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Like their cousin the German Shepherd, Shiloh Shepherds are reliable dogs known for their intelligence and trainability.
More than that, these Shepherds are family-oriented and loving canines, which makes them excellent companions.
Want to get to know this gigantic, cuddly dog better? Let us tell you more about this gentle giant so you can find out if it’s the perfect fit for your family.
The origin of the Shiloh Shepherd
The Shiloh Shepherd was developed by a breeder named Tina Barber during the late 1960s to early 1970s in New York, USA.
She wanted to create a breed similar to the German Shepherd (GSD) but bigger, gentler, and calmer.
The Malamute added its sociable nature and adaptability to the mix, while the GSD contributed his intelligence to the resulting crossbreed.
Though it was originally bred as a companion, its drive and trainability make the Shiloh Shepherd an efficient working dog. Since 2004, the crossbreed has been recognized by the American Herding Breed Association.
Many of these intelligent hybrids have also been trained for search and rescue and therapy work. Shilohs have frequently been awarded Canine Good Citizen by the American Kennel Club and have received Companion Dog and Utility Dog titles as well.
Meet the rest of the Shepherd family
Curious about all the other Shepherds in the Shiloh’s family? Besides the German Shepherd, other breeds belonging to the category of herding dogs include the:
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Australian Shepherd
- Bearded Collie
- Old English Sheepdog
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Bred to herd cattle and sheep, these dogs don’t see flocks as prey but still retain most of their hunting skills.
What does a Shiloh Shepherd look like?
The Shiloh Shepherd looks a lot like the GSD, except that the Shiloh is much larger and it has a straighter back. Its chest is deep and full, and it has a long, slightly curvy, and plush tail.
These dogs have a domed, broad head with a tapered muzzle and black lips. The Shiloh Shepherd’s ears are triangular and erect when alert, while its eyes can come in shades of dark to light brown.
The Shiloh Shepherd can have either a smooth coat or a plush coat. The smooth coat features a shorter undercoat and a top coat of coarse, dense fur.
On the other hand, the Shiloh’s plush coat will have a longer, softer undercoat, thicker fur around the neck, and feathering on the legs and ears.
Most of these dogs have coats of solid colors, including black, white, tan, golden, silver, red, brown, and dark gray. Shiloh Shepherds can also have bi-colored coats in combinations such as black with tan, golden tan, and reddish tan.
How big does a Shiloh Shepherd get?
These are huge dogs, and their size can make them a little tricky to handle. A male Shiloh Shepherd weighs around 100 to 130 pounds (45 to 59 kg) and stands at 28 to 30 inches (71 to 76 cm ) tall.
Female Shilohs are a little lighter, with an average weight of 80 to 100 pounds (36 to 45 kg).
For the sake of comparison, GSDs have an average height of 22 to 26 inches (56 to 66 cm) and typically weigh 75 to 95 pounds (34 to 43 kg).
Check out this 9-month-old Shiloh Shepherd and see how her size compares to other dogs at the dog park:
A giant with a gentle personality
As we’ve mentioned, Shiloh Shepherds were bred to be companion dogs. They have a calm nature and a steady temperament. They’re friendly with most people they meet.
If properly socialized, Shilohs grow up to be affectionate canines who love to be part of all family activities. They tend to form close bonds with their families and are naturally sensitive. This is why these Shepherds are ideal for use in therapy work and service assistance.
These big boys are gentle with children, too, so they make for a good choice for a family dog. With sufficient socialization, they’ll learn how to get along with other pets in the household, but they may try to exert dominance over dogs of the same sex.
Like the GSD, they have a strong protective instinct, but they are not hostile or aggressive. They will defend their owners against threats, though.
The Shiloh Shepherd’s protectiveness and alertness make them excellent guard dogs or watchdogs.
And though this Shepherd is good with kids, it’s still important to supervise interactions between small kids and big dogs. This way, you can prevent any unwanted incidents like the dog knocking down a child or roughhousing getting out of hand.
