Wanting a large dog is an admirable move, and calls for a lot of preparation. Nobody would want to go headfirst into such an endeavor without knowing all about acquiring, caring for and enjoying life with your long-sought animal friend.
To adequately provide for a GIANT German shepherd dog, there are many things to plan for in advance: space, food, shedding, activity levels and loads more. Keep calm. We will go through all of this with you, so there is nothing to fear by the time a decision has been made!
Reading this article right now, you must be one of the people with a giant pet peeve. Now that the pun has been excused, let us lead you on a tiny journey and introduce a large German shepherd dog breed to your doggy shortlist.
The ABCs Of Giant German Shepherds
German shepherd dogs are known as the “staple” all-around canines. Adding “giant” to the name means they are giant staples, right? You would be right to an extent. Maybe you heard or read people interchangeably using the terms “giant German shepherd” and “king German shepherd”.
Despite representing takes on the classic German shepherd dog (GSD) they are recognized as different types of shepherd dogs, mainly because of the way they were conceived.
The combination of breeds for a giant German shepherd and the king shepherd are fundamentally different. The giant German shepherd is a mix of a German shepherd dog and a Shiloh Shepherd.
The King shepherd is a blend of some other large dog breed that potentially complements the German shepherd’s characteristics.
Let us take a look at how a Shiloh Shepherd improves or adds to the GSD’s already magnificent reputation.
Shiloh Shepherds Add The Taste Of The Tundra
The Shiloh Shepherd is somewhat of a young breed of shepherd dog. The fact that it did not exist prior to the 1970s confirms it but speaks volumes on how well it was received in the dog communities across the world.
Crossbreeding a German shepherd with an Alaskan Malamute gave birth to a “gentle giant” type of dog that acclimates to a modern home in a breeze.
How They Look
Shiloh shepherds have a long coat that can be black, white, gray, silver, brown or a blend of some of these. The quality of the hair can be either silky or lavish. This means that grooming is in the higher range of the difficulty scale.
As a base upgrade for the giant German shepherd, they are tall, hulking with a statue-like presence. Every person ought to stand in awe seeing this arresting dog breed.
The Malamute passes on its wolf-like ear shape and blocky body shape with a flatter black onto the Shiloh.
The average lifespan for this large breed is 9-14 years.
How They Are
The Malamute is much more pronounced in the demeanor than the enlarged size. Shiloh shepherds transmit a tranquil presence with independence and individuality high on the list of positives.
If you are looking for a guard dog, then you might want to skip the Shiloh. Their anti-intruder software is somewhat hit and miss due to the Malamute primarily being a work dog. A purebred German shepherd would be a better choice in this case.
On the other hand, they are much less brassy than a GSD and will value being on their own from time to time. The best part of the German shepherd has been completely preserved in the Shiloh too – trainability.
This breed craves physical activity that matches its extremely high level of intelligence. The possibility of couch potatoing your way with a Shiloh is non-existent. A work dog has to work! One of the main tasks this breed performs is search and rescue, so thank you Tina Barber.
The breed is less spirited than the GSD but loves their family. You are bound to be satisfied with the balanced mindset these dogs have. True best friends!
Although these distinguished family companions have a strong self-assuredness they prefer country life to city living. Invest in an 8000 square foot apartment.
German Shepherd Dog: Story Of a Legend
Perhaps the most famous dog breed in the world has become legend. The breed found its place among all types of work environments and was deemed to be the ultimate dog breed to have.
Although you are most likely aware of its unequivocally unique appearance here is some information to compare with the other two cousin breeds.
A shorter coat than the Shiloh’s does not mean you can toss away that brush and furminator – double coat madness! The signature color of the German shepherd is black and red but the American Kennel Club recognizes all of the other variants as breed standard too.
That means that your chances of having a unique but fully AKC approved GSD are almost 100%. We like the SABLE outfit in particular.
You are in for a 9-13 year long bond with your dog with the GSD.
German shepherd dogs are a benchmark for highly intelligent and playful breeds. They become very attached to their family and stranger tolerance is not particularly high.
Their track record in law enforcement, the army, protection and other high-intelligence and activity means they are unmatched as service dogs. Feeling accomplished is what GSDs want more than anything. This will require additional effort from the owner’s side to give it meaningful activities and jobs.
