- Breed group — Not recognized
- Height — 26-30 inches
- Weight — 80-130 pounds
- Coat length & texture — Thick, luxurious, smooth, soft
- Coat color — A breed standard Shiloh shepherd can come in gray, brown, silver, red, black, and pied. Puppies don’t show significant color differences from adult breed members.
- Exercise needs — High
- Intelligence — High
- Barking — When necessary
- Life span — 9-15 years
- Temperament — Independent, social, loyal, kind, playful
- Hypoallergenic — No
- Origin — United States
Shiloh shepherd fun facts
- They look like wolves (but they aren’t!) The breed’s unique coloration and larger appearance make them look a little wolf-y — but they don’t have any direct genetic ties to the animal.
- They took over 30 years to create. Tina Barber began to develop the breed in the 1970s. The breed was officially recognized as of 1990 by the American Rare Breed Association.
- The name could have Biblical ties. Many attribute the unique name of the Shiloh shepherd to a Biblical town — which aligns, as the creator was a new born-again Christian.
Shiloh shepherd temperament and characteristics
A Shiloh shepherd is a great addition to any family. They have the intelligence of German shepherds with the playfulness and kindness of companion, non-sporting breed. Their fierce loyalty and devotion make them exceptionally tolerant of all family members, no matter how young or furry they may be!
Despite this sweet disposition, Shilohs are incredibly defensive, especially when it comes to strangers or intruders in your home or space. Many liken them to German shepherds, without the severe territorial nature that some breed members can have. Socialization early on is an essential step in acclimating your pet to “regular” home members, helping them discern who is and isn’t meant to be there.
Shiloh shepherds are fairly large and do best in homes with ample space to run and play. They can also do well in apartment settings, as long as pet parents are able to give them plenty of outside playtime at dog parks or a local green belt.
Due to their high intelligence, these gentle giants might need a higher amount of attention than other dogs — which means that pawrents should prepare in advance and book at least an hour a day with their dogs after working hours. You can double down on this time together, incorporating play and training as you interact with your pet.
Common Shiloh shepherd health problems
Members of this rare breed are fairly healthy. In fact, that was a core focus of the breed founder, Tina Barber, as she was developing them! However, Shilohs can still be predisposed to certain genetic conditions. Here’s what you should keep an eye out for in your Shiloh shepherd.
- Hip dysplasia. While Tina Barber did try to breed this out of Shilohs, it can be a predisposed condition for many due to their size. This occurs when there is a misfit or instability between the dog’s femur (leg bone) and their hip bones, causing pain and inflammation.
- Bloat. Bloat can be common in large dogs, and can occur when their stomachs fill with air and gas. This can cause blood pooling in the hind area of the body and shock, making it a medical emergency.
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This overgrowth can affect your dog’s stomach, causing symptoms like diarrhea or excessive weight loss. Your vet may treat with antibiotics specific to your dog’s bacterial overgrowth.
- Perianal fistula. This can be common in German shepherds specifically and can lead to stinky anal ulcers around your dog’s anus. Your vet can prescribe immunosuppressives, antibiotics, and can offer other supportive methods to improve your pet’s quality of life.
Cost of caring for Shiloh shepherd
Shiloh shepherds are relatively healthy dogs, but medical emergencies can still happen (even on a once-in-a-lifetime basis). While care for these conditions can range from $1,000 to $5,000 in most cases, typically they aren’t chronic if pet parents plan ahead with regular vet visits for preventative care and monitoring.
If you’re looking to reduce health costs preventatively, you should consider pet health insurance. You’ll be able to pay a monthly for peace of mind and coverage in case of an emergency. If you’re looking for a more flexible option in addition to pet health insurance, consider a pet savings account — which you can fund as your budget allows. Either option is a great way to support your pet’s medical needs.
History of the Shiloh shepherd
The Shiloh shepherd dog breed has a lot of genetic diversity. Rather than go through a traditional breeding program, Tina Barber took it upon herself to create a large breed similar to a German shepherd dog (GSD) but that also had an element of her dog from her homeland in Germany.
As a result, she did not use a German shepherd breeder (though there are German shepherd parents in their direct lineage), instead opting to experiment herself with mating GSDs and other large breeds—making the Shiloh a true hybrid.
The Shiloh shepherd breed took over 30 years to develope, and has only recently been formally recognized by the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA). The large breed also is a member of the International Shiloh Shepherd Registry (ISSR) and is currently in consideration for institutional recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
These big dogs were officially recognized as a breed in the 1990s, making excellent daily companions. They are the best match for high-energy families or for those who are looking for a reliable, kind childhood pet. They perform well as therapy dogs and guide dogs due to their high intelligence, also serving roles in society as police dogs, companions, and rescue dogs.
