The Ultimate Guide to the King Shepherd

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The King Shepherd is the true embodiment of “man’s best friend,” being a loyal, loving, and family-friendly crossbreed.

This dog is a recently developed mix of the German Shepherd (GSD), the Shiloh Shepherd, and the Alaskan Malamute.

Ready to get to know the King Shepherd up close? Then stick around a bit to find out more!

The King Shepherd’s origin

King Shepherd sitting on a white sofa
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Also known as a Giant German Shepherd, the King Shepherd is an oversized version of the GSD.

This extraordinarily large German Shepherd was developed in the USA during the early 1990s by breeders David Turkheimer and Shelly Watts-Cross.

The goal of these breeders was to produce a large, protective dog that can serve as a trusted companion and a working dog.

This Giant Shepherd is all that, without the health problems and temperament issues of the German Shepherd.

As we mentioned before, this crossbreed is a combination of American and European GSDs, the Shiloh Shepherd, and the Alaskan Malamute, as well as the Great Pyrenees.

In 1995, an official King Shepherd breed club was formed. Like most crossbreeds, though, this dog has not been officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The following registries and organizations have given it due recognition:

  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • ARBA = American Rare Breed Association
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • WWKC = World Wide Kennel Club

Meet the family of herding dogs

The King Shepherd can be classified under a type of dog known as herding and droving dogs.

Through selective breeding and training, these canines are able to retain their hunting skills without seeing cattle and sheep as prey.

Aside from the GSD, these dogs include the:

What does a King Shepherd look like?

A King Shepherd is a large to giant-sized canine that has a muscular and solid build. They look much longer than they are tall.

Most of these Shepherd dogs have a large, square head and a dome-shaped forehead, along with medium-sized pointy ears that stand erect on its head.

These canines’ large, almond-shaped eyes can either be brown or golden brown.

King Shepherd lying on the grass behind balloon numbers
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They have a broad chest and a slightly straighter back than the German Shepherd. They also have long, bushy tails that are curled upwards.

The King Shepherd’s beautiful, thick coat is either long, coarse, and straight or plush, light and wavy. This coat is both weather and water-repellent.

Giant Shepherds also come in a variety of colors, from tan, brown, silver, sable to cream, gold, and black saddle. Their undercoats are usually lighter-colored than their topcoats.

How big does a King Shepherd get?

The height of the male King German Shepherd is around 26 to 29 inches (66 to 74 cm) on average, while the female is from 25 to 27 inches (64 to 69 cm) tall.

Male King Size Shepherds can grow to be quite heavy, reaching a weight of 90 to 150 lbs (41 to 68 kg), while their female counterparts are lighter at 75 to 110 lbs (34 to 50 kg).

This is a video of Bear, from the age of 8 weeks to 4 years old. Brace yourself if you plan on getting one. They don’t stay small for long.

What is the King Shepherd’s temperament?

The King Size Shepherd is an impressive canine with an easygoing, gentle nature. He may look aggressive or intimidating, but he is known for being affectionate with its family members.

They also have natural protective instincts and unwavering loyalty towards their human pack, making the Giant Shepherd one of the best family dogs.

These Shepherds may be wary when it comes to strangers, but they are not aggressive. They’re friendly towards most people, especially children, and even other pets.

They’re patient with young children. These canines’ sturdy bodies and energy levels make them some of the best four-legged playmates to older kids.

These Shepherd dogs are even great additions to families with pets in the household, as they can live peacefully with other animals.

Because of their even temperament and intelligence, some of these canines also do well as therapy dogs and police dogs.

Keep in mind, though, that King Size Shepherds may exhibit typical herding behavior, so you may have to spend some time training them out of behaviors such as nipping.

Does the Giant German Shepherd bark frequently?

King Shepherd standing on a deck with its tongue out
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The King Shepherd is a confident, assertive crossbreed.

As we’ve said before, this dog has strong protective instincts, so he will bark to alert you of the presence of intruders or strangers.

As an occasional barker, the Giant Shepherd an excellent watchdog and guard dog.

He isn’t yappy or excessively noisy like other crossbreeds, so you don’t have to worry about disturbing your neighbors.

What you do have to watch out for, though, is howling. This is usually a dog’s way of communicating vocally.

These canines howl to make contact, attract attention, and even announce their presence.

The King Shepherd also howls or whimpers when he is sick or hurt or in reaction to high-pitched sounds, such as an ambulance or fire truck siren. He may even try to sing along to music.

How much activity and exercise does a King Shepherd need?

With its high energy levels, a King Shepherd needs plenty of physical activity. They usually require up to 60 minutes of exercise and training daily.

You can take your dog jogging and cycling or go on long-distance walks to burn all of his energy and keep him fit and healthy. On average, he can walk around 14 miles a week or 2 miles per day.

These dogs need regular exercise to keep them from becoming restless and resorting to destructive and unruly activities.

