Alaskan Shepherd Guide: 29 Things Every Owner Should Know

If you’re looking for a challenging but rewarding mix, you should consider the Alaskan Shepherd. It has the powerful and agile body of both its parents, with an intelligent and independent nature. It’s loyal to its master and is a watchful companion that will always have your back.


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German Shepherds and Alaskan Malamutes have similar body shapes, and naturally, so then does this mix, called the Alaskan Shepherd. It has a long body, powerful legs, a long tail, and ears that stand at attention. It has either a brown or black nose and eyes the shape of almonds.

Weight & Height
This mix is Alaskan Shepherd is a large mix. Females weigh between 60 and 75 pounds (27 to 34 kg) and males between 65 and 85 pounds (29 to 39 kg). It stands between 22 and 25 inches (56 to 64 cm) tall, with little variation between the sexes.

The Alaskan Shepherd has a strong, muscular body that gives it an imposing gait. With its large paws and alert ears, it prowls like a wolf and can run at great speed. It has a balanced run that looks effortless and draws its power from its muscular hindquarters.

Coat Color
Both German Shepherds and Alaskan Malamutes have multicolored coats. The Alaskan Shepherd has the same characteristic, but with any combination of the following colors: cream, brown, black, blue, red, gray, silver, sable, and white. It often has black patches across its facial area, including the forehead and snout.


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Coat Length & Thickness
The Alaskan Shepherd has a thick double coat that is usually straight and medium-length. The double coat allows this mix to resist wetness from rain or snow and regulate temperature. Because of the coat’s thickness and heavy shedding, this is not a suitable mix for owners with allergies.

Eye Color
Purebred Alaskan Malamutes have dark hazel eyes, and German Shepherds have brown eyes. Therefore, Alaskan Shepherds usually have either of these eye colors. However, some have blue eyes, which could happen if the Malamute parent is not purebred. Blue eyes are common in similar breeds like the Siberian Husky.


The Alaskan Shepherd is a dominant personality that likes to be in control. It’s an independent thinker that only follows a strong leader. It’s intelligent and perceptive, with a strong drive to protect its pack from harm. Once you win its respect, it can be a loyal and faithful companion.


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Needs to Be Part of the Pack
The Alaskan Shepherd is extremely sensitive and has a low tolerance for being alone. This mix is a pack animal that needs to be close to its family. If left alone for more than a couple of hours, this mix is likely to engage in destructive chewing and incessant barking.

Barks Quite a Bit
This mix is very expressive with its barking. It may bark to alert you to intruders or simply to communicate. It is also likely to howl in response to stimuli like other dogs or ambulances on the street. It might be worth teaching your mix to stop barking on command.

Is Mouthy
The Alaskan Shepherd is mouthy and may like to carry things around your home and yard. It may also nip on your hands when excited, especially as a puppy. Teach this mix bite inhibition and redirect to toys to avoid problems when it gets bigger and has a stronger jaw.


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Can Have Problems with Dominance
This mix likes to be the alpha or pack leader. This can be a problem if you have other dogs or are not a confident owner. The Alaskan Shepherd is independent and will push its owner around if given the opportunity. Find a trainer that specializes in dominant behaviors.

Can Be Aggressive Towards Strangers and Dogs
The Alaskan Shepherd is prone to territorialism and aggressive behavior. It has a low tolerance for strangers and their dogs. Start early with socialization and introduce strangers in neutral territory. This is easier if you get this mix as a puppy. Expose it to as many new experiences as possible.

Prefers Cool Climates
Because of its thick double coat, the Alaskan Shepherd can keep itself warm in cold and snowy conditions. It can regulate its temperature in warmer conditions but will suffer in very hot and humid climates. During summer, use fans and put ice in water to help this mix stay cool.

Companion or Suitability Factor

The Alaskan Shepherd is not a typical family-friendly dog. It’s a dedicated companion to its established pack but is not warm and inviting to outsiders. This mix is best suited to single owners, couples, or families with teen children who are familiar with dogs and their behavior.


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Can Be Kid-Friendly Within the Family
The Alaskan Shepherd is not suitable for small children. However, it can live happily in a family with older children. This is easier if it grows up with your kids. Teach your children how to be assertive with this dog so they can build a respectful relationship with it.

Is Not Apartment Friendly
Because of its size and exercise needs, this mix is not suitable for apartments. It needs access to a backyard with a high fence. However, do not make the mistake of leaving the Alaskan Shepherd outside all day. It needs to be close to its family or may become destructive.

Is an Excellent Watchdog
The Alaskan Shepherd is vocal, protective, and an excellent guard dog. It will quickly and loudly bark at visitors, and can physically defend your home. Your Alaskan Shepherd may not know the difference between wanted and unwanted visitors, so introduce them slowly and allow your mix to build trust.

Is Not Good for Senior Citizens
The Alaskan Shepherd is large, headstrong, and has high exercise needs. Therefore, it is not a suitable mix for elderly owners. It can easily knock down older people or refuse to listen to their commands. If not given enough exercise, this mix becomes frustrated and destructive.

