German Shepherds are beautiful, majestic dogs, with powerful bodies and long, shiny coats that surely make them the envy of other breeds around the world.
It should come as no surprise, then, that there are several other breeds that have chosen to imitate these wonderful dogs.
The 10 breeds listed below share many qualities with German Shepherds, and it’s easy to mistake them for such. Just don’t tell your German Shepherd about your screw-up — they’re not as forgiving as we are.
1. Belgian Malinois
Like German Shepherds, these dogs often work as military or police dogs, and you do not want to see them running after you to make an arrest. They are very intense animals, and can be absolutely fearless in the line of duty.
Despite their love for taking down fugitives, they also make excellent pets — provided you can give them enough exercise, of course. You should also expect to find everything you own covered in fur, as these dogs shed constantly.
However, the good news is that, if you get a Malinois, you’ll never have trouble rounding up your kids to do their chores.
2. King Shepherd
These massive dogs can weigh up to 150 pounds, and they’re the product of breeding German Shepherds with Malamutes and Great Pyrenees. They make great herding dogs, as even cows know better than to mess with an animal that looks like a German Shepherd on steroids.
Despite their gigantic stature, they’re incredibly sweet and intelligent, and they love to please their owners. While not typically aggressive by nature, they nevertheless make competent guard dogs, likely based on their size alone.
Then again, maybe the reason they’re not known for being aggressive is because no one has ever made one mad and survived…
3. Shiloh Shepherd
This is a relatively new breed, as its origins only date back to the 1970s. They’re larger than German Shepherds and have fuzzier coats — because that’s the primary complaint that most German Shepherd owners have, that their dogs don’t have enough hair.
They tend to weigh around 100 pounds, and their intelligence and even-keeled nature make them natural therapy or search-and-rescue dogs.
Due to their recent origins, Shiloh Shepherds are rare. If you can get your hands on one, however, you’ll have a loyal, loving companion (and a house absolutely covered in dog hair).
4. Dutch Shepherd
Depending on your frame of reference, these dogs either resemble German Shepherds or wolves. Either way, we’re not going to mess with them.
Originating in the Netherlands around the turn of the 20th century, these dogs were often entrusted with the well-being of herds of sheep. They’re very obedient if trained properly, and they prefer mentally-stimulating tasks to mindless drudgery.
We would say that means you should take them with you to work, but we’ve seen what you do for a living…
5. East European Shepherd
Also known as the “Byelorussian Shepherd,” these dogs were bred as guard dogs in the Soviet Union, so don’t be surprised if they ask for your papers every time you walk into the kitchen.
They still excel as protective animals today, and while they’re naturally calm and confident, they’re extremely well-tuned to their master’s commands. This is not a dog that you can leave untrained.
If you socialize and train it properly, though, you’ll have an extremely smart, capable companion — but one that won’t hesitate to turn you in to the KGB if necessary.
6. Belgian Tervuren Shepherd
These dogs are smaller than your typical German Shepherd, weighing in at only 60 or 70 pounds, but they’re every bit as smart as their larger cousins.
These dogs are truly indefatigable, making them poor pets for apartment dwellers or couch potatoes. If you have enough work for them to do, however, they’ll shock you with their ability to rapidly master tasks.
In fact, many owners say these dogs love to outsmart their humans — which is funny until you come home one day to find they’ve changed the locks and reprogrammed the remote.
7. Carpathian Shepherd
These Romanian dogs were bred to herd sheep and protect them from predators — including wolves and bears, so chances are they would have no problem protecting your XBox if some teenagers broke in.
It’s thought that these dogs originated when a shepherd-style dog was bred with a Carpathian wolf, but even if that’s not the case, these aren’t animals you want to mess with. They’re fairly large, regularly weighing around 100 pounds, and they work great as part of a team.
The good news is they’ll happily make you part of their team, as they’re very friendly and cooperative — once they decide you’re not a bear, of course.
8. American Alsatian
These dogs are sometimes also known as “Alsatian Shepalutes,” which isn’t terribly majestic but lets you know quite a bit about the breed’s origins. This is a new breed, originating in the United States in the 1980s.
They were intended to resemble dire wolves, and they can certainly have a wolf-like appearance. Most of the time, though, they simply look like massive German Shepherds, which is every bit as intimidating as a dire wolf.
Despite their intimidating appearance, though, they’re not great guard dogs — they like humans too much, and they tend to be clumsy. If anything, they’ll be happy to lounge around the couch with you, rising occasionally to hunt down the pizza delivery guy.
9. Bohemian Shepherd
Hailing from the Czech Republic, these dogs closely resemble German Shepherds, albeit a slimmed-down version. They also have fewer issues with aggression, and make great pets for families with small children.
Their exercise needs are moderate, and they’re happy to cuddle up next to you for the night after they’re done with their walk.
These dogs almost went extinct until a breeding program attempted to revive the bloodline in 1984. There are still only a few hundred in the world today, but if you can manage to get your hands on one, you’ll have a loyal, loving pet for years to come.
10. Northern Inuit
Another recently-developed dog, Northern Inuits originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. They’re the result of a breeding program that crossed German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, Alaskan Malamutes, and wolf-hybrids.
They typically weigh in the 100-pound range, and they’re incredibly smart and equally stubborn. As a result, inexperienced owners would likely have their hands full with this breed, and they do best in homes with other dogs present.
These dogs still have a detectable amount of wolf DNA running through their veins, so don’t feel bad if you find them a little intimidating. Just remind yourself that you’re the boss — and hope that the dog agrees.
Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
While the dogs on this list are beautiful and impressive in their own right, we can see why they’d want to resemble German Shepherds. Those animals are big, powerful, and incredibly smart, making them equally suitable as working dogs or family pets.
German Shepherds are also fairly common, however. If you want a puppy that has many of their wonderful characteristics but in a less ubiquitous package, the breeds above represent a great place to start.
Or, if you don’t want to go with one of the dog breeds shown here, you could always just paint a Golden Retriever black-and-tan (don’t do this).
Featured Image Credit: Máté Markovics, Pixabay