The Shiloh Shepherd is a relatively rare breed, whose history only goes back a few decades. They descend from and are similar to German shepherds in many ways – but they also exhibit several key differences.
Many Shiloh Shepherd breeders and enthusiasts report that these dogs make much better family pets than their German counterparts, and Shiloh shepherds are often described as being easier for owners to handle.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the breed below so you can determine if one would fit in well with your family.
Height: 26 to 32 inches
Weight: 100 to 140 pounds
Lifespan: 10 to 14 years
Origin: New York
Alternative Names: Shiloh Shepherd dog, Shiloh dog, Shilohs
Energy Level: 7/10
Bonding Level: 9/10
Amount of Shedding: 10/10
Tendency to Bark or Howl: 7/10
History and Origin
The earliest origins of the Shiloh Shepherd date back to the 1970s. A dog trainer named Tina Baber with Shiloh shepherds (the kennel from which the breed derives their name) sought to create a breed that was similar to the German shepherd, but easier for families and children to handle.
Although German shepherds figure predominantly in their family tree, several other breeds – including malamutes and Canadian white shepherds, among others – were involved in creating the breed. The breed is not currently recognized by any of the major breed registries (such as the AKC, UKC or FCI), but they are recognized by some rare breed clubs.
In 1991, the International Shiloh Shepherd Registry (ISSR) began registering and tracking the breed.
Shiloh Shepherd Size
Shiloh shepherds are quite a bit larger than German shepherds, and they also have slightly different builds. Shilohs have a straighter back than their German counterparts do, and they also have larger, rounder heads and big, triangular ears. Many consider them more “wolf-like” than German shepherds.
Most Shiloh shepherds measure between 26 and 32 inches tall at the shoulder, and they weigh between 100 and 140 pounds. As with most other breeds, male Shilohs reach larger sizes than the females.
Shiloh Shepherd Temperament
Although individual members of any breed always exhibit small differences, the majority of Shiloh shepherds have a very gentle, loving temperament. They typically bond strongly with their owners, and they’re generally gentle with children. They’re also more accepting of other pets than some German shepherds are.
Shilohs are very intelligent, and they’re even easier to train than their German cousins are. They tend to be relatively calm, observant animals, and they aren’t prone to overreacting. Instead, they typically maintain a level-headed demeanor when confronted with unfamiliar stimuli.
Many Shiloh dog owners and breeders characterize these dogs as having a “softer” temperament than German shepherds, and they have a milder work-drive too. This makes them better suited for life as a family companion than many German shepherds who descend from working lines.
Common Health Issues of the Shiloh Shepherd Dog
Shiloh german shepherds are relatively healthy dogs, but they are susceptible to a few health problems, which you should familiarize yourself with. Many of the health problems that afflict the breed are (unsurprisingly) also some of the health problems that affect German shepherds.
For example, like German shepherds, Shiloh shepherds are susceptible to hip dysplasia. However, they appear to suffer from the problem much less frequently than their German counterparts do. In part, this is the result of the efforts of breeders, who intentionally sought to improve the hip anatomy of this breed. Nevertheless, you’ll need to be sure to avoid allowing your young pup to exercise too much while he’s young, as this may increase the chances of joint problems.
Shiloh shepherds also suffer from a variety of digestive difficulties, including small intestine bacterial overgrowth syndrome. Also, like most other deep-chested breeds, they’re susceptible to bloat. Accordingly, it is generally wise to feed Shiloh shepherds small meals, spread out over the course of the day.
How to Care for a Shiloh Shepherd
In most respects, you can care for a Shiloh Shepherd as you would any other large herding breed. They are typically quite easy to maintain, but we’ll discuss a few of the things you’ll want to think about below.
Food and Diet Requirements
No matter what breed of dog you select for your family, you’ll want to feed him a food that meets or exceeds the AAFCO nutritional guidelines for his life stage. Such foods aren’t hard to find – most premium dog food brands satisfy the AAFCO criteria.
However, it is also important that you select a food that is specifically designed for large breed dogs. Shiloh shepherds reach very large sizes, which means they have slightly different nutritional needs than smaller dogs do. Be sure to check out our review of the best dog food for german shepherds to see a few of the top options.
It’s also wise to select a food that is fortified with joint-supporting supplements, such as chondroitin, glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, it is also helpful to choose a recipe that is fortified with probiotic supplements, as these may help to prevent some of the digestive problems Shiloh shepherds often experience.
The Shiloh Shepherd has a relatively high energy level, but they’re often characterized as having a lower energy level than German shepherds. They’ll still require plenty of exercise to help them burn off some excess energy and ensure they maintain a healthy body weight.
Many Shiloh Shepherd dog owners manage to keep their dog sufficiently exercised via long walks, but some Shiloh shepherds may enjoy playing fetch or swimming. You can also provide your Shiloh Shepherd dog with exercise by engaging in obedience competitions or other competitive pursuits.