Caring for your Shiloh shepherd
Bringing home a new Shiloh shepherd puppy can be both exciting and overwhelming. But don’t worry — we’ve put together a helpful list of can’t-miss to-do’s to help you give your dog the best experience yet.
Lastly, we recommend signing up for FidoAlert. The service provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case your Shiloh shepherd gets out. While they are excellent family companions, they are adventurers at heart — which means that keeping an eye on them is crucial.
Here are other basics specific to your Shiloh shepherd puppy (and other shepherd breeds!)
Shilohs are very athletic, and will appreciate every spare minute of exercise they can get. Their adventurous spirits mean that they’re always ready to go out and explore, whether you’re stopping by the local farmer’s market or taking them on a long hike.
You really can’t over-exercise these playful pups, so long as they have enough rest, hydration, and food to recuperate. We recommend at least one hour of physically and mentally active exercise per-day to satiate their high-energy needs.
Not sure where to start? No problem. You can keep it basic (like with a game of fetch), or go for a jog with them and the whole family in tow. You can also hike, ski, swim or romp just about anywhere. Your Shiloh will love it!
Just be careful if you’re exercising during the warmer summer months. While their plush double coat does shed easily, it is incredibly thick, which can lead to overheating.
Your Shiloh shepherd’s coat is thick, layered, and shed-prone — which means that proper care is key for maintenance and upkeep.
Making time for once-a-month baths (or the occasional “extra” bath if your Shiloh gets dirty) will help you keep that coat shining. Don’t bathe them too frequently, however, as this can cause drying of the skin.
The soap (no matter how gentle) can cause your dog’s fur to be stripped of natural oils, so if you see any signs of redness, drying, or irritation on your pup’s skin, consider slowing your bath schedule and connecting with the vet. Don’t forget to condition for an extra layer of protective care for your dog’s coat!
Nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing are all essential to maintaining your dog’s health and keeping preventable infections at bay, which gives them a better overall quality of life. These aren’t the easiest hygiene tasks to do, however. Many pet parents find success using positive reinforcement techniques, special toys, and treats in their dog’s after-care routine.
Diet and nutrition
Your Shiloh shepherd is a big dog, meaning that they might need a little more high-quality dog food than your average pet. Like most dogs, Shilohs do well with a diet rich in lean protein, healthy carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Your vet can be a great resource as you choose which dog food(s) or supplements to add to your dog’s routine.
On average, your Shiloh might eat about 3 to 4 cups of dog food daily, spread out between two meals. This amount can vary if your dog is a puppy, senior, or dealing with a medical condition. Getting guidance from your vet about how much to feed your dog is the best way to ensure that your Shiloh gets the nutrition they need to thrive.
Training your Shiloh shepherd
Shiloh shepherds are intelligent, trainable, and love a good challenge. Owners can leverage this for some seriously amazing training sessions, teaching their Shiloh tricks, social skills, and more.
If you’re working to train your Shiloh, we recommend a few tips to help you get the most out of each sesh:
- Keep it short. Although they have the endurance to train and “work” for longer, shorter sessions help you avoid burnout and distraction, keeping your Shiloh engaged. It’s more strategic in the long run.
- Keep it simple. Your Shiloh is very smart — but keeping sessions simple lets your dog master new skills more quickly than they would otherwise.
- Keep it fun. Due to their intelligence and affectionate nature, these dogs do great with positive reinforcement like treats, toys, attention, and lots of cuddles.
Breeds similar to the Shiloh shepherd
Not quite sure that a Shiloh is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- German shepherd. GSDs are in the direct lineage of Shiloh shepherds, making them the smaller, more defensive family members of Shilohs. If you’re looking for a reliable family guard dog, German shepherds are the right breed for you.
- Belgian shepherd. Known as Belgian tervurens, these dogs are slightly easier to raise than Shilohs — generally requiring less attention and exercise while being just as sweet-tempered.
- Great Pyrenees. Much like the Shiloh, Great Pyrenees are great with other pets, family members, and strangers — but, they are more stubborn, independent, and vocal. They don’t need as much exercise, however, and can be great for pet parents in smaller living spaces.
Frequently asked questions
Are Shiloh shepherds good family dogs?
They don’t call them gentle giants for nothing! Shilohs are incredibly family-friendly and live well alongside children or other fur-babies. This is especially true if they have been trained and socialized early on.
Are Shiloh shepherds easy to train?
Yes, Shilohs are easy to train due to their high intelligence and willingness to please.
Are Shiloh shepherds good for first-time owners?
Shilohs can be great for first-time owners, so long as the owners have time to cover their exercise and attention needs.
What is the most friendly Shepherd dog?
Shiloh shepherds are generally regarded as the nicest of the shepherd dog breed, as they are very affectionate, smart, and kind.
Does the American Kennel Club recognize Shiloh shepherds yet?
No, the AKC does not formally recognize Shiloh shepherds at the time of this publication. We hope to see this very soon, though!