The Dire Wolf Project was first developed by Lois Denny in 1987. The first litter between a purebred Alaskan Malamute (Buddy) and a purebred German Shepherd Dog (Swanny) was whelped on February 4, 1988 in Oxnard, California.
The idea for this new breed of dog entered the mind of a child around the year 1969 when a mixed German Shepherd Dog followed her home. At the age of 9 years old, Lois Denny started breeding animals. (Guinea pigs, pigeons, mice and rats.) Genetics had a hold on her and she spent her days in local libraries researching her passion. She kept records of the coat colors, density, eye shapes, mutation, and albinism that occurred.
By the time Lois was 30, she had the experience behind her of hundreds of breeds as she trained, groomed, handled and bred animals for others. In her mind she was constantly evaluating and gathering information as an image of a new breed of dog formed deep within her. She prepared a standard of what this new breed would look like and how it should behave. She knew the character it needed to have to become the best breed she had ever known. The brains and heart of the dog had to come first. She was concerned about the looks just yet. She imagined that could be done in a couple of generations, but the heart and intelligence would take some time. She had figured at least 6 years. This would be an expensive undertaking and would take a lot longer than she had imagined.
Several AKC American Show Shepherds, other working German Shepherd Dogs coming directly from Germany, Holland, and Canada, as well as two purebred Alaskan Malamutes formed the basis of the foundation stock used to start shaping the temperament and character so prices in this relatively new large breed of dog. After ten years of breeding within these mixed lines, a new and consistent temperament was formed, although the look was still too similar to the German Shepherd Dog. It was at this time that a few hand selected American Alsatians with mellow, even temperaments were then crossbred with a fawn colored English Mastiff, Brite Stars Willow of Cold Springs, who was out of Ch. Brite Starts Sir Winston Churchill who gained his championship at the young age of 18 months. The English Mastiff breed was chosen to add the full round bone and large head of the purebred American Alsatian one sees today.
After several years of breeding these American Alsatian/mastiff mixed dogs and choosing only the quietest, boldest dogs in the litter (and disregarding the look in order to concentrate on the most important feature of this new breed, its companion dog personality, each litter began to reproduce themselves consistently, thus continuing the formation of a new rare breed of dog. In 2002, all the lines were set and each litter produced a similar personality and look. These purebred dogs were bred unto themselves to beget 18th and 20th generations who were again crossed with unrelated dogs in 2006. This time the crossbred dogs were an Anatolian/Great Pyrenees mix out of purebred lines and a shepherd/malamute mix. She chose these two dogs in order to keep the largeness and enhance the temperament. We are now in the fifth generation from these last crossbreedings and all lines are once again purebred dogs, meaning they beget themselves consistently in personality, health and looks.
At present, each dog when bred begets itself in conformation, the Dire Wolf look is not complete. Because Lois concentrated on the health and the mellow, calm, non-barking temperament before looks, the breed's conformation is still under development. Now the National American Alsatian Breeder's Association will be working to improve the look of the Dire Wolf, including the two coat colors theories that have emerged. At some point, we will once again crossbreed, this time in order to concentrate on the Dire Wolf look of the breed without compromising the health and temperament that have proved to be the most difficult of the three to achieve.
The name of the American Alsatian has changed several times as this breed progressed from a mixed breed of dog to a separate breed conforming to its own unique standards in temperament and looks. In 1988, the name of the breed was the North American Shepalute. Lois, our founder, chose to take the words shepherd and malamute and blend them together to reflect the blending of the two founding breeds. In 2004, the breed name was change to Alsatian Shepalute in order to start the transition from the portmanteau word, Shepalute, to a name that harkened back to the past when the German Shepherd Dog was called the Alsatian Wolfdog. The term Alsatian came to remind one of a dog that looked, in some general characteristics, similar to a wolf. Since this breed was meant to resemble the Dire Wolf in bone and body structure, this term was adopted. On February 21, 2010, the name of the breed was again changed, dropping Shepalute all together. Our club decided this change in order to completely eliminate the tie this breed once had to the mix breeding of the shepherd and the malamute. In order to reflect this breed's purebred conformity, the name was changed to American Alsatian. The descriptive term American was added in order to reflect this breed's origins and create a distinctiveness from the colloquial usage of Alsatian in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.