Game of Thrones Fans unite! If you’re an avid GOT enthusiast and have always dreamed of owning a Dire Wolf of your own, then the American Alsatian is certainly worth looking into. This massive canine was bred specifically to look like the now extinct Dire Wolf, though he retains incredible personality traits like devotion, affection and a calm demeanor.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the American Alsatian is the right dog for everyone. Classified as a giant breed, the American Alsatian can be prone to some genetic health issues and requires lots of space, time and commitment from his owners.
Are you prepared to take on this gentle giant? Then keep reading. Here is everything you need to know about the American Alsatian.
The American Alsatian At A Glance
American Alsatians are a relatively new dog designed to look like the extinct Dire Wolf.
Also known as the Alsatian Shepalute, the American Alsatian is a relatively newer breed. He is a combination of a number of purebred dogs designed to look like the extinct Dire Wolf but behave like the world’s most loyal canine companion.
He is massive, standing taller than even the biggest German Shepherd or Husky, and he has a thick, dense coat that sheds heavily once a year.
That said, the American Alsatian is long-lived and relatively healthy, though he can suffer from some genetic health issues, especially if you don’t get him from a reputable source. Unlike many other dogs of his size and appearance, the American Alsatian is not a bred working dog and is instead designed specifically for companionship.
Curious to learn more? Let’s talk about the Dire Wolf Project and discover where this majestic dog really came from.
Where Does The American Alsatian Come From?
These gorgeous dogs were bred in the 1980’s in California.
The first time we heard of the Dire Wolf was when we binge watched the Game of Thrones. While many creatures in this popular HBO series are fictional, the Dire Wolf is actually based on a real wolf that existed around 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago.
Fossils of the Dire Wolf prove this wolf species was larger than today’s modern grey wolf, with bigger teeth, paws, and claws to boot.
And while the GOT series may have clued many of us into the Dire Wolf’s one time existence, that series is actually not responsible for the creation of the dog from which it is inspired – the American Alsatian.
The American Alsatian was created in the 1980’s during a time when wolf-dog hybrids were rising in popularity. Many people were seeking wolf dogs due to their stunning look and, let’s be honest, due to the status it would give them as exotic pet owners. Unfortunately, wolf dog hybrids can be incredibly difficult to own, maintaining much of their wild temperamental traits.
This resulted in countless wolf dogs being turned over to shelters, zoos and sanctuaries. Sadly, many wolf dogs were even put down.
Noticing this, a woman by the name of Lois Denny (more recently known as Lois Schwarz), began working to cultivate a dog breed with the appearance of an exotic wolf dog but with the temperament of a devoted house pet.
Focusing mostly on temperament first, Lois combined family-friendly breeds like the Alaskan Malamute, the German Shepherd, and later the Great Pyrenees, the English Mastiff, the Anatolian Shepherd and the Irish Wolfhound.
As is customary, it took years and generations of perfecting before the breed standard for the American Alsatian was set, and it wasn’t until the early 2000’s when the public was finally introduced to the American Alsatian.
Over time, the American Alsatian was known by a few other names. Originally, he was called the North American Shepalute. He then went on to be known as the Alsatian Shepalute until around 2004. In 2010, the American Alsatian was officially coined, and this is the dog we know and love today.
What Does The American Alsatian Look Like?
This is a dog who comes in several different colors and color combinations.
Lois Denny’s goal was to create a dog that resembled one of the world’s largest wolves, and boy did she succeed. There is no dog that quite measures up to the American Alsatian, who is so large he is classified as a giant breed, sitting alongside other canine mammoths like the Great Dane, the Mastiff and the Wolf Hound, (all of whom are his ancestors).
Let’s take a look at the American Alsatians basic characteristics below.
American Alsatian Height: 25 – 32 Inches
American Alsatian Weight: 85 – 100 + Pounds
American Alsatian Coat Color: Cream, golden sable, silver sable, tri sable, black and silver sable, silver, and tri sable golden grey
American Alsatian Coat Type: Long, double-coated, shedding
Hypoallergenic Coat: No
Overview of The American Alsatian Appearance:
According to most enthusiasts, the ideal color of an American Alsatian is silver sable, as this is the color that most closely resembles a wild wolf. However, many other coat colors are just as head-turning, and this is likely due to the size and build of this majestic dog.
