Every breed comes from a breeder who had a vision. The Shiloh Shepherd is a recent reminder of what a dog lover’s imagination can do. In fact, the breed owes their inception from one woman out of New York.
If you are wondering why the Shiloh Shepherd looks like a much bigger German Shepherd, that’s because, essentially, it is. Moreover, it was that woman’s memory of the vintage GSD breed that gave credence to today’s Shiloh.
However, the breed is rare and rather new. Yet, they are quick at the wit and on their feet, intelligent and fully capable.
So what makes them such a wonderful companion?
Here is what you need to know about the Shiloh Shepherd.
You don’t have to look that far back to find the history of this breed. As the above notes, it was the vision of one woman, with experience breeding and raising GSD’s, who felt something was missing with the retro version of that breed.
Meet Tina Barber, a godsend in the dog world during the 20th century. Barber’s reason for creating the Shiloh Shepherd was to retain the incredible traits of intelligence, size and mild mannerisms. From the 1960’s and on, Barber would breed by crossing several different breeds to eventually create today’s Shiloh Shepherd. In fact, according to historians of this breed, the Alaskan Malamute was one of those breeds. Also, the White and American Shepherd. This blend of breeds gave the Shiloh Shepherd its size and speed.
During the 1970’s, Barber’s crossings hit a new level. In addition to her breakthrough success with the breed, she found something else. Faith!
It was her faith that would help her invent the name of this breed, Shiloh. In 1974, she would change the name of her kennel to Shiloh Shepherd. Previously, Barber’s kennel went by the name of Konigin.
The 80’s would see out-crosses of other breeds including those above, which would help avoid genetic faults. By the 1990’s, everyone in the dog world was up to speed about the Shiloh Shepherd. However, Barber would split from the American Kennel Club in 1990, by separating the foundation stock of the breed. This would give birth to the International Shiloh Shepherd Registry, which would undertake her strict expectations of registry functions.
Precisely, it was that form of strictness, which likely had a hand in no major kennel club recognizing the breed. To this day, the American Kennel Club does not recognize the Shiloh Shepherd. However, breeder are still devout in their missions and are producing amazing companion dogs as well as capable search and rescue canines.
A Shiloh Shepherd is a large to giant breed. According to Barber’s dictums, a male should stand between 28 to 32 inches. A female should range from 26 to 30 pounds.
With regards to weight, a male should weigh between 140 to 160 pounds, yet weigh no less than 120 pounds. A female should weigh no less than 80 pounds, and a preferable weight should range from 100 to 120 pounds.
Personality and Temperament
Some dog enthusiasts believe that the GSD breed is hard to handle. This may be one of the influencing decisions behind Barber creating the Shiloh Shepherd. They are by what most consider easier to get along with, simple to train, and more calm. Although some Shiloh’s can be very energetic, the breed is simply easy going.
They want nothing more than to form a close bond with their people. This is a breed that is great with children, no matter the temperament level. You can include other animals with that list. Faithful, loving, and always loyal — the Shiloh Shepherd is very nurturing and protective of children.
Although the breed’s main reason for development was companion purposes, the Shiloh Shepherd is very intelligent. They can learn new missions, such as search and rescue task. The breed can also perform other athletic events and does well with conformation, obedience and agility.
All in all, a gentle family dog, that loves to be around family. Whether that’s on the lakes or a lazy afternoon on the couch at home, the Shiloh is a family dog through and through.
There’s not a lot of information regarding the breed’s health as there is with others. However, there are certain conditions and diseases to be mindful about. The average life expectancy of the Shiloh Shepherd is 10 to 13 years, according to the Fireside Shiloh Shepherds website.
A malformation of the hip joint, which brings an incredible amount of discomfort, pain and lameness, Hip Dysplasia, is very common in the breed. In fact, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals found that the breed has the 32nd worst dysplastic rating. That gives the breed a 21.3 dysplastic rating, rating them among the Chow Chow.
Moreover, Elbow Dysplasia is found with the Shiloh Shepherd as well. This is the abnormal growth of the elbow, which leads to orthopedic issues such as osteoarthritis. The OFA ranks the Shiloh Shepherd 47th worst with 6.8 rating out of 695 evaluations.
Subaortic Stenosis, which often hits larger breeds, can be found with the Shiloh Shepherd. This is when the aortic valves become narrow, subsequently blocking or obstructing blood flow through the heart. Dogs suffering from this may exhibit difficulty breathing, lameness, fainting, weakness, and although rare, death is possible. Heart medication may be necessary to address this complication.
Growing pains or Panosteitis, is a condition, in which one or more of the large bones in the legs, usually in the outer surface suffers from a painful inflammation. Breeds like the Doberman and Labrador Retriever also suffer from this issue, where anti-inflammation and pain medication can help with the condition.
Other problems that may arise are Bloat, a fatal condition of the stomach, and Cryptochidism, a problem where one testicle is missing from the scrotum.
A breed that loves to get out and spread its legs, and due to their size, should have a bigger space for a home. The Shiloh isn’t the most aggressive nor energetic breed in the world, but apartments usually don’t fit their narrative.
They don’t need a high amount of exercise, but to keep them from going neurotic, it is always best to provide them plenty of mental and physical stimulation. A daily walk or two always helps, as well as activities like agility, flyball, swimming, fetch, and walks.
The Shiloh Shepherd needs a firm hand, but someone who is fair. This is a breed that can grow over 120 plus pounds, so maintaining order and control is important. Introduce them to new things, experiences and people. If you have children, it is best to associate them as puppies. The breed may have a small case of prey drive as puppies, but will grow out of it, most likely.
This is a breed that wants to be with its people and shouldn’t be left to their own vices. They aren’t outdoor dogs, nor are they built for working. Although some can handle the load, this is more of a companion dog, that seeks companionship.
A high quality diet like any other breed should suffice the Shiloh Shepherd. A lot of owners suggest real food like chicken and beef. You can always feed them a top quality dry kibble with meat as the first ingredient. It is important to offer them a balance of proper nutrients with quality carbs, crude fat and protein. Vitamins and minerals for the joints and coat will also enhance your Shiloh’s health.
Most people seem happy feeding their Shiloh between 5 to 7 cups of food per day. Of course, this should be done between two to three smaller meals instead of one lump sum. This helps with reducing a deadly condition of the stomach, Gastric Torsion or Bloat.
As always, you should provide your Shiloh Shepherd with fresh drinking water.
There are two coat types for the breed: Plush and smooth. The plush variety is close to the body, a double coat, with a soft undercoat, coarse and of medium length. This type will shed less and require occasional grooming.
Smooth types are double coats with medium length, close to the body, but straight, harsh and dense. there is more work with this variety.
Black and tan shades, golden tan, reddish tan, silver, dark gray, solid white and solid black are all acceptable colors. White markings near the toes are acceptable but only if there are shades of silver, cream, tan, etc.
Fun Shiloh Shepherd Facts
- According to the Growing Up Shiloh website, a 12 year old boy in North Carolina was saved by a Shiloh Shepherd, who found the boyscout in the rocky terrains of the North Carolina woods. The dog’s name, Gandalf, did receive national acclaim for his efforts.
- Shilohs.org claims the only club or organization to give this breed recognition is the American Rare Breed Association.
Although the dog hails from the New York region, there’s nothing New York about the breed. That is, the Shiloh Shepherd is quiet, calm, and enjoys being around people.
While the dog world begins to warm up and become more aware of the breed, it is the breed’s tightly knit community of enthusiasts and breeders that keep the Shiloh Shepherd the dog Tina Barber had in mind back in the 1960’s.