11 Dog Breeds That Look Like German Shepherds

Dog Breeds That Look Like German Shepherds

German Shepherds are one of the most recognizable dog breeds. They’re showcased in movies and widely used as police, military, and guard dogs. They also thrive when used in search-and-rescue operations, and many go on to do therapy work, too. 

German Shepherd dogs, one of the herding breeds, have a distinctive look — they’re truly gorgeous dogs, but they also have amazing personalities. The breed is super smart, agile, and loyal, not to mention courageous. It’s no wonder they are coveted for companions or various working roles. They even excel at dog sports.

But have you ever confused another dog with a German Shepherd dog? For example, the Belgian Malinois looks super familiar and is often mistaken for one. That can actually be said of many different breeds, some even have the same physical traits and characteristic traits, such as the triangular ears, and energy levels. There are also different types of Shepherd dogs

Dog Breeds That Look Like German Shepherds 

There are several breeds that look similar or eerily close to the German Shepherd; let’s dive into a list of a few of our top considerations!

1. Belgian Malinois

german shepherd look alike
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDBELGIAN MALINOIS
HEIGHT22-26 inches22-26 inches
WEIGHT50-90 pounds40-80 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Smooth, straight coat; fawn and mahogany
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Short
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 14-16 years

The Belgian Malinois is, without a doubt, one of the most common breeds to be confused with the German Shepherd. It also goes by a few other names, so it can be confusing. It’s also known as the Belgian Shepherd, Belgian Sheepdog (it’s one of the four distinctive varieties), or, less frequently, the Chien de Berger Belge.

Whatever you call it, you know you have something special on your hands. 

Belgian Shepherds are straight-up working dogs (they make great rescue dogs), need to be kept busy, and should be properly socialized from an early age. However, they can make great family pets when properly trained.

This Belgian Sheepdog has a higher energy level than even the German Shepherd, and that’s saying something! They are very athletic dogs and could use regular trips to the dog park. They also require consistent training.

These pups are both very similar in size, though the coat on the German Shepherd is longer, and it may squeak by with a few more pounds. Like the GSD, the Belgian Malinois is a great guard dog and has very protective instincts. Like the German Shepherd, there are different types of Belgian Malinois, as well.

2. Shiloh Shepherd

dogs that look like german shepherds
Image credit: @theshilohsquad on Instagram
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDSHILOH SHEPHERD
HEIGHT22-26 inches26-30 inches
WEIGHT50-90 pounds80-130 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Dense, straight coats with pure white undercoat; black with reddish tan, golden tan, tan, cream, and silver
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Long
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 9-14 years

If you’ve compared the Shiloh Shepherd to the German Shepherd, it’s for good reason. It’s a crossbreed between the GSD and the Alaskan Malamute. These pups, by default, are super intelligent and loyal.

Shiloh Shepherds are also large dogs that need a lot of mental and physical stimulation and, most importantly, plenty of attention from their humans, but they are excellent family pets with the proper socialization. 

The Shiloh Shepherd is a calmer dog that tends to have an easygoing personality as long it’s properly exercised. Their coats tend to be longer and thicker, and thus, the Shiloh Shepherd requires more grooming to keep its fur from matting and tangling. 

When compared to the German Shepherd, the Shiloh Shepherd is the bigger of the two in terms of both height and weight. The Shiloh Shepherd is also friendlier and less energetic overall. 

3. Caucasian Shepherd

what dogs look like german shepherds
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDCAUCASIAN SHEPHERD
HEIGHT22-26 inches23-30 inches
WEIGHT50-90 pounds99-170 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Double coat: black and gray, agouti and white, grizzle, sable, white, cream, rust, fawn, gray, white, and red
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Medium
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 10-12 years

In my humble opinion, I don’t think these two breeds are often confused, though they do bear some resemblance to each other. They have other traits in common, however, and that may be where the similarities come into play. This pup hails from the Caucasus region, which is made up of Armenia, Georgia, Dagestan, and Azerbaijan. 

The Caucasian Shepherd is known for being fierce and protective, which is exactly what it was bred to do, and it can be mistaken for aggression, but it has a serious job.

