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The King Shepherd is not yet a recognized purebred being a developing breed using the Shiloh Shepherd and German Shepherd Dog but it does have a following and the intention is to achieve purebred status at some stage. It is being developed to be a great companion, confident and balanced, smart, eager to please and faithful. It can be trained to be a sheepherder and working dog too and can act as a watchdog and guard dog. It is a large to giant sized dog with a life span of 10 to 13 years.
|The King Shepherd at a Glance|
|Average size||Large to giant|
|Average weight||90 to 150 pounds|
|Average height||27 to 30 inches|
|Life span||10 to 13 years|
|Coat type||Long or plush haired|
|Color||Sable, black saddle, tan, gold, cream, silver|
|Popularity||Not recognized by the AKC|
|Intelligence||Very good to excellent|
|Tolerance to heat||Moderate – take care of it in the warmer weather|
|Tolerance to cold||Good to very good|
|Shedding||Above average – expect hair around the home|
|Obesity||Average – weigh its food and tracks its exercise|
|Grooming/brushing||Average to high – brush at least twice a week, possibly more|
|Barking||Occasional – some barking but should not be constant|
|Exercise needs||Active – needs active owners|
|Trainability||Moderate – experienced owners will have it easier|
|Friendliness||Very good with socialization|
|Good first dog||Low to moderate – should be with experienced owners|
|Good family pet||Very good with socialization|
|Good with children||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other pets||Very good with socialization|
|Good with strangers||Moderate – socialization is needed as wariness can turn to something more aggressive|
|Good apartment dog||Low – needs space and a yard|
|Handles alone time well||Low to moderate – does not like being left alone for long periods|
|Health issues||Fairly healthy but a few issues can include Bloat, Von Willebrand’s disease, hypothyroidism, joint dysplasia and eye issues|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$260 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$675 a year for license, grooming, basic training, miscellaneous items and toys|
|Average annual expenses||$1420 as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$2,000|
|Rescue organizations||Not breed specific but check local shelters and rescues, and the original breeders may take back unwanted dogs|
|Biting Statistics||None reported to this breed|
The King Shepherd’s Beginnings
The King Shepherd’s development started in the early 1990s on the east coast of the USA by two breeders Shelly Watts-Cross and David Turkheimer. They used mostly the German Shepherd Dog and Shiloh Shepherd but other breeds have included Alaskan Malamutes and the Great Pyrenees. The goal they had was to develop a breed that was large, protective, and able to be both a hard working dog as well as great companion. The breeders are fans of the German Shepherd Dogs but wanted a dog that dog not have the health problems that breed now faces as well as temperamental problems.
In 1995 the first organized dog breed club for the breed was formed. It is important to note that responsible members breeding this new dog are focusing on using healthy dogs of high quality that have passed all the test a good breed should have passed. The gene pool this way is being expanded in this careful breeding program.
New Lease on Life
The King Shepherd today is mostly seen as a hybrid but it is working towards becoming a thoughtfully developed purebred. As such it is not yet recognized by the AKC or any other major kennel club but has been recognized by smaller places like the ARBA, AKSC, APRI, SKC, ERBDC and the WWKC. As well as being kept as a companion it can also be used in various working roles such as search and rescue, guide dogs and police dogs.
The Dog You See Today
The King Shepherd is a large to giant dog weighing 90 to 150 pounds and standing 27 to 30 inches tall. It has a robust and muscular build with a solid frame. It is longer than it is tall giving it a rectangular shape with a deep and broad chest. The tail is long and curved and has a lot of feathering. Tails should not be docked and is lifted when it is alert or moving. It has rounded paws with hard pads and strong short nails. Its dewclaws are most often removed. Its coat can be two types, coarse, straight and long or plush, wavy and light. It is weather resistant and comes in a range of colors common ones being tan, silver, browns, sable, gold, cream and a possible black saddle. Some can have a very small amount of white spotting on the chest.
Its head is well proportioned with a forehead that is slightly rounded and a longish muzzle. The eyes are set moderately wide apart and are almond shaped and medium in size. Colors can range from almost black to golden and different shades of brown. Its thick ears are medium sized with a wider base and then going up to a pointed tip. They are set high on the head and are erect but as puppies some do not carry their ears erect until they are a bit older.
The Inner King Shepherd
The KS is a confident, intelligent and eager to please dog with a lot of courage and strength. It should a balanced dog that is never shy or overly wary. Socialization is therefore important with strangers especially as it is very wary of them which could turn to aggression without some help. It has strong protective instincts and makes an alert watchdog and brave guard dog. It will bark to let you know of an intruder and it will do what it think has to be done to defend you, its home and the rest of the family.
These dogs are faithful and friendly in general. It is a loving companion and makes a great family dog. It is also hard working and its barking tends to be occasional, it does bark sometimes but it should not be frequent. It is not the best dog for new owners as experience will help, but if you can be firm and confident and you do your homework it could be fine. While it might be fearless and bold towards potential aggressors it should be gentle, kind and sometimes playful in the home. It does not like being left alone for long periods though and can act out and become destructive when it is.
Living with a King Shepherd
What will training look like?
