The German Shepherd breed is known for a number of desirable characteristics. Because of this, they…
The German Shepherd breed is best loved for its dignified stance and noble appearance. Among its most notable features are its upright ears that open to the front.
If you love their look but would like to consider other breeds, read on to discover dogs that look like German Shepherds from around the world.
Dogs That Look Like German Shepherds
Some breeds look very much like German Shepherds because they have the same ancestry and some were actually developed from GSD bloodlines. Others might have the same distinctive features but have some differences in size, coat length, or color.
Here are some breeds that share many of the same physical features as German Shepherds:
Larger Dogs That Look Like German Shepherds
These breeds can be up to 5 inches taller and can weigh anywhere from 10 to 60 pounds heavier than the average GSD.
The ancestry of the King Shepherd is not yet very clear but just one look at these dogs and you’ll know that they’re undeniably bred from German Shepherds. Many speculate that they also have a mix of Alaskan Malamute and Great Pyrenees in their blood.
Given the combination of gentle giants in their pedigree, it shouldn’t be any surprise that the King Shepherd grows up to 31 inches tall and can weigh as much as 150 pounds.
They also share the GSD’s saddled black & tan coat but are distinctively longhaired.
The Shiloh Shepherd was developed fairly recently by a canine enthusiast who wanted a larger version of the GSD but with a gentler nature. She accomplished this through several crosses but predominantly included the Alaskan Malamute.
Although the Shiloh Shepherd looks very much like the GSD, it is considerably larger thanks to its Malamute ancestry.
They stand between 28 and 30 inches and could be anywhere from 80 to 130 pounds. Its coat is also notably different as it is longer and plusher.
East European Shepherd
East European Shepherds were bred from German Shepherds, which is why the two have a striking resemblance. GSDs were selectively bred with native Russian and Ukrainian dogs to develop this breed. The resulting dog is not only more powerful but also has stronger protective instincts.
East European Shepherds grow up to 28 inches and weigh up to 105 pounds. They have medium-length hair with incredibly dense undercoats developed to withstand freezing Soviet conditions.
Like German Shepherds, they are typically black & tan, but can also come in solid black and sable.
Even before the Game of Thrones existed and its source material A Song of Ice and Fire was published, an American kennel already had the vision to recreate the fascinating dire wolf.
Over many years of taking the GSD pedigree and crossing it with several other large breeds, the American Alsatian as we know it today was created.
Apart from German Shepherds, the American Alsatian shares its ancestry with the Alaskan Malamute, the Great Pyrenees, the English Mastiff, the Irish Wolfhound, and the Anatolian Shepherd.
This combination of bloodlines is the reason why it stands at up to 32 inches and weighs up to 120 pounds. But despite their size, they are calmer, sociable, and more affectionate than the typical GSD.
Smaller Breeds Similar to German Shepherds
These breeds are 1 to 5 inches shorter and can weigh up to 60 pounds less than the average German Shepherd.
Like the German Shepherd, the Australian Kelpie is a herding dog. It has long been trusted in open fields because of its agility, intelligence, protectiveness, and limitless energy.
It is common for these dogs to be confused for GSDs because of their similar build, stance, and upright ears. However, Kelpies actually originate from Collies rather than German Shepherds.
They are also much smaller, standing at up to 20 inches and weighing no more than 42 pounds.
Just looking at the two breeds, you can already tell that the German Shepherd and the Bohemian Shepherd somehow share the same ancestry. As puppies, they look practically the same but they grow up to have some distinct differences.
As adults, Bohemian Shepherds are smaller at 19 to 22 inches and lighter at 37 to 60 pounds. They also have longer coats and slightly shorter muzzles. Their ears, which are also large and upright, are shorter and positioned more closely together.
The Dutch Shepherd is another smaller-sized working dog that’s commonly confused for a German Shepherd. They are 21.5 to 24.5 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 42 to 75 pounds.
These athletic dogs have more slender bodies that give them remarkable endurance and enable them to be more agile.
German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds both come in short, medium, and long-haired variants. The Dutch, however, are typically gold or silver brindle while the GSD breed standard doesn’t include brindle coats.
Native Belgian Dogs That Look Like German Shepherds
Native Belgian dogs look very much like German Shepherds. These dogs are similar in size but weigh slightly less than the typical GSD.
This breed, which is generally referred to as the Belgian Shepherd, has been developed into several varieties that differ mainly in coat appearance.
The four main variants of the Belgian Shepherd are called (1) the Groenendael, (2) the Malinois, (3) the Tervuren, and (4) the Laekenois. All are about 22 to 26 inches tall, which is around the same height as the GSD.
They, however, tend to have sleeker and slightly less muscular bodies that weigh around 45 to 75 pounds. Nevertheless, each one shares several characteristics with the GSD.
When people talk about the Belgian Shepherd, they’re often referring to the Belgian Sheepdog. This variant is also called the Groenendael. These dogs have long hair with dense undercoats.
Their outer coat is composed of straight hair, which is particularly long around the neck and shoulders. In terms of coat color, these dogs are commonly solid black or a combination of black & white.
The Tervuren is another Belgian Shepherd variant with long hair combined with a thick protective undercoat. Unlike the Groenendael, however, these dogs are typically fawn & black or mahogany & black, which make them look even more like German Shepherds.
One subtle yet significant difference is that these dogs tend to have long hair around the neck and some feathering around their extremities.
The Malinois is the Belgian Shepherd variant that’s most commonly confused for German Shepherds because they look very similar and are also used as multipurpose working dogs.
Malinois generally have short coats but come in several colors including fawn, red, mahogany, fawn sable, and red sable. They also have black masks similar to that of the GSD.
The Laekenois is the Belgian Shepherd variant that looks least like a German Shepherd. However, these dogs still often get confused for one because of their build and upturned ears. They are also commonly used as herders in open fields.
Even so, the Belgian Laekenois’ most distinctive difference is its rough coat with a slightly curled or tangled appearance. Often, they are fawn-colored but they also come in red, mahogany, red sable, and fawn sable.
Additionally, their muzzles are feathered with fur.
Other German Shepherd Look-Alikes
Here are more breeds that might not be very common but also share similar traits with German Shepherds:
White Swiss Shepherd Dog
As the name suggests, the White Swiss Shepherd Dog originated in Switzerland. However, it is actually descended from white-colored German Shepherds imported from the United States. In fact, their build is pretty much the same, if not slightly larger.
These dogs, which are also called Berger Blanc Suisse, have not changed much from their GSD origins.
However, they are much more appreciated for their rich white color, unlike in the US where the American Kennel Club considers the lack of pigment a serious fault.
The Kunming Wolfdog has an uncanny resemblance to the German Shepherd, so it’s not surprising that these dogs are commonly confused for one another. These dogs originated from China and, in fact, are often referred to as the Chinese Wolfdog.
Although its ancestry is poorly documented, it is clear that the Kunming Wolfdog was developed from purebred GSDs and several types of wolfdogs native to China.
They tend to stand slightly taller than the average German Shepherd but weigh pretty much the same. And, apart from very slight differences in coat color, their overall appearance remains very similar.
German Shepherd Mixed Breeds
German Shepherds are commonly used to cross with other breeds so that they could produce offspring with specific traits.
Although some might look vastly different, GSD mixed breeds typically have distinct physical characteristics that make them look like GSDs, only with subtle differences.
There are many different breeds that look like German Shepherds. There are also mixed breeds that have a similar appearance when they mostly take after their GSD parents. Although all these dogs might look alike, they all have their own unique characteristics.