The King Shepherd is a crossbreed whose parents are the German Shepherd and the lesser known Shiloh Shepherd. It also has some Akita and Alaskan Malamute heritage. He is a relatively new pup on the block, similar to his Shiloh Shepherd parent, but he is proving to be a big hit with Shepherd fans across the world.
This breed has all the good qualities of the German Shepherd, such as his gorgeous looks, loyal personality, and trainability, but he is friendlier with strangers, he forms a strong bond with all family members rather than just one in particular, and he also has fewer health problems.
King Shepherds are larger in stature, with males in between 130 and 150 pounds, and females north of 100. His coat is longer, and he is often mistaken for the Russian Caucasian Shepherd or a large GSD with a longer coat. Is this guy the King of all Shepherds? Well, read on to find out!
Crossbreeds & Parentage
The term crossbreed is different from the term designer dog. The term crossbred refers to a dog that has parents from different breeds, whereas the term designer dog refers to a dog who has two different purebred parents.
In this case, the King Shepherd is a crossbreed, as his Shiloh Shepherd parent is not considered to be a purebred dog, as he himself is a relatively new breed. The King Shepherd also has some Akita and Great Pyrenees mixed in, somewhere along the line. In order to understand the King Shepherd, it is important to understand a little more about each of his parents.
The German Shepherd’s journey began in 19th Century Germany, and he was cleverly engineered by cross breeding each district’s best herding dogs. His original purpose was to herd flocks, but he was gradually given employment with the German Army, to deliver supplies and assist the Soldiers in their patrol duties. He is now the world’s most recognizable protection dog, used in police and military services across the world.
It was in 1913 that the German Shepherd Dog Club of America was formed. In 1918 the most famous German Shepherd was born, and he was plucked out of the rubble of a bombed building by an American Soldier, who called the dog Rinty. Rinty went on to star in 27 Hollywood films, and is more commonly known as Rin Tin Tin. Despite the German Shepherd’s short-lived period of unpopularity following the World Wars, it is believed that Rin Tin Tin was responsible for increasing the popularity of the German Shepherd in America, as well as keeping Warner Bros successful.
Unlike most mixed breeds, the history of the Shiloh Shepherd is very well documented. His journey began in the late 20th Century when Tina Barber, a German Shepherd breeder from New York, became increasingly concerned with the German Shepherd health problems and ever changing appearance, particularly his sloping back. In order to preserve the German Shepherd as she once remembered in her childhood, she created a puppy by crossbreeding the German Shepherd with the Alaskan Malamute, Canadian White Shepherd, and the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog. Shiloh was the name of Tina’s Kennel, and as such she named the mixed puppy, the Shiloh Shepherd.
He is not recognized by any major kennel club, however he is recognized by the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA). It is thought that at some point in the future he will hopefully achieve a recognized status with the major kennel clubs. For this reason, it is unknown exactly how popular he is in America, however, he is definitely increasing in his popularity.
The King Shepherd
The King Shepherd’s journey is similar to the Shiloh Shepherd’s journey. Frustrated breeders of the German Shepherd, Shelly Watts-Cross and David Turkheimer, combined their dogs, the German Shepherd and a Shiloh Shepherd, to create a pup that was significantly larger and hopefully healthier, and this was where the King Shepherd was born. He is also a relatively new breed, who was only first developed around 30 years ago, and because of this he is not yet recognized by major kennel clubs. The American King Shepherd Club (AKSC) is the first and only breed club of the King Shepherd, and this is the most informative and concise website for any new King Shepherd owner.
Just like his parents, the German and Shiloh Shepherds, the King Shepherd is a great protector, and is very loyal to his family. He still retains the guarding tendencies of his parents, but he is slightly more chilled out. If it is a guard dog that you are after, then he is just as intelligent as the German Shepherd to be trained as such. However, if you don’t, after a bark or two at a stranger he will go back to playing with his family and he makes a calmer family pet compared to the German Shepherd.
The King Shepherd was engineered to be friendlier than the German Shepherd, and thanks to his more laid-back approach to life, he certainly is a bit more approachable. With that being said, most would be intruders will not be able to tell the difference between the two, and with his initial aloofness he will still make an impression! As soon as his master has welcomed an outsider onto the estate the King Shepherd is super friendly, and he will want all the belly rubs going! Because of his extra level of friendliness compared to his parents, he also makes a great therapy dog.
