German Shepherds are among the most popular dog breeds throughout the world; they are known for their courage, intelligence, and loyalty. But did you know that there are plenty of dog breeds similar to the German Shepherd dog? Here, we provide a list of dogs and discuss the different breeds that are little known but are every bit just as strong, gentle, and majestic as the German Shepherd.
About the German Shepherd
The German Shepherd was first introduced as a working dog in 1899 in Germany and was used to herd and guard sheep; they are easily recognizable through their faces which are covered by a black mask. They are among the most popular breeds right behind the French Bulldog, Labrador Retriever, and Golden Retriever as of 2022, according to the American Kennel Club. First developed by Captain Max von Stephanitz, German Shepherds are friendly dogs that excel in various things, allowing them to be versatile working dogs.
You will often see them taking on various jobs, including the following:
- Military dogs
- Rescue dogs
- Police dogs
- Guide dogs
- Service dogs
Thanks to their high intelligence and ability to learn fast, you will also see them participating in a wide range of dog sports where they also thrive. Their keen sense of smell and willingness to please their owners make them a favorite across the dog community and many enjoy their company because they’re energetic and playful. However, their temperament won’t be guaranteed, so you’ll need to look for a breeder that’s focused on their health and nature.
When bred poorly, they can be anxious and nervous; unfortunately, a certificate from the kennel club won’t ensure that you’ll get a well-bred dog, so be sure to speak with a reputable breeder. These dogs come with a wide range of coat lengths (from short hair to long hair) and coat colors, that are as varied as their personalities, such as black, sable, gray, white, blue, and bi-color. When adopting or purchasing a German Shepherd, be sure to speak to a breeder who will screen for common health concerns such as elbow and hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and others.
All-in-all, the German Shepherd is an obedient, loyal, and extremely intelligent breed that’s known as the most versatile breed if you’re looking for a working dog. But despite their huge popularity, some people will still look for a more unique version since not everyone wants to end up with the same dog. Below are some of the closest relatives of this breed for you to choose from.
Dog Breeds Similar to the German Shepherd
Below are some wonderful breeds that bear similarities with the German Shepherd that may not be well known but are definitely unique.
The Dutch Shepherd was originally bred by Dutch shepherds and farmers in the Netherlands and is a highly trainable, versatile, and intelligent dog that can adapt to harsh conditions. Once a herding dog, they are now used as working dogs, where they excel as police dogs, service dogs, watch, and guard dogs. These dogs are known as loyal dogs with a strong urge to protect their owners — they also come with a thick coat that allows them to tolerate cold temperatures.
With roots going back to the Czech Republic, this dog is also called the “Chodský pes” and shares many similarities with the GSD, such as their intelligence, openness to trying new activities, and being attuned to their owner’s needs, but are much friendlier and aren’t as aggressive. While they are smaller and less muscular compared to their German counterparts, they will be protective of their owners and make for wonderful family companions.
This intelligent breed can become a highly trainable and loyal companion; their gentle nature makes them an excellent choice for work as a therapy or service dog. These dogs are heavy shedders that require plenty of grooming but in exchange for all your work, they are calm, loving, and easy-going. They can come with short or long hair, and are friendly with both adults and children — with early socialization, they can also live with other dogs.
This dog shares a similar appearance to the GSD and is therefore usually mistaken for one. While it can be a great working dog, it’s not the best choice for homes with small children since they have a strong prey drive and will chase after everything that runs. They come with moderate grooming needs and a coat color that ranges from mahogany to rich fawn.
These are the biggest variety of the German Shepherd. They can grow to up to 29 inches and are more robust, muscular, and heavier, weighing around 130 to 150 pounds compared to the GSD. They are known to be loyal, confident, eager to please, and protective of their owners but aren’t aggressive. With proper training, this large dog is suitable for a wide range of jobs, including as a service dog, police dog, and search and rescue dog.
The breed isn’t recognized by the AKC at the moment, since they are hybrids made from a combination of German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamute, Akita, and Great Pyrenees.
This breed of dog is equally strong and stubborn — like the Siberian Husky, it was bred to be a sled dog to pull heavy loads through snow and ice, which is why they come with a double coat. These working dogs have a lot of energy and will need vigorous exercise and mental stimulation on a regular basis to keep them from becoming bored and destructive. They will enjoy spending time with family members and going on long walks by the park.
Known as gentle giants, American Alsatians are more robust and bigger compared to the German Shepherd, and also intelligent, friendly, quiet, and non-aggressive. Because of their peaceful demeanor, they can become great pets and will fit in well with a family of dog lovers. They have long and dense fur that comes in different colors such as golden sable, black silver sable, full silver, silver sable, tri-sable, and even cream.
