The Huge Shiloh Shepherd Dog Was Bred To Be Big – But How Big?

Shiloh Shepherd Dog

The Shiloh Shepherd dog is VERY BIG and quite unique.

You’ve probably heard or read about the Shiloh Shepherd dog because of it’s size and weight. But there’s more to the breed than that! This dog has been developed relatively recently in the USA by crossing a German Shepherd with an Alaskan Malamute, and to a lesser extent with some other breeds. The intention was to correct some of the modern German Shepherd traits that have appeared over the years.

The aims of the breeding program were large size, a long back, sound temperament and a reduction in hip dysplasia issues that can plague modern German Shepherds. They are not intended to be used with livestock, but rather to be excellent companion dogs.

A Shiloh Shepherd dog standing outdoors on grass
Adult Shiloh Shepherd Dog

Shiloh Shepherd Dog – Temperament

This is a dog that was bred to be amiable, calm and social. For the most part, this has been  successful, but it’s important to remember that there are still variations between individual dogs. Also, the Shiloh Shepherd has the German Shepherd as it’s base stock, and retains the herding and guarding instinct.

This breed is intelligent, smart and quick to learn. This means that they must be introduced to basic training at an early age, and training should continue through to adulthood. They like having something to do, but are equally comfortable ambling around with their owner or other family members.

As a relatively recent breed, the temperament can vary quite a bit between dogs, with some being more confident than others, and some being more independent then others. It’s important to watch the puppies in the group when you go to buy a Shiloh, and see which ones are happy to explore, and come over to you on their own.

Also important is the type and degree of socialization that your puppy is exposed to. If you want your dog to be good with kids and other pets in the home, then you must gradually expose the puppy to these things, in a measured and controlled way.

Breed History

The history of the Shiloh Shepherd starts in the 1970s with dog trainer Tina Barber. According to the International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance, Tina was training German Shepherds for personal protection when she became aware of 2 problems.

First, she felt that many German Shepherds were too demanding to be managed safely by a child. Second, Tina also felt that the incidence of hip dysplasia was unacceptably high.

So she began a program to improve the situation, and is the breed founder of the Shiloh Shepherd. The breed was recognized as an American Rare breed in 1991, but is not listed by the American Kennel Club.

A Shiloh Shepherd dog at the beach, with a fence behind
Shiloh Shepherd dog

Ease of Training

This breed must be one of the easiest to train, due to their intelligence and close bond with the owner. But this means that you must take the time to train the dog properly, and go along to dog training classes or get one-on-one training.

It’s important that you remember not to reward or reinforce cute puppy behavior that would be inappropriate when the dog is an adult. For example, jumping up at your legs, or trying to crawl onto the sofa. The correct thing to do here is gently discourage the dog, and make it clear that the particular behavior is not acceptable.


The Shiloh Shepherd dog has one of 2 types of coat; the first is a “smooth” coat, which is shorter than the second type, which is a long, shaggy coat. The smooth coat tends to shed hair throughout the year, and then will “blow” it’s coat twice a year. At this time you definitely need a Furminator!

The longer coat tends to shed much less throughout the year, but will also “blow” it’s coat twice a year, and it’s more dramatic than the sooth coated dog.

They need to be brushed with a coarse brush for a few minutes each day to remove the worst of the hair,  and for a longer period once a week to remove deeper seated loose hairs.

We recommend a de-shedding tool such as the Furminator, available at Amazon.


This breed was intended to be calmer and more amiable than the German Shepherd. Because of this, the Shiloh is NOT a good choice as a guard dog. Although they retain the instinct to protect, this will be expressed by barking to warn their owner.

However, most would-be intruders will be deterred by the size and appearance of the Shiloh Shepherd. A dog this big with a bark to match can be an effective watchdog!  But if you want a dog for extra protection, look at another breed.

A Shiloh Shepherd dog puppy running on grass
A puppy Shiloh Shepherd dog

Shiloh Shepherd Dog – Health Considerations

One of the main aims of developing this breed was to reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia that plagues the German Shepherd. The breeding program has been successful in this respect, and the incidence of hip dysplasia is now quite low.

The same is true for elbow dysplasia and heart issues. The International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance has strict rules and recommendations for breeders, to ensure the continued health improvements.

Famous Shiloh Shepherd Dogs

I couldn’t find any! Please let me know if you are aware of one, and I’ll add it to this page. Thank you!

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