For centuries, the breed has been counted on by its owners to safeguard property and guard livestock from predators, including larger ones like coyotes and wolves. On the other hand, perceived aggression is a very devoted, loving dog when it’s with its people. 

When comparing the Caucasian Shepherd to the GSD, the Caucasian is the stronger of the two by far. These pups can reach nearly 200 pounds. The Caucasian also has thicker fur and is more independent. They also don’t make the best family pets for inexperienced owners.

4. Bohemian Shepherd

miniature german shepherd
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDBOHEMIAN SHEPHERD
HEIGHT22-26 inches19.3-21.7 inches
WEIGHT50-90 pounds37-60 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Double wavy coat; black and tan
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Medium
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 12-15 years

The Bohemian Shepherd is more of a medium-sized dog when compared to many of the others on this list, but don’t let that stop you from owning one! This gorgeous pup hails from the Czech Republic and is an ancient breed that has been around for hundreds of years. 

The Bohemian Shepherd is widely used as a guard dog and hunting dog, and its owners often rave about the dog’s trainability and intelligence, which makes the dog breed excel in agility and obedience sports. One thing to know about this breed is that it is a very active dog that requires a lot of mental stimulation. 

Looking at the Bohemian Shepherd, there are distinguishable differences, too. For example, The German Shepherd is larger, both in terms of height and weight. Additionally, don’t tell the Bohemian Shepherd, but the GSD is also a bit smarter, but the Bohemian Shepherd is the friendlier of the two.

5. Carpathian Shepherd Dog

dogs similar to german shepherd
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDCARPATHIAN SHEPHERD
HEIGHT22-26 inches23-29 inches
WEIGHT50-90 pounds70-100 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Dense double coat; sable and wolf gray and black
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Short to long
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 12-14 years

At first glance, the Carpathian Shepherd dog looks a bit more like a larger cattle dog, but it’s actually closer in behavior to the German Shepherd. This dog comes from the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, where it is a fierce protector of livestock from large predators, such as brown bears and gray wolves. The large breed is hundreds of years old. 

These pups are natural guardians and have a loving deposition which means they attach themselves to their family. Though, it’s very common for the Carpathian Shepherd dog to look to one person as its master. They are deceptive, too, with a seemingly lackadaisical approach to their jobs, but they’re simply saving their energy for when it’s needed most. 

When it comes to the two, German Shepherds are more widely available. The Carpathian is more of a rarer dog that sticks to the mountains. The GSD is the more intelligent breed of the two and tends to be more protective. The Carpathian is larger in both weight and height.

6. King Shepherd

dog breeds that look like german shepherds
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDKING SHEPHERD
HEIGHT22-26 inches25-32 inches
WEIGHT50-90 pounds80-150 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Smooth and rough coat varieties: black-based coat with wolf agouti, cream, red, tan, creeping cream, saddle, or sable
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Short to medium
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 10-11 years

The King Shepherd is actually a relatively newer breed, one that’s been around since approximately the 1990s. Breeders wanted to create a dog similar to the GSD that wasn’t prone to the same health issues that were plaguing them at the time due to backyard breeders.

The King Shepherd is actually a few rolled into one, combining the best traits of popular dog breeds like the Great Pyrenees, Shiloh Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, and others. 

Despite their size, they are actually pretty calm dogs, though they are well-known for their intelligence and strength, much like the German Shepherd. Positive reinforcement training is a must with these dogs as they are very much people pleasers.

Because the King Shepherd is high energy, it needs a lot of physical and mental stimulation, and it’s a great idea to start training at a very young age. 

King Shepherds have very strong guarding instincts, which makes them excellent protectors, so if you want to feel safe, this is the dog to have. Compared to a German Shepherd, the King is larger in both height and weight, and it’s friendlier. The GSD does outweigh it in terms of intelligence, though.

7. Dutch Shepherd

dog like german shepherd but bigger
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDDUTCH SHEPHERD
HEIGHT22-26 inches21.5-24.5 inches
WEIGHT50-90 pounds42-75 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Thick double coat; gold or silver brindle
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Short
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 11-14 years

If you’ve ever looked at a Dutch Shepherd who hails from the Netherlands, you might think it looks like a German Shepherd, and while there are similarities, I liken it more to the Belgian Malinois. Like the GSD, Dutch Shepherds are very high-energy dogs and are used for various jobs such as guarding, herding, police work, and search and rescue work. 