Should Not Live with Other Small Pets
This mix has a strong prey drive. It will instinctively pursue small animals like cats, rabbits, or guinea pigs. If you have these pets, they must be kept separate from the Alaskan Shepherd. You should also keep it on a leash in public parks to avoid it chasing wild animals.

Could Be a Boat Dog
The Alaskan Shepherd is strong and has a high level of endurance, which means it can swim. However, this is not its instinct. Introduce it slowly to the water, and use treats to encourage swimming. Consider using a leash attached to its life jacket while it is learning to swim.

Intelligence & Training

The Alaskan Shepherd is intelligent and has a drive that needs to be channeled into suitable activities. You need to exercise this mix mentally to keep it satisfied and give it a specific job to do. This could involve watch guard training, agility, obedience, or search and rescue work.


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Is Intelligent
The Alaskan Shepherd should be moderately intelligent. Stanley Coren, the dog intelligence guru, ranks the German Shepherd parent at #3 out of 138 breeds surveyed. On the other hand, the Alaskan Malamute parent ranks at #95 and only has average intelligence. Hopefully, your dog takes after its German Shepherd parent.

Training Could Be Challenging
The Alaskan Shepherd has the instinct to lead the pack. You must establish yourself as the head of the pack and build a solid relationship. Never use physical punishment with this sensitive breed, or you risk resentment and it acting out. Challenge and reward desired behaviors to win its respect.

Physical Needs

The Alaskan Shepherd needs physical exercise as much as it needs mental stimulation. It needs a balanced diet and consistent, challenging physical activity to keep it happy. It is a high maintenance breed and needs time and patience. The lifespan of this mix is 10-13 years on average.


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Eats 2.5+ Cups of Food Per Day
Depending on its size, this mix eats between 2.5 and 3 cups of food per day. Choose food with a high protein content and minimal additives. You should choose a brand that is made for large-breed working dogs to ensure sufficient nutritional content for this active mix.

Needs At Least 60 Minutes of High-Intensity Exercise
The Alaskan Shepherd will not be happy with a short walk during the day. It needs one hour of exercise at a minimum, with a focus on intensity. Vary the exercise sessions with walking, running, hiking, and other endurance activities. Avoid exercising this mix in the heat of the day.


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This mix has a thick coat that sheds a lot and often. It usually sheds even more in spring and fall. Use a pin brush at least once a week and invest in a deshedder brush for the undercoat. Pay special attention to the underside of its body and tail.

Bathing & Grooming
Only bathe this mix as needed, when the Alaskan Shepherd is noticeably dirty or smells. Never shave its thick double coat. You should also brush its teeth at least three times a week and regularly clip its nails whenever you hear them clicking.

Background & Pricing for a Puppy

The Alaskan Malamute is an old breed that dates back thousands of years to Alaskan tribes. It worked hunting seals, pulling sleds, and defending tribes from dangers, including polar bears. It was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935, and many Alaskan Malamutes assisted during the Second World War.

The German Shepherd is also called the Alsatian. It originally came from Germany and was first bred in 1899 by Captain Max von Stephanitz. True to its shepherd name, it was originally a herding dog. Later, the German Shepherd became a popular military and police dog.


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The Alaskan Shepherd emerged as a designer dog in the late 20th century and is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. Its mixing breeding resulted in a dog that can pull heavy loads and is an active working dog. It is sometimes called a Malamute Shepherd.

Price for a Puppy
An Alaskan Shepherd puppy can cost up to US$1000. This depends on the lineage of the parent breeds. A puppy with pedigreed and genetically-tested parents will be in the higher price range. Contact your local animal welfare organization to find out if this mix is in your local shelters.

Health Issues

The Alaskan Shepherd is vulnerable to hip and elbow dysplasia. It may also develop cataracts and other issues like allergies. Degenerative myelopathy and hypothyroidism are common issues with the parent breeds, and these occasionally show up in this mix. Ask the breeder for the health records of the parents.


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Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is the most common health problem in this mix. It’s a growth deformity of the hip joint, and caused by genetics. It can sometimes show up as early as four months of age, or after 1-2 years. Dogs with hip dysplasia will limp and suffer from joint pain.

Because hip dysplasia is genetic, dogs with this condition should not be allowed to breed. Ask the breeder for the hip scores of the parents. You can get X-rays if you suspect hip dysplasia. You should also feed it food for large breeds to slow its growth as a puppy.

Elbow Dysplasia
Like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a genetic condition that causes limited mobility and pain. It happens when the bones of either one or both elbows do not grow together properly. Some puppies show symptoms of elbow dysplasia at 4-5 months, but most are diagnosed after four years.

Ask for the elbow scores of the parent dogs and check if there is any genetic history of elbow dysplasia. You should also feed your puppy food for large breeds and limit the intensity of their exercise. Surgery is available to correct or replace elbow joints.

Alaskan Shepherds are vulnerable to cataracts. This hereditary eye condition causes cloudy patches and eventually, blindness. It can also be caused by secondary health conditions like diabetes, age, or eye trauma. The age of onset can be as young as one year but is more common in the later years.

You should take your dog to the vet for regular checkups, especially if you notice any cloudiness in its eyes. You should also ask for genetic records of the eye health of your mix’s parents. Corrective surgery is available to replace the eye lens with an acrylic or plastic replacement.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.