What Is An American Alsatian – Your Ultimate Guide


American Alsatian

The American Alsatian is a fairly rare purebred dog breed, best known for its large size, wolfish appearance, and companionable nature. While they look dangerous and wild, Alsatians are excellent lap dogs and are one of the cuddliest large breeds you are ever going to meet.

Calm, devoted, and easy to train, the Alsatian is a great choice for inexperienced and experienced owners alike, as well as well suited for families with small children. American Alsatians form strong attachments to their people and will bond with you for life, so only get one if you are ready for a long-term commitment.

In this article, we will tell you everything there is to know about this wonderful breed and help you decide if you are ready to welcome this gentle giant into your life.

Overview

Developed solely for companionship, the wild-looking American Alsatian is a calm and self-confident canine that forms lifelong bonds with its owner. While aloof around strangers, Alsatians make loving and devoted companions and are a great choice for people of all ages and families with children. 

What Is An American Alsatian?

The American Alsatian is a large and fairly rare purebred dog that was first registered in 1987. Despite their wolfish appearance, Alsatians are bred to be perfect family companions and have gentle temperaments.

In 1987, Lois Schwartz started the Dire Wolf Project with the idea to create a dog breed that resembled the large prehistoric Dire Wolf. However, she wanted the new breed to have a gentle and companionable temperament.

What is an American Alsatian

Even at the beginning of the program, Schwartz knew that she would need two large dog breeds to attain the desired “wolf” look. It’s worth mentioning that during the entire process of selective breeding, Schwartz’s main concern was to achieve the desired character traits of a gentle companion dog. She didn’t start to work on the physical appearance until the personality, intelligence, and trainability were spot on.

The first American Alsatians were created by Schwartz and were the result of breeding an Alaskan Malamute with a German Shepherd. At that time, the new breed was called the Alsatian Shepalute.

Over the next few years, Schwartz bred a consistent line of mellow temperaments, but was concerned with the breed’s appearance – her dogs still looked a lot like German Shepherds. To achieve the desired look, Schwartz used the following breeds:

  • English Mastiff – for its large bones and head, short tail, and short muzzle
  • Great Pyrenees – for its long body, stockiness, and large size
  • Anatolian Shepherd – for its large head and height
  • Irish Wolfhound – for its wiry coat and height

Besides their physical traits, Schwartz used the above-mentioned breeds because they possess certain character traits such as intelligence, friendliness, and intuitiveness. 

Health, temperament, and strength of each generation were thoroughly tested and Schwartz handpicked the best puppies to continue her lines. Nowadays, the American Alsatian is in its fifth generation from the last cross-breeding, meaning that it’s a completely purebred dog.

However, this breed is still not recognized by any major Kennel Club, but they do have their own National American Alsatian Breeding Association.

What Does An American Alsatian Look Like?

The American Alsatian is a heavily boned large dog of considerable substance. Developed to look like a prehistoric Dire Wolf, the Alsatian has a muscular long body that ends with a wide tapering tail. 

They have very broad heads that slope slightly from between the eyes down to the nose. The almond-shaped medium to small eyes can range in color from yellowish to light brown, giving the Alsatian a unique wolfish stare.

The head is topped with rounded triangularly shaped ears that are set widely apart and tipped with deep black hairs. Alsatians should have a large and thick deep black muzzle and a back nose rounds the entire appearance.

Besides its large size and wolfish appearance, the American Alsatian is also easily recognizable thanks to its thick coarse coat. The coat looks completely different depending on the season – medium long and thick during winter, short and thinner during the summer. 

The coat comes in many different colors including:

  • Wolf Gray Silver/Sable (most desirable)
  • Gray Sable
  • Silver Sable
  • Golden Sable
  • Tri Sable
  • Tri Sable Golden Gray
  • Tri Silver Sable
  • Silver
  • Black Silver Sable
  • Solid Cream
  • Solid colors

Are German Shepherds And Alsatians The Same?

This is a bit of a tricky question, but let’s get one thing straight: German Shepherds and American Alsatians aren’t the same breed.

However, in Britain, some people still use the name Alsatian for German Shepherds, which is a bit confusing to say the least, so let us put things into perspective for you.

