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Everything You Need to Know About the King Shepherd 

Last Updated - June 18, 2022

King Shepherd is a big, fluffy, lovable dog that is becoming increasingly popular in the US. These German Shepherd-like dogs are full of energy for life and love for their people. The King Shepherd breed is a little more maintenance than some other breeds, so how do you know if this huge and smart dog breed is right for you?

Breed Characteristics

Adaptability

Apartment Living

How easily a dog deals with living in an apartment. Despite the dog's size, you should also consider energy level, calmness, and friendliness.

Being Alone

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to panic and separation anxiety when left alone. When left alone, they can become very destructive, bark, whine, chew and cause mayhem. These breeds do best in a home with a family member around during the day, can go to work with their owner, or recommend attending doggy day care if the owner is not home during the day.

Sensitivity Level

Low sensitivity dogs are easygoing, tolerant, and resilient. They can handle a noisy and chaotic household, a loud or assertive owner, and tolerate an inconsistent or variable routine.

Tolerate Cold Climate

Short coat and little to no coat breeds are vulnerable to cold climates. These breeds will have a low cold tolerance and need to live inside in a cool climate and should have a jacket or sweater on for chilly walks.

Tolerate Warm Climate

Breeds with a thick and double coat are vulnerable to overheating. Breeds with a short nose and flat face are also vulnerable as they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If these breeds of dog live in a warm and humid environment, you will need to be extra cautious about taking them outdoor in the heat.

Friendliness

Cat Friendly

Friendliness towards cats and humans is very different. Some breeds are gentle and accept cats readily as part of the family. Some breeds will chase, fight, or rough play with a cat and cause severe injury. However, no matter the breed, proper socialization, and training can improve the situation.

Dog Friendly

Friendliness towards other dogs. Some dogs may try to dominate other dogs and attack and fight, while others would rather play. However, no matter the breed, proper socialization, and training can improve the situation.

Family Friendly

How affectionate a breed is likely to be with family members or other people he knows well. Some breeds are independent, some breeds can be aloof with everyone but their owner, while others treat everyone they know like it's their best friend.
Breed, however, isn't the only factor affecting affection levels. Proper socialization and training can improve the situation.

Kid Friendly

Kid-friendly dogs should be gentle with children, be more tolerant of screaming and running children as well as other children's behavior.

Openness To Strangers

How welcoming a breed is likely to be towards strangers. Some dogs will greet a stranger with wagging tails, while others are shy, reserved, cautious, or aggressive. However, no matter the breed, proper socialization, and training can improve the situation. 

Health And Grooming

Coat Grooming Frequency

Amount of bathing, brushing, trimming, and professional grooming needs. Consider how much time, patience, and budget you have for this type of care when looking at the grooming effort needed. All breeds require regular nail trimming.

Drooling Level

Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm or wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine. But if you are a neat freak, dogs that are drool prone may not be the right choice for you.

General Health

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems. However, this doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases, and it just means that they're at an increased risk.
If you're adopting or rescuing a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
If you are purchasing from a breeder, be sure to do your research. Purchase from a reputable breeder and ask for the parent's health records to understand what potential health issue your pup may have.

Shedding Level

Amount and frequency of dog hair shedding.

If you are getting a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. 

Trainability

Easy To Train

Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt, an action, and a reward (such as treats, appraise, or toys). Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.

Intelligence

Dogs bred for jobs requiring decision-making, intelligence, and concentration, need to exercise their brains. Such as, dogs bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they can become destructive and exhibit behaviors such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

Potential To Mouthiness

Common in most breeds during the puppy stage. Mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need the training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy squeaky toys, as well as a good chew on a toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Prey Drive

Dogs who were bred to hunt have an inborn desire to chase--and sometimes kill. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, or rabbits, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small animals. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase. But you'll probably have difficulty getting their attention when birds fly by.

Bark Or Howl Tendencies

Some breeds are more vocal than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. While some breeds will bark at every passing bird, some may use other sounds to express themselves.

Physical And Mental Needs

Energy Level

The amount of physical and mental stimulation a breed needs. High-energy breeds are ready to go and eager for their next adventure. Low-energy breeds are like couch potatoes - they're happy to lay around and sleep.

Exercise Needs

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.

Mental Stimulation

How much mental stimulation a breed needs to stay happy and healthy. Purpose-bred dogs can have jobs that require decision-making, problem-solving, concentration, or other qualities. Without the brain exercise they need, they can be destructive and have unwanted behavior issues.

Territorial

A dog's inclination to be protective of his family members, home, yard, or even car.

Watchdog Ability

A breed's tendency to alert you that strangers are around. These breeds are more likely to react to any potential threat, whether it's the mailman or a squirrel outside the window.

The Origin of King Shepherds

King Shepherds are a relatively new dog breed, and it only dates back to the 1990s. They were specially bred to create a shepherd dog like the German Shepherd dog but with fewer health issues. The original King Shepherds were part German Shepherd and part Shiloh Shepherd (a Shiloh Shepherd is a hybrid of German Shepherd and Alaskan Malamute).

As the King Shepherd hybrid breed was developed, European German Shepherd Dogs were bred both for longer hair and to boost genetic variation in the breed. Genetic variation prevents genetic issues that come as a result of too much inbreeding in older dog breed lineages like that of German Shepherds.

