Difference between Alsatian and German Shepherd Dog (GSD)

Breeds, last updated 24th, Jan 2018, Sunny Saurabh

This is always a point of discussion in between German Shepherd and Alsatian, how different they are, who is taller in between them, from where do they originated, what is the coat type and list of this discussion can be endless. But the mystery remains unsolved whether they are same or different. So, what's the real answer? They are same or just the other name of same breed. Yes, German Shepherd and Alsatian are the same breed. Let's check how it all started from the beginning.

Difference between Alsatian and German Shepherd Dog

It all started in History.

It was started at the time of World War, when dogs too are the part of the military and were used by both sides. German Shepherd one of the smartest breed, which is easy to train, protective and fearless. Thus, this is the reason German Shepherd is one of the breed used by both the side for all kind of work such as mines detecting, message passing and are also a part of red cross. Serving first aid to the injured and wounded soldier. But Britishers did not want to call their dog ‘German Shepherd’. As “German” is there in the name of the dog breed and Germans were their main enemy. They do not want to connect or associate with Germans anywhere. Britishers come up with the new name for the breed as ‘Alsatian’. The name Alsatian originated from the area Alsace-Lorraine which is at German- French border.  Where they had spent tough time of their lives at the time of war.

Which Became a point of confusion because of the different name, people get confused in between German Shepherd and Alsatian, they believed that they both are two different breeds and due to the words of mouth the confusion persist in the modern world.


alsation dog

How this confusion spread in India.

During the ‘British Raj’ Britishers brought Alsatian dogs with them and refer them as ‘Alsatian’. They bred the dog and distributed the puppy among the wealthiest families of India. Breed flourished in India and become one of the most famous breed of India. As the breed is versatile and suitable for all the work, weather, and climate. As it remains with aristocracy so the up-keeping of the breed is never a problem. Hence the breed flourished with the breed name as Alsatian in India. The stories of the people from the British era or places where the British colony are established the people still call the breed as Alsatian. Even after the breed regain its name back as German shepherd in India, it still called by the name Alsatian. In past few decades when the import of breed starts from the originated country “Germany” the breed start getting popular as German Shepherd.

Alsatian regain its name back as ‘German Shepherd’.

After the World War in 1977, when the things settled, and doggy world reunited, numerous campaigns run by the breeders and persons associated for the breed welfare. The name of the breed was changed back to German Shepherd Dog in original form. German Shepherd are also known as GSD in the short form. The German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian) has become one of the most popular breeds with pet owners, who consider them loving and loyal companions.


Absolutely right. A German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is also called Alsatian by some but the correct name is German Shepherd as recognized by Kennel Clubs and breeders the world over

By: Parakram | 14 Mar 2008

Yes German Shepherd is the new right name now

By: Rana Atheya | 14 Mar 2008

abhijit dutta
hehehehahahaha.....u guys have spare time..i must say... how is this discussion helping the community ....in watsoever manner...wats in name... whether it be gsd ..or alsatian...how does it matter until the breed standards are defined...once the standards are held well defined...how does it matter whether it is called gsd or alsatian....or wat was it originally called n etc etc etc.... cmon guys kuch constructive karo....

i will give a gud topic.....
is the current posture of the show gsd...essential to improve the workin ability for which it was bred....originally the german shepherd had horizontal backs...n now it slopes down...vets worldwide say dat...it impaires the natural movement of the dog...

By: abhijit dutta | 04 Apr 2009

Anil @ DoggiesDude
i do not have much idea about GSDs but the slope you mentioned is there is all the fast running breeds. It is said to give them thrust for faster speed. Hence if you notice the breeds having slope and tail set down are faster in race to breeds with straight topline and tail at level. (source: Animal Planet)

By: Anil @ DoggiesDude | 04 Apr 2009

abhijit dutta
as far as i have seen racing breeds like greyhounds...afghans....saluki s...borzois....etc...are more famous n adequate racers...they dnt have the slopy back...and over angulated hind legs...prominent racing conformative characters include slender bodies....thin long tails...pointed sleek head...thin long legs and light footed gait...an all this traits are quite obviously understood as racing aids...where the the gsd stand in racing breeds? there is a documentary released by bbc " pedigree dogs exposed" it talks extensively of the over angulation of the modern day show german shepherd and international vets proclaimin that the over angulated hind and slopy posture is actually a hindrance in the natural movement of a four footed animal...the documentary has shown the movement of gsd in speciality championship show in probly canada and have claimed that the movement is altered from naturality and selective breeding solely due to cosmetic reason has led to the actual decline of the gene pool....and made the breed vulnerable to many ailments and health problems...