During the World War, both sides (German and the British) used German Shepherds in their ranks to attack, outwit, and surprise their opponents. Being highly intelligent, easily trainable, and big working dogs, German Shepherds were considered of great value to the army forces and, as such, highly sought-after.

However, the British hated using the name German Shepherd, since Germans were their enemies, and they didn’t want to associate with them in any way. So, they decided to come up with a new name for the German Shepherd and renamed it Alsatian.

Once the war was over, the British decided that the name Alsatian has outlived its purposes and went back to using the breed’s true name, the German Shepherd. 

The whole name change caused a lot of confusion, and a lot of people still believe that German Shepherds and Alsatians are two completely different breeds. Furthermore, some people in Britain still use the name Alsatian, which additionally complicates the matters.

However, the most important thing to note in this whole story is that German Shepherds and American Alsatians aren’t the same breed. 

Are American Alsatians Good Pets? 

Developed solely to be a companion dog, the American Alsatian makes a wonderful pet to people of all ages and families with children. This good-mannered, calm, and gentle dog is a great choice for inexperienced and experienced owners alike and makes the ultimate lap dog.

While a bit shy towards strangers, the Alsatian is extremely devoted and loyal to its owners. Socializing your dog from a young age can help him be more comfortable and friendlier around strangers; however, he will never be completely relaxed with other people as he is with you.

These gentle dogs also get along well with small children, but they have to be supervised. Although Alsatians would never purposefully hurt a member of their family, there is always a risk that their sheer size can lead to an accidental injury.

Keep in mind that besides being calm, Alsatians are also a low energy breed and aren’t overly playful. So, while they are gentle with kids, they won’t make great playmates even in the best of times.

Overall, the American Alsatian is a great choice if you are looking for a gentle large dog who will spend the afternoons snuggling with you on the sofa.  

How Long Do The American Alsatian Live?

How Long Do The American Alsatian Live?

Generally, large breed dogs have a shorter life expectancy than small breeds, but American Alsatians live longer than most other dogs of their size. On average, Alsatians can live up to 12 to 15 years if taken care of properly.

Well-balanced nutrition and regular exercise can help you increase your dog’s life expectancy and keep him healthy in senior years. And don’t forget that regular vet checkups, vaccinations, flea and tick medication, and deworming treatments are essential for your dog’s well-being and are part of responsible dog ownership.

Where Can I Buy An American Alsatian?

The American Alsatian is still a new and rare breed, so puppies can be hard to find. In fact, the National American Alsatian Breeder Association, which is a regulatory organization for this breed, currently only certifies three breeders.

Doing a bit of research beforehand will help you find a reputable breeder who is knowledgeable and has the necessary experience with this breed. This way, you will know that you are buying a purebred American Alsatian in good health.

Certified American Alsatian breeders are:

  • Schwarz Kennels (White City, Oregon)
  • DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito (Fruitland, Washington) 
  • DireWolf Dogs of Fennario (Evergreen, Colorado)

Note that any other breeder that is selling Alsatian puppies most likely doesn’t stick to the breed’s standard set by Breeders Club. This means that there are no guarantees that you will end up with a purebred American Alsatian, and that any puppy you get may develop health problems in the future.

On the other hand, all certified breeders adhere strictly to the original breed guidelines and produce healthy Alsatians with good temperaments. Furthermore, they are very particular about who their puppies go home with.

Regardless of which breeder you choose, be prepared to fill out a puppy interest application form giving details about yourself and the experience you have with dogs. If you are approved, you will be interviewed and one step closer to bringing the new puppy home.

Note that all of these breeders usually have a waiting list, so it may take some time until you actually welcome the Alsatian into your home.

While the entire buying process may seem like too much, know that this is a standard procedure when you are buying from a reputable breeder. It is in the breeder’s interest to find the perfect owner and the best forever-home for his puppies and not simply sell them for profit. In the end, all of these steps help ensure that you are getting a purebred and healthy Alsatian as a pet.

How Much Is An American Alsatian?

Since they are still a fairly new breed, America Alsatians are rare and can be expensive. On average, you can expect to pay from $2,000 to $3,000 for a purebred Alsatian puppy.

Keep in mind that factors such as coat color, gender, temperament, quality, and the breeder can affect the puppy’s price. If you are set on a particular coat color, be prepared to spend up to $10,000 to bring an American Alsatian home.

