The Shiloh Shepherd is a loving and protective breed, created to be the perfect family dog. They are less intense than German Shepherds, with less of a high working drive; however, they need plenty of mental stimulation to be happy and feel safe.
Shiloh Shepherds were bred to bring all the pluses of a German Shepherd to the table, but avoid some of the health and temperament issues that plague the breed.
They’re energetic dogs that need an active lifestyle but are known as more docile members of the Shepherd family. For an extra-large breed, they are relatively long-lived and have cleaner genes than many of the current German Shepherd stock.
Shiloh Shepherd prices are pretty high next to the standard German Shepherd, but it will be well worth it for the right family. Here’s everything you need to know before bringing a Shiloh home.
A Brief History of The Shiloh Shepherd
Shiloh Shepherds often called ‘gentle giants’, have been around only since the 1970s, meaning it’s still rare to find.
There are fewer Shiloh Shepherd breeders than German Shepherd breeders, so be prepared to wait a while for your puppy and pay more than average. They’re also rare to find in rescues.
Tina Barber founded the breed in the 1970s. She noticed that the average American family struggled to accommodate the high working drive and intense nature of the typical German Shepherd, and wanted to create a similar breed that was easier to train and handle.
Her benchmarks were a calmer, larger, and easy-handling dog with a similar look. In particular, she also wanted to address some of the health issues prevalent in the German Shepherd, including those caused by the angular back of the breed.
To this end, she intermingled the German Shepherd with the Malamute, Altdeutscher Schaeferhunde, Sarplaninac, Canadian White Shepherd, and other breeds. The result is a Shepherd-family dog with a different temperament and appearance, and better genetic diversity. In particular, you will notice a strong and straight back.
As of 1991, the American Rare Breed Association recognizes the Shiloh Shepherd, but as is common with newer breeds, the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club have yet to give them official status.
Tina Barber’s hard work only produced the ‘perfect’ Shiloh Shepherd in 2007, so you know it’s a young breed.
What Are Shiloh Shepherds Like as Dogs?
Shiloh Shepherds are protective family guardians that’s loving and easy-going. They’re pretty easy to train and are always happy to tag along with what the family is doing.
While they are an extra-large breed, they have one of the most extended lifespans in this category, living about 10-14 years. They’re slow-maturing because of this and hit adolescents around one to two years.
They’re very unaware of their size, however, so not great for a home with lots of items on surfaces to be knocked down by an exuberant tail.
However, they’re not prone to ‘zoomies’ in the house, and will generally be a well-behaved life companion if given sufficient exercise and stimulation.
They are still large dogs and cannot be left unattended for hours, or mischief will ensue. They make great jogging partners, and will be active and engaged on a walk. They don’t bark much but may let out a woof or two when strangers arrive.
While you should always keep your dogs safe and secure, the Shiloh is not a born wanderer, and typically stays close to its owner.
Remember, though, that it’s always better to be safe than sorry and leash if there’s any doubt. Never take a Shiloh in a public space unleashed, although leashless hikes are on the cards.
True to their Shepherd heritage, they remain energetic but without the deep dependence on a job, activity, and play found in the German Shepherd. They’re likely to enjoy an afternoon snuggle and snooze and are generally docile and calm.
Unlike German Shepherds, Shiloh Shepherds attach to a family rather than a single person and are pretty good with kids.
You will need to supervise interactions, though, due to their size, and they are better for homes with older children. Their more docile nature makes them good with other pets, too. A fenced yard is a must with this breed, and they will not adapt to apartments.
As this is a very new breed, be aware that there will be throwbacks to the original gene stock in some litters, but with the right training and handling, this should be manageable.
They are the least protective of the Shepherd breeds while retaining love and loyalty to their family. They are sometimes mistaken for King Shepherd and the Caucasian Shepherd in looks.
A Shiloh Shepherd should be about 26-31 inches at the shoulder, and males typically weigh 80-130 pounds. Females clock in at 50 to 90 pounds. They also have a wolf-like appearance but retain a very German Shepherd-like vibe.
They have a long, plumed tail, dark and warm eyes, and large triangular ears. They respond well to positive reinforcement training, they are eager to please, and while not quite as intelligent as the German Shepherd, they’re still very intelligent.
How Much Does a Shiloh Shepherd Puppy Cost?
You will typically spend quite a long time on a waiting list for a Shiloh puppy. It’s normal for the breeder to ask many questions about your circumstances, so they know more about your living situation and motivations for owning the breed.
The International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance is pretty protective of its breed, so be understanding of the process.
A Shiloh Shepherd puppy can cost between $1,000 and $4,000, depending on quality and breed standards. In the U.S., wait times range from six months to a few years.
Why Are Shiloh Shepherd Puppies So Expensive?
Unlike the ‘standard’ German Shepherd, there simply aren’t a lot of Shiloh Shepherds around, and there’s a very fierce and involved community around the breed that love the dogs very much.
Most breeders will insist an unwanted dog is brought back to them rather than passed on or dropped at a shelter. This makes them ultra-rare to find in shelters. That said, there are some Shiloh-specific rescues out there.
So this already means you’ll have to look for a purebred Shiloh from a breeder. You can check out the International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance for breeders in your area.
There are currently 12 registered breeders in the U.S. and three in Canada. The International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance is responsible for enforcing breed standards, so it’s always good to go with a breeder they endorse.
A panel of ‘breed wardens’ examines every breed proposal, ensuring they pass official gene tests (including hip, join, and heart) and temperament checks before they are bred.
If you opt to go with a non-International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance breeder, you should ask for these tests and gene scans before you put your money on the table.
All dogs should have regular veterinary care, annual checkups, and shots. They should also be neutered or spayed. Veterinary insurance runs around $30 to $100 a month, or you will need to have money set aside to cover these costs.
Remember that the Shiloh Shepherd will also need training, starting with puppy socialization. This helps acclimatize them to strange situations and scary sounds, teaches them good manners, and creates a happy, balanced dog you can trust to navigate the world.
Overall, they are more healthy than their parent German Shepherd stock. As a new breed, however, some problems will still be carried forward from the base stock.
They have healthier hips than the German Shepherd, but you have to monitor them for hip issues, just in case. They are, after all, large dogs. Degenerative myelopathy, a spinal cord issue, is another thing to watch out for when it comes to Shilohs.
Moreover, with all big dogs, there is a risk of bloat. Bloat in dogs is a severe medical issue, known as gastric torsion.
The gut twists out of shape, which is fatal if not treated aggressively and early. You can reduce the risk of bloat occurring by never allowing exercise after eating, for at least a window of two hours.
Other than these issues, the Shiloh Shepherd is a hearty and healthy breed.
Diet and Food Costs
The Shiloh Shepherd eats surprisingly little for a large breed – about 3.5 cups of food a day. It’s always best to feed in two smaller meals, to reduce the chances of bloat.
As a big dog, you need to feed them high-quality food. Expect to spend around $60 or more a month on food, and opt for premium brands with a good fat and protein blend where possible.
You may want to look at large breed-specific food for this breed, to ensure healthier, happier joints throughout the dog’s life. It’s also good to feed appropriately for their foundation stages – puppy, adult, and senior.
The Shiloh Shepherd has a longer, rougher, shaggier coat than the standard German Shepherd, but you will find both long-coated and short-coated Shiloh Shepherds.
They have a near-drop coat, an expression of their Malamute genes, with a thick undercoat for warmth and protection. They should be bathed every two to three months to help loosen old coat hairs and keep them smelling fresh.
They shed the worst at the seasonal changes of winter and summer. A quick daily brush, eye and ear checks, and some teeth brushing is the grooming routine you need to establish with your Shilohs. You can do this at home, at no cost.
If, however, you prefer to have a professional handle it, it might cost about $60 to $70 a session, every few months.
The Shiloh Shepherd is a fascinating addition to the Shepherd family. Unlike dogs like the Lycan Shepherd, the creators of this breed were breeding less for looks than a specific temperament, size, and carriage.
This makes them an excellent, goofy, extra-large Shepherd breed without the intense nature and fierce working drive of the standard German Shepherd. They need around an hour of exercise daily but are not incredibly active.
Known as a docile gentle giant, they’re a great breed to own, but the newness of the breed and the rarity of breeding stock means there will be a hefty price tag for your Shiloh puppy.
You also need to prepare for socialization and training costs, and regular health checks with your vet.
If you are looking for a bigger, snugglier, and gentler-natured member of the Shepherd family, good with pets and older children, then the Shiloh Shepherd may be the perfect choice for your home.