By: abhijit dutta | 04 Apr 2009

abhijit dutta
in fact al the wel known race dogs have taller slender bodies...ie more in height and less in length....arch back types...not slopy back types...
i was taken aback with shock n surprise to see so many hazards of selective breeding for man desired and designed conformation ...are we pure breed fanciers actually taking the breeds to their doom.....by runnin after conformation and show success....and in turn cursing them with diseases....weakness....inheri ted predispositions...all in al a vulnerable mental n physical state...

By: abhijit dutta | 04 Apr 2009

Anil @ DoggiesDude
the point you have mentioned is OVER ANGULATION . Under normal conditions, its not suggested to have this . The issue of BBC points mainly towards many breed standard of a breed. Like UK kennel has real breed standrads, AKC works on designing the breed, CKC adds some more features and hence we have multiple breed standard. So its mainly Club issues which wanna rule the show world and do not work on a uniform breed standard.

By: Anil @ DoggiesDude | 04 Apr 2009

abhijit dutta
in fact al the wel known race dogs have taller slender bodies...ie more in height and less in length....arch back types...not slopy back types...
i was taken aback with shock n surprise to see so many hazards of selective breeding for man desired and designed conformation ...are we pure breed fanciers actually taking the breeds to their doom.....by runnin after conformation and show success....and in turn cursing them with diseases....weakness....inheri ted predispositions...all in al a vulnerable mental n physical state...

By: abhijit dutta | 04 Apr 2009

Anil @ DoggiesDude
well this is a sad story. Hence its always suggested one to get a pup after going through the breed standard and Origin of that breed. and follow the standards desgned by the club where the breed originates. Like for English Mastiffs, we have 3 breed standards., UKC,AKC and CKC. UK club is the original one which should be followed as KCI is affiliated with FCI which recognises UK club as for mastiff breed standards. In Nov 2008 some more Mastiff breed standard has been suggested for change which hopefully can be introduced later this year. This issue has to be collectively solved by breeders and buyers where both need to be educated and buyers should read more before a pup. lets hope for the best.

By: Anil @ DoggiesDude | 04 Apr 2009

abhijit dutta
i have gone through some slideshows n comparisons between old fashion german shepherds n the modern version....it seems the old ones had much straighter or less angulated backs ...were better movers...n appeared more like a dog than a frog...(critics to the showline modern day gsd have started callin the gsd of today as half dog n half frog,quite n insult)....even today dogs used in police n rescue are more closer to the old fashioned dogs than the show ones we see.....knowledgefull dog lovers..plz hold this issue up...are we doin the right thing by promoting a posture n breedin for it just for the cosmetic reason ...

By: abhijit dutta | 04 Apr 2009

Anil @ DoggiesDude
this can stop once puppy mills, backyard breeders are controlled and per quality are sold on spay/neuter agreement. Show quality can be used if they are breeding certified by a qualified council. Else designer dogs will be always there

By: Anil @ DoggiesDude | 04 Apr 2009

abhijit dutta
its not bout the designer breeds....its our very own gsd...the ones in shows...big shows...is the angulated back and low hinds than fronts helpful to the breed in any manner...n gsd fanciers and even judges have always had a tendency to prefer the angulated specimens over the straighter backs...this will slowly erase the straight back gene frm the pool....just see any comparison between the old fashioned gsd n the todays one....there is a significant change...is this change for good for the breed or is it just for us ...n our own prefered choices....

By: abhijit dutta | 04 Apr 2009

guys can we add pug breed to this thread as well......................:)

By: abhay | 05 Apr 2009

Anil @ DoggiesDude
Lois.. as i had mentioned already that i have no good knowledge of GSD and i said what i saw at Animal Planet. See in quote over there. And my views on general breed standards (which are mulitple in number for one breed) .Confusion starts when breeders refer different standards and judge understands some other standard. Hence all the mess.