It’s also best to educate your kids on how to properly interact with a large dog like the Shiloh Shepherd. Teach your babies not to approach the Shiloh when she’s sleeping or eating or to move away when the dog appears scared or angry.
Is howling a problem with the Shiloh Shepherd?
Shilohs are occasional barkers, but these dogs do like to howl. This is a habit they may have inherited from the German Shepherd and the Alaskan Malamute.
Have some earplugs handy and prepare yourself for the Shiloh howling at a variety of things, whether dogs in the vicinity, new things in his environment, or even songs on the radio.
Like Lola, who couldn’t resist joining her owner in singing:
How much exercise does this Shepherd need?
This crossbreed is an active dog, but not as busy as the GSD. Shilohs require regular physical and mental stimulation to lead healthy, happy lives.
This smart and lively canine is best suited for people with an active lifestyle. Love going for a jog or walk every day? You can take one of these dogs with you, as they can walk or run up to 16 miles each week.
Don’t think walks are all they can do, though. Swimming, hiking, and long games of fetch are all great activities that will let your dog release its pent-up energy. They can even keep up as you cycle through the neighborhood.
Like the GSD, this Shepherd will also excel in canine sports like flyball and agility training.
Your pooch also needs some safe off-leash playtime weekly, preferably in a dog park. This is an excellent opportunity for your dog to play with fellow canines. If he hasn’t been vaccinated, though, it’s best to keep him at home and away from other dogs.
Since Shilohs have a lot of stamina and energy, they are best suited for homes with a fenced yard. This way, they can move around at will.
How to train a Shiloh Shepherd puppy
This hybrid is known for its intelligence, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need firm, consistent training from a responsible owner.
The good news is that Shiloh Shepherds can learn new skills and commands without excessive repetition.
Establish yourself as the alpha of the pack to make training more rewarding and enjoyable for you and your Shiloh.
These Shepherds have to be trained at a young age since they’ll find it easier to focus on training sessions while they’re puppies.
Treat these sessions as quality time with your pup and try to develop a means of communication so you can identify his specific needs.
Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective techniques that you can try for your dog. Use treats praise, or his favorite toys as rewards that will compel your canine to obey your commands and display desirable behavior.
Avoid punishing or scolding your puppy, as this crossbreed’s gentle nature makes him sensitive. Punishments may also make your dog defensive, which may result in biting.
Aside from learning commands such as sit, stay, and come, your Shiloh also needs socialization from a young age. This will teach your dog to stay calm in different environments and situations.
Through early socialization, your pup will learn to recognize and adapt to normal behavior. He’ll know how to properly behave around strangers and other dogs.
This is one of the most important aspects of training your Shiloh Shepherd puppy. Every dog should master the five basic commands (come, sit, heel, stay, down), as these will help you control your dog’s behavior.
It’s crucial that your Shiloh learns these commands because this dog’s size makes it particularly difficult to handle. You won’t be able to physically hold back your Shiloh if it decides to chase a squirrel while you’re out on a walk.
Well-trained dogs are healthier and happier than untrained pets. The same goes for their owners; understandably, you’ll be less stressed knowing you have a well-behaved Shiloh Shepherd.
Crate training your pup
Crate training is a great way to manage and ensure the safety and well-being of your Shiloh Shepherd puppy.
Dogs are, by nature, den animals. This means they like having their own space to sleep and rest, a special place where they can feel safe. With crate training, you can use a dog’s natural den instincts to teach him proper behavior.
Crating can be useful for keeping your dog calm if he’s feeling anxious or he’s too excited. You can put your dog in a crate if car rides make him nervous, so you can drive to the vet in peace.
You can also give your dog some crate time if he’s expressing his excitement by jumping on your guests.
By putting your Shiloh in a crate, you can limit his access to certain areas of your house while he’s still learning house rules. Crating will also help keep your dog safe at night and when you’re away from your home.
Behavioral training is essential for any dog. It addresses some common issues like aggression, howling, separation anxiety, food guarding, and mouthing. The goal is to reward good behavior while redirecting or ignoring unwanted behavior.
