We’ve all heard of the German Shepherd but are you familiar with the Shiloh Shepherd and the King Shepherd?
These are two varieties of shepherd dogs that are relatively new in the sphere of canines but are often confused for a German Shepherd mix.
While the German Shepherd is a dog breed recognised by the American Kennel Club, the esteemed dog organization hasn’t granted status to either the Shiloh Shepherd or the King Shepherd.
Having said that, the America Rare Breed Association does recognise both the Shiloh Shepherd and the King Shepherd.
But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to take a close look at the differences between the Shiloh Shepherd and the King Shepherd.
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What Is A Shiloh Shepherd?
The Shiloh Shepherd is a variety of shepherd created by a lady called Tina Barber. Having worked as a dog trainer specifically focused on German Shepherds, Barber noticed that the average family struggled to handle GSDs. So Barber set about creating her Shiloh Shepherds to be larger, calmer and easier to handle than the German Shepherd.
The Shiloh Shepherd is derived from a combination of herding and working breeds. These breeds include German Shepherd, Sarplaninac, Malamute, Canadian White Shepherd, Altdeutscher Schaeferhunde and more. The International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance explain on their website:
The introduction of these other breeds took them away from the German Shepherd in appearance, genetics, and temperament.
Having been recognised by the American Rare Breed Association since 1991, it’s important to note that the Shiloh Shepherd is a breed of its own and not a German Shepherd mix.
What Is A King Shepherd?
The King Shepherd is another dog breed that is in its relevant infancy. They resemble a large German Shepherd dog. The King Shepherd breed was started by Shelley Watts-Cross and David Turkheimer in the early 1990s as they sought to create a bigger version of the German Shepherd.
The American King Shepherd Club’s website sheds further light on the origins of these dogs.
The breed was originally developed on the East Coast using American bred German Shepherds, crossed to flock guardians, which were then crossed with European bred German Shepherd dogs.
The AKSC go on to explain that Watts-Cross and Turkheimer wanted to create a dog that was free from some of the well-documented health issues that can affect German Shepherd dogs.
Their intention was also to cultivate a dog breed that was a superior family companion and protector, while having the ability to perform working duties such as a police dog.
Shiloh Shepherd Vs King Shepherd
We’ve already touched upon how Tina Barber created the Shiloh Shepherd breed and the founder of the King Shepherd breed started by breeding Shiloh Shepherds before splintering to create her own dog breed. Here’s Cynthia Kelly to explain more:
The King Shepherd founder split off from Shiloh Shepherds and went in a different direction. King Shepherds crossed in more German Shepherds, in addition to Akitas and Alaskan Malamutes. They consider white dogs faulty and disqualify them, unlike Shilohs.
There is a lot of confusion over the difference between a “King-sized” German Shepherd and a “King Shepherd.” A King-sized German Shepherd is a purebred German Shepherd that is larger than the breed standard allows. Someone with a King Shepherd should be able to show you a pedigree that stretches back to when these dogs used to be part of the Shiloh Shepherd breeding program.
Shiloh Shepherd Vs King Shepherd: Size
Shiloh Shepherds can range from 26 to 28 inches minimum at the withers, while they can weigh from 80 pounds to 120 pounds depending on the sex of the dog. Speaking to our website, ISSA member Kelly added:
Some dogs do exceed this, but care must be taken as excess weight can be detrimental to the health of the dog, especially during the growth phases and in old age.
King Shepherds, on the other hand, should be 25 to 27 inches minimum at the withers, while the breed standard for these dogs sets out that the ideal weight for a female is 90-110 pounds and for a male is 120-145 pounds.
Shiloh Shepherd Vs King Shepherd: Appearance
Shiloh Shepherds are large dog breed with a wolf-like appearance. Kelly shed further light on Shiloh Shepherd appearance:
Shilohs are large, big-boned dogs with wolfish features, a 9:10 body ratio, and blocky heads. Their colors vary from all shades of sable, bi-color, and dual, as well as solid white and solid black. Most Shilohs are plush-coated, but there are short-coated Shilohs too (affectionately called ‘smoothies’).
The King Shepherd has a well-muscled torso and a strong impressive head. They should give the appearance of being large, rugged, powerful and impressive, possessing great endurance and agility.
