Skip to Content

Alsatian | Dog Breed Information, Pictures, Traits & Facts

Alsatian in a blooming garden
Height:22 – 26 inches
Weight:50 – 90 pounds
Lifespan:7 – 10 years
Coat Colors:Black, blue, gray, liver, isabella, sable, white, black & white, black & cream, black & tan, black & silver
Temperament:Very affectionate, confident, intelligent, vigilant, playful, protective, trainable
Suitable for:Outdoorsy people; farmers; households with older kids; being police, military, and guard dogs

If you haven’t heard of the Alsatian dog, or perhaps you have and are wondering more about them, this is an opportunity to explore the breed. Surprisingly, it’s an ancient dog that has been around for a long time.

In fact, Alsatian dogs originated in Germany, where they were used to guard properties and herd livestock. But you may be more familiar with them than you think. They’re also known as German Shepherd Dogs or GSDs!

So, read on, as this article will examine the qualities that make these pups so special. From their history to temperament and physical traits, we will cover all the bases so you can decide if this breed is right for your family!

What Is an Alsatian?

Alsatian dog running through skittles

An Alsatian dog is a breed popularly known as the German Shepherd Dog (GSD). It was developed in Germany and used for herding and guarding flocks. Alsatians are brave and clever, making them ideal for search-and-rescue missions and drug detection, while others are trained as therapy dogs.

Upon first hearing its name, you might assume that an Alsatian dog is an indigenous breed or a crossbreed. However, this is not the case, as this unusually-named pup is a purebred German Shepherd Dog.

Note, though, that the term “Alsatian Wolf Dog” is more commonly used in the United Kingdom than it is in other countries. Hence, the confusion can be understandable if you’re from outside of Britain.

Alsatian dogs are prized for their intelligence and protective nature as part of the herding group. They’re also typically immensely loyal to their owners and family members.

So with such desirable traits, it’s no wonder that the breed has become increasingly popular worldwide.

In fact, the American Kennel Club (AKC)’s 2021 breed popularity list indicates that Alsatians ranked fourth among all registered breeds.

Are Alsatians the Same as German Shepherds?

Two Alsatian dogs also known as German Shepherd dogs lying in the park

Yes, Alsatians and German Shepherds are the same breeds, although they’re sometimes called different names depending on where you got your dog from and where you live.

Keep in mind that the word “Alsatian” is derived from a border of France and Germany called Alsace-Lorraine, where the German and British forces fought each other during World War II.

So instead of calling these canines by their original name, the German Shepherd Dog, the Great Britain military decided to call them Alsatians.

But it wasn’t until 1977 that The Kennel Club officially renamed the breed German Shepherds again.

Overall, it is just because of political and cultural reasons that they have been given various names throughout history.

Alsatian Breed Origin and History

Having learned that the Alsatian dog is actually the German Shepherd, this section will now explore the history and origin of this breed. This way, you will understand how it evolved over the years.

Specifically, the origin of the Alsatian dog or GSD can be traced back to 1889, when a man named Max von Stephanitz started breeding dogs suitable for herding sheep.

However, as time went on, he realized that Alsatian dogs not only had the ability to protect their owners but also retained a high level of intelligence. Thus, they were able to serve as police and military dogs as well.

In fact, these brave canines have been used by many armies around the world, including Germany, where they originated, France, and Italy, among others, during WW1 and WW2.

A Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) GSD variant was even designed specifically for police work in East Germany.

This is why these animals are still used by law enforcement agencies today. They are often found patrolling airports and other public places because they possess such reliable instincts.

Alsatian Appearance

Alsatian shepherd jumping and running

In terms of appearance, the Alsatian Shepherd is a medium to large pooch with a long, well-developed build and a muscular neck. It also sports a square-shaped muzzle that usually comes with a black-colored mask.

According to the breed standard, Alsatian dogs should appear deep-chested as well. In addition, they must retain robust legs that are broad and well-toned, which will give them an overall athletic look.

But while Alsatians are known for their ability to change colors as they age, some particular coat shades make these canines stand out from others.