Dog training is a must for a German shepherd. Thankfully, you will be able to teach your dog to do virtually ANYTHING you come up with.
Remember that, while being a family pet, this is primarily a herding dog. Avoid walking past cattle or you will lose your dog while it loses its mind converting chaos into order. Sheepdog represents!
The King Shepherd Royal Lineage
Envisioned as the German shepherd dog bugfix project, the King Shepherd comes close to being the perfect GSD.
Building on the success of Tina Barber’s Shiloh cross breed, David Turkheimer and Shelley Watts-Cross decided that ironing out the GSD’s health problems would be facilitated by adding the Shiloh shepherd’s genepool in the mix.
This was a great idea that resulted in the birth of one of the most naturally resilient dogs on the planet.
The King Under The Mountain
Standing at 25 – 30 inches tall, weighing in at up to 150 pounds, all hail the King shepherd. Refining the German shepherd’s traits even further, this dog sports a long double coat in two main colors mixed in with gray or brown: sable and black.
Turkheimer and Watts-Cross crossbred the Great Pyrenees or Alaskan Malamute (even Akita) with GSDs to produce this stunning goliath among working dogs. However, the Shiloh slowly established itself as a worthy contender in the “perfect GSD” formula game.
The King Shepherd is among the most healthy dogs on the planet due to having almost no health issues that plagued the GSD and previous “iterations”.
Hip dysplasia is common in German shepherds but this semi-purebred dog hops over that hurdle without much difficulty
The controlled genetic undertaking granted the King a lengthy body, wide chest and near-perfect head-to-body proportions.
There is no other GSD mix breed that looks closer to a real German shepherd dog with VISIBLE improvements.
Retaining even more inclination towards being a guard dog while being slightly more accepting of strangers (as long as they are not found threatening) is deserving of a Kingly name.
Another positive trait for future King owners is the warmer nature of the dog compared to the GSD. You will likely be surprised how well it takes less intense training than the classic.
Prey drive and herding obsession are present but it will duly note your level of energy when interacting with external stimuli. Although adaptable to different living conditions, it does thrive and prefer larger spaces due to the required high level of physical activity.
Children will be safe around it as rough play is rarely a problem with the King shepherd. Chewing and teeth sensitivity play second only to the Labrador retriever.
Two Types Of Dog Breeding Strategy
We saw that there was a lot of careful breeding done to try and find the perfect balance of shepherd dogs.
Several takes on that mean different outcomes when it comes to common health problems.
Inspired by Game of Thrones characters we broke down the practices into two categories.
Inbreeding or pure breeding has been around for ages. It was one of the first attempts to crystallize a breed’s signature trademarks.
The price for it, however, was the introduction of health issues stemming from breeding identical gene pools.
The most notorious condition that ended up plaguing German shepherds was hip dysplasia. It even marked the last couple of decades of GSD breeding.
Only picking the most sizable GSDs and breeding them to cement the size advantage leads to the creation of a dog with poor health but classic appearance.
While it is very common in classic lineages of the German shepherd dog, it can be avoided by choosing German shepherd breeders who conduct ethical breeding practices.
In The Case Of Giant German Shepherds
Since the Shiloh is partially GSD, it has the potential to develop hip dysplasia, though with a much lower incidence rate. When breeders do selective breeding, they choose only the best representative of the breed for mating.
Breeding several generations of the largest candidates from the same litter of Shiloh and GSD can polish the appearance and some desired features but will certainly thin out the health resilience.
This is why the right choice and measure of breed combination means the world in building positive reputation and a good rapport with future owners.
Mix breeding is how both giant German shepherds and Shiloh shepherds were created.
This allows the new breed to mature through natural selection through many generations of different breeds.
For example a Shiloh that has more recent Great Pyrenees or Alaskan Malamute ancestors will fare better (health-wise) in the mix with a German shepherd than a “purebred” Shiloh that has been bred within its familial circle for generations.
The same logic applies for the giant German shepherd. A Shiloh and German shepherd that have been bred from the litters they were born in and kept inside the breeding circle will start showing health problems that were diluted by crossbreeding a GSD and Shiloh.
