If you ask anyone where dogs come from, their immediate answer is that they come from wolves. And it sure looks that way for the American Alsatian dog breed.
The thing is, scientists agree that dogs and wolves are not the same. They may share a common older ancestor (don’t we all?), but dogs are not wolves.
This may strike you as surprising, but it is what it is. Or so it was, until the Dire Wolf Project began.
The American Alsatian would not exist if it were not for this project that gave life to one of the rarest, yet heavily-demanded purebred dogs.
You may have thought that the Siberian Husky is the closest dog to a wolf, but you are wrong. Just like I was wrong until I found out about this awesome large dog.
I do not think that any other dog breed can claim to be closer to a wolf than the American Alsatian. We’ll get to why in a second.
But what you need to know upfront is that this purebred dog is relatively new. Up until 2000, there literally was no official standard for this breed. In 2018, they are still just as rare, but the standards are pretty clear.
This is a loving dog who was made to look like a terrifying wolf. That’s basically the TL;DR version of the rest of the article.
In case you are looking for more details about the American Alsatian, you’ve come to the right place.
Below, we will provide you with all the information you need to know based on the official word of this breed’s first breeder, and the experience other dog owners say they have had with this dog.
Up until the 1980s, there is no history for the American Alsatian. This is unusual as most dog breeds that you will learn about have a history dating back centuries.
The American Alsatian almost has no history attached to him. But it is important to know how he came to be.
Lois Schwarz, formerly Lois Denny, started the Dire Wolf Project in 1987 hoping to “create” a new breed that could be the most loyal dog ever.
She wanted a dog that looks like a Wolf or at least looks like how the prehistoric Dire Wolf. She also wanted a wolf that has the best temperament she encountered once in her life in a German Shepherd dog mix.
Lois took many AKC registered dog breeds, among them the German Shepherd, Irish Wolfhound, English Mastiff, Labrador Retriever, Giant Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, and others.
According to her, she was looking for the perfect companion dog first, looks second. She only worried about the looks of the early American Alsatians until she perfected their temperament.
The American Alsatian has only existed since 2010, as a name that is. When Lois Schwarz began her project, the dogs were referred to as North American Shepalute. Years later, the name changed to Alsatian Shepalute.
Of course, the Alsatian was chosen as it has a close meaning to wolf-looking. So, everyone was happy with the name then.
However, Shepalute sounded as if these dogs were mixes between German Shepherds and Alaskan Malamutes. While they were part of the initial breeding process, they were never the only breeds used to get this new breed.
By 2010, Shepalute was dropped from the name, and American was added back. Hopefully, this name will stick as it sounds the best.
As of writing this, the American Alsatian does not appear in any officially accepted kennel club or registry. The breeders have decided to keep the breed under their own registry following strict breeding requirements.
This decision is supposed to ensure all American Alsatians have great genes and are just as Schwarz intended them to be.
They fear that registering the breed will open them up to a greater risk of mistreatment in general. There are not many ways to get a certified Alsatian dog, which means almost all dogs you will see follow the same standards that were set by Lois Schwarz thirty years ago.
It is not clear whether American Alsatian breeders will ever change their stance on registering the breed as part of the official kennel clubs. However, as long as the breed standards are protected, there is no need to do so.
They are giants dogs that stand between 25 inches (minimum for females) and 32 inches (maximum for males). While most recommend these dogs weigh at least 100 lbs at their first year, the breed standard specifies that the minimum requirement of an adult dog is 90 lbs.
The American Alsatian is a well-balanced dog, longer than he is tall. He’s got a broad back, chest, and thigh area, heavy bone, and strong muscle.
He always has a black nose, and coat color is dark in pigmentation.
The coat colors for the American Alsatian are various. Yet, none of these colors has to do with his personality or temperament. These coat colors include but are not limited to Silver Sable (the most sought after), Golden Sable, Tri Sable Golden Gray, Black Silver Sable, Silver, Cream.
According to the official breed standards, American Alsatians are an easy-to-train breed of dog. They have no issue following commands. Teaching your dog the basic commands should be an easy process, especially if you are positive throughout the sessions.
Being harsh on this dog just shuts him off. His reaction would simply be to walk away to a safe spot, lay down, and watch you from a distance.
Although they are quite large (oh, they are!), they do not require a tense exercise. They are low on energy and need only about an hour a day to stay healthy.
American Alsatian are awesome dogs for those who work from home and cannot take their dog out for stretched periods of hours.
They are also not great for hiking or highly-demanding sports. They would like to stay at home, lay back, and look cool.
There is no easy way to say this: if you live in an apartment, the American Alsatian is not for you.
This is a large dog that requires a lot of space. While he will always prefer to be next to you, he would also like to have a large space where to go when he is slightly bored.
Being put in a small space such an apartment almost suffocates him. For the well-being of this dog, I recommend you find another more adaptable dog to your lifestyle.
The American Alsatian is best suited for families that live in a house with a yard (the bigger, the better). With that space, the dog can walk around and stretch his body without fear of putting everything out of place.
If you live in a house with a yard, then this dog will be a good choice for you. However, you should know that he won’t be spending much time on his own outside. He prefers being as close to you as possible. The space outside is for him to relax when he wants to.
Lois Schwarz insisted on having the most well-behaved companion dog ever. He does not even require long training sessions as most commands come naturally to him. He is a laid back dog who wants all your love and attention.
