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The American Alsatian Dog Breed Is the New Dire Wolf

An American Alsatian puppy.

An American Alsatian puppy.

A New Purebred Dog Breed: The American Alsatian

If you are looking for a dog breed with a distinguished history, you can stop reading. If you are looking for a dog breed that looks awesome on a leash and is sure to impress the gang at the dog park, this is it! The first litter of American Alsatian puppies was born back in 1988, and they have been developed to resemble the prehistoric (and now extinct, of course) Dire Wolf.

Like the Silken Windhound, the American Alsatian is still new. Unlike the Labradoodle, Mauzer, and even the Cockapoo, this dog is being developed as a purebred and not a crossbred “designer” dog. They were once known as the Alsatian Shepalute, but the breeders wanted to emphasize that they are a new breed and they thought that the old name sounded too much like a crossbred.

An American Alsatian dog in the water.

An American Alsatian dog in the water.

What Is an American Alsatian?

This breed of dog was developed using purebred Alaskan Malamutes, German Shepherds, English Mastiffs, Anatolian Shepherds, and Great Pyrenees. They have been bred to look like Dire Wolves and be big—and they are indeed big, as males must have a minimum height of 26 inches and be at least 90 pounds. (They are usually selected to be even larger than that.)


They have thick bones, long bodies, a huge head, and, of course, a big dark muzzle with teeth that close in a scissor bite. Their ears are tall and erect, like those seen in wolves.

According to their breed standards, they should have dark skin, coarse and thick undercoats, and pelts that make them look even more like a wolf—gold, silver sable, or timber wolf gray. Their feet should be large and heavy, their chests should be broad, and their necks should be muscular and powerful. An American Alsatian´s nose should always be black.

Character and Temperament

The character of the dog is an important part of the breed standard and has been an important part of the selection process. The dogs should be fearless but not hostile, aloof but not timid or shy. Breeders select dogs that do not bark much, are calm and non-aggressive, have a low working drive, and are easy to train. Breeders also state that these dogs are so calm that they are not upset by fireworks and thunderstorms.

A replica of the prehistoric Dire Wolf at the La Brea tar pits.

A replica of the prehistoric Dire Wolf at the La Brea tar pits.

Are There Health Issues?

All of the breeds used in the production of this breed have problems with hip dysplasia, yet the breed club has said that this is not an issue in the American Alsatian. There are no published statistics rating their hips (PennHip scores), but they should become available as this dog becomes more popular. The breeders also report that no cases of panosteitis have been seen since 2004, and elbow dysplasia and arthritis are almost non-existent.

There have been no eye and ear problems reported, and although some seizures have been noticed, a very small portion of dogs are affected (0.5%). If all of these statistics are true, this will be a great dog to have.

Life Span

According to the American Alsatian breeders, this dog will live an average of 12 to 14 years. They are hoping that the dogs will live even longer. That is a good life span, especially considering the breeds that were used to develop this dog. Unfortunately, there has not been enough time involved to know that this is accurate.

An adult American Alsatian.

An adult American Alsatian.

Are They Perfect Companion Dogs?

The breed description sounds perfect but may not be accurate. Since these dogs were not even established as a separate breed until about 2000, and since they have only been mixed with Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherds since 2004, not enough dogs have been evaluated to determine health, behavior, or longevity. Anyone that tells you they know longevity statistics for this breed is most likely interested in promotion.

Is This a Working Breed?

The breed's Wikipedia seems biased and appears to have been written by an American Alsatian breed club; they claim that only certain pups were chosen so that the dogs would not have the characteristics of a working breed—hyperactive, in need of a lot of exercise, etc. They also state that the developer of this breed, Lois Denny of Oxnard, California, was able to produce a large breed made up of working dogs but without a working dog personality.

In my opinion, there is no way that a breed of dog can lose these characteristics in less than 20 years. Dog breeds like the Doberman and Dogo Argentino have been developed by one person, but breed characteristics were not able to be established until much later.

Should I Buy an American Alsatian?

If you are interested in purchasing an American Alsatian puppy, they are still uncommon and expensive, at least $1000. There is also going to be a long waiting list. If you are interested in one of these dogs, you should be serious about the commitment.

How Do I Find a Breeder?

You can search for breeders close to you by entering the breed name and location into your search engine, but most likely the puppies will only be available far from where you are living. I do not recommend that you buy any puppy, from any breeder, long distance. If you must have one of these puppies and the breeder is not close enough to visit, you need to make time in your schedule, fly or drive to the location, and look at the puppies before deciding if one of these dogs will be right for you.