American Alsatians are massive, with broad chests, large paws, big heads and bright, curious eyes. Their tails are plush and their coats are long, and their ears are erect and pointed.
And though imposing in size, it’s the American Alsatian’s demeanor that really makes this dog a star. With that said, it’s time to learn about the American Alsatian’s personality.
What Are The American Alsatian Temperament And Personality Traits Like?
Emotionally intune with their families, the American Alsatian is a favorite amongst those with children and other pets.
With so much focus put on the American Alsatian’s temperament, it should come as no surprise this wolf-dog look alike is a stellar family companion. Intuitive, mild-mannered, and oh-so-loving, the American Alsatian is a sheep in wolves clothing.
You read that right. This dog is known as a giant lap dog who does well with children and other household pets, is incredibly gentle and calm despite his large size, and is quiet as a mouse.
Though he may look like he’ll make a fierce guard dog, the Alsatian is actually docile. He is more likely to greet a thief with a wagging tail and sit calmly as they ransack your belongings. That said, we doubt anyone will be brave enough to attempt such a feat with a dog who looks like an American Alsatian in the home.
The American Alsatian isn’t an especially playful companion, and he’s not designed for excessive activities. He prefers to relax and join in on family activities from afar on a comfy spot near the sofa or fireplace. He’s also a giant cuddle bug who becomes very attached to his human family.
As such, the American Alsatian will do best with owners who have flexible schedules and can be home with him throughout the day. If left alone for too long, the American Alsatian can be prone to anxiety and destructive behaviors like chewing and bathroom accidents.
Incredibly loyal, the American Alsatian is one of those dogs who isn’t likely to stray far from his people or home. He’s not an escape artist, nor would he want to be. He is quite content being at your side everyday, all day.
What Are The Exercise Requirements For An American Alsatian?
Despite their large size, Alsatians are low-energy dogs who only require moderate exercise.
Because he closely resembles a Malamute or German Shepherd, many people may wrongly assume that the American Alsatian is just as high energy. While all dogs require routine exercise each and every day, the American Alsatian is surprisingly low maintenance.
A nice hour-long walk each day should suffice, as should some open lounge time in the backyard. Other than that, the American Alsatian will be most happy alongside you inside your home.
We should note that this is not the dog for very active families or singles. He will not make a good jogging partner or hiking dog, and won’t do well going on long excursions or adventures. He is much too mild-mannered for these activities and will tire quickly.
Instead, this is the ideal dog for more laid back people who enjoy evening strolls through the neighborhood and backyard patio relaxing.
That said, a backyard is a must for these dogs. Though they are calm and quiet, they are still very large. They do not make ideal apartment dogs for this reason as they require lots of space both inside and out to stretch out and lounge.
They will also appreciate a nice backyard to run and play (if they are in the mood), or to simply relax beneath a shady tree.
How Do You Properly Train and Socialize The American Alsatian?
Ensuring your American Alsatian is properly trained and socialized is especially important considering this is a large and strong dog.
Your American Alsatian is as gentle as they come, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect socialization and training. All dogs should be properly socialized and trained beginning at an early age, and this dog is no exception.
Large and strong, the American Alsatian can be prone to serious behavioral issues if not socialized properly, and he can be especially prone to anxiety and stress. To help your American Alsatian grow up happy, healthy and well-rounded, begin introducing him to as many new people, places, sights, sounds, and experiences as possible during puppyhood.
Try and ensure these new experiences are positive for your American Alsatian, and refrain from forcing him into a situation that is clearly frightening for him. Doing so could make anxiety worse in the future and lead to further behavioral issues down the road.
It’s also important to implement training at an early age with this breed. American Alsatians are incredibly devoted dogs who are eager to please and easy to train. Best of all, they are magnets to their people, which means teaching them a solid recall is a synch.
With that in mind, be careful of scolding or punishing your American Alsatian if he makes a mistake during training. This could harm the bond between the two of you and cause your American Alsatian to shut down.
Instead, focus on positive reinforcement like treats and praise and keep training short, fun and game-like to get the most out of each session.
The American Alsatian Grooming Requirements
The American Alsatian has a dense double coat that sheds heavily.
Grooming an American Alsatian comes with its pros and cons, and while this luscious coat is one of the most eye-catching features of the breed, it can also be overwhelming.
