The German shepherd dog is one of the worlds most recognisable dog, but sometimes we don’t want that. We wants something a little different, but with a similar vibe.
This is what we’re going to chat about! German Shepherds were bred to be a herding dog, but now they’re one of the worlds favourite family members, and actually ranking 4th on America’s most popular breeds.
When you think of large, lovable dogs, German Shepherds are likely the first breed that comes to mind. However, there are other breeds out there that share many of the same characteristics as these beloved dogs. In this article we’ll discuss 16 dog breeds that look similar to German Shepherds and give you some information about what makes each one unique from all the others!
Why German Shepherds Are Awesome;
The German shepherd was “founded” by Captain Max von Stephanitz, who really began aligning the standardisation of the breed.The German Shepherd is a highly intelligent, obedient and loyal breed. They are one of the most versatile dogs in terms of “working” dogs.
They are often found in roles such as;
- police dogs
- military dogs
- search and rescue dogs
- guide dog
- service dog (they even make the fab 5!)
All of this is achievable for the german shepherd because of their ability to learn quickly, a phenomenal nose and their willingness to please humans. Many people enjoy having German Shepherds as pets because they are playful, energetic and love the outdoors!
Yes, you do typically have to ensure that your german shepherd comes from good stock and a great breeder who focuses on health and temperament because german shepherds are known to be quite nervy, anxious dogs when they’ve been poorly bred (and a kennel club certificate doesn’t make them a well bred dog!).
They come with a variety of coat colours and lengths (short coats and longer coat to), as well as a huge range of colours.
Risks With A German Shepherd
Health risks can include:
- hip dysplasia,
- elbow dysplasia,
- heart problems,
- Thyroid issues.
- Gastro issues
(OFA suggested tests for a german shepherd)
GSD’s can also be prone to bloat. Then, when it comes to temperament they can be prone to;
- Fence fighting
- Seperation anxiety
German Shepherds are not the only large and lovable dogs out there!
You might be surprised to hear that German Shepherds are not the only large and lovable dogs out there! In fact, there are many other breeds that look similar to German Shepherds. Below is a list of some of these big dogs, not all of them are recognised by the American kennel club, but these similar breeds all have their own “breed club” at very minimum, meaning they’re already being curated. I’ve grouped them into some subcategories that I think are natural divisions of these wonderful dogs. So here, let’s start with the 4 belgian shepherd dogs.
The 4 Begian Shepherds
Belgian Shepdogs, or, belgian shepherds are a more unusual breed of dog and are very similar to German Shepherds, so much so that most normal people will call . They are medium-sized dogs who can be trained to be service dogs, police dogs and search and rescue dogs. They have an average lifespan of 10-12 years.
There are 4 sub categories of the belgian sheepdog, so it seems like a good place to start!
1 – Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois is a medium-sized, muscular dog with a short, smooth coat. It has a square build and a broad head with a slight stop. The muzzle is strong and straight with a black nose.
The ears are large and low-set on either side of the skull. They can be drooped or carried erect when alerting or listening to noises around them. The eyes are oval shaped with an almond shape at their outer corners giving them an alert expression when looking forward but also giving them an innocent look when gazing sideways at you which makes this breed very lovable!
2 – Belgian Tervurens
Belgian Tervurens are a large dog breed known for their loyalty and intelligence. They were originally bred to herd cattle, which explains their instinctive ability to guard and protect. Belgian Tervurens have a life expectancy of 10-12 years and can weigh anywhere from 45-75 pounds as adults. These dogs are prone to hip dysplasia, so it’s important that you keep them active with regular walks or hikes in order not only keep them healthy but also prevent boredom that could lead to destructive behavior like chewing on furniture or shoes!
3 – Belgian Laekenois
The curly coated, tan, black and sometimes a little grey, these wonderful dogs are an active dog, they’re a working dog, and they’re
4 – Groenendael
The Groenendael is a Belgian breed of dog, originally bred as a versatile sheepdog. It has a thick coat that can be black, gray or fawn in color.
