The king shepherd mix is a cross between a German shepherd and another large dog breed, usually a Shiloh shepherd.
Other dog breeds that are mixed to make the king shepherd are the Alaskan Malamute, the great Pyrenees, and the Akita.
For a dog to be classed as a king shepherd, one of its parents must be a German shepherd.
King shepherds are between 25 and 27 inches tall and weigh 75 to 110 pounds as adults. King shepherds are highly intelligent, making them ideal as working dogs.
The confidence, loyalty, and gentle nature of the king shepherd make the dog good for families, too. The average lifespan of a king shepherd is 10–11 years.
King Shepherd Quick Summary
|Common names:||King shepherd, giant German shepherd|
|Parent breeds:||German shepherd and Shiloh shepherd. Sometimes the Alaskan Malamute, the great Pyrenees, or the Akita|
|Colors:||Black, brown, fawn, red, or sable|
|Coat:||Double coat, medium length|
|Life expectancy:||10–11 years|
|Temperament:||Intelligent, loyal, gentle|
King Shepherd Appearance
The king shepherd is a large dog with a long, robust, muscular body, and a dense, medium-length double coat.
King and German shepherds have similar coat colors, head shapes, and tails, though King shepherds have several unique features depending on the genes of the other parent dog breed.
Size and Weight
Adult king shepherds are 25–27 inches tall and weigh between 75 and 110 pounds.
The exact size and weight of the king shepherd depend on the size of the dog parent that the German shepherd is mixed with.
Likely parent breeds – German shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, great Pyrenees, and Akita – are all large dogs, so all king shepherds fall into the large dog category.
The king shepherd has a double coat of medium length and moderately thick density. The coat is commonly straight, but some dogs have curly fur.
While the undercoat is lighter and fluffier, the top coat is bold and coarse. King shepherds are moderate shedders and require regular grooming.
Like German shepherds, king shepherds typically have a combination of black and tan, black and sable, or black and red coats. Silver and white, and solid color variations of king shepherds are rare.
Head and Facial Features
King shepherds have large square heads, pointed, erect ears with thick, furry edges, and dome-shaped foreheads.
The breed’s eyes are almond-shaped and either dark or golden brown. The dog’s muzzle progressively narrows, ending in a black, flat nose.
King Shepherd Origins
King shepherds were developed in the 1990s. The goal was to create a breed similar to the German shepherd, but without the health problems that purebred German shepherds face.
Like their German shepherd parents, king shepherds are classed as herding dogs.
An official king shepherd breed club was formed in 1995, but king shepherds aren’t formally recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club.
The German shepherd, also known as the Alsatian, is a herding dog breed originating in 1899 in Germany.
The German shepherd is one of the smartest dog breeds, and today, these dogs are used as reliable working dogs as well as loyal family dogs.
German shepherds are big dogs with red/tan and black fur. German shepherds are intelligent, alert, confident, and occasionally stubborn.
The king shepherd inherits most of its physical traits from the German shepherd, as well as its intelligence and loyalty.
The Shiloh shepherd is the breed that German shepherds are most commonly mixed with to create a king shepherd.
Shiloh shepherds were developed in New York in the 1970s by breed founder Tina Barber. Tina created the International Shiloh Shepherd Registry in 1990, and the Shiloh shepherd breed gained popularity and recognition in the early 2000s.
Shiloh shepherds are large, intelligent, and mentally sound. These dogs are up to 2 inches taller than German shepherds, and have a more wolf-like appearance.
King Shepherd Personality and Temperament
The king shepherd is a loyal, intelligent, and gentle dog that is incredibly versatile — king shepherds are good family dogs, and they also serve in public service roles.
Although these dogs are protective of their families, king shepherds are not aggressive or dangerous.
This breed is easily trainable, but the dogs are known to have a stubborn nature, so they’re not suitable for first-time owners.
King shepherds become destructive when they’re bored, so these dogs are only recommended for people who have plenty of time to devote to training and playing with their dogs.
Taking Care of a King Shepherd
King shepherds are easy to look after, but they’re a big breed and need lots of food and grooming, so their care needs are higher than smaller, short-fur dogs.
King shepherds have big appetites and need between 1,800 and 2,500 calories per day, ideally split into three meals.
The amount of food the dog requires depends on its age, weight, gender, metabolism, and activity level. Highly active, young king shepherds are likely to need more food than sedentary, older dogs.