Characteristics

How Much Does An American Alsatian Eat?

Healthy and balanced nutrition is imperative for the overall health and well-being of your Alsatian. Generally, adult Alsatians need around 1,500 calories per day that is divided into two meals. However, every dog is an individual, and your Alsatian’s nutritional needs will depend on his age, activity level, and general health.

As a puppy, your Alsatian should have three to four smaller meals that are equally spaced throughout the day. For a start, it is best for puppies to stay on the same brand of food the breeder has been feeding. And you can gradually make a transition to high-quality food for large breed puppies of your liking. 

When it comes to this breed, free feeding should be discouraged since it can lead to weight gain, which is associated with skeletal defects in giant dogs. Besides putting additional strain on your dog’s bones and joints, being obese will also affect his overall health. Thus, keep track of all the treats you are giving to your pooch and make sure that he isn’t eating more than he needs to. 

You should consider supplementing your dog’s diet with calcium or glucosamine. But, as always, talk with your vet first to see if your Alsatian can benefit from taking supplements.

Are American Alsatians Easy To Train? 

The calm, friendly, and intelligent American Alsatians are very easy to train, which makes them an ideal choice for first-time owners!

This breed pays attention to its environment and its owner’s movements and you will be pleasantly surprised by how many things your smart dog figured on his own.

American Alsatians respond best to reward-based training [1], so using tasty treats is a great way to get your dog to behave. Interestingly, heeling and recall come naturally to Alsatians, and you won’t have any trouble keeping your dog close by at any time. 

You shouldn’t use punishment as a method when training your American Alsatian. Not only it won’t bring desired results, but it can lead to aggression and stress, which can cause health and behavioral problems. 

If you want a well-mannered and obedient dog, start training and socializing your Alsatian from a young age. Introducing your puppy to different people, children, other pets, and environments will ensure that he is comfortable around strangers and new situations when he grows up.

Do American Alsatians Make Good Companion Dogs?

They may look like wild wolves, but American Alsatians are anything but wild! This breed is developed solely for companionship and possesses a strong desire to always be close to its owner, so much so that they tend to seek physical contact by leaning into their owners to be sure of their presence and attention.

Alsatians are extremely people-oriented dogs that form deep, lifelong bonds with their owners. Once an Alsatian is bonded with his owner, rehoming him is almost impossible, and it can take up to a year for this dog to get accustomed to his new family and home. Hence, only get an American Alsatian as a pet if you are looking for a true companion and are prepared for a long-term commitment. 

Size

How Big Is The American Alsatian?

The American Alsatian is a large or giant-sized dog with a broad and impressive appearance. Their substantial boning structure makes them appear even larger than they are.

Full-grown male Alsatians should be no shorter than 26 inches and are usually from 28 to 32 inches tall.

Females American Alsatians are a bit smaller and should be no shorter than 25 inches when fully grown. On average, females should be somewhere between 26 and 30 inches tall.

How Much Should An American Alsatian Weigh?

Such a tall and strong frame is built to withstand significant weight and adult American Alsatians can weigh quite a bit.

Male American Alsatians are bigger and should weigh from 90 to 110 pounds.

Although smaller, female Alsatians aren’t any less impressive and usually weigh from 85 to 105 pounds.

At What Age Is An American Alsatian Full Grown?  

The American Alsatian is a large, heavily boned dog of considerable substance, and as such, it needs more time to reach its full size compared to other breeds. Both male and female Alsatians grow slowly, however, females mature faster than males.

American Alsatians reach their full size when they are three years old, but they don’t stop filling out until they are nine years old.

Personality

Do American Alsatians Like To Cuddle?

The American Alsatian is above everything else the ultimate companion dog who likes to spend time with its family. Since they love to be as close to their people as possible, be prepared to share everything with your Alsatian, including your lap.

Yes, you read that right! These giant canines make excellent lap-dogs and can spend hours cuddling with their owners and sitting on their laps. And if by any chance a lap isn’t available, your Alsatian will curl next to you on the sofa or a bed and demand to be petted by nuzzling you.

These gentle giants are always in the mood to receive affection from their family members and are especially gentle with small children. 

Can American Alsatians Be Left Alone?

The friendly and loving American Alsatians are the happiest when surrounded by people they love and care about. Consequently, this breed doesn’t like to spend time alone and is best suited for homes where at least one family member is present at all times.

