We all have that secret desire to own a pet that is as exotic and fascinating as a wolf. And as most may believe, the closest canine to match such a pet would be a Siberian Husky. However, this has been proven wrong the day the American Alsatian was introduced. Owning the hair-raising looks of a wolf, these dogs, surprising as it may seem, have the temperaments of a teddy bear.
Also popularly known as the North American Shepalute, these purebred dogs were found in 1988 and were significantly bred to look like a dire wolf – which sadly is now extinct. Friendly, loyal, and extremely smart, American Alsatians are perfect companions and not bred for working.
They make great lap dogs – yes, you read that right; and they also seek constant love and affection from their family. And just like all dogs, these pals require care, regular grooming, but not so much exercise.
Table of Contents
- What is an American Alsatian?
- American Alsatian Personality and Temperament
- Caring for American Alsatian
- Quick Breed Summary Table
What is an American Alsatian?
Considered to be “Gentle Giants” by most accounts, the American Alsatian is a purebred that was born directly from the Dire Wolf Project. Although these dogs are not recognized by any Kennel Club, they possess their own National American Alsatian Breeders Association. Sometimes mistaken for a German Shepherd, these dogs might have similar appearances but they are widely different and bred only for companionship.
Large in size and easy to train, these dogs might have a terrifying physical image, but they are easy-going, overly sensitive, and very intelligent. Great for owners of all ages, including small children, they work well with other pets and are far from aggressive. They do not require a lot of maintenance but a good amount of training is always necessary to help him adapt and stay happy, especially around strangers.
What might shock you is the fact that the kennel of origin of these dogs still exists and it is very easy to find a good breeder.
Bred with a clear standard that is always kept by the original breeders club, the American Alsatian was bred to create the look of a Dire Wolf. Robust, powerful, and stable, they have well-toned bodies with large strong heads surrounded by a collar of thick hair. Their muzzles are long and straight but unusually large.
Their ears are triangular and upright with slightly rounded tips, while their nose is always black. With almond-shaped eyes that come in either yellow or light brown, they always tend to have that wolf-like gaze.
Owing to their size, they have tall legs that are angled backward for maximum stability. Their tails are often short to medium length and are always straight and long. Overall these dogs are quite the sight for sore eyes.
Height and Weight
Keeping in mind the fact that these dogs were bred to look like wolves, they look strong and impressive and are much larger than a standard German Shepherd. They have fairly large bones that make them look bigger and often turn heads when in public.
Male and female American Alsatians differ in size and height. A male American Alsatian can measure between 25 to 32 inches tall and weighs up to 90lbs. while a female stands between 25 to 28 inches from paw to shoulder, weighing at least 85lbs.
As you can see, these dogs are not your average size pooches and are therefore classified as giants – who need an adequate amount of space to develop and feel at home.
Coat and Colors
The most common color of the American Alsatian is silver sable which is the color of a wolf’s coat. Although these dogs come in a variety of colors and coat patterns, they have many coats that include a combination of 2 different colors. Popular coat colors include silver, black, cream, and gold.
As for their coat, these Alsatians have a dual-layered coat that is mostly thick and long. However, during winter months, their coat becomes wooly and coarse, especially around the neck. But as soon as it starts to warm up, this heavy coat begins to shed, becoming thinner and fairly shorter – which would be easier for you to manage.
American Alsatian Personality and Temperament
Among the many reasons why these dogs would make great good-looking pets, is also the fact that they possess a brilliant temperament. Even though some might think these dogs look like a hostile companion, do not let their appearance fool you. They are so gentle in fact, that their presence is almost therapeutic for some people.
The perfect description of an American Alsatian would be a big-fat giant lap dog. They love hugs and snuggles and are always up for some chill time on the sofa with the family. They are softened creatures and that’s what makes them great with children, especially babies.
This might come as a surprise but they are not loud – they do not bark or howl like other dogs would and that makes them pretty bad at protecting and guarding your home. As mentioned before though, they are bred primarily for companionship and if that’s what you are looking for, then you have the perfect pooch right here.
The American Alsatian is bred to easily adapt to modern living, which means they are the ideal dogs for the typical chilled out family. Confident, predictable, and fearless, they are easy to train and are eager to explore and experience new challenges.
Just like all other large breed dogs, they should be socialized from an early age to help them from getting aggressive around strangers. They should also be exposed to smaller children from the very start, to help them recognize their pack.
However, keep in mind, these dogs do not like being left alone and often tend to get anxious and destructive. So if you are planning on going out, make sure there is someone present at home to take care of the pooch while you’re away.
Not your typical guard dog, just a family pal, these dogs love being showered with affection and are great around humans as well as other animals. Their large size might intimidate some at first, but they need to be trained properly from an early age.
Since they are not very playful by nature, you won’t find these dogs partaking in activities that involve other dogs, which is kind of a good thing, isn’t it?
Owners must also remember to involve other dogs and children during their training process to help them with their mental stimulation and development.
Far from being hyperactive, these dogs are fairly modest when it comes to energy, and yet the puppies love to run around and play.
Is An American Alsatian Good Family Dog?
The American Alsatian is by far one of the best family dogs you can find. If you like large breed dogs, then this pooch is made for you. From their affectionate and charming nature to their loyalty and friendliness, these dogs get easily attached to their owners and their family.
