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10 Dog Breeds Similar to German Shepherds (With Pictures)

Grant Piper

By Grant Piper

alert german shepherd dog wearign harness lying on the grass

German Shepherds routinely rank as one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the German Shepherd is the fourth most popular dog breed in the country. There are millions of German Shepherd lovers in the world. This fascination with German Shepherds has driven many people to seek out dogs that are similar to German Shepherds or even breed their own. There are many dogs that share similar histories and DNA to the German Shepherd. These 10 dogs are the most similar breeds to German Shepherds in the world and are sure to appeal to anyone who is interested in German Shepherds.


The 10 Dog Breeds Similar to German Shepherds

1. Belgian Malinois

belgian malinois lying down with a dog toy
Image by: Julia Malsagova, Shutterstock
Origin: Belgium
Lifespan: 10–14 years
Weight: 45–65 pounds

The Belgian Malinois is one of the most strikingly similar dogs to the German Shepherd. In many cases, people cannot tell the two breeds apart. They share a very similar heritage, and they both come from the same region of the world. The German Shepherd was bred in Germany, while the Belgian Malinois was bred in nearby Belgium. Both dogs were bred for a similar purpose, and they are still used in similar roles today. You can find both German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois working for police departments and government agencies around the world. The Belgian Malinois is highly intelligent and incredibly driven, making it a fantastic working dog.

2. Belgian Tervuren Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd Tervuren standing on a mound with wind turbines
Image by: Lyntree, Shutterstock
Origin: Belgium
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Weight: 40–70 pounds

The Belgian Tervuren Shepherd is another Belgian herding dog that has a lot in common with the German Shepherd. Like German Shepherds, Belgian Tervuren Shepherds are extremely versatile, hardworking, and loved by their owners. They are marked by a long, luscious coat and a sharp intelligence. Belgian Tervuren Shepherds need to work, and thrive when they are given a job and extensive training. These dogs do not like to be cooped up inside, and they don’t make great house dogs. In this way, they are similar to Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds, which are also both working dogs cut from the same cloth. According to the AKC, Belgian Tervuren Shepherds are the 104th most popular dog in the United States out of 200 tracked breeds.

3. Bohemian Shepherd

bohemian shepherd running
Image by: Martin Mecnarowski, Shutterstock
Origin: Czech Republic
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Weight: 35–60 pounds

The Bohemian Shepherd is a European herding dog bred to work. These dogs are highly intelligent and are driven to complete a job. Bohemian Shepherds are not as well known or common as German Shepherds, but they can fill similar roles. Like German Shepherds, Bohemian Shepherds can work in agility, search and rescue, tracking, pastoral work, obedience, therapy, and as service dogs. These dogs can make excellent family dogs, but they are most commonly found in niche breeding circles and in the Bohemian region of Europe, where they originated from. Bohemian Shepherds closely resemble long haired German Shepherds.

4. Dutch Shepherd

Dutch Shepherd
Image by: baerle97, Pixabay
Origin: The Netherlands
Lifespan: 11–14 years
Weight: 40–75 pounds

The Dutch Shepherd is incredibly similar to the German Shepherd. It is a purebred dog recognized by the AKC, but it is not very common or popular. The Dutch Shepherd developed as a herding dog in the Netherlands. They have been used as an all-around farm dog, hunting dog, and herding dog for generations. As an athletic herding dog, the Dutch Shepherd can spend hours a day running, walking, and working. They are highly intelligent and hard-working. They can also be stubborn, obstinate, and hard to handle. The Dutch Shepherd is more wild, wily, and rural than the German Shepherd, which has been much more domesticated, especially in recent times. These dogs share a similar working history and a very similar appearance.

5. King Shepherd

king shepherd roaming in an apple farm
Image by: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock
Origin: United States
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Weight: 90–150 pounds

The King Shepherd is a hybrid breed that is the result of trying to create a giant German Shepherd. King Shepherds are a mixture of Shiloh Shepherds and German Shepherds. That means that King Shepherds have a large amount of German Shepherd in their genetic makeup, which makes them very similar overall. King Shepherds can get very large and resemble an oversized German Shepherd. These dogs are very friendly and retain the intelligence of a German Shepherd. They also escape some of the congenital health issues that German Shepherds have, but they do suffer from some health issues that affect large dog breeds in general.

6. East European Shepherd

East European Shepherd Dog
Image by: Photobort, Shutterstock
Origin: Soviet Union (Russia)
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Weight: 75–100 pounds

The East European Shepherd, or the Vostochno Evropeiskaya Ovcharka, is a special dog that was created in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The East European Shepherd was bred to make a larger and more durable German Shepherd. Russia is cold, and Soviet breeders wanted to create a German Shepherd that had a thicker coat that could be used for outdoor work for the military and secret police. This dog is very similar to the German Shepherd because it was bred out of pure German Shepherd stock. These dogs are heavier than the German Shepherd and have thicker coats that allow them to endure in cold climates better than their German counterparts.

