I find it really interesting that some people refer to this dog as a German Shepherd (sometimes GSD – standing for ‘German Shepherd Dog’) and others as the Alsatian.
Strictly speaking, the name Alsatian is no longer valid. It was officially removed as an identifier in 2010 by the American Kennel Club.
The change in name from German Shepherd dates back to the years after World War I, when it as felt that the name ‘German’ in the dog’s breed would affect its acceptability in society. So, the UK Kennel Club decided to call the dog the ‘Alsatian Wolf Dog.’ The name caught on with other kennel clubs.
Over time, ‘wolf dog’ was dropped and the breed was simply referred to as the ‘Alsatian.’ (Alsace is the region of France in the north-east corner, bordering Germany.)
In the 1970s, there was a successful campaign to again have the dogs referred to as German Shepherd Dogs and the word (Alsatian) in parentheses followed.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand