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Shiloh Shepherd

Nicole Cosgrove

Shiloh Shepherd outside

The Shiloh Shepherd is a large to giant modern breed from the US developed to create a dog similar to the German Shepherd but larger and yet calmer and more gentle. It is an intelligent and stable dog that comes in two coat types, short smooth haired and long plush haired. It does well in several competition events such as herding, obedience and agility and can also be a good companion, therapy dog, search and rescue dog and service dog. It has a life span of 9 to 14 years.

The Shiloh Shepherd at a Glance
Name Shiloh Shepherd
Other names None
Nicknames Shiloh, SS
Origin USA
Average size Large to giant
Average weight 100 to 140 pounds
Average height 26 to 30 inches
Life span 9 to 14 years
Coat type Long and short haired types
Hypoallergenic No
Color Most colors, includes golden, tan, black, red, silver, grey, brown
Popularity Not recognized by the AKC
Intelligence Very intelligent
Tolerance to heat Very good
Tolerance to cold Very good to excellent
Shedding High – sheds a heavy amount all year, short haired types shed more than the long haired types, the shedding is one of the top reasons for dogs being brought into shelters
Drooling Moderate
Obesity Average – measure food and make sure it’s exercised
Grooming/brushing High – needs daily brushing
Barking Occasional
Exercise needs Quite active
Trainability Easy to train
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Good but experience helps
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Good with socialization
Good with other pets Very good with socialization
Good with strangers Good but wary need socialization
Good apartment dog Moderate – best in homes with space and a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like to be left alone for long periods
Health issues Not very healthy, prone to a lot of potential health issues including joint dysplasia, bloat, pano and stomach disorders
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $350 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $670 a year for toys, basic training, grooming, miscellaneous items and license
Average annual expenses $1505 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,000
Rescue organizations Shiloh Shepherd Rescue and Rehome, ISSDC, check local rescues and shelters
Biting Statistics None reported under Shiloh Shepherd but under German Shepherd Mix there were – Attacks that did bodily harm: 45 Maimings: 30 Child Victims: 28 Deaths: 7

The Shiloh Shepherd’s Beginnings

The Shiloh Shepherd was developed quite recently in the late 1960s and early 1970s in New York in the US by a breeder called Tina Barber. Barber spent her younger years in Germany where the German Shepherd comes from and loved them for their intelligence and hard working and loyal nature. She wanted to develop a similar breed but one that was larger, steady and more gentle and calm, going back to older styles. There is limited knowledge about what dogs were used in the Shiloh Shepherd’s development, German Shepherds obviously but then also possibly Alaskan Malamutes and Old German Shepherd dogs.

The result was a dog that makes a great family companion named after Barber’s kennels. In 1990 though she actually withdrew her dog from its foundation stock status with the AKC and then registered with the FIC (not to be confused with the FCI). The SSDCA (Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club of America) was formed not long after that with the aim to protect the breed. The International Shiloh Shepherd Registry was formed in the early 1990s also though there are now several registries for this dog, which has led to some issues none of which are doing the dog much favor.

New Lease on Life

In 1993 the TCCP started keeping breeding records and the ISSR used it with Tina Barber being active as the president of the SSDCA. When Barber died her daughter took over in 2011. However there was a time when the breed club became inactive so another one started, the ISSDC ( International Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club). Its registry opened shortly after, the SSBA (Shiloh Shepherd Breed Association). A couple of other registries popped up since then and with several clubs and registries going it has caused division amongst the members on what is important about the breed. It is not one that is recognized by any major kennel clubs.

Shiloh Shepherd

The Dog You See Today

The Shiloh Shepherd is a large to giant breed weighing 100 to 140 pounds and standing 26 to 30 inches tall. It is a strong and regal dog, looks quite like a German Shepherd but it is larger and its back is straighter. It is longer than it is tall with a strong broad back but while it is muscular and powerful it should still be well balanced. The chest is deep and full and the tail is long, slightly curved and plush.

It comes in two coat types, smooth or plush. The smooth coat is shorter being medium length and is a dense and coarse outer coat. The plush coat is longer with a soft under coat, a mane around the neck and feathering on the legs, ears and tail. Colors can be tan, black, golden, red, silver, brown, black and a small amount of white. It has a slightly domed head that is broad with a muzzle that tapers gradually and black lips that are fitted firmly. The ears are triangular shaped and held erect when it is alert.

The Inner Shiloh Shepherd


The Shiloh is a great companion and can be a hardworking dog if kept as such. It is loyal, steady, calm and gentle when raised well and socialized. It is usually a friendly dog, it enjoys company but is wary at first with strangers so make sure it gets proper introductions. It is not as territorial or as energetic as other types of shepherds but it will let you know if there is an intruder or stranger entering the home by barking. The barking should be occasional not frequent. This is not a breed that should be overly aggressive or shy, that is a sign of poor breeding or inadequate training and socialization.

It can do well in various areas of work like the German Shepherd but not so much the protection side of things. It needs to be a part of family activities and is an affectionate breed. It is best with owners with experience and are confident in how they handle the dog. It is a confident breed and does not do well with meek owners.

Living with a Shiloh Shepherd

What will training look like?

This dog is intelligent and with a firm and consistent owner who is experienced the training should be easy. Very good socialization is important from an early age too so that it learns to recognize normal behavior from irregular and to prevent suspicion with strangers or being too timid. Training should be done in a positive manner, reward it, praise it, encourage it, avoid punishing or scolding. Be confident and patient making it clear you are its leader.

How active is the Shiloh Shepherd?

The Shiloh Shepherd is not as active as the German Shepherd but it does need a certain level of exercise and mental stimulation to keep it happy and healthy. Active owners who are happy with this are best with this dog. Expect to give it a couple of brisk moderate length walks each day, play time with you each day, and then some safe off leash time a few times a week, a dog park for example. This would also be an opportunity for it to play with other dogs but make sure your dog is well socialized and trained first. Rather than being really energetic this dog has a lot of stamina. It does best in homes with space and a yard rather than an apartment. If it does not get out enough it can become bored and that can lead to it acting out in various ways.

Caring for the Shiloh Shepherd

Grooming needs

Shiloh Shepherds have two coat types which can affect how much grooming and shedding there is but in general they are constant to heavy shedders and it is important you are prepared for that as the most common reason for them being brought into shelters is owner cannot handle the fur everywhere. The shorter coat sheds more as the longer coat traps some of the hairs, but the longer then needs brushing more. It is a good idea to brush at least every other day, but daily is best especially during seasonal shedding time. Avoid giving it wet baths too frequently as it has oils that are needed and bathing strips them. That is why it is recommended that only a dog shampoo is used when it is really in need of one.

Nails will need to be trimmed when needed taking care not to hurt it or make it bleed from cutting too far down. Make sure the ears are checked once a week for infection. Signs include things like more wax than normal, it rubbing at them, a bad odor and redness. Use a dog ear cleanser to wipe them down weekly too, taking care not to push into the ears at all. Their teeth can be looked after with dental chew toys but you should also try to brush them at least a couple of times a week with a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste.

Feeding Time

When feeding the Shiloh it is recommended if you are using a dry dog food to use a good quality one and split the food into two meals at least to avoid bloat. The amount can vary by how active it is, its health, age, size and metabolism. It is likely to range between 5½ to 7 cups. Make sure it has access fresh water at all times.

Shiloh Shepherd

How is the Shiloh Shepherd with children and other animals?

A Shiloh Shepherd was bred to be a good companion and family dog. With good socialization it is very good with children and they can become best friends. It should be gentle and steady and not a lot should phase it. It may be a good idea to still supervise young children just because its size means it can sometimes accidentally bump a toddler over. It is also quite good with socialization with other pets in the home and can be good with other dogs though may have some dominance issues with ones it does not know that are the same sex.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Shiloh Shepherd has a life span of 9 to 14 years but does face the same large number of potential health problems that German Shepherds face including joint dysplasia, cancer, pano, bloat, stomach issues, allergies and skin problems, eye problems and heart problems.

Biting Statistics

When reviewing reports of people being attacked by dogs over the last 35 years the Shiloh Shepherd is not specifically mentioned but there is a record of dogs identified as German Shepherd Mixes. These have 45 attacks over the 35 years making an average of 1 to 2 attacks a year. Of those victims 28 were children and 30 were classed as maimings meaning there was permanent loss of limb, disfigurement or scarring. There were also 7 deaths. It is not an aggressive dog but situations can occur and any dog can have a bad day. Make sure you socialize, train, exercise and stimulate the dog and give it the attention and companionship it needs. This will not eliminate the chances of an attack but it can reduce them.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The price of pet ownership goes beyond just the price of buying it, there are other costs involved too. However when looking at puppy prices from a pet quality breeder with a fair reputation you expect it to cost around $1000. That then can even triple in price from some breeders. Avoid backyard breeders who tend to have no real skill or experience, and especially stay away from pet stores and puppy mills. You can adopt a dog for as little as $50 up to maybe $400 but it is likely to be a mixed dog of some kind where you may not know its background.

When you have your SS home it will need some medical work done that will have some initial costs to cover. Blood tests, deworming, a physical exam, neutering or spaying for example will cost about $290. There are then items it will need when its with you in its new home like bedding, bowls, carrier, a crate and collar and leash. These will cost about another $200.

Yearly costs for recurring medical basics like vaccinations, flea prevention, check ups by a vet and heartworm prevention and then pet insurance come to $485. Other annual costs for feeding it a good quality dry food and treats come to $350. Basic training and socialization, license, grooming, toys and miscellaneous items will cost at least $670 a year. This means an estimated annual cost of about $1505.


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The Shiloh Shepherd is larger but actually less intense and calmer than a German Shepherd and that makes it easier to handle and a better family dog. It does still need a good a mount of exercise and stimulation so active and experienced owners are best. It needs space to live in and socialization is really important to stop it being too shy and skittish. Perhaps the key thing to be prepared for though is the amount of shedding there will be. Your home and your clothes and your counters will have hair on them, cleaning it up will be a daily, or several times a day job and the the SS itself will need regular brushing to keep on top of it.

Featured Image Credit: Maggie Shore, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

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.