American White Shepherd
This big dog has great physical features including a gorgeous white coat that’s long, thick, and straight. These German Shepherds are bred in the United States and are known to be protective, alert, loyal, courageous, and intelligent dogs. When given early training, they will rarely bark and are able to tolerate living in small spaces as long as they are provided plenty of exercise.
Much like the German Shepherd, Carpathian Shepherds are large dogs that come with a dense inner coat and a rough outer coat with a coat color that’s close to a wolf. Thankfully, they don’t shed too much and won’t need regular grooming — they are devoted, well-mannered, and affectionate, which is why they are loved by their owners. However, the German Shepherd ranks higher when it comes to being kid-friendly so this dog may not be the best choice for families with young kids.
Berger Blanc Suisse
While it’s often mistaken as the American White Shepherd, the Berger Blanc Suisse hails from Switzerland rather than America and is also known as the White Swiss Shepherd Dog. Because of their pure white coat, they often look like a white German Shepherd but will have a dense coat so regular brushing will be needed. This dog is also good with children and other pets, making it a great family dog — it’s also easy to train, making it a good choice for novice owners.
East European Shepherd
This big dog has a striking resemblance to the GSD because it’s part German Shepherd. First bred in the Soviet Union to serve as guard dogs, they have since evolved to withstand harsh conditions and freezing temperatures, becoming hardy dogs. Also known as the Byelorussian Shepherd, it has a black coat that makes it look intimidating and will need a firm leader to ensure they don’t become overly dominant.
Belgian Tervuren Shepherd
This athletic dog is also intelligent and will need plenty of attention, exercise, and training so it will do well with an owner who can meet all of its needs. These dogs are highly courageous and will be devoted to their families — they’re also known to be great candidates for police work and guarding duties. They come with a dense and straight coat that can come in various colors such as black and fawn, and black and mahogany.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog
This is the largest dog on this list and can weigh a whopping 220 pounds along with a height as tall as 30 inches, giving it a bear-like appearance and are known to be fearless and excellent guard dogs. They were originally bred around the Caucasus Mountain region to protect sheep from wild predators. While they are known to be intelligent, they are also independent and stubborn, making them difficult to train so they won’t be a good fit for first-time owners.
Northern Inuit Dog
Hailing from the United Kingdom, these wolf-life dogs were bred using German Shepherd genes which are seen in their ears and high intelligence. These happy dogs can be aloof and spirited thanks to the other half of their DNA which belongs to Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes. While they’re not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Northern Inuit already have plenty of fans — you may even recognize them as the Dire Wolves on the popular TV series, Game of Thrones.
The Groenendael is a type of Belgian sheepdog, the others being the Laekenois, Tervuren, and Malinois; this medium-sized dog will shed moderately and will need the same amount of grooming. They are known to be protective dogs that are energetic with an eagerness to keep their owners happy. However, they aren’t very showy when it comes to affection. These dogs come with high energy levels and will need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.
This breed comes with a light and wooly coat that’s different from all the other breeds — they’re also intelligent, well-mannered, affectionate, and easy to train. It’s known to be a vigilant and athletic breed, making it a good choice for guard work, and is known to be a loyal breed that’s protective and dedicated to its owner. While they’re not naturally pet or child-friendly, they can be when given early socialization and consistent training.
Here’s another dog that closely resembles German Shepherds; Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs are big and muscular with thick coats that come in combinations of gray, black, tan, and white. Known locally as the Czechoslovak Vlcak, it is a relatively new breed that was developed from a mix of the Carpathian Wolves and German Shepherd Dogs around 1965 and 1990. They can be used as patrol dogs and for herding — according to the AKC, they are currently classified as Foundation Stock.
This confident dog is known for its peculiar coat which causes white spotting around the traditionally non-marked fur and its long tail; they also have a double coat of medium length which will need moderate grooming. These dogs are courageous, intelligent, alert, and energetic, and are seriously dedicated to their humans. The Panda Shepherd is vigilant and alert when it comes to strangers and will have a big desire to protect their owners.
Through this list of various breeds similar to the German Shepherd, we were able to determine the key differences between each breed as well as what makes them comparable. While many of them are working dogs, they are also loving, devoted, and willing to please their owners, giving you a dog that’s both loyal and protective. Just be sure to physically and mentally stimulate them and you should always give them strong leadership to help them stay a good boy.