms.
Whilst the American Alsatian is not driven by food, it is important to monitor his treat intake as the extra weight that he will undoubtedly pile on, will negatively affect his elbow and hip joints that are already under strain.
The American Alsatian will require brushing every other day to ensure that his coat is kept manageable during the winter months. When it comes to him blowing his coat in the warmer seasons, it is likely that you will have to brush him at least once a day to keep on top of his shedding, otherwise you may drown in fluff! As mentioned earlier, their entire undercoat will almost disappear during the shedding months, so don’t be alarmed that he looks skinny all of a sudden as it will probably be just his coat thinning out.
Other than the everyday brushing that he requires, this guy is relatively comparable to the average dog when it comes to his grooming. Use his grooming time to check him over once a week to check for lumps, bumps and scrapes, or any other abnormalities that may need to be checked out by the Veterinarian.
The average price of an American Alsatian puppy from a reputable breeder is between $1,800 and $3,000. The Schwarz Kennel provide tips when buying an American Alsatian puppy.
It is likely, that because the breed is still a canine rarity, that there are waiting lists for puppies, and as such you should put your name down as soon as you have decided that he is the right dog breed for you as it is likely that you will have to wait for some time after this. According to the Schwarz Kennel puppy information page, a wait of 6 months is typical.
As Family Pets
- The American Alsatian is a gentle giant who craves affection.
- He is a very sociable dog who craves human interaction throughout the day.
- He needs to be placed with a family who can spend most of the day with him.
- The American Alsatian would benefit from crate training.
- Because of their size, you should have space in your home for an extra-large crate.
- He needs to be placed in a large house that has a large backyard.
- He requires around 60 minutes of exercise a day.
- Because of his exercise requirements, he should be with an active family.
- The American Alsatian is a gentle dog who is docile in the house.
- Because of his docile nature, he is suited to families with children of all ages.
- He is friendly, and with little to no guarding tendencies.
- He can do well in a multi-pet household as long as he’s socialized early.
- His coat is very fluffy, and his undercoat completely de-sheds during shedding season.
- He is not suited to families with dog allergies and will need de-shedded with a tool.
Finding an American Alsatian Breeder
As it currently stands, the NAABA have only certified 2 American Alsatian breeders; the first being the original Schwarz Kennel, and the other being DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito in Washington. Whilst there may be more breeders out there, who may be equally as ethical and reputable, it is important to do your research and to meet the breeders and their puppies in person. However, being such a rare breed, and because the NAABA suggest them, it would be wise to consider these guys first.
Be wary of unscrupulous breeders who offer the American Alsatian at a lower price, for they are likely to be just selling you an German Shepherd who is probably unhealthy and hasn’t had the best start to life.
Rescue & Shelters
It is unlikely that you will find an American Alsatian in Rescue Kennels for three reasons. Firstly, there are so few of them around and it would be very unlikely to stumble across one. Secondly, puppy buying contracts outline that should an owner have to give up their puppy, then they are to surrender them back to the breeder. And thirdly, they are likely to be labelled a German Shepherd in rescue kennels as very few people would be able to distinguish between the two.
For the best chance of finding an American Alsatian in a rescue shelter, you should research your local German Shepherd rescue center, as they also house German Shepherd mixes.
He might look like the larger, burlier, and wild version of the German Shepherd, but he is anything but! Quiet cuddles in front of the fire with his family are his top priority, so don’t expect any more or less from him.
If you think that the American Alsatian and you would be a match made in heaven, and that he ticks all of your boxes, and that you can tick all of his, then what are you waiting for? Get yourself on that waiting list and count those days down to the start of your long love affair with the American Alsatian.