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Alsatian vs. German Shepherd: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 1, 2024
Alsatian and German Shepherd are the same breed; "Alsatian" was a term used in the UK to avoid the German association post-WWI.

Key Differences

The term "Alsatian" was originally adopted in the UK for the German Shepherd breed to avoid the negative connotations associated with Germany post-World War I. The German Shepherd, known for its intelligence and versatility, is the same breed as the Alsatian.
Both Alsatians and German Shepherds are large, working dogs known for their intelligence and trainability. While "Alsatian" is primarily used in the UK, "German Shepherd" is the globally recognized name for the breed.
The Alsatian and the German Shepherd share the same physical characteristics, including a strong, muscular build, a black and tan coat, and erect ears. Their names differ purely due to historical and geographical reasons.
In terms of temperament, Alsatians and German Shepherds are loyal, protective, and make excellent family pets. The difference in nomenclature does not imply any difference in behavior or capabilities.
The popularity of the German Shepherd breed, or Alsatian, spans worldwide, used in various roles such as police dogs, service dogs, and beloved pets. The name variation is the only significant difference between the two terms.

Comparison Chart

Name Origin

UK adaptation post-WWI
Original German name

Global Recognition

Less globally recognized
Widely recognized name

Physical Characteristics

Same as German Shepherd
Same as Alsatian


Same as German Shepherd
Same as Alsatian

Usage in Roles

Same as German Shepherd
Same as Alsatian

Alsatian and German Shepherd Definitions


Alsatian describes a loyal and protective canine.
Our family feels safe with our Alsatian around.

German Shepherd

German Shepherd dogs are known for their versatility and trainability.
My German Shepherd was easily trained for agility competitions.


Alsatian denotes a large, intelligent, working dog.
The Alsatian is often employed in search and rescue missions.

German Shepherd

German Shepherd refers to a breed with a strong, muscular build.
The muscular structure of the German Shepherd makes it ideal for physical tasks.


Alsatian refers to the German Shepherd breed in the UK.
My Alsatian won first place in the local dog show.

German Shepherd

German Shepherd describes a loyal and protective breed.
Our German Shepherd is incredibly loyal to our family.


Alsatian, a term mainly used in the UK, is synonymous with German Shepherd.
In the UK, we usually refer to German Shepherds as Alsatians.

German Shepherd

German Shepherd is the globally recognized name for the breed.
The German Shepherd is known worldwide for its intelligence and capabilities.


Alsatian is a term used to avoid German associations.
During the war, we called our German Shepherd an Alsatian.

German Shepherd

German Shepherd is a breed of large, intelligent dogs.
The German Shepherd is popular in law enforcement roles.


Of or relating to Alsace or to its inhabitants or culture.


A native or inhabitant of Alsace.


A person of Alsatian ancestry.


Chiefly British A German shepherd.


Alternative case form of Alsatian


Pertaining to Alsatia.


An inhabitant of Alsatia or Alsace in Germany, or of Alsatia or White Friars (a resort of debtors and criminals) in London.


A native or inhabitant of Alsace


Breed of large shepherd dogs used in police work and as a guide for the blind


Of or relating to or characteristic of Alsace or its inhabitants


Why was the term Alsatian used instead of German Shepherd?

"Alsatian" was used in the UK to avoid negative connotations with Germany after WWI.

Are Alsatian and German Shepherd different breeds?

No, they are the same breed; the names are used interchangeably.

Are Alsatians good as working dogs?

Yes, they are excellent working dogs, just like German Shepherds.

Is the German Shepherd good for families?

Yes, both Alsatians and German Shepherds are great family pets.

Do Alsatians require a lot of exercise?

Yes, they require regular exercise, similar to German Shepherds.

How long do German Shepherds typically live?

German Shepherds, or Alsatians, have a lifespan of about 9-13 years.

Do Alsatians make good service dogs?

Yes, they are often used as service dogs, like German Shepherds.

Can Alsatians be aggressive?

They are generally not aggressive if properly trained and socialized.

What is the ideal environment for a German Shepherd?

They thrive in an active environment with space to exercise.

Can Alsatians have different coat colors?

Yes, like German Shepherds, they can have varied coat colors.

Are German Shepherds easy to train?

Yes, they are known for their intelligence and trainability.

Can Alsatians live in apartments?

They can, but they need ample exercise and space.

Is the German Shepherd a popular breed?

Yes, it's one of the most popular and recognized breeds worldwide.

Are Alsatians prone to any specific health issues?

Like German Shepherds, they can be prone to hip dysplasia and other health issues.

How much training does a German Shepherd need?

They benefit from early and consistent training.

Do German Shepherds shed a lot?

Yes, they are heavy shedders, especially during seasonal changes.

Are Alsatians good guard dogs?

Yes, they are excellent guard dogs due to their protective nature.

How much grooming do German Shepherds need?

They require regular grooming, due to their thick coat.

Are Alsatians good with children?

Yes, when properly socialized, they are great with children.

What is the average weight of a German Shepherd?

They typically weigh between 50-90 pounds.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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