Keeping the Pyrenees, Malamut, Shiloh or Akita in the lineage will make sure that the benefits of each one of these breeds will be passed on to the resulting giant German shepherd.
Most Common Health Problems
Health issues are present within every dog breed and are unavoidable in some cases. Despite a high resilience to complications and conditions, all three of Shilohs, giant German Shepherd and the King shepherd can develop some of those.
Partly GSD, they can sometimes have problems pertaining to that breed, so here is a list to bookmark. Spotting them early and visiting a vet might considerably extend your dog’s life.
The Dreaded Dysplasia
Not only hip dysplasia but elbow dysplasia too. This problem is common in other large dog breeds too and is usually congenital. However, it can also be caused by obesity with insufficient activity and poor dog food diets.
An eye condition that sees the eyelid roll outward. This makes the inner lid exposed to injury and infection. This is not an uncommon problem with the great Pyrenees dog, so giant German Shepherds can suffer from it too.
Bloat or GDVS
GDVS stands for Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus Syndrome and is commonly referred to as bloat. In essence, the dog’s stomach distends and turns so that blood flow is restricted to one or more vital organs.
The condition stops the dog from being able to puke or burp and can be fatal quickly. Dogs with broad and low-seated chests, such as Alaskan Malamutes, Akitas and the giant German shepherd dog are more prone to developing it.
This condition is a nightmare to deal with because it can involve constant therapy. Causes of perianal fistulae are disputed but most recent studies link it to T-cells. A T-cell is produced in the bone marrow and protects the body from pathogens (virus, bacteria, cancer etc.).
Research suggests it is a congenital state of high tendency towards developing perianal fistulae.
Giant German Shepherd Puppies FAQ
We talked extensively about looks, behavior, health problems, history and other things. Now we need to move towards your questions on giant German shepherd puppies.
The giant German shepherd breed is as cute as the classic GSD but there is more to cute.
Where To Buy And For How Much
Keep in mind that giant German shepherds, Shiloh Shepherds and the King shepherd are not that common a breed. You may need to ask owners of the breed, veterinarians or dog club members for breeder recommendations if you prefer to have a long list.
The American Rare Breed Association recognizes all of these as breeds while the AKC does not. If you plan to participate in dog shows with your giant German shepherd, you will need to research which local dog shows accept your giant doggy.
Checking out some of the breeders listed above, you probably noticed the prices are high. That is due to the rarity and complex process of breeding quality giant German shepherd dogs.
Shiloh shepherds are on the cheaper side, mainly because they have been around for longer than giant German shepherds or the King shepherd.
Shiloh puppies range from $750 to $1100. Giant and King shepherds are quite pricier with “budget” picks going only as low as $1200 and reaching as high as $3000.
We always implore you to research before choosing a breeder and visiting the site. More money does not guarantee quality.
The puppies are large from the get go and require lots of space. This is both because they are inquisitive and territorial.
If you live in an apartment, regular nature trips will provide plenty of intense activity. Feed your giant German shepherd puppy accordingly.
A balanced diet means vitamins, minerals, quality protein and proper dosage. Most large and giant breed puppies will eat until all food is gone, so write down a feeding schedule and fill the gaps with activity.
Training is imperative. A bored and undisciplined dog will make a lot more mess than one taught boundaries. A giant German shepherd puppy should be fairly easy to train as the food drive is strong. Later on, prey drive, herding genes and pulling will take over.
Indoors living will require a safe place for the puppy so invest in a durable, chew-resistant bed and a spacious house if the dog will live in the yard. Remember, raising a puppy that lives inside the house and in the yard is different and your choice will dictate the relationship requirements.
Read Also: German Shepherd Raw Diet Habits: Yes Or No?
Crossing The Ts
Alas, your decision is in front of you and the giant German shepherd information we provided hopefully helps you make it.
Giant German Shepherds require less effort than some breeds in the affection and average lifestyle department but need more on the physical front. If you are a first time dog owner, this would be an intermediate difficulty dog to live with.
That should not discourage you. Loving and wanting to learn about your dog’s personality will lead you over all hurdles. Pull the trigger and walk among giants!