What is a King Shepherd?

King Shepherds (sometimes called “King German Shepherds”) are large, mixed-breed dogs. They originated in the 1990s and need proper socialization to thrive.

Apr 4, 2024By Thalia Oosthuizen
what is a king shepherd

Native to the United States, the King German Shepherd (or simply King Shepherd) is a giant dog crossbreed that comes from the mixing of European German Shepherds and the American Shiloh Shepherd.

Breeders were initially looking for a way to rectify physical deformities that were beginning to crop up in many German Shepherds (thanks to irresponsible breeding), and they managed to accidentally discover a star combination.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) might not recognize these dogs as an official breed, but they are nonetheless popular.

Characteristics of the King Shepherd

Large German Shepherd Lying on Grass
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As a crossbreed between the German and Shiloh Shepherd, the King Shepherd bears many similarities to its cousins, though it’s a much larger dog. These dogs measure anywhere between 27 and 31 inches in height for males and 25 and 27 for females. They generally weigh anywhere from 75 to 110 pounds, sporting darker, longer coats than their German Shepherd cousins.

Personality-wise, these dogs have the best of both worlds, remaining intelligent, friendly, loyal, and protective. They have a calmness to their temperament that makes them less aggressive than the German Shepherd, though just as dependable when it comes to police work and search-and-rescue missions. For many families, this makes for the ideal dog.

King Shepherds Need Plenty of Exercise

German Shepherd Standing in Yard on Leash
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King Shepherds are, by all means, not a low-maintenance dog. These bigger dogs need plenty of space to get all their energy out. It’s recommended that they receive at least one hour of strenuous exercise a day, only residing in homes that allow them to roam and explore.

As intelligent dogs, they’ll also need proper mental stimulation, so when exercising your dog, try playing games like fetch, hide-and-seek, and tug-of-war to keep your King Shepherd entertained. These dogs can get bored and antsy easily without the proper amount of physical or mental exercise. A bored dog may quickly engage in many common behavioral problems, like excessively barking, digging, or counter-surfing––and with a dog this size, those are activities you want to avoid.

Grooming Needs of the King Shepherd

King Shepherd Dog Walking in Snowy Forest
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Inheriting their fluffier, longer coats from their Shiloh cousins, King Shepherds have a thick, double coat that sheds quite heavily. You’ll need to invest in a dog vacuum to keep your home free of being covered in hair. You should also get into the habit of brushing your dog several times a day to reduce shedding. A slicker brush is a great idea to keep your dog free of excessive shedding and remain in tip-top shape.

If you’ve been diligently brushing, bathing your King Shepherd should not be an issue, and you can stick to the standard every three to four months. Overall, the King Shepherd’s coat is the real monster when it comes to grooming. Yet, if you can nail down a routine, you’ll ensure your dog remains looking (and feeling) their best.

Nutritional Needs of the King Shepherd

German Shepherd Sitting in Front of House
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As a bigger dog, King Shepherds need a high-quality diet with lots of protein. You can expect your dog to eat three to four cups of dry food a day. So, be sure to portion out their meals correctly. You don’t want to risk doggy obesity, which can slow down your dog and take years off their life.

If you want to cook for your dog, this could be an activity that both you and your pal find enjoyable. You can mix in shredded chicken breast into their dry food, or top off their kibble with a bit of canned pumpkin. As a treat, you can also freeze beef broth and give them the cubes to suck on. Just be sure to get the low-sodium broth!

Common Health Issues with the King Shepherd

Large Shepherd Dog Lying on Floor Beside Chair
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While they are a generally healthier dog breed, King Shepherds face some health issues that they share with other, similar breeds. Their larger size makes them more prone to joint malformation, particularly in the elbows and hips, as they grow older. This can cause instability, weakness, and pain.

King Shepherds are also at risk of bloat—a potentially fatal condition caused by too much gas in the stomach. Yet, knowing the signs of this condition (along with how to prevent bloat), can keep your dog healthy.

Shepherds in general are also vulnerable to specific skin and eye issues, so be sure to take them for checkups often. As with many larger dog breeds, King Shepherds can live anywhere from 10 to 11 years. Yet, prioritizing their physical health can help them grow into content senior dogs.

How to Find Trusted King Shepherd Breeders

German Shepherd Playing With Snow
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As a relatively newer dog breed, you’ll likely need to find a breeder if you want a King Shepherd. Research is essential in this regard, and you can likely begin your search through the King Shepherd Club of America (KSCOA) or the American King Shepherd Club International. These are two prominent platforms that breeders often work through.

As a buyer looking for a responsible breeder, make sure the breeder provides the litter’s medical history, as well as the medical history of the parents. You should also be able to meet the parents of the litter yourself. This not only instills trust in the breeder, but it also helps you identify red flags that could point to unethical breeding practices.

Conclusion: Are King Shepherds for You?

Large Black and Brown King German Shepherd
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While these dogs may have the best traits of their cousins, their high-energy and high-maintenance nature isn’t for everyone. You’ll need a schedule conducive to frequent outings, as well as the finances to afford routine vet visits––not to mention space for them to thrive in your home. If you check all those boxes, these are among the most prized and loyal companions one could ask for.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading