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King Shepherd: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

king german shepherd puppy sleep near bed_Vach cameraman_shutterstock

Height: 25-31 inches
Weight: 75-150 pounds
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Colors: Sable, black, black and tan
Suitable for: Active families, Rural/Homestead living, Experienced dog owners
Temperament: Intelligent, Alert, Watchful, Devoted, Loyal, Active, Athletic

German Shepherds have gone through one of the most drastic changes to confirmation, causing an uproar amongst the breed’s fans and breeders. While some insist that the changes are great for showing, others are adamant that the breed has changed too much. This has left a lot of loyal breeders to turn to crossbreeds to undo some of these changes, creating variants of the German Shepherd that were closer to the original dogs of this amazing breed.

King Shepherds are one of these variants, often described as German Shepherds without the modern breed issues. These massive dogs are closer to the foundation German Shepherds, with no sloping backs and other similar changes that have made such a dramatic change. With great temperaments, high levels of intelligence, and exceptional trainability, it’s only a matter of time before King Shepherds become a recognized breed.

Divider 1King Shepherd Puppies – Before You Bring One Home…


3 Little-Known Facts About King Shepherd

1. King Shepherds are not recognized by major kennel clubs.

Although they’ve been bred to bring back the “original” German Shepherd, King Shepherds are not a recognized breed by major kennel clubs such as the American Kennel Club. Thankfully, King Shepherds have a good chance at becoming a fully registered breed due to careful breeding practices.  They are accepted in some dog shows, including the American Rare Breed show program.

2. King Shepherds are larger than German Shepherds.

King Shepherds simply tower over most German Shepherds, hovering over 2 to 6 inches taller. They’re also stronger and heavier than German Shepherds, especially ones from showing lines. King Shepherds are also bigger than White Shepherds, a color variant that is considered its own breed in the United States.

3. King Shepherds were originally mixed with Shiloh Shepherds.

King Shepherds are mixed with German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, and Great Pyrenees dogs, but they’ve also been mixed with another hybrid. Now a recognized breed, Shiloh Shepherds have helped develop King Shepherds. Since Shiloh Shepherds started out the same way, Kings are on their way to recognition.

german shepherd vs great pyrenese or alasakan malamute
Original breeds used to make the King Shepherd | Left: German Shepherd, Middle: Great Pyrenees, Right: Alaskan Malamute (Credit: Pixabay)

Temperament & Intelligence of the King Shepherd 🧠

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Yes, generally speaking, King Shepherds are great family dogs. Though they may be quite strong, King Shepherds are gentle and playful with children. They tend to be overprotective, however, so it’s important to socialize with them as early and frequently as possible. King Shepherds do best in homes with active families that have the time and space for them, but even younger children are safe around these large canines. As always, children should be supervised when dogs are around, especially with unfamiliar children around dogs.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Yes and no- it depends on the individual King Shepherd. While some will enjoy having other dogs in the house, others may not be as accepting. Early socialization is important, but some Kings do better as the only dog even after being frequently socialized. This is similar for cats and small animals, except it will depend on the prey drive. King Shepherds can have a very high prey drive, making cats and small animals too tempting to resist. We recommend introducing any pets before deciding to see if it’s a good fit.

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning a King Shepherd:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

It’s important to feed your King Shepherd a diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals since the breed is a very active one. A dry kibble formulated for large breeds is highly recommended, provided that it is a complete diet. Look for a diet with around 20-25% crude animal protein without low quality, filler ingredients. There are also a lot of brands designed for working dogs that may be a great option for your King. When in doubt, consult with your veterinarian to ensure your King Shepherd is eating a complete and balanced diet.

Exercise 🐕

Exercising your King Shepherd is extremely important for a long list of reasons, including helping prevent destructive boredom and to maintain a healthy weight. King Shepherds enjoy exercising and thrive off of it, so this is not a breed for sedentary lifestyles. At a minimum, a few long-distance walks and a couple of hours of off-leash playtime is recommended. Many behavioral issues stem from a lack of exercise, so you must be able to provide it.

King Shepherds are incredible athletes with high levels of intelligence, so consider taking up a canine sport with your dog. From field trials to agility, dock jumping to Shultz Hund, your King Shepherd can easily become a serious competitor with time and the right training. We recommend contacting your local sport dog competition center for more information.

Training 🦮

Training your King Shepherd can be both easy and a challenge, depending on your experience level with dogs. Kings do best with a calm, collected owner that can lead them with confidence, as these dogs will test their boundaries any chance they can get. Basic obedience training with positive reinforcement is a good start, but inexperienced dog owners may struggle with more advanced training. We recommend hiring a professional dog trainer that understands shepherds if you’ve never owned or trained a dog before.

Early socialization is very important for your King Shepherd. These dogs are known for their natural guarding tendencies and need to be taught boundaries with strangers, friends, and other dogs. Some Kings develop same-sex dog aggression without being socialized, so they must interact with dogs at a young age.

Grooming ✂️

Taking care of your King Shepherd’s coat will be a bit of a challenge, but it can be maintained daily for easier care. A daily brush out of the coat with a bristle brush will help remove knots and debris, while a weekly brush out with a slicker can help reduce shedding. Because of their shaggy coats, it’s important to maintain the coat to prevent large matting and snarls. Bathing your King Shepherd can be done once in a while, but the thick undercoat tends to trap moisture. This can lead to dry, irritated skin if the coat isn’t fully dry. Your King’s nails will also need to be trimmed monthly, or as often as needed.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Minor Conditions
  • Bloat/GDV
  • Skin Allergies
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Eye Problems
Serious Conditions
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Hypothyroidism

Divider 3Male vs Female

With most small and medium breeds, there aren’t many differences between male and female dogs. While this is true for temperament and training, there is quite a size difference between male and female King Shepherds. Size difference aside, the choice is a personal one and should be made with all family members involved.

Divider 5Final Thoughts

King Shepherds may not be a popular or recognized breed now, but it will only be a matter of time. Between their excellent temperaments and lack of physical deformities of the German Shepherd, King Shepherds are quickly becoming a top breed. These dogs can be a handful in the wrong environment, but they’re otherwise versatile, athletic canines with a lot of potential. If you live an active lifestyle and are looking for an energetic, athletic breed, the King Shepherd will not disappoint.

Featured image credit: Vach cameraman, Shutterstock

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