Because of their high stamina and energy levels, Giant Shepherds are not a good fit for apartment living. These large dogs are more suited for homes with a large yard where they can run about freely.

King Shepherd standing in a body of water
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How to train a King Shepherd puppy

The Giant German Shepherd is intelligent and eager to please, which makes training quite easy.

Because of their trainability, they can even be taught to work on the farm for herding tasks and as an efficient guard dog.

However, you must know the basics of training a big dog so that you can adequately address his activity levels and his overprotective tendencies.

Always use positive reinforcement. Motivate your dog with rewards and praises while remaining consistent.

Your King Shepherd must know that you are the alpha, the pack leader and that your commands should always be followed. As pack animals, these puppies respond well to having a gentle alpha who does not hesitate when it comes to discipline.

It is also essential to have your dog socialized at an early age. This way, he will learn the appropriate behavior in new situations.

With proper socialization, your puppy learns to recognize the difference between a friend and an intruder or a stranger.

This is a brilliant, naturally curious breed. Aside from regular physical activity, they also need mental stimulation to keep boredom at bay.

Some great interactive games to play with your puppy include find-and-fetch and hide-a-treat and seek.

Leash training is also an essential element in controlling this Shepherd’s behavior when you’re outdoors.

Giant German Shepherds flanking a Border Point mix
Giant German Shepherds flanking a Border Point mix (source)

Leash training for the King Shepherd

I am sure you are wondering how to leash-train your King Shepherd puppy so that he is walking happily by your side and not going ahead of you pulling on the leash.

Leash manners may be some of the most challenging things you can teach your dog, but the process can be extremely rewarding!

In leash training, the head collar or the front-attachment harness is used to help discourage your dog from pulling. A front-attachment harness is a safe and easy-to-use non-pulling device that is suitable for all dogs.

A head collar is used for dogs with aggressive tendencies or only for those who need more control over their pets. This type of collar may be useful for this Shepherd because of his size.

A reward system is one of the simplest, most effective ways to teach your dog how to walk on a leash without pulling on it.

If your Shepherd is not interested in snacks, then you can let him play with his favorite toy instead of giving him a treat.

Below are some steps to help you teach your dog how to have good leash manners:

  1. You can start by attaching a rope or leash that is 10 to 20 feet long to your dog’s  harness. Have some pea-sized pieces of cheese or fresh meat to use as a reward and go to your backyard or any open space that he is familiar with.
  2. Walk with your dog on your left side and give him his treat near your left thigh. He will soon learn to stay near your left-hand side since he gets his treats there.
  3. Walk around your yard. When your King Shepherd chooses to walk beside you, give him some treats and praise him. Once he gets used to walking by your side, you won’t have to reward him as often as before.
  4. Try walking about your yard and when your dog begins walking off on his own or is staying behind, call his attention by saying “let’s go” in a cheerful voice while slapping your left or right thigh. Then walk away from him.
  5. When he comes towards you, reward him with a treat on your left side and praise him for doing a good job. Continue giving him treats, especially when he stays longer on your left side.
  6. You can gently tug at your dog’s leash if he stops walking beside you and won’t come to you. Pulling slightly at his leash reminds him of your presence so he won’t ignore you. This is not a way for you to force him to come to you.
  7. The minute he begins to come towards you, give him enough praise and release the pressure on the leash. When he is right beside you and continues to stay with you while walking, reward him as well.
  8. Practice this routine with your puppy until he stays beside you without any need to tug on his leash and comes towards you whenever you say “let’s go.”
King Size Shepherd wearing a harness standing in grass
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Some troubleshooting tips for leash training

As we’ve said before, leash training can be a challenging process, especially for a high-energy dog like the King Shepherd.

Here are some tips to help make it easier for you to teach your dog leash manners.

  • If your puppy crosses right in front of you, catch his attention by stomping or shuffling your feet.
  • If he is lagging behind more than usual, he could be afraid or he may not be feeling well. Instead of pulling hard on his leash, use lots of encouragement whenever your dog is lagging behind.

Teaching your King Shepherd how to heel

Teaching your Giant Shepherd how to heel is useful, especially given this dog’s large size. You may find it difficult to pull him closer to your body if he decides to run ahead of you.

The heel command can also come in handy when walking your puppy past things that may distract his attention, like other animals.

Here’s a quick guide on teaching your Giant Shepherd to heel:

  • Start practicing at home. Put some treats in your fist and let your puppy sniff your hand. Say “let’s go” and walk away from him at the same time, leading him along with the food in your hand close to your thigh.
  • Praise and reward your dog with the treat in your hand when he follows it with his nose.
  • Practice again but this time with your fist empty. Reward and praise him continuously for still coming towards you.
  • Try using the ‘heel’ command outdoors where there are more things to distract the Giant Shepherd. Your closed fist is now a non-verbal cue for your dog to “heel.”
King Shepherd standing in the snow looking to the side
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Potential health issues for the King Shepherd

These dogs are just like any other crossbreed – they are susceptible to the health problems that affects their parents.