Research Carefully Before You Choose Any Breed

American Alsatians are not recognized by any kennel club, nor do they need to be. I think they look as good as the amazing Caucasian Shepherd, but they shouldn't have all the aggression problems seen in that livestock guard breed.

Still, there are a lot of great dog breeds out there. Are you just looking for an American Alsatian because you want a dog that looks like he should be playing Dungeons & Dragons?

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© 2012 Mark dos Anjos DVM


cierra on April 16, 2019:

so, not to be rude or anything so they just like wolves for protection

Angela Harding on December 08, 2017:

I have just acquired a bitch that looks so like the American Alsation also has all the traits you mention.

Peregrine Broad on March 23, 2016:

As a long time owner of English bred German Shepherd Dogs & now a young bitch bred in Brittany, France, where I now live, I am totally fascinated by this new breed. I wish Lois success & hope to see her dogs accepted by the Kennel Club of Great Britain before long. My best GSD was a large shaded sable bitch bred at a scrap yard in Wix, Essex, & she cost me £50-00 GBP. She had good health & a super temperament & introduced me to the lady that I married 20 years ago yesterday.

americanalsatian on August 05, 2013:

I thought you might be interested in how I do what I do, because you wrote a fair column/story, I thought you might be interested in this:

Tests/scores I do: 1.) how the pups come out of the sack 2.)when turned does the pup automatically turn in the direction of the tit. 3.)holding a newborn tummy side up in my arms 4.) reaction to first liver meal 5.) unfamiliar territory at ages 3wks, 6wks, 8 wks. 6.)removal of litter from observation room to underground den at age 7 days old. 7.)do pups come out of the den, when? who doesn't? those that do not come out are sold. 8.)lap therapy reactions (a pup is placed in my lap for 3 min and must stay in my lap without noise, fear, wanting to get down. 9.) reaction to strangers entering den area while mom is away 10.) reaction to shots 11.)prey drive 12.) hyperness 13.) too friendly/shy 14.) reaction to obstacles. if a pup will go around, investigate, find a way around object; 15.)loud noises (pots, pans, books dropped and eventually gun shots.

All the above are noted/scored on every single pups charts. All my scales are 1-10 and placed on the puppies page of the web site for all to see. All these tests have been done since the beginning of the mixing of breeds back in 1987. after 25 yrs pups now do not whynn; do not bark (but they of course can); do not cry from any health shots given; do not fear shots fired, cans or lids crashed, books falling etc. of course they do get scared and will hunch down, but they recover' as we say and move toward the object, not away.

Now I must also say that we do NOT grade our dogs as most breeders would. Most would want the pup that finds its way around the obstacle. We want a pup that connects us with eye contact, sits and asks to come with us, by the use of facial expressions and once again eye contact. The pup that runs up and down to eventually find its way around the fence or obstacle is not wanted and sold as this pup would perhaps become a good herd dog, or working dog. We also will not have any pup that attacks the fence and pulls on the fence to get out because he wants to be with us. It is the patience of the animal and the brain work that I look for and chose. This has been going on, like I said for many years and the proof is in the pudding. At the time of this writing I have over 43 people with PAID deposits waiting for one of my dogs. I wouldn't breed if no one wanted my dogs.

Concerning the health, we have over 25 years of tracking the health of the dogs. Since I am strongly opposed to the lies and betrayal of the breeding going on with the 'recognized' dogs, why on earth would I deceive or hide any facts? I don't need to, know why? cause I am over the top and out of the box. I don't care about the 'normal' way of breeding, I care about the right way of breeding. I am wise enough to know and can see health issues. (yep, I can see and know the signs of hip dysplasia, crawlers, leg issues, abnormal behavior). I am also wise enough to know that outcrossing begets hybrid vigor. My dogs live up to 13 years old. My personal guarantee is that if one of my dogs has a health issue, I will 'give' the owner another one, absolutely free. If one of my dogs dies of any genetic issues, I will give them another pup absolutely free. If one of my dogs dies early and for no reason what so ever, I will give a 10% discount on a new pup. My pups are going for 2-3 thousand dollars a piece and every dime, goes back into the breeding, care, paperwork, food, etc.. of the dogs. I will also take back my dogs for any reason. I don't know of any breeder that can even come close to these charges. I also insist that they keep in touch with me so that I can continue my records on the pups, and I do all I can to be sure that they do contact me, without intimidation or having them sign outrageous contracts. I do ask only one thing, that they respect the trade mark. What this means is that if they do ever breed one of my dogs, they can not call the pups American Alsatians. Why? the name is trade marked and I did not ok the breeding, nor give my consent for them to use the name that holds all my years of hard work.

