American Alsatian Dog Breed Is the New Dire Wolf
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.
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, 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 have 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.
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 for 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.
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. If these statistics are true, this will be a great dog to have.
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 lifespan, 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. 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%).
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 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.
Wikipedia seems biased and appears to be 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 one thousand dollars. 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.
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.
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 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 and Dragons?
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© 2012 Dr Mark