Generally, we wouldn’t recommend leaving your Alsatian home alone for more than four hours a day. If you have long working hours or live alone, you may need to reconsider getting an American Alsatian as a pet. They seek companionship at all times and may develop separation anxiety [2] or other behavioral issues if left alone for hours on end.

Temperament

Are American Alsatians Good Dogs?

American Alsatians are bred to possess all the qualities you would expect to see in a good dog. They are calm, gentle, self-confident, people-oriented, and adaptable to a modern style of living. Dogs who show signs of aggression, excessive barking, hyperactivity, or are overly shy are excluded from the breeding programs.

Despite having a laid-back temperament, the American Alsatian is a fearless, predictable, and stable dog. Due to these traits, this breed is a perfect choice for families who will understand and meet its needs.

Developed solely as companion dogs, Alsatians don’t have a strong prey drive, won’t herd cattle, and aren't willing to do any type of work. Their strongest desire is to be close to their owners and elicit more cuddles.

While calm and gentle, the American Alsatian is still a large and powerful dog, and children should be involved in their training and socialization. This breed is also a bit standoffish towards strangers and doesn’t make friends easily. Thus, early socialization is a must [3] and will help your dog to be more comfortable with strangers and allow for his true nature to shine.

Are American Alsatian Smart?

Intelligence and trainability were always very important in the development of this breed, and American Alsatians turned out to be exceptionally smart dogs. This means that your dog is capable of learning a lot of things and learning them quickly.

Besides being highly aware of the things going around them, Alsatians are also highly sensitive to the changes in voice and commands. This means that they respond fairly quickly to even the lightest of corrections.

The only problem with having a smart dog is that he can easily become bored if not mentally stimulated. Use interactive toys, puzzles, or obedience training to prevent boredom and to keep your dog occupied.

Do American Alsatians Bark A Lot?

American Alsatians aren’t known as excessive barkers. In fact, elaborate barking for no reason or any type of high-pitched vocalization is considered a serious fault. 

Having a quiet dog is good on any day, but especially if you live in an apartment where having a loud barking dog is frowned upon.

When they do bark, American Alsatians produce a deep, low-pitched guttural tone. Furthermore, they don’t have a tendency to whine and are, in most cases, quiet and well-mannered dogs.

Health 

Do American Alsatian Have Health Problems?

One of Schwarz's priorities when developing the American Alsatian was to make it genetically sound and generally healthy. She did this by excluding any sick dogs from the breeding program and continuing to breed only healthy lines.

However, all dog breeds are predisposed to some health problems. Although Alsatians aren’t affected by many maladies as certain dog breeds, some dogs have experienced certain health problems.

The following issues have been observed in this breed so far:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Arthritis
  • Panosteitis
  • Enlarged Heart

It’s not a surprise that American Alsatians, like all other large breed dogs, are affected by hip and elbow dysplasia. The good news is that the breeders registered with the National American Alsatian Breeders Association have to hip and elbow score their dogs. 

Currently, the Association has reported that there is no hip or elbow dysplasia in any of the Alsatian lines at this time. Still, it is always advisable to seek genetic test certification that shows that a puppy doesn’t have a predisposition to develop any of these conditions.

How Much Exercise Does An American Alsatian Need?

Despite their large size, American Alsatian is a low energy breed that will choose sleeping over vigorous exercise at any time of the day. This trait makes Alsatian an ideal choice if you don’t want a canine workout buddy or to spend much time exercising your dog.

American Alsatians need one hour of exercise every day. Your dog will prefer a light walk around the block and will enjoy playing with you in the backyard. 

And while they look like they can handle it, Alsatians aren’t really into intense activities and aren’t a great option to take for a run or hike. Alsatians aren’t a good choice for people with active lifestyles, and you should consider a more athletic dog breed is you want to exercise with your pooch.

Due to their wooly coat, the best time to exercise your Alsatian is when it’s cold. These dogs like to take a nap during the warmest part of the day and are most active early in the morning and during the afternoon and evening hours.

Note that large breed dogs are predisposed to conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia due to their fast growth. A few studies have shown that keeping puppies from the stairs and preventing them to jump in and out of the car reduces the chances of bone degenerative conditions.