They can be prone to these conditions:

Even if crossbreeds are often healthier than purebreds because of hybrid vigor, you can’t anticipate a dog’s health in the long run.

It is essential to be aware of specific symptoms to watch out for in terms of your puppy’s health. Your vet’s supervision and guidance will help you in giving your canine the best possible care.

King Shepherds have a lifespan of 10 to 13 years, on average.

Giving your King Shepherd the best care

Having a King Shepherd as a pet may take up much of your time and patience. It may be a bit overwhelming, but having these dogs as companions will be worth it in the long run.

Here’s what you need to know about caring for these Giant Shepherds.

How much and what should a King Shepherd eat?

This is an energetic dog that needs a protein-rich diet. They require a diet that consists of 22% protein and at least 5 to 8% fat to keep their bones and joints strong and maintain their energy levels.

Carbohydrates are also essential to the diet of an active dog like the Giant Shepherd, so you can try to add whole grains or sweet potatoes to your dog’s diet.

On average, this canine needs between 1800 to 2500 calories daily. You can feed your King Size Shepherd about 4 to 7 cups of high-quality dry dog food daily, divided into two meals.

It’s best to keep an eye on the amount of food your dog eats every day. This way, you can more easily prevent unhealthy weight gain, which can put additional stress on his joints and cause other health complications.

If you want to add canned or wet dog food to your puppy’s diet, make sure to ask your vet first to make sure your Shepherd doesn’t get an upset stomach.

Daily dog food costs for a Giant Shepherd’s meals are around $2.80 to $3.00, while you may spend about $80 to $90 monthly on average for dog kibble.

You can also consult your vet about feeding a raw or homemade diet to your King Shepherd puppy.

Grooming your King Shepherd

King Shepherd taking a bath in the sink
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Giant German Shepherds have thick double coats that shed a lot.

Unfortunately, this amount of shedding means that the King Size Shepherd is not hypoallergenic.

Five to ten minutes of daily brushing is essential in keeping this dog’s coat healthy and shiny and free from dead hair and tangles.

Weekly ear checking is a must for this canine. You should check for any wax buildup or signs of infection.

Clean your dog’s ears weekly with cotton balls and an ear solution or cleanser recommended by your vet.

Bathe your Shepherd only when it is necessary to keep him fresh. Frequent bathing will irritate your dog’s skin and strip his coat of its natural oils. You can use mild dog shampoo to keep your Giant Shepherd’s skin from drying out.

Cut his nails at least once a month when they’re long enough to scrape against your floors. You can always have your dog’s nails trimmed by a vet or a professional groomer if you are unsure about doing it yourself.

Daily brushing of your canine’s teeth is essential to keep his breath fresh and his teeth clean and prevent any oral health issues.

How much does it cost to own a King Shepherd?

A King Shepherd puppy costs about $1500 to $2500 each. Of course, the expenses don’t stop there.

Your King Shepherd pup will need medical work done like blood tests, neutering or spaying, deworming, a physical exam, and vaccination shots and these procedures will roughly cost around $300.

Other items like a leash and collar, bowls, bedding, a crate, and a carrier will cost about $200.

Recurring medical expenses like vaccinations, check-ups, pet insurance, tick and flea prevention, and heartworm prevention may come to around $500 a year.

Miscellaneous costs like basic training, grooming, toys, licensing, and other various items will cost you around $675 yearly. Your total estimated annual expenses will be about $1420.

Giant Shepherd lying on a sofa
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King Shepherd breeders

Looking to take home an adorable King Shepherd pup? Puppy mills, pet stores, and backyard breeders should be avoided to avoid the risk of having unexpected issues with your dog’s health.

Here are a few reputable breeders to check out:

King Shepherd rescue and adoption

You can also opt to adopt an adult King Shepherd instead, if the costs of a puppy from a breeder are too steep for you or if you don’t have the patience to train a Giant German Shepherd pup.

Here are a few rescue organizations and shelters to consider:

Is a King Shepherd the right dog for you?

King Shepherd with a blue scarf standing on the road
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A King Size Shepherd is a delightful, intelligent crossbreed with plenty of love to give its human pack.

However, there are some pros and cons to consider in owning a King Size German Shepherd.

Energetic and highly protective, these dogs make for great guard dogs and excellent watchdogs.

However, these Giant German Shepherds can also be headstrong and stubborn. You will have to firmly establish yourself as the pack leader to make sure he follows your commands.

King Shepherds are a better match for active owners, especially since these dogs have high energy levels and need exercise daily. Plus, these canines are not ideal pets for people with allergies to dander.

Want to share your story about the King Shepherd? Tell us about your thoughts in the comments below.

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