In the ISSA’s article contrasting Shiloh Shepherd and King Shepherd dogs, the organisation sets out some of the key physical differences between the two breeds:
Kings are generally the same size as Shilohs; their breed standard puts them at slightly shorter on average, but heavier. They are predominantly long-haired; though the standard permits a smooth coat, they are very rare. Their heads are specifically broad and square, per their standard. The ears are larger on average, and not specified to be triangular, so in general the King head is not as “wolfy” as the Shiloh head. They consider white dogs faulty and disqualify them, unlike Shilohs.
Shiloh Shepherd Vs King Shepherd: Temperament
As we mentioned above, the Shiloh Shepherd creator Barber wanted to create a dog breed that was easier for the average family to handle. These large dogs were developed to be loving and protective of the family but they shouldn’t show aggressiveness. Their sheer size should be a sufficient deterrent for intruders. Derived from a variety of shepherd breeds, Shiloh Shepherds can still retain herding and protective instincts. On Shiloh temperament, Kelly added:
Shilohs are typically a medium to low energy breed, with some exceptions to either end of the spectrum. However, that doesn’t mean that Shilohs are inherently couch potatoes, and they require training, calm exposure, and proper socialization.
They should be netural around people they don’t know, with shyness a fault.
King Shepherds should be direct and fearless but not hostile or aloof. We can gain a greater understanding of the personalities of these huge dogs by looking at the club’s breed standard. Addressing temperament, the breed standard sets out:
The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand.
The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, to strange sounds or sights, such as tucking of tail. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character.
Shiloh Shepherd Vs King Shepherd: Exercise
Shiloh Shepherds will require around 60 minutes of exercise a day, but it can take different formats. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a walk. As a smart breed, they can benefit from a variety of exercises including both physical and mental. Kelly offered some suggestions:
Mental stimulation is equally important for Shilohs, especially as they are growing, and physical exercise must be moderated for their growth. A Shiloh has a very active brain. Training sessions, puzzle toys, and other types of brain games are fantastic ways to tire out an active Shiloh mind, and they help build a healthy relationship between handler and dog.
The American King Shepherd Club suggest two 50-minute walks for King Shepherds on a daily basis.
Shiloh Shepherd Vs King Shepherd: Shedding
Shiloh Shepherds have a double coat so they do shed a lot. However, the degree and frequency of the shedding will depend on their coat type. Shiloh Shepherds with a smooth (short) coat will blow out their coat twice a year with moderate shedding throughout the year. Long-coated Shiloh Shepherds don’t shed as much throughout the year but when they blow their coat out at the changing of the seasons, expect a lot of hair! Cynthia offered some advice to Shiloh Shepherd owners when it comes to grooming a long-coated Shiloh.
The longer coat will “catch” the shedding hairs, so you MUST brush during these times or the coat will matt. Otherwise the long coat is easier to care for than it looks, doing well with a brisk brushing two or three times a week. It does seem to require a bit more frequent bathing than the smooth, generally every 2-3 months.
Similarly, the King Shepherd is a dog breed with a double coat so they’ll shed throughout the year as well as blow out their undercoat twice a year. The American King Shepherd Club suggest brushing King Shepherds twice a week to stay on top of the shedding.
King Shepherds come in two distinct varieties, smooth coated and long coated. The smooth coated Kings look much like large German Shepherd dogs. The long coated Kings have a coat that closely resembles that of a Belgian Tervuren. Both varieties shed and require a moderate amount of grooming. A good five-minute brushing twice a week is more than adequate.
Shiloh Shepherd Vs King Shepherd: Price
Shiloh Shepherds are a rare dog breed so there aren’t a lot of breeders. As a result, you’ll usually have to sign up for a waiting list by putting down a deposit on your future pup. Shiloh Shepherds can cost between $2,000 and $4,000.
The American King Shepherd Club set out a price range of between $1,250 and £2,000 for a King Shepherd puppy. The organization explains that a cost of a King Shepherd puppy can depend on whether you’re looking for a pet quality dog or a show quality/breeding dog.
We’ve reached the end of our feature on Shiloh Shepherds and King Shepherds.
They’re two large dog breeds who have some similarities but differences. Having started in the 1970s, the Shiloh Shepherd was the first of these rare breeds to spring up before the King Shepherd emerged as an alternative.
While neither breed is recognised by the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club, they have been granted status by the American Rare Breed Association.
For more information on Shiloh Shepherds, you can visit the International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance, while the American King Shepherd Club is a good resource for readers who want to go further in depth on these large dogs.