American Tundra Shepherd Dog Breed


The American Tundra Shepherd started off as a military initiative headed by Frank Catania in the 1960s. The crossing of wolves with German Shepherds has produced an eye-catching dog that retains quite a bit of its wolfish looks. This large dog is trainable and capable of a wide range of duties (from police work to disabled assistance) if they are paired with a firm, stern owner that is capable of establishing himself as the "leader of the pack". They make playful companions for active owners and families, but should be socialized at an early age. Some say ATS dogs can be aggressive, as such, owners should be prepared to socialize these dogs with household pets as early as possible. They may live indoors but thrive outdoors, with their ever alert personalities and harsh, weather-resistant coats. Healthier than the German Shepherds from which they were bred, ATS dogs live around 13-15 years.

American Tundra Shepherd Dog Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred13-15 yrs.24-33 in.85-140 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Below are details and specs for the American Tundra Shepherd dog breed.

American Tundra Shepherd Dog Breed Description

Male American Tundra Shepherds reach 27-33 inches at the shoulder and often weigh 100-140 pounds. Females will be smaller, at 24-27 inches and 85-100 pounds. Although they are large dogs, they can live either indoors or out provided they get enough exercise.

Truly a hardworking and adaptable dog, ATS often find their purpose as anything from a family companion, to assistant to the disabled, to a police dog. The ATS Foundation describes them, overall, as "noble, loyal, alert, dedicated" and their temperament ranges from docile and calm to somewhat aggressive, depending upon how they are trained. They make excellent watchdogs and can easily be trained as guard dogs; they are quick to alert you of any hazard whether it be person, animal or even fire. They can make a playful addition to your family with children if they are trained and socialized as a puppy, otherwise their large size and slightly aggressive nature may allow them to become hard to handle.

There is no definitive standard on the coat length and the hair is thick, harsh and waterproof; they are said to be insensitive to low or high temperatures. They will "blow their coat" once or twice per year and will shed a moderate amount daily. A few brushings per week should keep their coat in good shape. Monitor the ears and teeth for cleaning and nails for trimming. They are large, active dogs that do best when they are allowed outdoor playtime in a fenced area. Daily leashed walks or runs are also imperative for non-working dogs.

The breed was the idea of Frank Catania, head of the U.S. Army Canine Training Program, during the 1960s and was, initially, a military project; with the end of the Vietnam war (and funding) the breeding of these dogs became the personal mission of Mr. Catania at his K-9 Training Facility in Kansas. Most ATS dogs are healthier than German Shepherds and will live 13-15 years.

American Tundra Shepherd Dog Health

There is little known about the general health outline of the American Tundra Shepherd Dog. They are said to have fewer hereditary issues than the German Shepherd Dog (GSD), and some breeders of this dog say they are free of genetic diseases. It could be that hybrid vigor as well as the wolf's highly healthy bloodline has contributed to this. There are a number of ailments that might happen, however, and for a number of reasons such as age, GSD genetics, environment and so on.

Here are some of the things you should watch out for in the American Tundra Shepherd Dog:

  • Bloat
  • Epilepsy
  • Cataracts
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Heart diseases
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Vision problems
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy

The American Tundra Shepherd Dog has an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years.

  • Bloat
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cataracts
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Vision Problems
  • View all 10...