Originating from Germany, of course, this dog breed has found its way into the hearts of many dog owners across the globe. And frankly, why wouldn’t they?
Their loyalty and graciousness is something every dog owner dreams of having. Although GSDs are one of a kind, keep in mind that there are other dogs who look and behave almost exactly the same.
To be more precise, there are 16 breeds of similar pups, or as we like to call them – GSD clones. Each one special and beautiful in its own way.
As a GSD lover, we strongly suggest giving these cute lookalikes a chance to find their way to your heart and make you fall in love with their big, honest, and loving eyes.
Some of them differ in character, some in outward appearance, but they are all too similar to our German shepherd, if not the same.
Their character also resembles their GSD cousin as they are known as mostly working animals, often used as herding dogs. But their higher purpose doesn’t stop there. These dogs are a lot more than what meets the eye.
Whether they’re popular breeds for police dogs or simply great companions, all of these dogs below share one common trait: they’re loyal to the bone!
Let’s uncover the world of German shepherds and their relatives!
1. The First Cousin: Malinois
Often replaced with a German shepherd, the Malinois is a dog breed originating from Belgium that’s the most similar to a GSD. Malinois are often used to play German shepherds in movies. An expert eye can tell the difference between these two dog breeds immediately.
The Malinois has a thinner coat with more brown than black. The color ranges from rich fawn to mahogany, with pointy black ears and chocolate brown eyes.
This dog breed is terrific when used as working dogs, but their strong temperament can make them unsuitable as a family dog.
However, their desire to learn and listen to commands is what makes this dog breed one of the most intelligent. The AKC says you need to spend lots of time working on their behavior, but a special bond with a Belgian Malinois is a bond that lasts for eternity.
2. White Shepherds: Are They The Same As The German Shepherd Dog?
The UKC recognizes the White shepherd as a different breed than a GSD. The truth is, the White shepherd is just another color variation of the German Shepherd.
Their white color is a result of a recessive gene. White shepherds are a breed that has been submitted to inbreeding more than any other.
Fortunately, all that inbreeding left no serious health issues for the White shepherd.
It must be said that the white color is just a color. These dogs aren’t albino!
Getting a White shepherd might be tricky since this breed isn’t that tolerant towards other dogs, especially of the same sex. A White shepherd is a solo player and should be kept that way.
3. The Eastern Neighbour: Eastern European Shepherd
Not many people have heard of the Eastern European shepherd. However, this breed is the one that resembles the GSD most of all.
The Soviet version of a GSD was bred with the intent to be bigger, stronger, and healthier.
The final result was a dog often called VEO or BEO, much heavier than a German shepherd and also a bit taller.
The BEO is a working dog bred for military and police work; hence why these service dogs show aggression more often than others.
A great thing about their training is that the BEO is obedient and extremely easy to train.
4. The Tervuren: A Belgian Buddy
Much like the Malinois, the Tervuren’s coat pattern makes these dogs distinctive from the German shepherd. All these dogs are different dog breeds but have some visual similarities that bring them together.
The Tervuren is an energetic watchdog, not aggressive or prey driven like the dogs as mentioned earlier.
Their big, fluffy hair and calm temperament make them a wonderful choice for a family dog. However, they are quite the shedders, so there’s a thing that might test your limits.
5. The Laekenois: A Big, Cuddly Cousin
This cousin comes from the Belgian side of the family. The Laekenois is a breed recognized on its own, quite different-looking than other shepherd cousins.
The Laekenois dog breed has a coat that distinguishes him from other dogs. The hair isn’t straight; it’s rather wooly, wiry, and lighter than other breeds. He’s a short haired shepherd with a peculiar hairstyle!
One look at this dog’s face, and you’ll realize why they’re so affectionate and gentle. Still, they don’t make good show dogs, but they will make a show every day for their family members.
6. The Groenendael: The Luxurious Belgian Sheepdog
The Groenendael isn’t a dog breed you can ignore. With its luxurious, all-black shiny coat, the Groenendael is a kind of dog that stands out among all the German shepherds and their shepherd cousins.
He’s got a strong temperament and so much energy you’re going to wonder if he ever slows down! Highly protective, but watch out: that protection can lead to aggressive behavior if not controlled.
Besides the obvious outer looks, what’s so special about this dog is its intelligence level and the ability to bond fast.
A Groenendael dog will not tell you openly how much he loves you with wet dog kisses, but he’ll obey you and do everything you ask him to.
Since they bond so hard with their dog owners, leaving a Groenendael alone for a few hours every day might trigger separation anxiety.
7. The Dutch Shepherd: The Northern Cousin
Here’s a dog breed that couldn’t be more perfect! The Dutch shepherd is a dog breed with more general traits of a GSD than any Belgian shepherd.
The UKC defines a Dutch shepherd as a brindle with a specific, bushy muzzle, meaning they have a double coat. His undercoat is wooly and not straight like many other German shepherds.
Speaking of their perfection, Dutch shepherds are excellent working dogs that can be left to complete their tasks without supervision. Hardly any other dog breed can do that!
They’re fast learners, so dog training will be easy peasy. That being said, the Dutch shepherd makes a fantastic choice for a family dog.
They’re great with children, protective, and are suspicious towards strangers. It can’t get better than that!
8. The White Swiss Shepherd Dog: White As The Snow Caps Of The Alps
The Berger Blanc Suisse or the White Swiss shepherd dog is a breed quite similar to the White shepherd. However, as the name implies, this dog breed comes from Switzerland, not the United States.
We’re used to German shepherds being energetic and fussy when not being entertained. Well, here’s a dog for those of you who feel a bit lazy.