For instance, they can be found exhibiting a variety of colorings, including sable, black, isabella, liver, panda, and blue.

Watch this clip to see what an Alsatian dog looks like in action:

German Shepherd Dog Running In 4K Slow Motion ( Alsatian Shepherd Dog )

Alsatian Size and Weight

On average, an Alsatian dog weighs about 50 to 90 pounds, with a height ranging between 22 and 26 inches at the shoulder. But remember that it takes around 18 to 24 months for Alsatian puppies to reach their full sizes.

That said, it is also possible for a German Shepherd Dog to inherit the recessive gene for dwarfism. If this is the case, the pup will only reach a maximum height of 20 inches and weigh approximately 30 to 50 pounds.

Overall, if you want to get a proper estimate of how big your dog will be when it grows up, bringing it to a vet is your best option.

Alsatian Temperament and Personality

Adorable Alsatian dog resting together with a cat

In general, Alsatian Shepherds make excellent family pets. They’re highly trainable and obedient but also very independent. They enjoy the company of children and other animals as well.

However, they do tend to be reactive toward strangers. Hence, early socialization is incredibly important for this dog breed, especially if you have tiny kids in your home.

You should also bear in mind that Alsatians are known for being hyperactive. They have lots of energy, meaning an equally energetic owner is needed to keep up with them.

All told, the Alsatian dog makes an ideal pet for people who can provide it with plenty of exercise and training.

Alsatian Lifespan and Health Issues

Like other large breeds, the Alsatian dog has a short lifespan, averaging between 7 and 10 years. However, this is not to say that Alsatians are sickly dogs, as they are generally very healthy and robust.

Having said that, they do have some health issues to which you should pay attention. These can vary from skin conditions to eye problems to inheritable diseases.

For your reference, the following are some health issues that an Alsatian dog can develop:

  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV): If an Alsatian dog is breathing heavily, has a painful abdomen, and is frequently vomiting, it may have GDV or bloat. This condition is caused by the stomach twisting on itself, which can be fatal if not treated quickly.
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI): EPI is a condition that affects an Alsatian’s digestive system. This can lead to a lack of pancreatic enzymes and an inability to digest food properly.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia in Alsatian dogs is a condition that occurs when there’s an improper formation of the hip socket. It’s often the result of genetics and can lead to arthritis, which may cause pain or difficulty walking.

While some of these health issues can’t be prevented, others can be controlled through diet, frequent vet check-ups, and regular exercise.

Additionally, any fur parent who wants to ensure the healthiest possible life for their pet should consider investing in pet insurance.

How to Take Care of Your Alsatian Dog

Alsatian dog lying next to a bowl with kibble dog food

Owning an Alsatian dog requires a great deal of time and attention. You’ll need to feed them regularly, give them lots of exercise opportunities, and ensure they get all their vaccinations, to name a few.

In order to simplify matters, this section will outline the most important things you need to know about caring for your Alsatian dog.

Food and Diet

Starting with its diet, an Alsatian Shepherd generally needs to eat roughly 1 to 4 cups of dog food per day. But note that its age, health status, size, and weight all factor into this calculation.

For example, pregnant Alsatians may need up to twice as much food as usual. The same goes for Alsatian puppies that have yet to reach adulthood but are still growing at a rapid rate.

However, keep in mind that this rule does not apply to overweight, senior, and spayed or neutered Alsatian dogs. They require fewer calories because of their slower metabolism.

Cleaning and Grooming

Whether you own a short-haired or long-haired Alsatian dog, you should keep them clean and groomed. Begin by regularly brushing your canine’s fur. This will remove loose hair and make their coat look polished.

Alsatians will also need to be bathed at least once every two months. However, make sure to always inspect for signs of stud tail, tick and flea infestations, and other skin issues before slathering them with shampoo.

Moreover, their nails should be trimmed once every 4 to 6 weeks. Given that Alsatian dogs love to run, they’re prone to developing problems with their paws if not looked after properly.

Cleaning their ears, eyes, gums, and teeth every day is vital for keeping your Alsatian healthy.