Breeders consider a whiny American Alsatian to be out of their standards. If he ever barks, it must be for something funny or entertaining or because you wanted him to.
He is the least aggressive but jealous. An American Alsatian that abides by the breed standards will never show any type of aggression, not even to strangers.
Therefore, your dog may scare thieves away because of how large he is. But the closer they get, the happier he is with them.
He is not an alert dog. If you are looking for alert dogs for protection, consider a German Shepherd Rottweiler mix.
These dogs are overly attached to their owners and their homes. They do not roam or have a tendency to leave the house at night. In fact, they do not like going to new places at all.
This is actually a downside as it may take from 3 months to a full year before an American Alsatian gets accustomed to your leadership when you first get him. But soon after that, he will be all smiles and cuddles.
When you visit the official website for the American Alsatian and the Dire Wolf Project, there is one note that you find at the bottom of every page: “Schwarz Dogs are NOT working dogs!”
It could not be any clearer than that. The American Alsatian has never been intended to perform any sort of task, except be there next to you.
Many will see this large dog and think that he can be a guard dog, a rescue dog, a herding dog, or whatever “job” they want a dog to do. Unfortunately for them, the American Alsatian is none of those and will probably never be.
Schwarz focused her energy and studies on having a dog that loves his owner so much that he does not leave him out of his sight.
The most appropriate “job” for her dogs is to be a companion dog. Also, try to keep that companionship at home. He is not well-made for visiting the outside world. He is not shy, but he is not curious enough to check it out by himself.
The American Alsatian has two coats, depending on the weather. The winter and summer coats are distinctly different from each other, yet they both appear on the same dog.
The winter coat is moderately coarse and thick, moderately dense and oily. His coat is shorter and thinner during the summer months as the undercoat almost entirely sheds out.
He is a heavy shedder when the seasons change. He sheds his entire undercoat during May and June. When shedding season comes, you begin to realize the body of your dog that hides behind all the fur as he looks skinnier than usual.
Other than during shedding season, you will need to brush your dog once or twice every week to keep his skin healthy.
Considering that American Alsatians are made to bond with their owner, every experience should be welcomed by the dog if you are gentle enough.
Usually, large dog breeds require high-protein diets as they tend to be hyperactive. The American Alsatian is NOT one of them. In fact, Schwarz considers hyperactivity a disqualifying fault.
Your dog is not supposed to be a super athlete and does not need an athlete’s eating regiment. However, you still need to find a high-quality dog food that is specifically made for a large dog.
There is possibly no better feeding guide on the American Alsatian other than this one on Schwarz’ official website.
The TL;DR version of it is:
-> Make sure your dog makes it up to 100 pounds in the first year.
-> Start their meal with kibble, add more flavor as they eat more.
Because they can eat a lot but are not hyperactive, they easily gain the weight required to reach their full potential.
Here is a video from one of the couple official breeders of American Alsatians.
A chill dog is a gentle dog. The American Alsatian is great with kids and smaller pets. He may get jealous of them if he sees his owner giving them more attention. However, this dog does not retaliate or whine about it. He will simply try to get more friendly as well.
He can play along with children, although he is large in size. Of course, interactions with babies should always be supervised as both involved can make mistakes.
Smaller pets are also safe around this giant, and no foul play is involved. He plays it safe and keeps his calm under all circumstances.
If he is tired or annoyed, he moves on to a calmer place. Teach your little (and grown) humans to leave the dog alone to rest when he needs it. He is almost always in the mood for giving you love, so don’t bother his sleep.
Considering the new history of this dog, there are not many known health concerns that they are prone to. However, we cannot claim that they are the healthiest dog breed either.
Dog breeders usually outcross this breed to keep them healthy. A lot of research has been done to make sure they are as healthy as any other dog breed. Therefore, unless some hereditary health issues show up, your dog is likely to be safe. However, as all dogs are, some minor issues may arise either due to poor nutrition, excessive exercises, or just old age.
Here is a list of common health concerns in large dogs. We hope your dog (or any dog) never has to deal with any of them.
The American Alsatian can live up to 14 years on average.
As of writing this, The National American Alsatian Breeder’s Association only recognizes two breeders.
You can check out the Schwarz Dogs, which is basically the source of all the American Alsatians. You are going to the original breeders of this purebreed. You cannot go wrong when your puppy is from the original breed.
Your second source is the DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. They follow a strict selection process to ensure that every American Alsatian goes to the right family. There is no way around this process, and you go through interviews before being accepted to be an owner.
I currently have no knowledge of existing American Alsatians in dog shelters.
There are not many dogs that can claim being a wolf at heart. The American Alsatian can’t claim either, but he can definitely say he is as close a dog can to a wolf as possible.
While you won’t get the chance to see many American Alsatian running around in your dog park, appreciating how hard it took to make them a reality should be enough.
It is not easy to get a hold of a puppy for obvious reasons. If you happen to have an American Alsatian, please do share with us your pictures!
Let us know in the comments down below what you think of this dog.
Images credits: 101dogbreeds.com
Hey world! Sam here! I am a writer and a blogger, with keen interest in pets, dogs especially. Writing about those creatures make time melt like an ice cube in a desert! Dogs are just unbelievably amazing!
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