7. American Alsatian

American Alsatian in the forest
Image by: BGSmith, Shutterstock
Origin: United States
Lifespan: 9–11 years
Weight: 75–100 pounds

The American Alsatian is a dog breed that came about from the idea of creating a dog that looks like a wolf but acts like a companion dog. The result was spectacular. The American Alsatian is a unique breed that looks like a wolf but behaves like a German Shepherd. The breed was created in the late 1980s before being refined during the 1990s. American Alsatians combine Mastiffs, Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherds, and Irish Wolfhounds into one breed. If this dog sounds incredible, it is, but you might have a hard time finding one for yourself. There are only two recognized breeders of the American Alsatian in the United States.

8. Northern Inuit Dog

Northern Inuit dog
Northern Inuit Dog (Image Credit: Malfuros, Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0 Unported)
Origin: United Kingdom
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Weight: 80–120 pounds

The Northern Inuit Dog is a hybrid breed that was developed in the United Kingdom. These dogs were bred to try and create a domesticated dog that most closely resembles wolves. Northern Inuit Dogs are bred from the Tamaskan dog, the British Timber dog, and the Utonagan. The result is a powerful dog that closely resembles a wolf. You have likely seen Northern Inuit Dogs on television, where they are often used as show dogs to portray wild wolves. They are also often used as live mascots for teams and organizations that use wolves as their symbol. The Northern Inuit Dog has the same wolflike build as a German Shepherd and is highly intelligent, allowing people to work with them in multiple roles.

9. Romanian Carpathian Shepherd

Romanian Carpathian Shepherd Dog_RazvanAWI_shutterstock
Image by: RazvanAWI, Shutterstock
Origin: Romania
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Weight: 70–100 pounds

The Romanian Carpathian Shepherd, also known as the Carpathian Shepherd Dog, is a shepherd bred in Romania for livestock protection. These dogs are large and fluffy. Around humans they are very docile, but they can turn on a dime if they think that their animals or their people are in danger. Like the German Shepherd, Romanian Carpathian Shepherds are intelligent working dogs that form strong bonds with their owners. These dogs are easy to train, and they can withstand cold temperatures and inclement weather. You can still find these dogs working as family protectors and livestock guardians in the Carpathian Mountains to this day.

10. Shiloh Shepherd

Shiloh Shepherd outside
Image by: Maggie Shore, Shutterstock
Origin: United States
Lifespan: 10–13 years
Weight: 75–120 pounds

The Shiloh Shepherd is a hybrid breed that is a cross between a German Shepherd and an Alaskan Malamute. The breed was created by Tina Barber in New York in 1990. Tina Barber was a German Shepherd enthusiast who wanted to create a larger, fuzzier German Shepherd with a warmer personality. The breed is recognized by a number of breeding clubs, but it is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. Since these dogs have German Shepherds as ancestors, they share many characteristics with them as well as history. Shiloh Shepherds are larger than German Shepherds and more docile. Shiloh Shepherds have also been used to breed other hybrids like the King Shepherd.

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Mixed Breed vs. Purebred Shepherd Offshoots

The dogs that most closely resemble German Shepherds are a mixture of purebred and hybrid dogs. Hybrid, or mixed breed, dogs are dogs that are bred from two purebred breeds for a specific purpose. Many mixed breed dogs are not recognized by major breeding organizations like the American Kennel Club (AKC), but they are legitimate breeds in the eyes of many. Hybrid dogs have some benefits over purebred dogs. Mixed breed dogs are often healthier, more robust, and have longer lifespans than purebred dogs. However, mixed breed dogs can be more difficult to find than purebred dogs. For example, you will have an easier time finding a Belgian Malinois than you will a Northern Inuit Dog if you are looking for a breeder or a puppy.

Hybrid dogs often resemble German Shepherds because they have German Shepherds, or similar shepherds, in their lineage.

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These dogs are some of the most similar to German Shepherds. Some of these dogs resemble German Shepherds in appearance, while others share a common heritage. All of these dogs have a wolf-like composition, thick coats, and are highly intelligent. If you are looking for a companion for a German Shepherd or a similar dog to change it up, one of these is sure to meet your needs. German Shepherds are some of the most popular dogs in the world for a reason, and these dogs are all adequate stand-ins for the popular German breed.

Featured Image Credit: JenniMack, Shutterstock

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