So, try not to let your American Alsatian puppy jump or run on hard surfaces like asphalt. This will help ensure proper bone development and minimize the risk of degenerative bone conditions.

Grooming & Care

Do American Alsatian Shed?

American Alsatian LAYING IN GRASS

The American Alsatian has two different types of coat depending on the weather. The not too long, moderately dense outer coat is coarse and thicker during winter months. During summer, the coat is shorter and thinner as the Alsatian sheds his entire undercoat.

The American Alsatian sheds, the interesting thing is that the shedding occurs only once a year in May or June and when it’s done, the dog is shed-free till the next season.

Usually, it takes a whole month for an American Alsatian to shed all of its undercoat. After losing all of that hair, your dog will have a darker coat color and appear much thinner than before.

The entire shedding process may seem a bit intense for the first time and usually happens in phases. The legs and rear area are the first to start to shed, the belly comes next, then come the front legs, chest, back of the neck, and the throat area is the last to shed.

The shedding will make your American Alsatian itchy, and he will leave huge clumps of hair whenever he goes! It may be a good idea to limit your dog’s access inside the house to just a few rooms to make vacuuming all those hairs manageable. 

Using a fine-tooth comb can help your dog with shedding and it will give you a chance to pile loose hairs in one place. You need to know that shedding is a slow process for American Alsatians, but brushing every day can help to some extent. Outside the shedding season, you will only need to brush your Alsatian once or twice a week.

Once all the undercoat is gone and the shedding is over, your Alsatian will be essentially shed free! The new undercoat will start coming again in the autumn, and your dog will shed it all the next year.

How Often Should You Walk An American Alsatian?

Although a low energy dog, your Alsatian will need daily walks to stay healthy and in good shape. As mentioned earlier, one hour of exercise is enough for an adult Alsatian, and you can divide this time into two walks. 

The best time to walk your Alsatian is early morning and in the evenings, but you can design a walking routine based on your other commitments. And while two walks a day are enough for an Alsatian, you can take him out more often for shorter walks.

While Alsatians are big, you shouldn’t experience any serious problems while walking one on a leash. They aren’t generally into pulling on the leash and taking their owners for a walk. They possess an exceptional recall. American Alsatians aren’t the type of dogs to wander around and will rarely leave their owner’s sight even when not on a leash.

However, seeing such a large dog walking around freely can be scary for some people, and you should be mindful of their feelings. Whenever out on a walk, keep your Alsatian on a leash and leave setting him free for a fenced yard or a dog park. 

How Often Should You Bathe An American Alsatian?

American Alsatians have a thick oily coat that repels dirt, leaves, and other debris and it rarely has any odor. This means that Alsatians only need a bath when absolutely necessary.

How often you should bathe your dog [4] depends solely on you, but you shouldn’t do it more than once every two months. And when you do decide to bathe your dog, do it with a shampoo that is specially designed for dogs, so there is no risk of skin irritation or itchiness. 

Note that bathing a dog of this size may be a bit challenging. Since it doesn’t have to be done often, you may find that taking your Alsatian to a professional groomer is more convenient. If you opt to do it at home, make sure that your dog is properly dried before you let him outside. 

Conclusion 

The calm, confident, and smart American Alsatian develops strong attachments to its people and is suitable for families and inexperienced owners. They may look wild, but these gentle giants are anything but and will make a lifelong companion to an owner who respects and meets their needs. If you are still on the fence if Alsatian is the right dog for you, the following traits may change your mind:

  • Easy to train
  • Low energy
  • Loves to cuddle

If you ever wanted to get a large loving dog for a companion, the American Alsatian is a perfect choice and, as a bonus, this gentle giant likes to cuddle and is the ultimate lap dog.

Resources:

  1. RSPCA, What is reward-based training and why does the RSPCA support it?https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-is-reward-based-dog-training-and-why-does-the-rspca-support-it/
  1. Fetch by WebMD, How to Ease Your Dog’s Separation Anxietyhttps://pets.webmd.com/dogs-separation-anxiety#1
  1. Healthy Pets, The Critical Importance of Socializing Your Puppyhttps://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/01/20/critical-importance-of-socializing-your-puppy.aspx
  1. Kristina Lotz, How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog? Groomers Weigh In https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-often-should-you-wash-your-dog/

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