One thing you’ll quickly learn about the Dutch Shepherd is that it’s very social, which the GSD often isn’t. This dog breed loves to be around people and is such a pleaser that it’s very easy to train and takes obedience lessons very well. The Dutch Shepherd does have a similar build to the German Shepherd, but its fur is significantly shorter, and the coat colors are different. 

When comparing the two dog breeds, the Dutch Shepherd is smaller in terms of weight and height and is more independent than the German Shepherd. It’s also not as protective as the GSD can be. 

8. Berger Blanc Suisse (White Swiss Shepherd)

dogs that look like german shepherds but aren't
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDBERGER BLANC SUISSE
HEIGHT22-26 inches22-26 inches
WEIGHT50-90 pounds55-88 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Dense double coat; white
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Medium
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 12-14 years

When you take a look at the Berger Blanc Suisse, also known as the White Swiss Shepherd, you might think you’re seeing a White German Shepherd. It’s an easy mistake to make, but this is an entirely different dog breed, but it is one closely related to the German Shepherd dog. The White Swiss Shepherd is a rare breed that comes from Switzerland. 

The White Swiss Shepherd is a very intelligent dog and a very high-energy one, like most of those on this list. That means it needs plenty of exercise, such as playing at dog parks or your fenced-in backyard. This dog breed is easy to train and excels at obedience training.

If you’re looking for the differences between the White Swiss Shepherd and the German Shepherd, there are a few. First, obviously, is the coloring. This breed doesn’t come in any color; it will always be white. It has darker eyes, and it is slightly smaller in stature, though not by much. 

9. Byelorussian Shepherd (East European Shepherd)

dog that looks like german shepherd
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDBYELORUSSIAN SHEPHERD
HEIGHT22-26 inches24-28 inches
WEIGHT50-90 pounds75-105 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Double coat, soft dense undercoat; black, black with tan, agouti, tan with black saddle, may have black mask
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Short
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 10-14 years

The East European Shepherd, as this dog is commonly referred to, is a large sheepdog breed that comes from Eastern Europe. One thing it’s prominently known for is its strong, athletic build. One look at the East European Shepherd alongside the German Shepherd, and you might instantly think, “Twinsies!” And you wouldn’t be far off. 

The East European Shepherd was actually bred from the older German Shepherds, crossbreeding them with breeds in Eastern Europe, such as the native Russian breeds Laika and Ovcharka, two breeds you don’t often hear of.

One of the reasons this dog was created was to be able to withstand the harsh environments that were prominent in what’s now known as the former USSR region. These pups are also loyal and courageous, equally at home protecting the homestead and being your cuddle bug. 

There are distinguishable differences between the two. First, the German Shepherd is, in this instance, actually smaller. Secondly, the East European Shepherd isn’t overly fond of other dogs. The GSD is also the more intelligent of the two. 

10. Laekenois (Belgian Laekenois)

what dog looks like a german shepherd
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDLAEKENOIS
HEIGHT22-26 inches22-26 inches
WEIGHT50-90 pounds55-65 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Wiry and rough; fawn, gray, red
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Medium
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 10-12 years

The Belgian Laekenois is one of my favorite breeds on this list simply for its unique look. It has a distinguished, serious look about it, with a wiry rough coat that only adds to the allure. However, at its very core, this pup is amazingly affectionate and loving toward the people it knows, though it can be guarded and observant with strangers. 

The Belgian Laekenois is another one of the varieties of Belgian Sheepdogs and is a working dog by nature. It has a strong herding instinct and is highly protective of its family and property. 

German Shepherds tend to be the calmer of these two dog breeds, but they are also known to be more protective. The Laekenois is a dog breed that’s smaller in terms of weight, though both German Shepherds and Laekenois can stand shoulder-to-shoulder.