Groenendaels are easy to train and make excellent watchdogs due to their protective instincts. This breed needs plenty of exercise when they’re young but calms down once they reach adulthood and become more docile around strangers.
Other Recognised Breeds
5 – Bohemian Shepherd
The Bohemian Shepherd is a breed of dog that originated in Bohemia, which became the Czech Republic. This shepherd was created by crossing German Shepherds with local working dogs, and then breeding them back to German Shepherds to fix their traits.
The Bohemian Shepherd stands at around 23 inches tall and weighs between 55-85 pounds, making it smaller in size to the GSD. The coat color varies from brown or black with white markings on its chest or legs (or both). Some dogs have darker shades of these colors while others have lighter ones; however, they all have light tan eyes with dark rims around them!
This dog makes an excellent pet because it loves people so much but doesn’t like other animals–so if you want something that won’t attack your cat but will still play ball with her outside when she wants some exercise too then this may be just right for you! It’s also great at guarding property because even though its size isn’t intimidating enough alone; when combined with its intelligence level which allows it recognize dangers beforehand before acting upon instinctual reactions based off previous experiences gained throughout its life thus far…
6 – Dutch Shepherd
The Dutch Shepherd is a medium-sized dog that has been bred to look and act like a German Shepherd. Like their German counterparts, they are strong, powerful and intelligent dogs who are loyal to their owners. They also have the same amount of energy–they’re not as protective as German Shepherds but make up for it in playfulness!
Dutch Shepherds aren’t quite as good at herding sheep; however, this can be offset by their ability to adapt quickly when given new tasks or environments. Overall, Dutch Shepherds make great family pets due to their friendliness towards children and other animals (if trained properly).
7 – Carpathian Shepherd
Carpathian Shepherd is a large, powerful and muscular dog breed. They are known for their bravery, courage and loyalty. Their double coat consists of a thick undercoat with long guard hairs. The Carpathian Shepherd can be trained to be an excellent guard dog or livestock guardian because they are extremely protective of their families and property.
8 – Chinook Dog
The Chinook Dog is a strong and powerful dog. They’re loyal, protective and good with children. They have a high energy level and thrive when they’re challenged by their owners and the environment around them.
This breed makes for an excellent guard dog because of their protective instincts; they may not be aggressive towards strangers but will stand up for you if threatened in any way!
9 – Leonberger
These are kind of like fluffy german shepherds taken a little further, but with floppy ears. The Leonberger is a large breed of dog that was originally bred to pull carts in Germany. They were named because of their lion-like appearance.
They have a great family instinct. They can be very protective of their family and may become aggressive towards strangers. They are affectionate with their owners and can be very playful when given the chance to run around or play with other dogs. They don’t necessarily have the longest lifespan, unfortunately,
10 – Beauceron
These dogs are magnificent, and really interesting. They’re one of few dogs where they’re deliberately bred with a double dew claw to aid in their agility and swift turnings.
They’re also extremely loyal, intelligent and protective. They’re known for their calm demeanor and gentle nature. A Beauceron is a very calm dog, but can be quite protective of their owner and family.
German Shepherd Offshoots
11 – King Shepherd
A King Shepherd is a very large version of a german shepherd, they’ve usually had some sort of cross breeding somewhere along the line with Great Pyreneese, Alaskan Malamutes or sometimes Akitas. These large dogs have thick coats and are known for their strong herding instincts. They’re usually quite indistinguishable from a normal German Shepherd.
12 – Berger Blanc Suisse
These are their own recognised breed, but I’ve placed them here because they’ve been selectively bred for their white coloring. The white shepherd is not actually a recognised color per the german shepherd breed standard in the united states. Which kind of leant itself to the offshoot breed of the Berger Blank Suisse, or Swiss shepherd (though the white german shepherd still exists, they’re just not an accepted colour variation.The Berger Blanc Suisse is a dog breed that originated in Switzerland. They are similar to German Shepherds because they have long, straight coats and a muscular build. They were originally bred as livestock guardians, but they can also be trained to be service dogs or guard dogs.
