from the Latin form of Alsace. Alsatian was adopted 1917 by the Kennel Club for "German Shepherd dog" to avoid the wartime associations of German; the breed has no connection with Alsace. Alsatia was an old popular name for the White Friars district of London (1680s), which drew disreputable inhabitants owing to the privilege of sanctuary from a 13c. church and convent there; the image was of "debatable ground" (as Alsatia was between France and Germany). Hence Alsatian "London criminal," 1690s.
updated on October 10, 2017