As per my knowledge, Dogspot is working on new platform to have each topic discussed separately and this portal has grown very huge in short span of time. So such things occur.

For movement, racing etc whatever one knows/want to share can share here. This is not an expert view. Just a platform to know.

By: Anil @ DoggiesDude | 05 Apr 2009

abhijit dutta
Exactly...dat is wat I have been talkin bout..the slight sloping in d old fashion gsd..was meant for gud and had a important contribution in the functionin of the breed for which it was developed.that has now been exagerated to tremendous extend and has resulted in thousands of puppies been put down before time...n even a show winnin specimen are found moving unnaturally...(courtesy:pls go through the YouTube video links I hve posted earlier in this thread.) so I guess there should be a revision and revaluation of goals and targets of gsd breedin...n should be more health oriented than cosmetic value...n breeders should also kip in mind the welbeing of the dog in his mature ages..ftr it crosses the prime...

By: abhijit dutta | 06 Apr 2009


Alsace is not a town. Alsace (or Elsaß, in German) is the fourth smallest of the twenty-six regions of France. Alsace is the French name given to the land sitting around the river Ill, a western tributary of the Rhine. The capital of Alsace is Strasbourg through which the Ill flows. Following the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), under the terms of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, most of Alsace went to France. Following the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), from 1871 to 1918, Alsace, as part of Alsace-Lorraine (Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen) was part of the German Empire, until reverting to France at the Treaty of Versailles.

Since the 1970s, in the English speaking world at least, most breeders have referred to the breed as the "German Shepherd Dog". Up until the 1970s, however, in English speaking countries within the Commonwealth such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand, in part because of anti-German sentiment in those countries, the breed was officially known as the "Alsatian" (initially the "Alsatian wolf-dog"). To this day, the UK Kennel Club continues to refer officially to the breed standard as the "German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian) Breed Standard".

In Germany, where the modern breed was first registered on 22 April 1899 by A. Meyer, the founding secretary of Verein Fur Deutsche Schäferhunde, and Max von Stephanitz, the founding president , the official breed name is Deutsche Schäferhunde. The Verein Fur Deutsche Schäferhunde is the parent club that continues to set the standards, Korordnung, for the Deutsche Schäferhunde that most US breeders follow.

By: akhil | 03 Jun 2009

Thank you very much dear DoggiesDude for such special attention. God bless you. -Tad

By: Varde-Borcar-Tadcodc ar | 15 Jun 2009

During Worldwar The Britishers & the Americans did not want to have anything to do with anything german so to play safe & dissassociate themselves with anything German the renamed the GSD Alsatian.

By: Ashvina.D.Bativala | 07 Jul 2009

the anatomy of dog is definately diff in germany and england. true GSd r what we see in germany. in england, dogs are more streched in all over anatomy! the back and croup is streched more than GSD in germany! more pleasent are of germany.... even trotting looks so different in both types! the head of the dog in england are more pinted and thin compare to germany.....all and all most contries of world follow german standard not british standard, so called ALSATION are just for british......... thr origin is germany and only GSD attracts most people,....

By: rahul | 23 Sep 2009

lois schwarz
in my words and my opinion, i believe that if you have a gsd with german papers then you have a pure bred german shepherd dog. If you have an AKC gsd then you have an AMERICAN gsd... the GSD is the Largest single breed registry in the world !!!! The AKC has no right to register any dogs that originated in another country. I also feel this way about any other kennel club who wishes to register dogs that are not of its country. They just want to make money. Who do the american gsd club folks think they are to take another countries dogs and show them or judge them? also to change the standards as they see fit? that is not a gsd, that is an american shepherd dog... like the english cocker spaniel.. when they brought that dog over here and started breeding them here, akc put the AMERICAN name in front of it and called it the AMERICAN COCKER SPANIEL , that to me was the correct thing to do. It can not be the ENGLISH cocker spaniel when it is in AMERICA and being bred by AMERICANS... my opinion only... But i ask you guys.... ? does the AMERICAN gsd look like the GERMAN SHEPHERDS DOG? not in color, but in character, temperament, stature and in body conformation? In my opinion the gsd is totally different than the american gsd... (thanks for putting up with my ranting... hehe.. I actually wasnt ranting, just discussing.. i just get into it when it is about dogs. lol) lois

