Welcome to our complete guide to the Shiloh Shepherd.
Giving you all the information you need about this fascinating breed.
Do you want to know the difference between a Shiloh Shepherd and a German Shepherd?
Or are you looking to understand the ideal home, exercise routine and grooming requirements?
Maybe you just want to know where to buy registered Shiloh Shepherd puppies!
Whatever your questions are, we have got you covered.
What is a Shiloh Shepherd?
The Shiloh originates from the German Shepherd.
A woman by the name of Tina Barber started selectively breeding German Shepherds with the desire to emphasize the characteristics of a large dog that is intelligent and reliable.
Barber wanted to ensure these dogs had good health and perfect hips.
Hip dysplasia is a common medical condition in larger breed dogs, including Shepherds and one of Barber’s goals was to see if she could get rid of this issue for the breed.
By the 1980s, these dogs were noticeably bigger than the standard German Shepherd.
They also allegedly had a softer and more stable temper.
Soon after this, Barber, and other breeders working with her, crossed the Shiloh with two other cross-mixes to further develop the traits in the dog that she most desired.
The first mix was a malamute/white shepherd cross.
The second was a ‘Texas Woolie’ (the Wurttemberger line of German Shepherds).
After this, in 1990, Barber wrote a Breed Standard on the Shiloh, and the Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club of America, Inc was founded.
This is currently the only approved parent club for this breed, and they follow Barber’s Breed Standard.
An International Shiloh Shepherd Registry (ISSR) was established in 1991 in order to register and help regulate this new breed.
At present, the Shiloh German Shepherd has not been registered as a pure breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
This means that the breed is under consideration for achieving an AKC registration but there are still some hoops left to jump through.
So what do we currently know about this fairly new Shepherd?
And how do they compare to their ancestor, the GSD?
Shiloh Shepherd vs German Shepherd
Unlike the Shiloh, the German Shepherd (GSD) is a well established breed, registered by the AKC.
In fact, the German Shepherd is one of America’s most popular dog breeds.
This makes the GSD a well known and convenient comparison point for the Shiloh.
We will use this beloved breed to help compare and contrast in each section of this article, so that you have the full picture of what to expect if you are considering buying or raising a Shiloh Shepherd.
In general, the Shiloh is very similar to the GSD, as they share a lot of genetic history, but Shilohs are noticeably larger and tend to have a more even, milder temperament.
What Does a Shiloh Shepherd Look Like?
A Shiloh Shepherd looks very similar to a German Shepherd, except oversized.
Shiloh’s come with one of two coat types; either smooth or plush.
Smooth coated Shilohs have a thick, double undercoat and will be more suited to a colder climate.
They shed more, but are less likely to have matting, compared to the plush coats.
Plush coated Shilohs appear larger than their smooth counterparts, thanks to the thicker, fluffier coat.
These dogs can have the appearance of a lion’s mane around their neck, thanks to the plushness.
The plush coat is made up of very fine hairs, which can easily mat.
Due to this, they need more regularly grooming than the smooth coated variety.
Shilohs can come in a variety of colours.
The most common appearance is a two-tone similar to the German Shepherd, typically black with a tan, beige, cream or reddish color.
Although more rare, you can also find a solid white Shiloh shepherd or a full black Shiloh Shepherd (occasionally with a small white patch on the chest).
Shiloh Shepherd Size
Male Shilohs range in size from 28 to 32 inches tall.
They are at least 28 inches long and ideally weigh 140-160 lbs, at full maturity, which is considered to be three years old.
Females tend to be only slightly smaller at 26-29 inches tall and at least 26 inches long.
Their ideal weight is 100-120 lbs at adulthood.
Shiloh Shepherds should always appear longer than they are tall, and they are bred to have a straighter back than German Shepherds.
Shilohs have a bushy tail with a slight curve, which hangs down below their backline.
You won’t find a pure bred with a coiled or ringed tail, or one that rises up above their back.
Shiloh Shepherd Health
Larger breed dogs, including Shepherds, have a history of hip dysplasia.
One of Barber’s goals in creating the Shiloh breed was to try to breed out the genetic trait.
However, gene focused breeding, such as what Barber did, can reduce the likelihood of the condition, but it cannot eliminate it entirely.
A study published by the Institute of Canine Biology reports that only 15-40% of hip dysplasia cases can be linked to genetic traits.
A dog’s diet, weight and exercise can affect its likelihood of developing this unfortunate condition.
Symptoms tend to show up when a puppy is 4 to 6 months old.
Studies have shown that treatment done before 24 months (2 years) tends to be easier and more successful.
Therefore, it’s important to be aware of this potential health issue in order to keep an eye out and catch it early.
A significant factor in hip dysplasia is body weight.