Effective behavior training involves you, as the pet parent, and your puppy. You must establish yourself as the alpha so your dog will respect your authority.
When you set up clear boundaries and focus on positive reinforcement and rewards-based methods, you can avoid confusing your pooch and foster mutual trust and respect between you and your dog.
House training should begin while your Shiloh is still a puppy so he can learn the appropriate places where he can relieve himself. A word of warning, though, housebreaking your pup will take a lot of patience.
Your dog will probably gain full control of their bladder only when they turn four or five months old. You must keep a close eye on your puppy at this age to make sure you can prevent accidents and clean up after him when needed.
Young puppies usually go to the bathroom after they wake up. And they also have to go and relieve themselves after eating. Make sure to take your Shiloh out at these times so he won’t go inside the house.
If you don’t have the time to keep an eagle eye on your dog at all times, you can use a crate for house training. Dogs don’t want to soil the place where they sleep, so your Shepherd will learn to hold his bladder while he’s in the crate.
You can also train your dog to have a routine after every meal by taking him to the same spot every day and wait for him to eliminate before putting him back in his crate.
Do this routine every day until your puppy learns to make a habit of eliminating in the same spot. And always give your puppy a treat and lots of praise for every successful attempt.
As we said earlier, housetraining involves consistency and a lot of patience, plus a generous amount of treats.
What health issues can the Shiloh Shepherd have?
Though they have an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, Shiloh Shepherds are prone to health problems that commonly affect large to giant dogs.
One of the most common health conditions in dogs of this size is hip dysplasia. Fortunately, there are various treatment options available for this joint problem, ranging from lifestyle changes and non-surgical treatments to surgery.
Another major problem your Shiloh can suffer from is bloat, a gastrointestinal issue. Bloat occurs when your dog eats too quickly or engages in heavy physical activity too soon after meals.
Here are some more health issues your Shepherd can suffer from:
- Skeletal disorders
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth syndrome
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
The good news is that Shiloh Shepherd breeders have been working on eradicating some of these diseases through proper genetic selection.
How much and what should a Shiloh Shepherd eat?
These big boys can put away a lot of food. You can give your dog between 5½ to 7 cups of high-quality dry kibble or 1800 to 2500 calories per day.
Divide this amount of food into 2 meals to reduce the risk of bloat.
The amount can vary depending on your dog’s age, size, and metabolism, so you’ll want to consult your vet on the exact amount your Shiloh needs.
Your Shiloh Shepherd should be fed high-quality dry dog food made especially for large breeds.
This type of kibble will usually contain more protein to help strengthen your dog’s muscles and bones, along with enough fat to help maintain your pet’s energy levels.
You can also feed your dog nutritious foods such as cooked eggs, vegetables, and cottage cheese. These contain high-quality protein, fat, and vitamins and minerals that will help meet your Shiloh Shepherd’s daily nutritional needs.
Here are some foods you should never give to your dog:
- Chocolate, coffee, or tea
- Grapes or raisins
- Moldy or spoiled food of any kind
- Onions, chives, and garlic
- Poultry bones
Shiloh Shepherd puppies between 8 and twelve weeks old will need to be fed more frequently, around 4 meals a day. You can cut this down to 3 meals a day once your dog is three months old, and reduce the frequency again to 2 meals a day when your dog is 6 months old.
Once your pup turns 1, you can start feeding him just once a day. Sometimes, adult Shiloh Shepherd dogs may eat two lighter servings.
Grooming your Shiloh Shepherd
Shiloh Shepherds have two coat types, which determine how much grooming this dog needs.
No matter the length of their fur, though, these crossbreeds tend to be heavy shedders.
Brush your dog’s coat at least every other day to keep shedding under control. Expect to use the grooming brush daily once shedding season comes around.
Dogs generally shed their winter coats in the spring to give way to a shorter, lighter one for summer.
In the fall, the cycle is reversed, as the shorter summer coat is shed to grow their heavy protective double coat fur for winter.