However, as with all pooches, they too should be socialized with children from an early age. Their calm and docile nature comes naturally and that’s a plus when it comes to dealing with smaller children. They crave attention and human interaction, therefore they are well-suited for large families.
Caring for American Alsatian
Because the American Alsatian is a laid back animal, it might seem like taking care of the dog would be easy. After all, they are still our pets and need all the care and attention they can get – and by that I mean, grooming, training, exercise, feeding, and more.
However, compared to other large dogs, this pooch is not a high-maintenance dog and is perfectly fine with moderate training and exercise. That said, it is always better to understand the needs of your dog before you venture out into creating schedules for them.
As mentioned above, they prefer having someone at home to keep them company through the day and are happy if let free to roam in a garden or yard. Exercising them too much does not make them happy, and I’m pretty sure, most of you would like the sound of that.
Demanding just an hour of moderate exercise during the day, the American Alsatian will need a fairly active family. Not suited to energetic games and jumping around, they are low-energy pets and like going on long walks.
Owing to their strong attachment to their owners, they can be taken on walks without a leash but that could be an issue as passersby might get intimidated by their large size. However, since they tend to be quite calm and relaxed, they will stay by your side and not run off if walked off-leash.
Grooming and Shedding
When it comes to grooming an American Alsatian, you can relax, as the grooming is fairly easy. As we know by now, their coats and long and dense and need a fair bit of brushing, which should be done at least twice a week.
But this does not last very long as during the summer months they tend to shed excessively. At this point, they need brushing almost every day, sometimes twice in the day, only to help them shed their winter coat quicker.
Other grooming essentials include ear cleaning, daily brushing of their teeth, and nail clipping at least once every few months. These dogs also require regular checkups with the veterinarian for their de-worming, for fleas and to ensure their vaccinations are all up to date.
Feeding and Diet
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet for your Alsatian pup is the most important aspect for a dog owner. Ensuring that these dogs get all the protein, fats and essential nutrients, should be your main focus.
For puppies, feeding them up to 4 times a day is the right amount, but as they grow older, this should be reduced to twice a day. However, keep in mind, they must continue with the same brand of food that has been fed to them originally by their breeder.
Moving to adult food should be a gradual change as this could lead to stomach issues. As for larger breeds, 3 cups of kibble is enough to keep them healthy. Introducing meats, eggs, gravy, and other tasty ingredients should only be done when they are old enough and can digest better.
Known Health Problems
Even though American Alsatians are strong and hardy, this breed does suffer from a few health issues, owing to their size. One of the most common being hip and elbow dysplasia.
Another common condition that is growing rapidly is Panosteitis, which is the inflammation in the bones. Arthritis is another bone-related condition that can be found, along with seizures, enlarged heart, and myelofibrosis.
How to Train an American Alsatian
As most of us may know, dogs tend to respond well to positive reinforcement methods that involve reward-based training. In this case, an American Alsatian is no different.
Known for their calm nature, intelligence, and responsive characteristics, they are easy to train and tend to pick up new things easily. Try not to shout or use punishments during the training process, especially when they are small, as this could lead to aggression and anxiety at a later age. Whenever you find your pup doing exactly what you want, always treat them a healthy snack.
Another aspect that helps with the training process is socializing your pooch from the start. Introducing these dogs to other humans, pets and the outdoors would help them experience new surroundings and environments from an early age.
These dogs do not need a lot of activity to keep them happy – just a few chew toys and soft toys would do the trick with an American Alsatian. It is also important that you match his level of calmness and give him the time and space to adapt to your home.
Quick Breed Summary Table
|Size||25 to 32 inches (Males), 25 to 28 inches (Females)|
|Weight||90lbs (Males), 85lbs (Females)|
|Lifespan||12 to 14 years|
|Color||Silver, Gold, Sable, Black, Cream, or a combination of any 2.|
|Coat||Double Coat, Thick and long. Wooly during winter, Short and thin during summer.|
|Shedding & Grooming||Sheds heavy during summer, requires moderate grooming with brushing twice a week.|
|Temperament||Friendly, Loyal, Calm, And Intelligent|
|With Other Pets||Good with pets if socialized early|
|People Skills||Great with families but needs socializing if exposed to strangers|
|With Children||Excellent with children|
|Exercise Needs||Moderate, Up to 60 minutes of exercise a day|
|Food||Special diet with important nutrients – 3 cups of kibble a day for big dogs|
|Known Health Problems||Hip and elbow dysplasia, Panosteitis, seizures and heart issues|
American Alsatians might look huge and wilder as compared to other large breed dogs, but they are anything but! Bred to be the perfect companion to your family, they are calm, confident, and always a charm to be around.
Although their size might intimidate you, once you understand that their main goal is to get on that couch and cuddle you for hours, you begin to see them in a new light.
You also won’t hear any barking or howling coming from this dog, which would ideally make them rubbish guard dogs, and yet their intelligence and inquisitive nature would mean they can be easily trained and taught new tricks.
Best suited for large homes, weirdly these dogs do not have a lot of energy and are not up for long hikes. But if you think this pooch ticks all your boxes and he is the perfect match, then why wait?