If trying to breed a dog with a large number wolf-like traits is difficult, then imagine the task of trying to use domestic dog breeds to reconstruct a species that went extinct a long time ago.
Such is the case with the American Alsatian breed.
This breed is an attempt to produce a dog that sort of looks like the extinct dire wolf (Canis dirus). The history of the breed is described in the Dire Wolf Project’s website.
In 1987, a dog breeder named Lois Denny (now Lois Schwarz) began experimenting with German shepherd and malamute crosses to produce a dog that looked like a wolf.
She then began to mix in mastiff and Great Pyrenees into the lines to produce a larger, more robust wolfy dog.
This dog has no wolf in it, and it has been bred for a good temperament and good health.
It is not the wild animal that once roamed both North and South America.
But it is an interesting idea.
Some people might have issues with the reconstruction, but it’s not really all that different from what was done with the Irish wolfhound.
According to Mark Derr, the original Irish wolfhound went extinct at the end of the eighteenth century, but it was reconstructed in the middle to late nineteenth century, using deerhound, Great Dane, and even Tibetan mastiff blood.
No one is pretending that the American Alsatian is a dire wolf. It’s just dog that has been bred to look like one.
However, you still find people who think that Irish wolfhounds actually coursed Irish wolves. Their deerhound and Great Dane ancestors may have hunted wolves. The current Irish wolfhound can bring down fairly large prey.
But the modern Irish wolfhound is as much a reconstruction as this dire wolf.
Yet one never hears anyone complain about Irish wolfhounds in the way I’ve heard them complain about these dogs.