The King Shepherd seems to vary in how hard it is to train, some say it is easy if you have experience and some say it is more moderate in difficulty. Just make sure you are patient but firm and confident. Be positive in your approach, offer it motivation, praise, rewards and encouragement and stay consistent. For some people you may need more perseverance than others but it needs to know you are the pack leader and that the lines you draw are not to be pushed or crossed. Early socialization is another thing that is very important with this dog. It needs to learn appropriate reactions to various people, places, sounds, situations, animals and so on.
How active is the King Shepherd?
These dogs are energetic and active and need active owners to keep it happy and healthy. It is an intelligent dog too so mental stimulation is needed as well. Without both of these things the dog can start to act out, become aggressive, destructive and hard to live with. It has a good amount of stamina and needs a good amount of exercise that pushes it. It is not an apartment dog, it needs space and a yard. It can be taken to a dog park for safe off leash run time and this is also where it can socialize and have some play time with you. It should also be given two long and brisk walks and can join you for a jog, hike and such.
Caring for the King Shepherd
King Shepherds have two coat types and both do shed a fair amount so there will be extra effort needed in terms of brushing which should be done at least every other day, and then cleaning the home as it will have more pet hair around it. If you are someone that does not want hairs on clothing, furniture, carpeting and so on this is not the dog for you. Daily brushing is best during seasonal shedding time. Avoid giving it a proper bath too frequently as it strips its coat of the natural oils that are needed. This is also why it is recommended that only a dog shampoo is used.
Its nails should be trimmed when they become too long – it should not be clicking on your hard floors! Be careful though that you do not hurt it or cause bleeding to happen which happens if you go too far down the nail. Use proper clippers or scissors for dogs, you can get them from pet stores and some vets sell them too. If you are unsure about this part of grooming have the vet or professional groomer do it for you or show you how. Make sure you have a look at the ears weekly to check for infection. Signs include more wax, rubbing at them, swelling or redness or a bad odor. Use a dog ear cleanser to wipe them clean and avoid pushing anything into them. Their teeth should be brushed two to three times a week, or can be looked after with dental chews and toys. If you brush use a proper dog toothpaste and toothbrush.
When feeding the King Shepherd a dry dog food, use a good quality one and split the amount into two meals to avoid bloat. The amount can be between 4 to 7 cups as it depends on things like how active it is, its health, age, size and metabolism. Make sure it has water at all times.
How is the King Shepherd with children and other animals?
A King Shepherd was bred to be a great family dog. With good socialization it is very good with children and when raised with them they can become inseparable. It is usually gentle and steady and will play with them, protect them and be affectionate towards them. It is still a good idea to supervise young children as sometimes the dog can accidentally bump them over. With good socialization it is good with other pets and can be good with other dogs.
What Might Go Wrong?
The King Shepherd has a life span of 10 to 13 years and is fairly healthy but a few issues include joint dysplasia, cancer, hypothyroidism, pano, Von Willebrands disease, bloat, stomach issues, allergies and eye problems.
When looking at reports from the US and Canada of people being attacked by dogs over the last 35 years the King Shepherd is not directly mentioned. There are though reports of the German Shepherd Dog and other German Shepherd mixes. This is a protective dog and it is very wary of strangers. If there is a threat it will respond with aggression. It is really important this dog gets good basic obedience training and good socialization from an early age. No dog is 100% safe at all times. Just make sure this is the right type of dog for you, that you can keep up with it in terms of activity and mental stimulation and that you can give it the attention it needs.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
The price of a King Shepherd puppy is about $2000 but it is not a settled breed and there are not a lot of breeders so this makes pricing different to other breeds. It also means finding a decent breeder is more important. Avoid puppy mills and backyard breeders and even pet stores. There are not any rescues or shelters specific to this dog but it is always a great idea to look to local shelters and rescues especially if you open to a mixed dog. You can adopt a new dog for $50 to $400 and have a loving companion that will always be grateful you gave it another chance at a forever home.
When you have your King Shepherd puppy home it will need some items and some medical work done and these will cost a certain amount. At the vet blood tests, deworming, a physical exam, neutering or spaying and shots for example will cost roughly $290. Those needed items in its new home like a leash and collar, bedding, bowls, carrier, and a crate will cost about another $200.
Next there are the yearly costs to be ready for. Recurring medical basics like vaccinations, tick and flea prevention, check ups by a vet and heartworm prevention plus its pet insurance comes to $485 a year. Another annual cost is feeding it a good quality dry food and treats for $260. Then miscellaneous costs like basic training, licensing, grooming, toys and miscellaneous items will cost $675 a year. This totals to an estimated annual cost of about $1420.
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The King Shepherd is a larger version of the German Shepherd but it less active and demanding. It is an excellent and faithful family dog but it needs active owners still and ideally ones with experience. It also needs owners who can deal with a dog that leaves a lot of fur around. With socialization it is good with children and can live with other pets. It makes a great watchdog and guard dog but its size means it is not suited to living in apartments or small homes.
Featured Image Credit: Vach cameraman, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The King Shepherd’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner King Shepherd
- Living with a King Shepherd
- Caring for the King Shepherd
- How is the King Shepherd with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag