Shiloh Shepherd: The Complete Guide For This Giant Breed

The Shiloh Shepherd has been selectively bred from the German Shepherd to be physically bigger, but with a gentler heart.

This breed is exceptionally active and needs a regular grooming routine and a large diet.

They are confident, curious, and keen to love. With a great personality and child friendly, this could be the family companion for you. Shilohs are big teddy bears that love to cuddle.

But this breed should not be taken on lightly.

In our complete guide below, we give you all the information you need to know if you are thinking about getting a Shiloh Shepherd.

What is a Shiloh Shepherd? (Breed Overview)

Shiloh Shepherd

The Shiloh Shepherd is a fairly recent breed which first appeared in the 1980s.

Tina Barber started to selectively breed German Shepherds to create a large, soft and stable new breed, with less chance of developing hip dysplasia.

She bred the largest German Shepherds with other breeds to get the perfect mix of personality and looks. Some of these breeds included Alaskan Malamutes, Canadian White Shepherds and the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.

The breed is not yet registered with the American Kennel Club – it is under consideration.

However there is an official club (International Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club) which regulates breeders and provides a breed standard.

They are part of the herding dog heritage; German Shepherds herded and guarded livestock, through the 1800s in Europe.

German Shepherd
Shiloh Shepherds were bred from German Shepherds (pictured above)
Appearance

There is no doubt that the Shiloh Shepherd looks similar to the German Shepherd – it’s just a lot bigger.

They have a wolf-like appearance with a tapered muzzle and a blunt, black nose with brown/amber eyes. They have black masking on their face, with an alert, yet friendly expression.

Their skull is slightly domed and they have erect ears.

As for their body it is well-proportioned and muscular with strong hips. They have straight backs and a full, bushy tail. Their tail hangs like a saber when relaxed and lifts up when they are excited.

Size and Weight

The Shiloh Shepherd was selectively bred to be bigger than German Shepherds.

  • A female weighs around 80-100lb and stands at 26-30 inches.
  • Whereas, a male weighs around 100-130lb and stands at 28-32 inches.

They are a giant breed.

Colors

The Shiloh colors are very similar to the German Shepherd colors.

According to the breed standard provided by the ISSDC, they have dual colored coats which are always black in the saddle. Black with shades of tan, golden tan, reddish tan, silver, beige and cream are desirable colors for this breed.

Some can be solid black or white, depending on the parents.

They can also have a patch of white on their chest.

Coat and Fur

They can have either a smooth or plush coat.

  • The smooth coat is a thick and coarse double coat. The outer layer is straight and dense, lying close to the body. The undercoat is denser at 1-2 inches thick.
  • The plush coat is less harsh but still has some coarseness to it. They have a very soft undercoat, longer manes and chest hairs. They also have more feathering around the head and back of their legs.

Plush-coated varieties will look fluffier and larger than their smoother counterparts.

Shiloh Shepherd Personality and Temperament

Despite their powerful and intimating size, the Shiloh is a very gentle, cheerful and affectionate breed.

They may have been selectively bred to be a giant, but they have also been selectively bred to have a great personality as well.

Bred to be the perfect companion dog, they are friendly, loyal and intelligent. They have a stable temperament and are not aggressive by nature.

Shiloh Shepherds form a close and empathic bond with their owner. They get a rush of oxytocin when around their main human, influencing their attachment to you!

They are fiercely loyal and will do anything to protect you.

You can expect them to b generally polite around strangers but not when they enter their territory. They are great watchdogs (thanks to their guardian heritage), however, they rarely show any aggression.

They have a tendency to howl, this could be when you are not giving them attention or when you leave the house. Howling is just a way for them to reinforce family bonds while establishing a territorial status.

Of course, not all personality traits are predictable, environment and genes can influence a their temperament.

The International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance (ISSA) categorizes their temperament depending on 3 traits:

  • Independence – ranging from pups who stick to their person or pups that are happy doing their own thing but checks in every now and then.
  • Prey drive – ranging from pups that chase anything and everything that moves, pups that only chase other pets, or pups that won’t even bat an eyelid to a squirrel and would rather stay where they are.
  • Confidence – can range from a pup that will fearlessly charge into everything and don’t need too much assurance with new experiences or a pup that needs encouragement from their person for anything.

One Shiloh puppy can be very confident and independent with no prey drive, while another can be very dependent on you but have a strong prey drive.

This is why the temperament test is carried out by the breeders to make sure you adopt a puppy that is compatible for you.

Is a Shiloh Shepherd a Good Family Dog?

The Shiloh Shepherd makes a great family dog. They are sweet and gentle, and very patient with children – they will enjoy playtime with the kids.

How to Train a Shiloh Shepherd

Shiloh Shepherd Puppy

The Shiloh Shepherd is intelligent and very trainable – coming from a heritage of working dogs, they have a great work ethic.

They are commonly used as guide dogs, herding dogs, service dogs and therapy dogs.

Give your pooch a treat when they follow your command or when they stop an unwanted behavior.

It was recently found that dogs learn faster when hand gestures are used, make sure you use both vocal and visual signals.

Socialization is vital for this breed. Their size can make this difficult so make sure you do this as early as possible. Introduce them to a wide range of people: children, men with hats and the mailman! Without proper socialization, your Shiloh Shepherd will be at risk of becoming easily anxious around new dogs, people and even inanimate objects.