The White Swiss dog is a mellow type of dog, much calmer and more relaxed than his cousins.
Naturally, they’re an amazing fit for kids and show no signs of aggression whatsoever. Not even towards strangers!
While this might be a tiny problem, make sure your Berber Blanc gets proper training that will help him decide who’s a friend and who’s a foe.
Early socialization is the key to success with any stubborn dog breed.
9. The Carpathian Shepherd: A Brother From Another Mother
At first, the Carpathian shepherd might not look like the GSD at all! But, if you point their floppy ears upwards and smooth their wooly coat, you’ll almost get a German shepherd!
On the other hand, the Carpathian shepherd is a big dog breed, much bigger than the German shepherd. They’re one of the larger dogs on our list and can weigh up to an astonishing 100 pounds!
They are mild, calm, loyal, and protective working dogs who, to this very day, serve as guard dogs for sheep flocks. Not many shepherds can brag about their primary job these days.
10. The Bohemian Shepherd: Is He An Ancestor Dog?
The status of Bohemian shepherds was at stake for many years. Just recently, the FCI recognized this dog breed as a breed on its own.
Some scientists even claim the Bohemian Shepherd is an old breed that might even be the GSD’s ancestor!
Despite this claim, the Bohemian Shepherd is quite distinguished from its German brother. This dog is shorter than the GSD, has a longer and thicker coat colored black and red.
Like other shepherds, this active dog requires plenty of exercises to lose accumulated energy.
Although some might think this is a dangerous breed because of its looks, it must be emphasized that the Bohemian Shepherd is one of the world’s calmest shepherds!
11. The King Shepherd: Royalty Among The Shepherds
At the moment, the American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize the King Shepherd as a distinctive breed.
The resemblance with the German shepherd is uncanny, but the AKC still won’t consider changing their decision.
King Shepherds are big dogs. Bigger than the GSD and the second-biggest ones on this list. They can amass up to 150 pounds of body weight!
So, what makes them similar to German shepherds, besides the apparent weight difference?
Their kind temperament towards everyone, even strangers! Still, this isn’t a flaw at all! King shepherds are great guard dogs and won’t let a fly pass by without you knowing it.
12. The Shiloh Shepherd: A Plush Teddy
The Shiloh shepherd is a dog breed that’s supposed to top the GES with height and weight. These huge teddy bears can reach up to 140 pounds in weight! Much more than the average German shepherd.
Besides, the whole point of breeding a Shiloh is to reduce the number of health issues a standard GSD has. But why call them a plush teddy?
It’s because the selective breeding made this dog’s coat thicker and softer than any GSD. A lot like a teddy bear!
Another thing that distinguishes this dog breed from the standard German shepherd is their calm temperament. Big, mellow, huggable, and protective – exactly what a modern shepherd is supposed to be.
13. The American Alsatian: Wolf Or…?
The American Alsatian is a developing dog breed. The whole point of having an Alsatian is to present the wolf’s outer looks without actually using any wolf blood at all! A wolf and dog crossbreed is extremely difficult to work with, so the best thing is to avoid crossbreeding themit.
Here we have a mixture of four dogs in total: German shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, English Mastiff, and Great Pyrenees.
It’s a large dog, larger than its German cousin, weighing around 100 pounds. It looks pretty intimidating and dangerous, doesn’t it? Well, good thing these buddies have a pleasant and calm temperament.
The Alsatian wasn’t bred to be a working dog. He was actually bred to be a companion. Hence all the affection he shows vigorously. These are great companions you’ll absolutely love to have around!
14. The Northern Inuit: The Brother From The North
The only breed on our list that was indeed made from breeding a wolf and a dog is the Northern Inuit.
Luckily, the inbreeding was done long ago, so any extreme behavioral patterns are gone by now. There are no difficulties other wolf mix breeds have.
Thanks to the wolf blood, the Inuit is a stubborn dog, hard to train, and definitely not for first-time owners. No rookies allowed here!
But still, these pups are quite intelligent, so once you get over the stubbornness factor, their trainability gets easier.
15. The Panda Shepherd: The Rare GSD Cousin
The Panda Shepherd isn’t actually a dog breed, rather a color variation. An extremely rare color variation, to be precise!
What makes these pups so rare is the white that appears in the color mix of their coats. The white is a result of a genetic mutation and definitely not crossbreeding.
Besides having this mutation, Panda shepherds are quite the same as any German shepherd. Both dogs show off amazing intelligence skills, are a delight to train, and will never give you a reason to question their loyalty.
16. The Caucasian Shepherd: Are They Cousins Or Not?
Last but not least… The Caucasian shepherd is a dog breed that looks the least like our beloved German shepherd. But, of course, there are some resemblances; otherwise, he wouldn’t have made the list.
This is the biggest dog buddy on our list and shares many similarities with the aforementioned Carpathian shepherd. He weighs up to an impressive 220 pounds!
Being so big makes this dog quite intimidating and scary. The Caucasians are mountain dogs, highly protective and suspicious of strangers, hence why they should be treated carefully, especially when there are kids around.
To Sum Up…
Being a German shepherd is a privilege many dogs want to experience.
All jokes aside, it truly is something special to be listed in the German shepherd family. This is a popular dog, good looking, and with an even lovelier character.
When you can’t get your paws on a GSD or feel his temperament is not something you could handle, fear not. You can still have a dog built for your needs that looks much like their German brother.
Out of all these 16 dogs that look like German shepherds, there must be one that will suit you just right.
The only problem is: how to pick one from this amazing selection. It’s pretty shep-hard, isn’t it?