The American Alsatian is a shedding dog with a dense, double-layered coat. He sheds year-round, but most heavily during the shedding season in spring and fall. During the shedding season, the American Alsatian loses a lot of fur and requires routine brushing with a deshedding brush at least once a day to reduce doggy odor, matting and skin issues.
Outside of shedding season, however, the American Alsatians coat is quite low maintenance. His fur is weather resistant and coarse, and it doesn’t hold much odor. He also doesn’t require many baths unless he gets into something particularly gross.
Along with brushing and bathing, it’s important to take special care of your American Alsatian’s teeth and ears. Make sure you check and clean his ears routinely to reduce the chances of debris and waxy build-up and prevent potential ear infections. It’s also important to brush his teeth at least once a day with a dog-safe toothbrush and toothpaste.
His nails should also be trimmed routinely to reduce the chances of them cracking and splitting, which is painful for the dog and can lead to infections.
American Alsatian Health Issues
American Alsatian dogs have a lifespan of between 12 and 13 years
The American Alsatian has been crossbreed more recently, and as such he has a wider genepool. Many experts theorize that this can lead to a healthier dog in the long run. That said, the American Alsatian can be prone to some serious health issues that potential owners should be aware of.
With a lifespan of 9 – 13 years, the American Alsatian can be prone to:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
- Enlarged Heart
- And myelofibrosis
Understanding Bloat and your American Alsatian
While all the above health issues are potentially serious when it comes to the American Alsatian, there is one in particular that can come on suddenly and is difficult to detect in routine health screenings.
Also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV, Bloat is a serious and often life threatening medical emergency that requires immediate care. Bloat is common in deep chested, large dogs like the American Alsatian and occurs when air fills the stomach and intestines, causing these organs to flip.
Symptoms of Bloat include panting, excessive drooling, extended abdomen, obvious pain, lethargy, unproductive vomiting and collapse.
Though it can come on without warning, Bloat can also be caused by certain activities such as eating or drinking too quickly, eating or drinking immediately after play or exercise, or eating potentially hazardous food. Puzzle feeders can help reduce Bloat in your American Alsatian, as can following the below tips for each category.
Diet plays an important role in your American Alsatians overall health and vitality. Seeing as the American Alsatian is a giant breed, it’s important that he is on a quality dog food brand specified for his age, weight and activity level.
Make sure his dog food is made with real animal protein, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. Steer clear of dog foods rich in byproducts, additives, dyes, and fillers like corn, soy and wheat.
You of course have the option of choosing between dry, wet, raw, or homemade dog food for your American Alsatian. Whichever option you choose, it’s important to make sure your dog is getting all the nutrients listed above he needs to thrive.
While the American Alsatian doesn’t require as much routine exercise as many other large-breed dogs, he still needs daily exercise in order to stay happy and healthy. Keeping up with daily walks and outside playtime will help strengthen your American Alsatians immune system, enhance bone and joint health, and will ensure he is mentally happy as well.
Routine grooming not only ensures your American Alsatian looks his best, but it also gives you an opportunity to routinely check him over. Grooming can be classified as preventative care and maintenance when it comes to your dog’s health, and can also help strengthen the bond between you and your pup.
Routine Vet Visits
Last but not least, try and keep up with routine vet visits. Wellness checks are incredibly important to your dog’s overall health and can even save you money in the long run when it comes to preventative care and medicine.
Most veterinarians recommend that dogs under seven years old be seen at least once a year while older dogs over seven should be seen once every six months.
What Are Some Pros And Cons Of Owning An American Alsatian?
Though beautiful and smart, these dogs can be high maintenance and require devoted owners.
The American Alsatian may seem like the perfect dog for you on paper, but it’s important to go over a list of pros and cons to ensure this is the dog you want to invest in. Like all dogs, the American Alsatian requires routine care and maintenance, and his large size could pose some problems.
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of owning this incredible breed below.
Pros To Owning An American Alsatian:
- American Alsatians are great with children and other pets
- They are calm and mild-mannered dogs
- Their coats are weather-resistant and do not smell
- American Alsatian dogs are eager to please and easy to train
- They are very quiet and not known to bark or whine
- American Alsatians are ideal for low-key families
- They become very bonded with their families
- American Alsatians stick nearby and are not likely to wander off
- They are relatively healthy and long-lived
Cons To Owning An American Alsatian:
- American Alsatian dogs shed very heavily
- They are massive dogs who require lots of space
- The American Alsatian is not an ideal guard dog
- They are not ideal for active families who like to go on big adventures
- American Alsatian dogs are not built for heavy exercise
- They can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone too long
- American Alsatians are not ideal apartment dogs
- They can be prone to Bloat
What Is The Ideal Home Type For An American Alsatian?