A study conducted in 2006 with 48 Labrador Retrievers found that puppies with a restrictive diet not only had a lower percentage with hip dysplasia.
But the ones who ended up with the disease developed it later in life and their cases weren’t as severe.
Therefore, it’s important to ensure your dog is of a healthy weight.
When buying a Shiloh Shepherd puppy, ensure that both parents have good hip and elbow scores.
Another condition potential Shiloh owners should be aware of is compressive myelopathy. Compression of the spinal cord.
The gene for degenerative myelopathy has been found in Shiloh Shepherds in clinical trials.
This condition has been linked to a particular line of Shiloh Shepherds, so you need to make sure there is no family history of the condition in your chosen breeder’s dogs.
Exercising a Shiloh Shepherd
Shilohs have been affectionately referred to as slow and steady companions.
The Shiloh Shepherd breed has been designed for endurance, so they prefer consistent, prolonged exercise such as long walks and hikes.
Shilohs have been referred to as gentle giants.
They are not high-energy dogs and can happily be couch potatoes beside you, even in a small apartment, if they get a daily long walk or run.
Shepherds are intelligent dogs, and they require mental stimulation as well as exercise to keep them happy.
This can be achieved by obedience training, trick-training or giving them a ‘job’ to complete.
The breed standard speaks to the natural willingness of the breed to carry packs or pull sleds.
Shepherds were originally bred to be working dogs. (Shepherd means sheep + herdsman)
Whether a GSD or a Shiloh, Shepherds tend to do well working and have been employed as police dogs, search and rescue dogs and herders.
Their size, intelligence, endurance and willingness to work have made them ideal for this sort of role.
It is important to be aware that if your Shiloh is left without a regular job or mental exercise, he or she could become unhappy and start having behavioral issues.
However, due to the natural intelligence and willingness to work, Shiloh’s tend to be relatively easy to train.
They have the ability to pick up new skills and commands without excessive repetition.
Shiloh’s Don’t Have Tempers?
Shilohs are bred to exhibit a medium-soft to soft temperament.
Both temperament types are passive and friendly; they tend to be happy, stable, willing to work and eager to please.
Medium-soft temperaments love people and tend to be very open and welcoming unless sure there is a real threat.
However, they can be trained to attack on command (such as police dogs).
Soft dogs do not have that trait, and make ideal companions for children as they tend to exhibit lots of patience and love.
There is a possibility of a Shiloh having a medium-hard temperament, which means a much more protective outlook.
You won’t know how your puppy’s personality will develop, so a great program of socialization is essential.
Shiloh Shepherd Puppies
Now that you’ve determined this is the ideal dog for you, you can either look to adopt, through a Shiloh Shepherd Rescue, or you can contact Shiloh Shepherd Breeders in order to find a puppy.
Whether searching for Shiloh Shepherd puppies, or any other breed of puppy, please make sure you do your research.
Make sure that you are happy with the temperament of both parents, and that the breeder is happy to answer any questions you have.
You will need to ask for proof of good hip and elbow scores, and check that there is no family history of compressive myelopathy.
Shiloh Shepherd price varies between breeders, but the most important considerations should be parental temperaments and health tests.
Is A Shiloh Shepherd right for me?
Shiloh shepherds need regular exercise, mental stimulation and companionship.
They tend to be gentle, good natured and friendly, which means doing well in a house with other pets.
Although socialization and meeting the parents is still essential, due to their recent German Shepherd ancestry.
They are large to giant-sized; need regular (preferably long) walks and mental exercise.
You also face the risk of bringing home a soft tempered dog that is 120 pounds or more and wants nothing more than to sit in your lap.
If you are willing to open up your home to a gentle giant, who enjoys long walks on the beach (preferably in cooler seasons), stimulating conversation, and companionship, this might be the dog for you.
References and Further Reading
- Barber, T. Introduction to the Shiloh Shepherd, the Shiloh Shepherd Learning Center, 1998
- Barber, T. 1990. ISSR Breed Standard, the International Shiloh Shepherd Registry, Inc.
- Beuchat, C. 2015. The 10 most important things to know about canine hip dysplasia. The Institute of Canine Biology.
- Lewis et al. 2013. Comparative analyses of genetic trends and prospects for selection against hip and elbow dysplasia in 15 UK dog breeds, BMC Genetics.
- Smith et al. 2006. Lifelong diet restriction and radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis of the hip joint in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- McDonnell, et al. 2003. Thoracolumbar Spinal Cord Compression Due to Vertebral Process Degenerative Joint Disease in a Family of Shiloh Shepherd Dogs. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
- Zeng et al. 2014 Breed Distribution of SOD1 Alleles Previously Associated with Canine Degenerative Myelopathy. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.