Training and Exercise

Since Alsatian Shepherds are regarded for their outstanding intelligence, training them is not as hard as it would be with other breeds. They’re eager to learn and are quick to catch on to new commands.

That said, positive reinforcement techniques are advised when training an Alsatian dog.

Treats, toys, and praise for good behavior will help them associate a particular action with a reward, making them more enthusiastic about repeating it in the future.

When it comes to their exercise needs, you’ll need to ensure they get about 45 to 120 minutes of activities daily. A brisk walk or jog each day will be ideal for this breed.

How Much Does an Alsatian Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses

Four Alsatian puppies for sale and adoption

The cost of an Alsatian puppy will cost you between $800 and $3,500. However, anticipate paying as much as $10,000, especially if you are looking for a show-quality or rare-colored pup.

Luckily, buying a puppy from a reputable breeder isn’t the only option. One way to get your hands on an Alsatian dog without breaking the bank is to adopt. Usually, local rescues charge about $150 to $600 for their dogs.

Nonetheless, aspiring Alsatian owners should know that buying or adopting one of these canines is no small endeavor. The costs of food, toys, and treats, as well as bedding and crate, can really add up over time.

Here is a detailed list of all the initial expenses associated with owning an Alsatian Shepherd:

Type of ExpenseCost
Food and Treats$80 – $120
Food and Water Bowls$10 – $35
Bed$40 – $200
Crate$50 – $500
Leashes and Collars$15 – $50
Toys$30 – $50
Grooming Essentials$40 – $180
Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications$50 – $200
Initial Vet Visits$100 – $300
Initial Vaccine Shots$75 – $200
Neutering or Spaying$50 – $500
Dog License$10 – $20
Microchip$40 – $60
Miscellaneous Supplies$15 – $30
Total Initial Cost$605 – $2,445

Aside from these expenses, think about all the training, vet care, and grooming Alsatian dogs will need over the course of their lives.

Fortunately for you, though, there are many ways to save money when it comes to managing your Alsatian’s needs. Buying dog food in bulk and investing in secondhand items are just a couple of examples.

Places to Find Alsatian Puppies for Sale and Adoption

Since Alsatian puppies are the same as GSD puppies, they can be found in many places in the United States. From shelters to breeders and even on the internet, you can locate an Alsatian puppy for sale or adoption.

To make it easier, the following are some reputable sources where you can buy an Alsatian puppy:

  • American Kennel Club Marketplace – If credentials and reference checks are important to you, the AKC Marketplace offers a wide range of Alsatian or GSD breeders with excellent reputations. You can even vet each breeder by looking at their reviews, which will give you a good idea if they’re the right fit for you.
  • Von der Otto German Shepherds – Von der Otto German Shepherds sells Alsatians from a lineage that has been carefully selected for many years. So expect that elbow and hip dysplasia will not be a concern with any of their Alsatian puppies for sale.
  • Austerlitz German Shepherd Dogs – Located in Oklahoma, Austerlitz German Shepherd Dogs has been selling Alsatian puppies since 1993. An Alsatian puppy from them typically costs around $3,000.

Further, you may want to check our list of reputable German Shepherd breeders.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to adopt an Alsatian dog, you’ll want to ensure that you know the process beforehand. Luckily, our ultimate dog adoption guide will help you with that.

Below are a few sites you can visit to find Alsatian Shepherds for adoption:

  • Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue – Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue takes pride in saving purebred Alsatian dogs and GSD mixes. But note that they require an application fee of $20, and their adoption fees range from $200 to $350.
  • BrightStar German Shepherd Rescue – Founded in 2002, BrightStar German Shepherd Rescue specializes in rescuing GSDs or Alsatian dogs from high-kill shelters. They also require a non-refundable application fee of $20 for processing.
  • Austin German Shepherd Dog Rescue – For an adoption fee ranging from $250 to $400, you can adopt an Alsatian dog from Austin German Shepherd Dog Rescue. Note, however, that a home visit, reference check, contract signing, and veterinary check are required before the adoption is finalized.

