American Tundra Shepherd Dog

American Tundra Shepherd Dog Breed Information

The beautiful and majestic American Tundra Shepherd Dog is cross between German Shepherds and Alaskan Tundra Wolves. Developed in the sixties, this rare breed is considered one of the best working dogs in the United States due to its compelling structure, imposing size, smarts and temperament.

The American Tundra Shepherd Dog is a jack of all trades and works in several fields performing many tasks. They assist disabled, farmers, police and military, outdoorsmen, ranchers and search and rescue. They also make great guard dogs and wonderful family pets.

American Tundra Shepherd Dog Quick Stats:

  • Breed Popularity: Rare
  • Life Expectancy: 13-15 Years
  • Group: Working Group
  • Height: Male 27″-33″ Female 24″-27″
  • Weight: Male 100-140lbs Female 85-100lbs
  • Temperament: Alert, Dedicated, Loyal, Majestic, Noble

History Of The American Tundra Shepherd Dog:

The American Tundra Shepherd Dog was developed and founded in the late sixties by Frank Catania who was enlisted in the U.S. Army K-9 Corps division. The governmental program called the “ATS Project” began in 1968 and was funded and supported by the U.S. Government.

At the end of the Vietnam war, they withdrew their funding but that wouldn’t stop Frank. He made a commitment and vowed to forge ahead with the project on his own in Edwardsville, Kansas at his personal Midwest K-9 Training Estates facility.

ATS Foundation:

Frank was devoted to his dogs and maintained the breeding and training of these amazing creatures for over forty years. He also spent a large portion of his time training people to become professionals in various fields of the canine world. He trained agitators and canine breeders, breed wardens, dog handlers, dog trainers, and show judges.

His kennel would rescue, train and register The American Tundra Shepherd Dog. Frank was a pillar in his community and wasn’t afraid to share his teaching and training methods to others. At one point, he even ran a school for dog training which was recognized by the Kansas Department of Education.

American Tundra Shepherd Dog With Frank Catania

Frank Catania

  • Awarded Bronze Star for accomplishments in K-9 Training
  • Chief Army Instructor
  • Co-Author of FM 20-20, Department of the Army Field Manual 1967
  • Court Pet Expert Witness
  • Director of Edwardsville Animal Control
  • Director of the First Canine Explorer Post in the U.S. Boy Scouts
  • Vice President & State Agent of the Federation of Humane Societies
  • Veterinary Technician

Frank was an amazing man who accomplished most of his life’s work as a quadriplegic. He broke his neck during the summer of 1973 after being thrown off of a horse. Frank Catania passed away on December 3, 2008. The legacy he left behind will forever be remembered and carries on through his foundation to this day.

His foundation is dedicated to the breed and devoted to keeping the spirit and work of Frank Catania alive through various programs. They plan on accomplishing this by continuing the breeding and development of the dog through schools and training programs. Visit to support the cause.

American Tundra Shepherd Dog Standards:

These are the breed standards for the American Tundra Shepherd Dog based on the ATS Foundation.


The head has nice definition, very distinguished, impressive and strong. It is large but in correct proportion to the dog’s body with no defined stop.


The nose is black in color. It has a nice development and has large nostrils.


The eyes are black, brown, hazel, orange or yellow.


The ears are large in size and stand straight up. They are minimally sloping out or up.


The mouth should preferably have a scissor bite. A level bite is acceptable.


The chest has adequate development and extends to the elbows or just below them.


The back is powerful and nicely developed. It is level and longer in comparison to the dog’s height. It is braced by strong hips and thighs. The croup is barely angled to the tail.


The legs are large, powerful, and nicely developed. The front and back legs are the same size.


The hocks are long and angled. They are made for power and stability.


They have a steady and solid movement with an extended reach that is nice and balanced.


The tail is down, fluffy and somewhat bent similar to a saber. It extends past the hock but does not touch the ground. It does not form a total curl that goes over the back.


A short, medium or long coat is acceptable. It cannot exceed four inches on long hair dogs.