Because it is such a new breed and still considered a hybrid designer breed, King Shepherd is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. However, the breed is recognized by such organizations as the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA), Eastern Rare Breed Dog Club (ERBDC), the World Wide Kennel Club (WWKC), and the European Rare Breed Dog Club.

True King Shepherds have to be a hybrid of a German Shepherd and some other large breed dog, generally something with Shiloh Shepherd or Alaskan Malamute ancestry. They are still considered to be rare dogs though they are becoming increasingly popular.

gender
male

Height: 26-29"

Weight: 90-150 lbs

female

Height: 25-27"

Weight: 75-110 lbs

Life Span: 10-11

Breed Group: Hybride

Size

King Shepherds are very big dogs. Males dogs grow to heights of 27 to 31 inches and can weigh anywhere from 90 to 150 pounds. Females are hardly smaller, with a height of 25-27" and weight of 75-110lbs. 

Personality 

King Shepherds have a particularly pleasant personality. They are friendly, calm, adaptable, and smart dogs. They are loyal without being aggressive and playful while still being gentle. There is almost nothing not to love about these lovable giants. 

Appearance/Colors

King Shepherds are huge dogs that resemble German Shepherds but are much bigger. They have pointed ears and long snout-like German Shepherds, but their hair is much longer and thicker. Their fur can be straight or wavy and comes in color variations of black, white, brown, tan, gray, and silver. Because of their imposing appearance, they are often used as guard dogs.

Temperament

A King Shepherd's temperament is very even and calm provided it is trained well, socialized when young, and gets enough exercise. These intelligent and playful dogs are great with kids and are gentle with even young children and other household pets.

If they are sufficiently socialized at the puppies stage, they will also be friendly and calm around strangers. However, they do not do well by themselves and will become destructive if left alone too long. 

Diet/Nutritional Needs

Due to its very large size, nutrition is particularly important for King Shepherd puppies to grow and develop healthily. A full-grown dog will eat three to four cups of food daily, but it should be spaced out into several smaller meals throughout the day to reduce the likelihood of bloating.

You will need to feed your dog high-quality food high in protein since they are such active dogs. However, you should be mindful not to overfeed your dog since the excessive weight will cause stress on your dog's joints and may lead to serious health issues.

If you have trouble knowing what to feed your King Shepherd or how much, especially as a puppy and it is growing, consult with your vet as to your dog's diet and the best way to feed your King Shepherd. 

Activity/Exercise Needs

One of the biggest considerations when deciding whether a King Shepherd is for you is the amount of time you will have to dedicate to exercising your pet. King Shepherds are extremely active animals and are not low maintenance when it comes to exercise.

You will need to give them vigorous activity for at least one hour every day, and you should also strive to provide some mentally stimulating activity. This can be a tug-of-war, fetch, or hide-and-seek. You can also enroll your dog in canine sports.

King Shepherds are very intelligent and active and will easily get bored if not exercised appropriately. Bored dogs will become very destructive and could suffer from anxiety and stress. 

Grooming Needs

Another of the very considerable things to know about King Shepherd maintenance is that they are not low shedders. A King Shepherd's coat is a thick double coat that must be brushed multiple times a week, if not every day, to prevent mats, tangles, and excessive shedding.

They will need professional grooming every four months to keep their dog hair trimmed and clean. You should check their ears and teeth weekly and trim their nails as needed. 

Adaptability

In general, King Shepherds are an easy, adaptable breed provided they have the space to exercise. Because of this, they do not suit apartment living or inactive lifestyles. Due to their heavy coat, they do well in cold climates and do fine in hot climates, too, so long as the necessary provisions are made to keep them cool and hydrated. They can easily be trained to get along well with other pets, but they do not do well for long periods on their own. 

Trainability

King Shepherds are very smart and love to please their people so training them is very easy. Being consistent and using positive reinforcement will reap the best results with this breed. You can begin as early as 8-16 weeks and should continue to maintain training throughout the dog's life. A King Shepherd puppy is very smart and will find learning new tricks and commands mentally stimulating and fun. 

Life Expectancy

The life expectancy for this giant dog breed is 10-11 years, provided that it has had quality nutrition, proper care, and regular checkups throughout its life. 

Potential Health Issues

King Shepherd is not overly prone to many health issues, but there are a few to be mindful of, given that it is a large breed of dog.

Elbow and Hip Dysplasia

This is the malformation of a dog's joints as they grow. It is very common in large dog breeds, so puppies require a very particular diet as they grow and form. 

Von Willebrand Disease

This disease is a genetic disorder that affects blood's ability to clot. 

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism affects the thyroid and endocrine systems, reducing your dog's metabolic rate. This can lead to weight gain, which can lead to several other issues.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV or Bloat)

GDV is common in large breeds but can be treated preemptively. GDV or Bloat causes gases to expand in the stomach and then twist the stomach out of shape. The preventative care that can be looked into is a procedure that will tack the stomach down. 

Where Get A King Shepherd

You may be able to find King Shepherd Rescue, many turns to breeders. If you are planning on purchasing a King shepherd, it's important to ensure the parents are registered with the American King Shepherd Club.

About the Author

Lara Girsko

Doctor of veterinary medicine with extensive experience in animal welfare with a strong interest in feline medicine and plans to pursue ABVP-Feline specialty board certification. A key member of many local veterinary associations and avid reader of animal related science journals and studies.

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