Extending the Django User Model: Exploring Various Approaches

Django, a powerful and popular web framework, provides a built-in User model that offers essential functionalities like authentication and user management. However, many projects require additional user-specific information and features beyond what the default User model offers. This is where extending the Django User Model comes into play. In this blog, we will delve into the concept of extending the Django User Model and explore different ways to achieve this extension.

Why Extend the Django User Model?

The default Django User model includes fields like username, email, and password, which cover the basics of user authentication and management. However, real-world applications often demand more user-specific attributes and functionalities. Imagine a scenario where you’re building a social platform or an e-commerce site. You might need to store user profiles, social media links, user avatars, or even track user activity.

  • AbstractUser: Use when you want to add simple fields to the User model, preserving default authentication and admin functionality.
  • AbstractBaseUser: Use when you need full control over authentication logic, and want to customize User fields extensively.
  • One-to-One Link: Use when you want to keep the default User model intact but add separate custom fields in a related model.
  • Proxy Model: Use when you want to add methods or properties to the existing User model without changing the database structure.

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What’s the best way to extend the User model in Django?

The best way to extend the User model in Django is by using the AbstractUser base class if you need straightforward user model with standard authentication features and want to leverage Django built-in functionality. If you require highly customized authentication logic or minimalistic user models consider using the AbstractBaseUser for greater flexibility and control. Choose the approach that aligns with your projects specific requirements.

Different Ways to Extend the Django User Model

Django provides multiple ways to extend the User model according to the complexity and requirements of your project. Let’s discuss four primary methods: subclassing AbstractUser, One-to-One Link, Proxy Model and extending AbstractBaseUser.

Method 1: Extending AbstractBaseUser

If you require more control over the User model, including custom authentication methods, consider extending AbstractBaseUser. This method is suitable when you need to implement unique authentication processes, like login using an email address instead of a username.

By extending AbstractBaseUser, you can:

  • Implement your custom authentication logic.
  • Define user-related fields and methods as per your project requirements.
  • Create a truly customized user experience.


from django.contrib.auth.models import AbstractBaseUser, BaseUserManager, PermissionsMixin

class CustomUserManager(BaseUserManager):
    # Define create_user and create_superuser methods

class CustomUser(AbstractBaseUser, PermissionsMixin):
    # Define your custom user fields and methods

Learn More using Practical Example: How to Extend Django User Model using AbstractBaseUser

Method 2: Subclassing AbstractUser

The AbstractUser class, available in django.contrib.auth.models, is a convenient way to add extra fields to the User model without having to implement authentication logic from scratch.

By creating a custom User model that subclasses AbstractUser, you can:

  • Define new fields specific to your application, like user profiles, contact information, etc.
  • Utilize built-in authentication mechanisms.
  • Take advantage of Django’s admin site with minimal customizations.


from django.contrib.auth.models import AbstractUser

class CustomUser(AbstractUser):
    bio = models.TextField(max_length=500, blank=True)
    profile_picture = models.ImageField(upload_to='profile_pics/', blank=True)

Learn More using Practical Example: How to Extend Django User Model using AbstractUser

In this method, you create a separate model that has a one-to-one relationship with the built-in User model. This allows you to add custom fields without altering the original User model structure.

By extending One-to-One, you can:

  • Keeps the original User model intact.
  • Offers a clean separation between core user data and additional information.


from django.contrib.auth.models import User
from django.db import models

class UserProfile(models.Model):
    user = models.OneToOneField(User, on_delete=models.CASCADE)
    bio = models.TextField(max_length=500, blank=True)
    profile_picture = models.ImageField(upload_to='profile_pics/', blank=True)

    def __str__(self):
        return self.user.username

Learn More using Practical Example: How to Extend Django User Model using One to One Link

Method 4: Using a Proxy Model

Proxy models allow you to override certain methods or attributes of the User model while keeping the same database table. This is useful when you want to keep the existing User model but add custom methods or properties.

By extending Proxy Model, you can:

  • Retains the existing User model’s structure and functionality.
  • Enables you to add custom methods and properties to the User model.


from django.contrib.auth.models import User

class CustomUser(User):
    class Meta:
        proxy = True

    def custom_method(self):
        # Add your custom logic here

Learn More using Practical Example: How to Extend Django User Model using Proxy Model

Method 5: Using a Third-Party Package

If you’re looking for a solution that simplifies the process of extending the User model or adds additional features, you can consider using third-party packages like django-allauth or django-user-accounts.


Exthhending the Django User Model offers flexibility and customization for your web applications. Depending on the complexity of your project and your specific requirements, you can choose from various methods to achieve this extension. Whether you opt for subclassing AbstractUser, extending AbstractBaseUser, creating a one-to-one link, using a proxy model, or utilizing third-party packages, make sure to select the method that aligns with your project’s goals and development approach. As you proceed with your Django development journey, experimenting with these methods will empower you to create user models tailored to your application’s needs.

Find this project on Github.

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