  • Black and Silver Black Brindle Black with Cream Markings
  • Black and Tan Sable Silver with White Markings
  • White Brown Brindle Black with Silver Markings
  • Black Steel Gray Black with Tan Markings

Major Faults:

  1. Temperament that consists of submissiveness in the first degree.
  2. Overshot jaw which consists of the lower teeth being set noticeably back in the dog’s mouth along with the upper jaw being noticeably forward extending past the lower jaw.
  3. Undershot jaw which consists of the lower jaw and teeth extending out past the front of the upper jaw.
  4. Less than thirty-nine teeth out of a total of forty-two which is the breed standard.
  5. Twelve colors are acceptable by the Global Kennel Club. The only white allowable is on the chest and it can’t exceed more than an inch in diameter. The back should be solid in color.
  6. One testicle is lower than the other. Due to a dog maturing slower, the second testicle can take up to one year to drop fully.

Minor Faults:

  1. White coat or albino traits which include a pink nose or pink eyes. A lack of color or flatness of the coat.
  2. Tail that is too short ending above the hock or too long and reaching the ground. Also, if the tail appears rope like or ring tail.
  3. Disproportional head that is too small or in the shape of an apple. Ears that are bent and folded drooping or flopping toward the middle of the head.
  4. Legs that feature a broken pastern, bow or cow hocked, a gait that scissors or elbows and feet that throw out.
  5. Feet that display a cat’s foot which is compact, round and short. Or a splayfoot in which the toes have the appearance of being spread apart.
  6. Body is not long enough, and the loin is way too long or short.
  7. Teeth that are discolored. Missing two or less teeth.
  8. Back that is too narrow, roach back or swayback.
  9. Croup has an extreme drop from the hips to the bottom of the tail.

Caring For An American Tundra Shepherd Dog:


The America Tundra Shepherd has moderate energy and requires an adequate amount of exercise similar to that of the German Shepherd. Daily walks and at least two hours of good exercise daily is enough to keep your dog healthy and thriving.


Brushing their coat once a week is recommended to prevent any matting. They will shed their coat seasonally twice a year. During this time, you should brush them heavily to remove any extra hair.

Nails should be trimmed regularly to keep them healthy and firm.


Health information on the American Tundra Shepherd Dog is minimal although it is believed to have less hereditary health issues than a German Shepherd. Some breeders claim that the dog is free of any genetic diseases. Regular annual checkups are recommended to avoid any common health issues.

Common Health Issues:

  • Bloat
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cataracts
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Ear infection
  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
  • Entropion
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart Disease
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy
  • Vision problems


The American Tundra Shepherd Dog should be fed a high-quality dog food or a homemade dog food when possible, to prolong lifespan and increase vitality. The appropriate dog food should be given in relation to the dogs age whether they are a puppy, adult or senior.

Treats can be used for teaching them commands or carrying out specific tasks but don’t overindulge them. Too many tasty snacks can lead to obesity. Talk to your vet about any specific health issues and about a good feeding schedule.

To determine which healthy homemade foods your dog can and can’t eat, visit our article “What Can German Shepherd’s Eat?“.


The American Tundra Shepherd Dog is highly intelligent and can be trained in a variety of jobs. But they do require consistent and firm training from a strong owner. Basic command training can be done using traditional methods such as rewarding with treats.

Socialization should be taught at an early age to prepare them for a calm and stable temperament in the future. Professional trainers can be used to teach them advanced activities.

Are American Tundra Shepherds Good Family Dogs?

The American Tundra Shepherd Dog is extremely loyal and an amazing family dog. They are very smart and very dedicated animals. However, they will need proper socialization from an early age to ensure the correct adaptation into the family.

They can be a handful and a little aggressive at times depending on the training. They are big strong dogs, so they do need a stern owner who establishes themselves as the lead role in the household.

How Much Does An American Tundra Shepherd Dog Cost?

The American Tundra Shepherd Dog can range in price depending on the breeder and pedigree. To inquire about purchasing one of these amazing dogs visit Fen’s Mountain Kennels.

American Tundra Shepherd Dog In Closing:

This dog is a beautiful creature that blends the characteristics of the highly intelligent and loyal German Shepherd with the distinctively majestic Alaskan Tundra Wolf. The combination makes for a big, strong and powerful companion that isn’t afraid to defend its family.

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