What is a Companion Dog?
As we begin this unit describing the unique American Alsatian dog temperament, it is important to first define our terms. We have found that the term "companion dog" means different things to different people and in order to have a clear discussion regarding the American Alsatian dog's temperament, we must understand why the founder and American Alsatian dog breeders consistently use the term "companion dog" despite the fact that the founding breeds were strong working dog breeds.
The first, and most often used, definition for the term companion dog is any dog, regardless of breed, that lives in the home as a pet dog and nothing more. In this way, any dog can be described as a companion dog. Those who define the term in this way often cannot understand why we would use the term "companion dog" to describe our dogs and how the term "companion dog" can still be applied to our dogs even when some are not only being housed as pet dogs in the home. i.e. service or therapy dogs.
The second, and less often used, definition of the term companion dog is meant to describe a breed of dog whose main purpose for having been developed as a breed in the first place was/is to be a companion to humans and nothing more. In this sense, the term companion dog is not describing all potential dogs among any breed, but specific breeds of dog that fit the purpose and function of a family companion. The longer version of this term would be "companion dog breed"; however, companion dog breed is often shorted to simply companion dog. Breeds in this category include the toy breeds and the non-sporting breeds.
To date, no other large/extra large breed of dog has ever been bred solely and specifically as a companion dog. The American Alsatian dog is the first dog breed, and thus far the only, to have been specifically created for the purpose of family companionship and nothing more. The National American Alsatian Breeder's Association maintains the strict standards in ideal American Alsatian dog temperament and the founder has created and performed formal temperament testing for inherited temperament on every dog bred into the project since the beginnings in 1988. These scores are recorded in various volumes of binders, alongside many more notes on each dog born throughout the years.
That being said, many have rebuked our claim to be the first and thus far the only family companion dog breed. These dissenters reference the large Leonberger as also having been bred as a companion dog breed from the very beginning. We would not dispute this if it weren't for the fact that the Leonberger was specifically bred in its initial purpose for its appearance to the lion. Throughout the years, this majestic breed has been used as a working dog, just as its ancestry before it had been. In fact, to our knowledge no real attempt was ever made to specifically alter the inherited temperament of the Leonberger to specifically capture a large breed companion dog temperament. The AKC describes the Leongberger this way, "As watchdogs and all-around workers, they exhibit intelligence and sound judgment." That isn't to say that many Leonbergers do not or could not also live as companion dogs. In fact, many do, but they were not and are not bred specifically as companion dogs and nothing else.
Therefore, fully no other large/extra large breed of dog can claim to have been solely and specifically developed and bred as a companion dog and only a companion dog. The American Alsatian dog breed currently stands alone in this category and it is because we are so unique that many cannot (or will not) believe we have been able to achieve this in our dogs, especially because the breed began with working dog breeds.
In the next section, we will discuss exactly what aspects of a companion dog temperament we work toward in our breed.