There are many German Shepherd look alike dog breeds. With so many similar looking Shepherd breeds, it can be difficult to sometimes tell which one is which. Out of all the breeds, the GSD probably has the most dog breeds that closely resemble their physical features. This can make it hard for the inexperienced dog owner to know all of the subtle differences. All of them have their own unique look and personalities. Some are better suited for families and some are better suited for experienced dog owners.
Here are the top German Shepherd look alike dog breeds. They are ranked on a scale of one to ten from the most similar looking breed down.
1. Belgian Malinois
Rank: 9 out of 10
Topping the list of German Shepherd look alike dog breeds is the Belgian Malinois. This is the breed that most often gets mistaken for the GSD. They are both herding dogs, extremely intelligent and used for military and police work all over the world.
The main difference between the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd is their size. The Mal is basically a little bit smaller typically weighing 10% less than its counterpart. Their traditional fawn color coat is lighter than the GSD’s tan color and shorter in length. Their signature black masks and triangular ears sometimes makes them hard to distinguish from one another. Mals bodies are also a bit more square.
If you are considering owning one of these magnificent dogs, they are better suited for a single experienced owner. Although smart, they can be very hyper and rough when they play with children. This makes them less appealing to families and is the reason they rank low as a family dog.
German Shepherds on the other hand are much better suited for a family with kids. Something you should definitely consider before getting a Mal. GSD’s have the intelligence and trainability of a Belgian Malanois paired with the ability to be soft and affectionate with children.
2. Dutch Shepherd
Rank: 9 out of 10
The Dutch Shepherd is number two on our list of German Shepherd look alike dog breeds. Like the GSD, this beautiful shepherd is a highly intelligent dog originally used for herding livestock. Originating from the Netherlands, this all around working dog is quite rare compared to its cohort.
While both breeds have a similar look, the Dutch Shepherd is a bit smaller. It is shorter by up to 1.5″ and weighs on average 10-15 lbs less than the GSD. Because of their smaller size, their general health is a little better than the German Shepherd. This gives them a little bit longer lifespan as well.
The main difference between these two dogs is their coat. The Dutch Shepherd has a unique brindle coat that only comes in two standard undertones, gold and silver. The German Shepherd on the other hand comes in eleven different colors.
Both breeds are excellent watch dogs but the GSD is the better guard dog. They are both excellent with families although the GSD is a little more calm and laid back, making them the better choice for children.
The Dutch Shepherd is a high intensity, hard working dog that some say resembles a wolf. Like the GSD, they are alert, easy to train and loyal companions.
3. Shiloh Shepherd
Rank: 9 out of 10
Third on our list of German Shepherd look alike dog breeds is the Shiloh Shepherd. This beautiful and rare dog was developed over many years to match the looks and temperament of old shepherds.
They were bred specifically to be more gentle and friendly with families. Though larger in size than GSDs, an effort was made to reduce several of the common genetic diseases seen in German Shepherds. This includes Hip Dysplasia which is often found in large dog breeds.
Twenty foundation dogs were used to create this stunning breed. They include fourteen of the breed founder’s GSD’s from “Shiloh Shepherd Kennels” and six other unrelated dogs.
The other six dogs included small percentages of Alaskan Malamute, Czechoslovakian Vlcak, Old German Shepherd, Sarplaninac, and White Shepherd.
They are large reaching upwards of 33″ in height at the shoulders and topping out at 130 lbs for the males. They come in two different coat types, a long plush coat and a shorter GSD smooth coat. Lifespan is similar to the GSD at 10-13 years.
Shiloh Shepherds enjoy being with their family. They are extremely gentle and kind and have an ability to sense what you are feeling.
4. White Swiss Shepherd
Rank: 9 out of 10
It’s no surprise that the White Swiss Shepherd looks like the GSD. This breed is from Switzerland and descends from purebred white German Shepherds.
Therefore, they are the same size with a strong athletic build and big pointy triangular ears. Their temperament is also nearly the same. They are alert, intelligent and highly trainable. They can adapt to situations and are very loyal to their owners.
The main difference between these two breeds is their attitude towards strangers. The White Swiss Shepherd tends to be friendlier around people they don’t know.
Once considered a flaw in color, this beautiful breed was banned at one time from being registered in Germany. Fans of the dog formed their own club and called it the White Shepherd. This led to the first White Swiss Shepherd in the 60’s.
It is now recognized by the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom as an official breed.
5. King Shepherd
Rank: 9 out of 10
Number five on the list of German Shepherd look alike dog breeds is the King Shepherd. This more modern day breed is very similar to the GSD but significantly bigger.
The founders developed this breed in the hopes of creating a shepherd with the working dog traits and protective nature of the GSD with a larger frame, fewer health issues and friendlier nature.
The breed was developed by combining American and European German Shepherds with the Shiloh Shepherd. Additionally, the Alaskan Malamute and Great Pyrenees played a small role. Unlike the GSD, this breed is not formally recognized by the AKC.
Size is the main difference between these two breeds. They stand up to 3″ taller and weigh up to a whopping 60 lbs heavier than their cohort. Despite their impressive stature, their life expectancy is practically the same at 10-11 years.
They share all of the great qualities that German Shepherd possess. King Shepherds are calm, gentle, loving, loyal, non-aggressive and protective animals. This makes them perfect for families with children.
6. Bohemian Shepherd
Rank: 8 out of 10
The Bohemian Shepherd comes in at number six on our list of German Shepherd look alike dog breeds. Think of them as a smaller version of the GSD. This versatile breed shares a lot of the same great traits including athleticism, intelligence and speed.
The most significant difference between the two is their size. The Bohemian Shepherd is quite a bit smaller in stature. It can stand up to 4″ shorter than the GSD and weigh up to 30 lbs lighter. This smaller size gives them a better life expectancy of 12-15 years.
Similar to the German Shepherd, they have a double coat that is black with tan markings. Their temperament is right in line with the GSD. They are extremely alert, easy to train and fearless animals. They have a lot of energy but don’t tend to get nervous around people or other dogs.
This German Shepherd look alike is a great choice for a family looking for a smaller version of the popular GSD. They are great with children and easy to control.
The breed excels in many different areas including schutzhund, search and rescue and therapy. They also can be found doing nose work and tracking due to their exceptional smell.
7. Belgian Tervuren
Rank: 8 out of 10
The Belgian Tervuren is a German Shepherd look alike dog with elegance and style. This sophisticated medium sized herding dog looks similar to the German Shepherd but a bit fancier.
They have a thick double coat that comes in variety of colors but the two standard are black and fawn and black and mahogany. In addition, they sport a beautiful collarette around their neck.
Both breeds are similar in size, standing anywhere between 22 and 26 inches. GSD’s do outweigh the Belgian Tervuren by up to 15 lbs for the males and 10 lbs for the females.
The main difference between the Belgian Tervuren and German Shepherd is their temperament. While they are both extremely intelligent and love learning new tasks, the Belgian Tervuren is more high maintenance. They require a more experienced owner who can provide them challenging work.
The GSD is the better choice for a family with children. They are more laid back and don’t require as much attention.
Each one of these German Shepherd look alike dog breeds has their own unique look and amazing personality to go along with it. Some breeds are more suited for single experienced owners and some are better paired with families that have children. All of them are intelligent animals and most of these herding dogs like to stay busy.
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Which dog breed do you think most closely resembles the looks of a German Shepherd. Let us know! We would love to hear your opinion!