As with any other large breed, it is imperative that you provide your Shiloh Shepherd with basic obedience training. In fact, this will not only help to ensure your dog remains safe, but it’ll also help to keep your Shiloh’s brain busy, which is very important for such smart dogs. Those who’re allowed to become bored or frustrated will likely develop problematic behaviors.
You can begin housetraining your new Shiloh Shepherd puppy the day you bring him home. Like most other large breeds, Shilohs often learn proper elimination habits relatively quickly. Once your pet has reached about 8 weeks of age, you can start introducing him to basic dog commands.
You’ll also want to socialize your Shiloh Shepherd from a young age so that he learns that people and other animals needn’t frighten him. Start introducing him to as many people as possible as soon as you bring him home, but wait to introduce him to other animals until your vet gives you the green light to do so.
While most Shilohs are easy to train, it is important to solicit the services of a certified trainer if you run into any problems or challenges.
READ MORE: How to Train a German Shepherd Puppy
Shiloh shepherds are heavy shedders, so they aren’t ideal for allergy sufferers or those who simply don’t want a lot of hair on the floors and furniture in their home. Regular brushings will help to reduce the amount of hair a Shiloh Shepherd leaves in your home, and it is also important to do so to prevent their hair from matting.
You’ll also need to bathe your Shiloh Shepherd regularly, but you don’t want to do so too frequently. In most cases, three to four baths per year are perfect. Note that these dogs may take quite a while to dry, so be sure you don’t force your wet dog to stay in a cold area (or outdoors) until he’s completely dry.
READ MORE: 5 Best Dog Shampoos for Shedding
Shiloh Shepherd Breeders & Rescue Groups
Because they’re a fairly rare breed, you may have to hunt around quite a bit to find a Shiloh Shepherd puppy of your own. The best place to start your search is likely the International Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club (ISSDC) as they advertise puppies for sale on their website.
The ISSDC also manages a rescue and rehome program that you may want to check out.
Common Questions About Shiloh Shepherds
Most people thinking about getting a new dog have questions about their soon-to-be pet, and this is especially true of those who are interested in a relatively rare breed like the Shiloh Shepherd. We’ll try to answer a few of the most common questions people have about the breed below.
Are Shiloh shepherds recognized by the AKC?
No. Currently, Shiloh shepherds are not recognized by any of the major dog registries.
Are Shiloh shepherds protective?
While many Shiloh shepherd owners and breeders characterize them as calmer than German shepherds, Shiloh shepherds are still very protective of their pack and territory. Given their large size and long coats, Shiloh shepherds project a formidable appearance, which should deter most criminals with ease.
Are Shiloh shepherds aggressive?
Like all other breeds, Shiloh shepherds must be properly socialized and trained to ensure they do not represent a danger. Nevertheless, Shiloh shepherds are rarely aggressive – most are very gentle, laid back, and friendly dogs.
Do Shiloh shepherds have wolf ancestry?
Shiloh shepherds were created by breeding German shepherds with a few other breeds, including malamutes and Canadian white shepherds. However, modern wolves were not used to create the breed. Having said that, all modern dog breeds descend from the ancestors of modern wolves, if you trace their family tree back far enough.
Do Shiloh shepherds shed heavily?
Shiloh shepherds are very heavy shedders, just like their German shepherd cousins. You can mitigate this problem to some degree by brushing them several times a week, but this won’t completely eliminate the issue.
Are Shiloh shepherds good with children?
Although you should always supervise interactions between children and any large dog breed, Shiloh shepherds are usually very gentle with kids – particularly the kids in their “pack.” It is still important to teach your children the proper way to interact with a large breed dog and use care when introducing Shiloh shepherds to unfamiliar children.
READ MORE: Are German Shepherds Good with Kids?
Are Shiloh shepherds easy to train?
Shiloh shepherds are incredibly intelligent dogs, and they usually enjoy pleasing their owners. This typically means that they’re easy to train. In fact, many Shiloh shepherds excel at obedience competitions and other events.
Wrapping Up: Is the Shiloh Shepherd Right for Your Family?
Shiloh shepherds are amazing dogs, who make excellent pets for some families. They’re quite similar to German shepherds in many ways, as they’re intelligent, affectionate and protective of their pack, yet they also have a few important differences.
For example, Shiloh shepherds are usually a little more laid back than their German counterparts, and they have slightly lower energy levels too. They’re also quite a bit bigger than German shepherds, and they have a slightly different build too. These differences often make Shiloh shepherds a great option for families who simply want a pet.
So, if you would like a smart, gentle and easily trained pet, and you have the room to accommodate such a large breed, the Shiloh Shepherd may be a great choice for your family.
- International Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club
- International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance
- UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory: Genetic Diversity Testing for ISSA Shiloh Shepherds
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