I also want to reiterate that I do not care if we ever are considered a 'breed', nor do I care what crazy rumors or lies are told about me or my dogs. We have a life to live and I have my work to do that includes helping people find a really nice, good tempered dog that can be a companion, sole mate and/or service dog for the most important thing in life... One of God's children. I hope this has helped you to understand how I could get these dogs out of working dog... I guess i just have the 'touch' ... (it's all in the hand selecting and knowing which pup to choose).. Lois

Alba K on April 26, 2013:

We bought an American Alsatian in Oct 2012. He is a wonderful dog, he is everything the breeder has said he would be. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him, we have cars stopping to ask about him. He is a wonderful dog, I would recommend this breed to anyone :)

Victoria Long on April 25, 2013:

I think the author of this article might be interested in the domesticated silver fox project, in Russia.

The original scientist, Dmitri Belyaev, believed that the key factor selected for in the domestication of dogs was not size or reproduction, but behavior; specifically, tameability.

Since behavior is rooted in biology, he collected the least-human aggressive foxes and only bred the ones that exhibited the most tame behaviors and after several generations, they now act far differently from their wild ancestors, almost dog like in friendliness and the willingness to approach people.

With the American Alsatians, the same principle is at work. Despite the foundation breeds, temperament is never a guaranteed thing- some Border Collie's might not want to work, and some retrievers may be laid back and easy going, but it is usually within a range of its parents and background.

And when you carefully select the dogs exhibiting the traits and temperament you want, say quietness and calmness, and only use dogs that fit that standard to further the breed, the result is just that, a quiet, calm dog.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 24, 2013:

Hi Ms. Schwarz thank you so much for taking the time to leave a post here. I enjoyed hearing how you are using the ball to get away from some of the characteristics that will also lead to problems like excessive boredom, digging, etc. I was also very impressed that there is so much emphasis on longevity, since the sad part about all the great dog breeds is that they die way too young.

Thank you again for writing!!!!

americanalsatian on April 24, 2013:

Good evening, I was just 'goggling' and found this hub. Very interesting and very well written. Put a smile on my face. So I thought I would add my two cents. My name is Lois Schwarz (Denny) and I am the founder/creator of the breed 'American Alsatians' which by the way is a Trade Mark name. I think outside of the box. I have been breeding animals of all kinds since I was about 10 yrs old and am now about 60 yrs old. When I started breeding animals I was very curious as to why the babies came out looking as they did, so I started taking photos and notes. 50 yrs later I am writing in this comment section. I would like to answer some questions as to how one can take working dogs and beget non working dogs. I do that with testing my dogs and selecting those pups that do not 'pick up' the ball. After 20 generations I will get pups that do not even follow the ball. Everything an entity is comes from the sperm and the egg, the chromosomes, the genes. Once you know how to do what I do, you can get what you want. The only thing is, it takes 'generations' not time, and patience to continue your work, testing, feeding, caring for, advertising, finding the right owners etc... with all that then comes: training, behavioral therapy, photography, grooming, classes, then publishing books, etc. it all falls into place as one goes about life. If you have any specific questions I would be glad to attempt to answer them. have a wonderful day...

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 28, 2012:

They look great, don´t they? I wonder how they would do around livestock? This dog wont even make lists like that for years to come, so you really need to head out to Californina, find one, and then write a hub about how well they do with sheep (that German Shepherd heritage?).

Thanks for stopping by!

Rachel Koski Nielsen from Pennsylvania to Minnesota on November 28, 2012:

Wow, I want one of those! They look sort of like a keeshond in the face, but the coolest thing about them is that the breed was developed the year I was born :) Great hub DrMark

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 26, 2012:

Hi Nettlemere there is even a comment in one of their websites about not allowing new animals that are wolf hybrids. I do hope the way they look satisfies a lot of people, but of course there will always be people searching for something different.

Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on November 26, 2012:

I was interested to read this as there have been a variety of new wolf like breeds coming to prominence in the last few years and it is certainly a better way to go than wolf hybrids. If they have managed to breed them without the HD problems of the contributing breeds it will be a real plus.