The Berger Blanc Suisse is a medium-sized breed with males weighing anywhere between 55 and 65 pounds (25-30 kg) while females weigh 45-55 pounds (20-25 kg). Their coat is usually white with tan markings on their face and legs. The breed has an average lifespan of 10-14 years if properly cared for; however, some individuals may live longer than that if they don’t have any health problems during their lifetime!
German Shepherd Cross breeds
13 – American Alsatian
The American Alsatian is a large, calm dog with a friendly disposition. These dogs are good with children, but they do not like to be teased or played with too roughly by children (like most dogs!). The American Alsatian will keep watch over your home and alert you if there is any suspicious activity going on outside of it.
American Alsatians make great guard dogs because they’re very vigilant, but they can also be trained to become therapy dogs or search-and-rescue dogs if that’s what you want them to do!
14 – Shiloh Shepherd
The Shiloh Shepherd is a large breed of dog, with males weighing 70–100 pounds and females weighing 55–75 pounds. The Shiloh Shepherd is a very intelligent breed, but also very independent. They require an owner who can provide them with plenty of mental stimulation and exercise in order to keep them from getting bored or frustrated. If you’re looking for a dog that needs lots of attention and affection from their owners, this may not be the best choice for you!
The Shiloh is typically similarly coloured and long furred like the german shepherd. They’re typically a little larger as they’ve been cross bred with an Alaskan malamute.
15 – Czech Wolfdog (Czechoslovak Vlcak)
Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs are similar to German Shepherds in appearance. They are large and muscular, with thick coats of fur that come in any color combination of black, gray, white and tan. The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is also known as the Czechoslovak Vlcak and was a bred military dog.
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is a relatively new breed; it was developed from German Shepherd Dogs crossed with Carpathian Wolves between 1965 and 1990, and were used as patrol dogs but now thrive as a truly utilitarian dog, thriving in every from herding to schutzhund.
They very much resemble their sable german shepherd ancestor, and are classed as Foundation Stock by the AKC.
16 – Northern Inuit Dog
These handsome “wolf-like” dogs are actually bred with some german shepherd in them in the united kingdom, I see it mainly in their ears. But it’s not just what’s visible, because in terms of their intelligence, they’re right up there too. Typically happy dogs, the Northern Inuit is a phenomenal dog, though sometimes they can be a little aloof and spirited because of their alaskan malamute & husky sides.
They’re currently not recognised by the AKC, but the Northerin Inuit Society of America say’s “it’s their mission to become recognised”. Interestingly, the Game of Thrones Dire wolves were all played by Northern Inuit dogs.
17 – Eastern European Shepherd (Byelorussian Shepherd)
The eastern European shepherd was cross bred in the 1930s with the husky by Russia. This was done to help adjust the german shepherd to the more extreme cold environment the eastern European shepherd was bred. They aren’t recognised by the AKC, or UKC, or even the KC or FCI, but they are definitely more recognised by the Nordic Kennel Union.
Lots of alternatives
Depending on what you’re looking for, there’s almost certainly a dog who is a solution to your problem.
But if none of these really suit what you’re looking for, remember the german shepherd has a surprisingly large range of coat colors! Whilst we see the black and tan saddleback most common, there are actually lots of variations.
If you want a dog that looks likeone of the most popular dog breeds, just remember that all of these dogs are big, strong and highly capable dogs, and will likely need more than a daily walk to keep them fit, happy and healthy, they require proper training, early socialization (this does not mean introducing them to every dog they meet!). Remember mental activity, and that these are all hugely trainable dogs. Just remember to meet your dog where they’re at, focus on their personality traits and their specific needs.
If you need help training your German shepherd (or alternative!) is something you need help with, then absolutely get in touch!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for their images!