Other than the organizations above, you may find our article that lists German Shepherd rescues helpful. It’ll give you some insight into where else to look for one of these amazing dogs.

Pros and Cons of Owning an Alsatian

Three Alsatian puppies outdoors

Undoubtedly, the Alsatian dog is one of the most popular breeds in the country. But aspiring owners should remember that for all the joy that owning an Alsatian dog can bring, there are also some cons to consider.

The following are the pros of owning an Alsatian dog which can hopefully help you decide:

  • Great workout buddy: Regarded for its speed and agility, the Alsatian dog can make a great running partner. They love to jog with their fur parents and can be trained to run at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.
  • Very quick-witted: With a high intelligence level, the Alsatian dog is capable of learning new tricks and commands in no time. Additionally, it was originally bred as a working dog, so expect that it has an innate desire to please its owner.
  • Can be a great watchdog: It should come as no surprise that Alsatian dogs are trusted to guard their families, property, and homes. They’re natural watchdogs and can be trained to alert their owners when something is wrong.

Meanwhile, listed below are the cons of owning an Alsatian dog:

  • Tends to shed heavily: It’s a known fact that Alsatians shed heavily. So if you’re not ready for the amount of hair your pooch will leave behind, then it’s best to reconsider this choice. They can also trigger allergies in some people.
  • Can be extremely vocal: Due to its vigilant streak, the Alsatian dog can be very loud and may bark at the slightest provocation. This can result in problems with neighbors or even in your own home.
  • Requires more space: Whether you’re looking to own a giant Alsatian mix, a standard-sized GSD, or a dwarf Alsatian dog, all types require ample room to run around and play. Thus, they aren’t the best option for those who live in apartments or small houses.

As you can see in the list above, Alsatian Shepherd ownership comes with its fair share of benefits and drawbacks.

But if you’re looking for a companion that will love you unconditionally, then an Alsatian dog is definitely worth considering!

Frequently Asked Questions

Big adult senior Alsatian resting on the grass

Why Are German Shepherds No Longer Called Alsatians?

Thanks to the efforts of canine enthusiasts in the late 19th century, The Kennel Club was compelled to revert the name of GSDs from Alsatians to German Shepherd Dogs.

However, it should be noted that in some countries, such as Britain and France, the term “Alsatian” persists in colloquial use to refer to this dog breed.

Are Alsatians Good Family Dogs?

Yes, Alsatians or German Shepherds are good family dogs. They have a protective instinct, are excellent with children and other pets, and make reliable watchdogs.

In addition, you should know that they can be trained to perform in agility competitions, obedience trials, tracking tests, and conformation events.

Are Alsatians Dangerous?

Alsatians are good dogs, although they can be dangerous, especially if they have not been properly trained. It’s a breed that was developed to be a guard dog; hence, expect that they have some aggressive tendencies.

Luckily, crate training and early socialization will help curb the assertive nature of Alsatian dogs.

Do Alsatians Shed a Lot?

Unfortunately, Alsatians do shed a lot. They have a double-layered coat that sheds year-round, so you’ll have to brush your pooch often and vacuum your home regularly.

In addition, people with allergies may find it difficult to live with an Alsatian Shepherd because it produces high amounts of dander.

So before you buy or adopt this canine, make sure to have yourself tested for allergies. You do not want to end up giving away your furry friend just because you cannot handle its shedding.

Final Thoughts: Is an Alsatian the Right Dog for You?

The Alsatian, or German Shepherd, is a loyal, protective, and brave dog. As such, they make ideal companions for anyone looking for a dog with a powerful and versatile nature.

In fact, Alsatian dogs can be trained to perform many different roles. For instance, they can be used as herding, guard, police, or even therapy dogs — all of which require a high degree of intellect and devotion.

Moreover, this dog breed’s active personality makes for an excellent workout partner. So if you want an energetic friend that’ll be as excited about your morning jog as you are, look no further than the Alsatian dog.

Nonetheless, despite their numerous benefits, it’s still best to evaluate your lifestyle, finances, and living conditions before getting one of these pups.

Let us know in the comments if you are ready to bring an Alsatian dog home!