The American Alsatian is not just the German Shepherd’s American counterpart; he is a purebred dog who is a completely separate breed from the German Shepherd Dog. He has been cleverly engineered by one American woman in the late 1980s who bred him to be a large dog solely used for companionship purposes. So, he really is one of the loveliest and most gentle canine giants around.
The American Alsatian is commonly mistaken for a German Shepherd, Shiloh Shepherd, or even a King Shepherd. It’s easy to see why that happens, given that each breed looks somewhat similar (and they are all originally bred from a German Shepherd), but size and coat make up most of the major differences between each of their appearances.
He is not a guard dog, 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-like dog, this breed does not fit the bill. But if you are after a large and fluffy cuddle bug who is devoted to and affectionate with the whole family, then you are in the right place to find out all you need to know about this special canine! 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 at the Schwarz Kennels in Oregon.
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, 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!
While 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, he would be the perfect fit for you, but if you are seeking a more alert and proactive guard dog, you should consider the traditional German Shepherd or another dog with this temperament. The American Alsatian does not make a great guard dog.
Size & Appearance
The American Alsatian is a big pup that 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 an 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 or black, including 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 him with a double-layered coat that changes in the summer and winter seasons. His winter coat should be long, thick, and coarse. It should be wooly, and the fur longer around his neck.
As soon as the seasons begin to warm up, he will shed his winter coat, which is described by those in the canine world as ‘blowing his coat.’ It becomes much shorter and thinner, with the undercoat almost completely going away. In fact, he will appear a much darker color because his light fur nearly disappears.
The American Alsatian has a wide variety of colors, but the most desirable color coat is the silver sable, which is silver with black tips. 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 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 two 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 loves nothing more than an afternoon snooze on the sunbed with his master or acting as a hot water bottle for the children of the family while they read 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 them 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 is not phased by other animals on his property. As such, he should welcome and accept other animals who join the animal clan. Of course, all animals are different, but with a controlled meet-and-greet, there should be no issues at all.
Because of his large size and his love of lying about on the sofa, he should be placed in 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 dog is intelligent and eager to please his master. As such, he is relatively easy to train because a little praise goes a long way. 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 overprotectiveness, 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 he grows up into a well-mannered pooch and also so that he is confident in different situations.
The American 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. This helps teach that the crate is a safe place, so when you leave, he will find comfort there. It also prevents him from chewing on furniture and other items around your home.
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 four 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 of a burst of electric activity in the brain. Not all American Alsatians have epilepsy, but it is important to learn about it so you know what to do if your pup does.
The American Alsatian will consume around 3 to 3 1/2 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 tend to be at risk for stomach bloat. So, be sure to feed him high-quality food at two different sittings and not immediately before or after intense exercise. Bloat is a life-threatening condition, and if you suspect that he has associated symptoms, take him to the Veterinarian immediately.
While 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, which 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, this breed has relatively average grooming requirements. Use his grooming time to check him over once a week, looking for lumps, bumps, scrapes, or any other abnormalities that may need to be checked out by the Veterinarian.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
As it currently stands, the NAABA has only certified two American Alsatian breeders. The first being the original Schwarz Kennel, and the other being DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito in Washington.
While 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 suggests them, it would be wise to consider them first.
Be wary of unscrupulous breeders who offer the American Alsatian at a lower price, for they are likely to be just selling you a German Shepherd who is probably unhealthy and hasn’t had the best start to life.
The average price of an American Alsatian puppy from a reputable breeder is between $1,800 and $3,000. The Schwarz Kennel provides tips when buying an American Alsatian puppy.
Because the breed is still a canine rarity, there are often waiting lists for puppies. As such, you should put your name down as soon as you have decided he is the right dog breed for you. According to the Schwarz Kennel puppy information page, a wait of 6 months is typical.
Rescue & Shelters
It is unlikely that you will find an American Alsatian in Rescue Kennels for three reasons.
First, there are so few of them around, making it unlikely to stumble across one.
Second, puppy purchase contracts outline that if an owner decides to give up their puppy, they are to surrender them back to the breeder first.
Third, they are likely to be labeled 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.
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 requires regular deshedding.
He might look like the larger, burlier, and wilder 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 would be your match made in heaven and he ticks all of your boxes, what are you waiting for? Get yourself on that waiting list and count the days to the start of your long love affair with your American Alsatian.