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A very common question among dog lovers around the world is whether the Alsatian and the German Shepherd dogs are one and the same, or are they different. If you take a straw poll, I am pretty sure you are going to get contradictory answers. This is hardly surprising considering the fact that they look so alike. So, what is the truth then? The truth is they are the same dog with only different names.
Surprised? You should be.
What differentiates the Alsatian from the German Shepherd Dog?
There seems to be a raging debate among dog lovers for quite some time now, with many claiming that they are different, as different as apples and oranges and are bred for different purposes. Some claim that there are structural differences between the dogs, others say that it is the size and color, while even others wants to stress on their places of origin. The proponents of the last theory say that Alsatian originated in Alsace in France while the German Shepherd in Germany.
With so many claims and counter claims, any dog lover is bound to get confused and helpless. So let me put things into perspective for you.
During the world war, both sides were employing the German Shepherd in their ranks to attack, surprise and outmaneuver their opponents. The German Shepherd being a big working dog with high intelligence and a natural propensity for training was considered to be of great value by the armed forces and was therefore hotly pursued. However, the British were loath to using the name “German Shepherd” as the Germans were their arch-enemy and they (the British) didn’t want to associate with the Germans in any way, at least symbolically in this case. So, they coined a new name for the German Shepherd, Alsatian, which somehow some people has come to refer to as a different dog breed.
The Americans, however, had no such hangovers and the name German Shepherd was widely used. Once the war was over, the British also decided that the name Alsatian has outlived its usefulness and went back to its real and trusted name, the German Shepherd. This short anecdote should be enough to clear all your lingering doubts about the German Shepherd and an Alsatian and prove that they are the same thing.
The name Alsatian comes from the German French border area of Alsace-Lorraine, where the British were locked in a fierce battle with the German forces. The original name of the dog is German Shepherd Dog.
It was because of the relentless campaign by the breeders that in 1977 the Alsatian finally got back its original name, German Shepherd Dog. Today the German Shepherd Dog or Alsatian, as you would like to call it, is among the most popular dog breeds in the world. In the US it ranks as high as number two in the popularity stakes while in the UK it is constantly ranked in the top five. The German Shepherd is also known as GSD.