Bathing once monthly should be enough for the Shiloh Shepherd. Avoid giving your dog too many baths to preserve the natural oils that keep his coat shiny and healthy. Use dry dog shampoo whenever you can.
Your dog’s nails need to be trimmed when needed, at least once a month. Take care not to cut too far down the nail so you won’t hurt your puppy’s paws. Don’t hesitate to take him to a professional groomer if you’re not sure you can do it properly.
The Shiloh’s perky ears should be checked once a week for infection. Symptoms of infection include more wax build-up than usual, redness, and bad odor.
Use a vet-prescribed cleanser to wipe your dog’s ears, and take care not to push anything into your dog’s inner ears.
You can give Shiloh Shepherd dental chews to keep his teeth clean, but you should still brush your dog’s teeth daily.
How much will it cost to own a Shiloh Shepherd?
A Shiloh Shepherd puppy can cost around $1000 from a reputable breeder. This is a pretty steep price, but you don’t want to compromise quality for cost. Make sure to stay away from backyard breeders so you’ll get your money’s worth.
However, the cost of getting a dog goes beyond just the price of buying one; there are other costs to consider as well.
Essential medical procedures will probably increase the initial costs of bringing home a Shiloh. Blood tests, a physical exam, deworming, neutering or spaying, for example, cost about $390, depending on where you live.
You may also end up spending a couple of hundred bucks on accessories like a crate, a carrier, a collar and a leash, and some chew toys.
Yearly medical costs for vaccinations, check-ups by a vet, flea prevention, heartworm prevention, and pet insurance may come out to more or less $500. With the Shiloh’s hearty appetite, expect to spend a little more on food for your dog, around $350 per year.
Basic training and socialization, grooming, a license, toys, and other miscellaneous items may cost you at least $670 a year.
The total annual cost of owning this Shepherd? About $1505. This good boy’s adorable face is surely worth it, though.
Trustworthy Shiloh Shepherd breeders
You can find responsible and reputable breeders by asking for referrals from your veterinarian, through local breed clubs, and by visiting dog shows.
Remember that a responsible breeder won’t sell her dogs at pet stores or puppy mills or to the first person who offers to buy the dog with cash in hand.
A good breeder would want to meet you to be sure that a puppy is a good fit for you and your family and that you will be responsible enough to provide a lifelong home for it.
Reputable breeders will also willingly show you where the Shiloh pup was born to prove that he was born in a clean, well-maintained and spacious environment.
Here are a few good breeders to check out:
- New Zion Shilohs (New York)
- Catoctin Shiloh Shepherds (Maryland)
- Ridgewood Shilohs (Pennsylvania)
- Highland Hills Shilohs (New York)
- Fireside Shiloh Shepherds (Virginia)
Shiloh Shepherd rescue and adoption organizations
Adopting an older dog has many benefits that potential pet owners might not know about. For one, they are a good fit for novice dog owners who don’t have the time nor the experience to raise and train a puppy correctly.
Older dogs also tend to be more well-mannered. Most are less destructive than their younger counterparts and their behavior has already settled.
If you decide on adopting an adult Shiloh Shepherd instead, here are a few rescues and adoption organizations to consider:
- Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue (Virginia)
- Sparta Shilohs Rescues and Rehomes (Texas)
- Snow-capped Shepherd Rescue (Colorado)
- Vegas Shepherd Rescue (Nevada)
- Coastal German Shepherd Rescue (California)
Is a Shiloh Shepherd the right dog for you?
With their calm and gentle nature, Shiloh Shepherds are the best choice as family pets.
They have strong protective instincts and are loyal to their families.
They are most suited for families with an active lifestyle since these canines are athletic and have high energy levels.
These dogs need at least an hour of exercise daily or they’ll get bored or anxious, taking their frustration out on your furniture and shoes.
Shilohs are also a better match for experienced owners who can handle a large dog with an equally big personality.
Training will take some patience, so you’ll have to establish yourself as the alpha of the pack.
Is the Shiloh Shepherd the dog you’ll take home? Share your thoughts in the comments below.