Size & Appearance
The male and female King Shepherd will measure between 25 and 32 inches tall, from paw to shoulder, and they will weigh between 90 and 140 pounds in weight. He is a giant dog, who is larger than both of his parents. Of course, the females will be smaller than the males in both height and weight, but overall, they both simply look like an oversized German Shepherd.
The King Shepherd still has a long muzzle, but with a large square head, and his voluptuous fur gives him his charming teddy bear cuteness. He has large triangle shaped ears that are generally erect, giving him an alert look. Despite his larger size than both of his parents, he is still as agile and quick thanks to his powerful build and muscles. Other than being larger than his parents, he has a straighter and less sloped back compared to his German parent, which again gives him the larger and more proportioned look.
Coat & Colors
The King Shepherd will commonly have a medium-length double coat, that is thick and dense underneath, and his outer coat should be rough to the touch, although they can also be smooth. The coat is straight, and on occasion can be slightly wavy. Around his neck he will have even thicker and longer fur.
The King Shepherd enjoys rich colors similar to his parents, and can be found in sable, bi-colored, black saddle with red, tan, gold or cream, and finally solid black. On occasion a diluted color such as silver or blue, or complete white, might be found in the King Shepherd, although it is an undesirable color according to his breed standards set out by the AKSC.
Exercise Requirements & Living Conditions
The King Shepherd is a medium to high energy dog who will need around 60 minutes of exercise a day. In between his exercise sessions, he is partial to a good romp around the garden, or also a nap in between. The King Shepherd enjoys interactive games with his family, so expect to play tug of war or fetch with him on a daily basis.
Because of his sheer size and high energy, this guy will be suited to a larger home with a larger backyard. He would not do well being cooped up in an apartment all day, and it really would not take him long to become bored and destroy your homely belongings. He needs fresh air and space to roam and protect his estate, but also a warm and safe place inside. Just like most large dogs, he often thinks of himself as a Chihuahua, and so you will often find him on your lap or sprawled across the sofa.
The fencing should be tall and reinforced to make sure that he cannot escape, as he will try to, and a 6-foot fence that he cannot break through is advised. In addition to this, because of his curious and inquisitive nature, he should also be kept on the leash in public places.
The King Shepherd is an intelligent dog who loves to please his master, and as such he is a dream to train, and surprisingly quite an easy dog for a first-time dog owner simply because of how quickly he picks up commands. With that being said, he needs consistent training from a young age, and his trainability should not be taken for granted. Positive reinforcement training is the best training method for the King Shepherd, as a little praise goes a long way for this guy.
Despite the King Shepherd coming from herding dogs, he does not try to nip people or other animals into place unlike other herding dogs, such as the Collie or the Corgi. The main trait that he does inherit from his parents is the guarding streak, and so it is important to socialize him early to ensure that he doesn’t become over aggressive or over protective, however he is much less likely to become this compared to his German Shepherd parent. Socializing him with unfamiliar people and other dogs of all shapes and sizes is imperative to ensure that he transforms into a well-mannered and well-behaved adult.
The average lifespan of a King Shepherd is between 10 and 11 years, and he is slightly healthier just as he was originally intended to be. Because his Shiloh parent was also bred from the German Shepherd, the King Shepherd is expected to inherit some German Shepherd health issues.
The most common health concern of the German Shepherd is Hip Dysplasia, and whilst the King Shepherd has a better proportioned body with a less sloped back, he is still predisposed to this condition. Hip Dysplasia is the abnormal formation of the hip joint, and it can cause pain when walking. Another major concern of the King Shepherd is Gastric Torsion, also known as Bloat, and this is where his stomach may twist whilst eating food either immediately before or after intense exercise. This is a life-threatening condition and he must be taken to the Veterinarian immediately if you suspect his stomach has twisted.
All prospective owners of the King Shepherd should research the above conditions thoroughly and look out for the associated symptoms. The AKSC also provides further information and health statistics of the breed.
The King Shepherd, being a gorgeous giant of a dog, will need, on average, 4 cups of food every day. This will depend on his size and activity levels. Although the King Shepherd is not food driven, he is partial to the odd snack, and as such you should be careful to monitor his treat intake to alleviate the weight pressure on his joints.