The American Alsatian will do best in a home with a devoted family.
Temperamentally, the American Alsatian is pretty low maintenance, which makes them a great dog for first time dog owners and those with children and other pets. However, other aspects should be considered including grooming maintenance, shedding, space and lifestyle.
The ideal home for an American Alsatian is going to be a home with lots of space both inside and out, and a home with owners who are around often. Owners should also be prepared to spend a lot of time giving the American Alsatian affection and cuddles.
This is not a dog who does well on his own and will thrive when living right alongside his human family.
If you are an active family who is looking for an outgoing, high-energy dog to take on hikes, jogs, or similar adventures, it would be best to invest in a dog like the Husky or Golden Retriever.
Tips On Finding The Healthiest American Alsatian Possible
Look for reputable breeders who can offer certificates of health when looking for an American Alsatian puppy.
Though the American Alsatian is a relatively healthy and long-lived dog, it’s important to still ensure you go through reputable sources when looking for a puppy or rescue dog.
On average, American Alsatian puppies cost between $1,800 and $3,000 dollars, though this price can vary depending on the breeder and the quality of your American Alsatian puppy’s parent breeds.
While this is a hefty price to pay for a puppy, it’s important not to cut corners. Avoid going through backyard breeders or unqualified online sellers in the hopes of finding an American Alsatian at a bargain price. Doing so could raise your chances of winding up with a sick puppy, which can cost you even more money in the long run.
Instead, stick with reputable breeders who are able to provide you with certificates of health proving their puppies have been screened and cleared of any serious health issues. You might also be able to meet your American Alsatian’s parent dogs to get a better idea of what your puppy will grow up to look and behave like.
If you’re worried about the price of an American Alsatian puppy or you would prefer to rescue, you’re in luck. There are plenty of rescues and shelters across the US that specialize in this breed.
Most rescues charge a fraction of the price that breeders charge. Best of all, shelters will often provide you with a free initial vet exam and will have likely had their American Alsatian dogs undergo behavioral testing before putting them up for adoption.
The Products Every American Alsatian Owner Should Have
Like all dogs, American Alsatian dogs will thrive when their owners are prepared for their unique needs.
Are you on the American Alsatian bandwagon? We can’t blame you. These gorgeous, one-of-a-kind dogs have stolen our hearts too, and we want to help you and your new dog start off on the right foot.
This breed is as unique as they come, and preparing for your new puppy or rescue will take some time. You can get started by investing in some of the quality products we have listed below that are designed just for dogs like the American Alsatian.
Take a look!
KONG Dog Toy
Because the American Alsatian can be prone to separation anxiety, it is a good idea to invest in a toy that will help keep him busy and distracted while you are away. The KONG is a must have for dog owners and is a staple of any doggy toy basket.
KONGS are made of quality, dog-safe material and are designed to be stuffed full of your dog’s favorite treats. The above KONG can be ordered in different sizes and chew-strengths to help reduce separation anxiety and keep your American Alsatian happy and content while you are gone.
Outward Hound Puzzle Feeder
American Alsaitain dogs can be prone to Bloat, which can be caused by eating too much too quickly. One way to combat this is to invest in a puzzle feeder like the Outward Hound Puzzle Feeder listed above.
Also known as a slow feeder, a puzzle feeder is designed to slow your dog down during mealtime and reduce the amount of air he swallows while eating. Along with helping to keep your dog safe, the slow feeder also promotes healthy eating habits and makes mealtime a fun game for your American Alsatian.
PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
Last, we have the PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness. These harnesses are some of our favorites, especially when it comes to walking large breed dogs like the American Alsatian. The harness is designed for comfort and functionality, and reduces pulling while out and about.
It also does not put pressure on your dog’s sensitive throat and trachea, and can clip in the front for a more natural walking experience.
And that’s it, folks!
Now that you know more about the incredible and majestic American Alsatian, do you think this is the right dog for you?
Let us know what you think about this incredible dog in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading!
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.