11. Miniature German Shepherd

mini german shepherd
BREED CHARACTERISTICSGERMAN SHEPHERDMINIATURE GERMAN SHEPHERD
HEIGHT22-26 inchesVaries
WEIGHT50-90 poundsLess than 50 pounds
COAT AND COLORDense and straight coat; light fawn color with a black overlay.Varies
COAT LENGTHMedium and long Varies
LIFE SPAN7-10 years 9-13 years

You might think the Miniature German Shepherd is honestly just a smaller size of the standard breed, but you’d be wrong. Yes, the German Shepherd is one of the parents, but you have to remember they are bred with smaller dogs, which introduces other traits into the bloodline.

Though it may look like a German Shepherd took a trip under a shrink ray, it’s a bit more complicated than that. 

Often, this mix ends up looking like a German Shepherd, but there can be noticeable differences in appearance, size, and personality. It all depends on the other breed. Sometimes, Corgis, Poodles, and other dogs are used, so be sure to speak with the breeder and get all of the information available. 

While these pups remain powerful and agile, they also tend to be small to medium-sized dogs.

Unique Skills of Breeds Similar to German Shepherds

There are certain skills and traits that make the German Shepherd stand out as its own unique dog breed. However, each of the dog breeds that we mentioned above also has its own skill set that warrants a closer look. 

  • Belgian Malinois, known as the Belgian Sheepdog, excels in police and military work just like German Shepherds, but they are often used in search and rescue missions due to their excellent tracking capability.
  • Shiloh Shepherds have a gentle temperament that makes them a shoo-in as service dogs and therapy dogs
  • Caucasian Shepherds are dominant and protective livestock guardians who take their jobs very seriously.
  • Bohemian Shepherds have a keen sense of smell that makes it easy to put them to work in search and rescue jobs. 
  • Carpathian Shepherd Dogs keep to the Carpathian mountains, where they guard their flocks from larger predators such as bears and wolves.
  • King Shepherds are strong dogs, yet gentle, and often find roles as service animals and bond closely with their humans, making it a perfect fit for them.
  • The Dutch Shepherd dog breed has strong herding instincts that make them ideal working dogs.
  • White Swiss Shepherds excel at agility sports, but since they are extremely gentle, they thrive in emotional support and therapy roles. They’re excellent family companions.  
  • East European Shepherds are excellent guard dogs due to their resiliency and strong guarding instincts. 
  • Belgian Laekenois are skilled herders who are also heralded as good guard dogs.
  • Miniature German Shepherds are strong and powerful, just like their larger counterparts, and do well in dog sports.

Each of these skill sets shows that these dog breeds are not just pretty faces, you can put them to work and when they’re tired, cuddle up for a peaceful night, too!

FAQs

What Dogs Look Like German Shepherds but Are White?

If you love the idea of a white shepherd lookalike, check out the Keeshond, Samoyed, American Eskimo, White Swiss Shepherd (on our list already!), and Hokkaido. There’s also the White German Shepherd, which, as we mentioned, is a separate breed. 

What Are the Types of German Shepherds?

There are five different types of German Shepherds: East German and West German (both working lines), and American/Canadian, West German, and Czech German (all show lines).

Dogs That Look Like German Shepherds but Are Smaller?

There’s one standout in this respect, and it is the Corgi, which is sometimes used to breed miniature German Shepherds!

Conclusion

German Shepherds are the second-most popular in the dog world and for good reason, they’re truly majestic creatures that excel both in the field – whether it’s herding, working, or dog sports – and serve as amazing human companions.

These dogs that look like them bring just as much to the table, though, and I hope you’ve gotten to enjoy learning about some of them.

Just remember, if you plan to adopt one of the dogs, please take care to ensure that they fit into your particular lifestyle. Active dogs need active families, so it’s a good fit for you both!

Christina Drury
Meet Christina Drury, a dedicated animal enthusiast, and proud pet parent. She has a deep-rooted affection for all creatures, and Christina has called the Buckeye State home for the past four years. As a seasoned writer, she possesses a versatile writing style that spans various niches, yet her heart truly belongs to animals. With her innate connection and expertise, Christina is committed to crafting engaging and insightful content for animal-related issues.

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