The King Shepherd, with his predisposition to Gastric Torsion, should be fed his required food across at least two sittings a day, and not immediately before or after exercise. A mix of wet dog food with kibble is said to decrease this risk as well as using a slow feed bowl to help slow his eating. Speak to your Veterinarian to seek proper advice on how to feed your King Shepherd.
The King Shepherd has a thick and dense water-resistant coat, that should only be bathed every two or three months to ensure that the natural oils in his coat aren’t negatively altered. Despite being much easier to groom regarding his bathing routine compared to other dogs, he needs brushing every day. He is a moderate to heavy shedder and as such he will need daily combing to remove all the dead hair that will otherwise cover your house. During shedding season, you may even have to brush him twice a day to keep his coat manageable. Although this may seem like a chore, it is an enjoyable bonding session for both the King Shepherd and his master.
All other grooming needs are the same as any other pooch, and be sure to utilize the daily brushing time with him to monitor any lumps and infections that he may develop.
The King Shepherd is still a rare breed, and as such there are few reputable breeders around, however as they are becoming increasingly popular, they are also high in demand. Because of this, the average price of a puppy will start from around $1,500. Ensure that you ask to see registration papers with either the ARBA or AKSC, as well as their health certificates, and ensure that you meet the parents and the puppies.
As with any dog breed that is currently in trend, unscrupulous puppy mills take advantage of this, and pump out as many similar looking pups with no regard for their health, simply to cash in on their soaring popularity. Not only will it be likely that the pup will be unhealthy, but it would not be difficult for them to pass a German Shepherd pup off as a King Shepherd, so you may not even get a King Shepherd at all. So, it pays off to spend that little bit extra initially, to increase your chances of having a healthy pooch, as well as ensuring peace of mind.
As Family Pets
- The King Shepherd is an energetic dog who should be placed with an active family.
- You need to guarantee him at least 60 minutes of exercise every day.
- The King Shepherd, whilst he can make a good guard dog.
- He can more friendly and sociable than his German Shepherd parentage.
- He is a very loyal dog who will form a strong bond with all family members.
- Whilst he is energetic, he is not particularly bouncy in the home.
- As long as the King Shepherd is socialized, he will also do well in a multi-pet household.
- Be sure to have a pre-meet with the other animals to be sure that he fits in well with the pack.
- The King Shepherd is very affectionate and loving, and he will want sofa snuggles with his family.
- He does not like being left alone for longer periods of time.
- He will need access to a backyard for space and exercise, with reinforced fencing.
- He needs daily brushing due to his moderate to high shedding.
- Because of shedding, he’s not suited for people with allergies.
Finding A King Shepherd Breeder
Because the King Shepherd is a relatively new breed, there are only a few reputable and well-known breeders in America. The AKSC list a few reputable breeders on their page, however, there are also a few extra that can be found using online search engines. If you struggle to find any suitable breeders, or one that you like, then contact the AKSC and they will be undoubtedly happy to point you in the right direction.
All in all, make sure that you read reviews, speak to those on King Shepherd online forums, and meet the breeder before you make any decisions about whether to proceed with them. Afterall, this is a big decision which deserves thorough research and time invested.
Rescue & Shelters
The best way to begin your journey to adopt a King Shepherd is to contact and visit the local German Shepherd rescue centers, as there are many dedicated to German Shepherds and German Shepherd mixes. If there is not a King Shepherd in the shelter when you visit, you can speak to the staff and tell them that you are looking for a King Shepherd in particular, and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
Rescue Centers also use social media platforms to advertise pups who are up for adoption, and as such this is another great tool to find a King Shepherd who needs a forever home.
Overall, the King Shepherd really is the King of Shepherds! Not only does he retain his parent’s gorgeous looks, but he is also larger and cuddlier! He is loyal and protective of his family, but he is much more accepting and friendly with strangers and family friends. He also has fewer health problems compared to his parents and he lives slightly longer.
Although he is much rarer than most Shepherds and it may be harder to locate a suitable breeder, once you discover the one, it is a decision that you will not regret. The newly appointed King Shepherd is here to stay, and he will undoubtedly become just as popular as the German Shepherd in the future, if not more so due to his perfect engineering and charming qualities.