Feed your dog high-quality, high-protein kibble that’s designed for large dogs. Read the food packaging to find out how much to feed your dog per meal.
This breed has moderately thick fur that needs to be brushed regularly, but the dogs don’t require specialized grooming. Some king shepherds have longer fur and require more frequent grooming than others.
Brush the king shepherd’s fur at least three times per week, or every day during the spring and fall shedding seasons. Clean your dog’s teeth once a week or use dental dog treats to manage the dog’s oral hygiene.
King shepherds are big dogs with high energy levels. At least 60 minutes of walking per day, alongside activities like fetch, jogging, and swimming, is recommended for this breed.
The dog is best suited to homes with gardens, and homes with plenty of walking routes nearby.
The king shepherd is more intelligent than other dog breeds and requires at least 30 minutes of mental stimulation per day.
These dogs enjoy games that challenge the mind, such as interactive games and food-release toys.
Good games to play with a king shepherd are find and fetch, or hide and seek with dog treats. King shepherds are smart enough to take part in agility, herding, and tracking activities.
Common Health Concerns
The goal of creating the king shepherd was to reduce the dog’s health issues, but this breed still inherits some health concerns from its German shepherd parents, including:
Canine Hip Dysplasia
A disease that affects the formation of the hip joints. Symptoms of canine hip dysplasia are occasional or chronic lameness, limping, and “bunny hopping” while running. Medications, physical therapy, and surgery are treatments for canine hip dysplasia, depending on the severity of the disease.
A condition that causes the dog’s stomach to twist unnaturally due to excessive food or gas, causing pain.
Symptoms of bloat include dry-heaving, panting, drooling, and signs of discomfort, such as constantly moving around and changing positions. Bloat is potentially life-threatening, and requires immediate medical attention.
Training a King Shepherd
King shepherds are intelligent and eager to please, so training the dogs is easy. Operant conditioning is the best way to train a king shepherd — reinforcing and rewarding the dog’s actions, and training the dog to associate its good behavior with pleasant consequences.
This breed should be trained from an early age to prevent stubborn and antisocial behaviors later in the dog’s life.
Due to the king shepherd’s curious nature, the dog should be walked on a leash — and the dog should be leash-trained between eight and 12 weeks old.
To train a king shepherd, maintain a consistent training schedule, beginning with basic commands like “sit” and “heel.”
King shepherds respond better to positive, reward-based training than negative, fear-based training, so never shout at or hit the dog.
King Shepherd Cost
King shepherds are expensive dogs because they’re not as commonly available as other dog breeds.
How Much Is a King Shepherd?
A king shepherd mix is $1,500 to $2,500. The price of the dog depends on the uniqueness of its appearance, the breed status of its parents, the age of the dog, and whether the dog is for sale or up for adoption.
These puppies cost up to double the price of adult king shepherds, and adopting a king shepherd is more affordable than buying, usually incurring an adoption fee of $200. Because king shepherds are an uncommon breed, they’re rarely up for adoption.
How Much Does it Cost to Raise a King Shepherd?
The cost of raising a king shepherd is $90–$120 per month. This cost covers the basics, including medical bills, high-quality food, new toys, and grooming supplies.
Extra, non-essential costs include professional grooming, boarding or dog sitting, training, herding and agility classes, or competition fees.
Should You Get a King Shepherd?
The king shepherd is a loyal, loving dog, but not all dog owners are well suited to this breed.
King Shepherds are Suitable for:
King shepherds have a gentle, nurturing nature, so they’re suitable for families with young children. Although king shepherds are alert and loyal, they’re not aggressive, so they’re good watchdogs for family homes.
Because of their large size, intelligence, and high activity level, king shepherds are best suited to active owners who can commit at least 90 minutes per day to walk, train, and play with their dogs.
Homes with backyards are best for king shepherds, allowing the dogs to stretch their legs in between walks.
King Shepherds are NOT Suitable for:
King shepherds have high exercise needs, so they’re not suited for apartment living or inactive people.
King shepherds are known to be destructive when they’re bored or lonely, so they’re not suitable for people who often work away from home or don’t have the time to devote to their dog.
People with small budgets shouldn’t get a king shepherd because the dog eats a lot of food, incurring high costs.
First-time dog owners should think carefully about whether they’re ready for the challenge of raising one of the largest dog breeds.