Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a large dog with thick brown and black fur, used for helping the police and for guarding buildings

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun Alsatian was first used in English to refer to a large short-haired breed of dog in the early 20th century. The noun meaning ‘person from Alsace’ dates from the 17th century, while the adjective describing someone or something from Alsace is earlier, dating from the mid 16th century.


The breed of dog commonly referred to as Alsatian is actually a German shepherd dog, and this is the name that is used in the US. The origin of the dog’s British name was that in the aftermath of World War I all things German were rather unpopular, and so when the breed was first registered at the Kennel Club in 1919 the name Alsatian Wolf Dog was used. The dog’s name was formally changed to German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian) in the 1970s and (Alsatian) was only dropped in 2010. The name Alsatian is still commonly used, however. Alsatian also refers to someone who comes from the Alsace region of France. Alsatian is one of many Macmillan Dictionary entries to have been enhanced with photos in the recent update.

Related words

St Bernard, Old English sheepdog, Dobermann, Rottweiler

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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