Mental stimulation is vital for this breed as they can become very restless easily. They need attention and enrichment.

You could compete at obedience or agility competitions. Take them to places they have never been before, a lake or the woods, they will love the new smells.

Caring for a Shiloh Shepherd

A big friendly “bear” like this, should only be considered by people who are prepared for a giant dog breed.

This breed is suitable for anyone, families big or small, as long as they understand what the Shiloh needs. Rural areas are best for this dog – they will thrive in a big house with a big fenced yard. They can also become restless and frustrated if you keep them inside for too long.

Big dogs need a lot of exercise to keep them fit and healthy – otherwise obesity can become a problem.

Their big coats can become an issue if you have not maintained them regularly, a grooming routine is key.

Exercise Requirements

The Shiloh needs regular exercise each day, around 90-120 minutes of activity.

Their coats will make it difficult to exercise in hot weather, so it’s best to keep the activity to a minimum during the day and exercise them in the early mornings or late evenings.

Switch up where you walk them, as it can become boring for them (and you) to walk round the same field every day – take them to the woods or the local lake.

They love playtime, and you will enjoy it even more knowing that it can reduce their stress levels!

Play tug-of-war or chase with them, they will thank you for it.

Puppy Shiloh Shepherd

Grooming and Shedding

Their grooming routine depends on what type of coat your Shiloh has (smooth or plush).

A smooth coat only needs a small amount of grooming. To prevent matting and tangles, brush them once a week.

The plush coated Shiloh needs regular brushing, with more fluff than their smooth counterparts. Brushing may be needed twice a week, or more depending on tangles.

Either coat type will shed a lot and will have a blow-out season. This means daily brushing, a trusty vacuum cleaner and a sturdy dog brush! They don’t need baths, only bath them when they are particularly dirty or have an unruly doggy odor. Bathing will deplete the skins natural oils that keep their coats looking beautiful.

Feeding and Diet

This giant breed needs a giant diet – they need a lot of food to maintain their energy and strength.

Some breeders advocate a raw diet, as this is the most efficient way to give your pooch energy. Raw diets consist of raw meat, fresh fruit and vegetables.

You can also consider feeding them dry commercial kibble, as this is the most popular dog diet. Make sure to check the ingredients, look for a product that has protein as the first ingredient. Avoid foods with low carbs and grains as they are used to fill out the food and can be harmful for your pooch.

Fruits and veg are important for their diet – they provide vital vitamins and minerals missing from kibble. Be aware they can’t eat all fruit and veg, always check to see if it’s safe first.

When they are fully mature feed them twice a day, equal meals in the morning and evening.

A 100lb Shiloh will need around 4.5 cups of kibble a day.

Known Health Problems

The Shiloh Shepherd was selectively bred to become a giant breed, meaning the chance of hip dysplasia is higher than other dogs. This should be considered by potential owners, as it can cause lameness and extensive pain, requiring expensive surgery.

Around 17% of Shiloh Shepherds have hip dysplasia according to the Orthopedic Foundation of America.

Another common heath issue is bloat – this is when the stomach twists and air becomes trapped. This can be avoided by slowing your pooch down when they eat, do not exercise before and after their meal and do not feed them from an elevated bowl.

To keep them healthy, exercise them frequently, take them to the vet for regular checks and give them lots of love!

How Long Does a Shiloh Shepherd Live?

A healthy Shiloh Shepherd can live for 10-14 years.

Buying a Shiloh Shepherd

Make sure you do your research when adopting a Shiloh puppy. Ensure the breeder is registered with the International Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club or their approved registries.

Breeders who are trustworthy will be willing for you to visit them and meet mom and dad. Meeting the parents lets you see their temperament first-hand, giving you an idea of how the pups will act.

They should provide you with health certificates for the parents and vaccination records for the pups. One certificate that is vital is the Orthopedic Foundation of America certifying that their parents have normal hips and elbows.

Shiloh puppies are also tested for what kind of temperament they are, breeders should provide you with these results.

How Much Does a Shiloh Shepherd Cost?

A Shiloh Shepherd will cost around $1000.

Quick Breed Summary Table

Breed Characteristics
Size: 26 to 32 inches tall
Weight: 80-130lb
Lifespan: 10-14 Years
Coat: Smooth and tidy or plush and fluffy
Color: Black with shades of tan, golden tan, reddish tan, silver, beige and cream
Do They Shed: Yes, moderate to high amounts
Temperament: Stable, loyal, patient and affectionate
Intelligence: Very intelligent
Socialization: Potential to be aggressive towards dogs on home territory
Destructive Behavior: Prone to restlessness, will chew anything in sight if left alone too long
People Skills: Friendly towards strangers
Good with Children: Patient with children, will enjoy game time with kids
Activity Levels: Very active, needs at least 90 minutes of activity a day

Summary

This cheerful and fun breed is suited for anyone who is prepared to care for a giant breed.

They are a relatively new breed that has descended from German Shepherds.

Shilohs are big dogs that need a big home! They also need a lot of activity and grooming.

This is not a dog for a laid-back family. You will have to get your walking boots out and get off the sofa if you plan to adopt one.

Shiloh Shepherds have the potential to be your perfect companion who is confident, protective and loyal.

Do you have any questions about this giant breed? Let us know in the comments section below…

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