By: lois schwarz | 01 Oct 2009

shilpesh bade
Hello sir ,
how r u ?, i have a male pug, n also ve pomeriyan female, todays morning unfortunetly both they ve in sex (mating). but i dont want to gate such kind of mixed child. so wht can i do for her abortion.
Ar. Shilpesh Bade

By: shilpesh bade | 23 Dec 2009

Anil @ DoggiesDude
go to a vet asap and have something done. do not try any meds without checking with time and since you have just 24 hrs more before the sperm fertiles, rush the female to a vet

By: Anil @ DoggiesDude | 23 Dec 2009

Meera Jagdish
hi lois, I was gifted a GSD pup 3 yrs back. He has all the classic features of the GSD except that his coat is long haired and his colouring unusual- mostly glossy brown withes of black and white around the neck and chest. is he really a GSD?

By: Meera Jagdish | 25 May 2010

Ramkrishna Panicker
hey guys dont get confused with gsd and alsatian.......there are two ather breeds which resembles gsd..1.American Alsatian or Alsatian shepulate.2. East Eouropean shephered..some guys says east-european shephered as alsation..it is small but strong...i saw 1 guy who hav written dogs from england is stretched...actually he may hav seen an American alsatian..For more clarification search the following links..it is wikkipedia.

By: Ramkrishna Panicker | 10 Feb 2011

The Alsatian German Shepherd is a cross breed with wolf or other wolf related dogs with the original German Shepherd. Some examples of tehse cross breeds are the german Shepherd's cousins from Europe such as the Belgian Shepherd or the Checoslovaquian Shepherd. A guy from Germany who I know and got in the past many dogs in Europe told me about them and they are not German Shepherds from Germany, but cross breeds around Europe.

The Nazis scatered their dogs around Europe, but those dogs got mixed with other dogs around Europe. Keep in mind that the conquest of Europe by Germany was lead by soldiers and their loyal dogs. This is how the German Shepherds got spreaded out around Europe. I myself have an Alsatian German Shepherd dog. He is slim, really long, he has wolf apearance under his German Shepherd appearance, he is dark o top with a black face and plate or whitish silver color in his underneath areas. He also has at least three white German Shepherds in his pedigree. He is higly trainable, very smart and does not lack any German Shepherd behavior features. If you define a dof merely by breed name is a big mistake.

For example, The Caucasian Dog o Sarpanilac Dog is a breed from Cocosa-Russia and they have so many different looks in their fur and and colors. They all are related to the Kangal dog, Mountain Bernese Dog, Saint Bernard and many others. They are called in Europe Caucasian dogs because they are from Cocosa and even if they are not considered a plain breed it is not possible to tag each of them like a true Cucasian dog. Alsatian German Shepherd dogs exist like the Checoslovaquian German Shepherds and the Dutch Shepherds and the German Shepherd dogs. Breeds are not enough to keep track of the existence of the many varieties of dogs.

By: Edgar | 21 Apr 2012

Cass Lavallee
Yes, there is a difference between the two breeds. The most important is the height of the hips. The alsatian's hips are at the same height as its shoulders, thus preventing hip dysplasia. In addition, their personalities are different. I know: I've had both!

By: Cass Lavallee | 18 Nov 2012

Divya Sree Ponugoti
yes you are right

By: Divya Sree Ponugoti | 19 Dec 2012

Paul Seamons
I have read with amusement some of the nonsensical comments on here regarding the GSD. Stop pretending that you know about this breed and do some real research (NOT by watching Animal Planet!).

By: Paul Seamons | 31 Dec 2012

It is GSD in American English and Alsatian in British English. Simple.

By: gspal | 24 Oct 2013


By: Abhijeet | 02 Jun 2014

rishi mogha
It was very knowledgeable for me by going through all the chats..@ Cass lavallee.. @ Divya sree... Can u pl tel me the right source from where I can buy an Alsatian pl.Your information will be highly appreciated.My contact no. Is 9999100019.Thank you,Rishi

By: rishi mogha | 04 Jun 2014

very nice

By: | 24 Jun 2014

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