Is the Shiloh Shepherd the Best and Healthiest German Shepherd Dog?

Updated on January 15, 2018
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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

A Shiloh Shepherd adult.
A Shiloh Shepherd adult. | Source


Like the American Alsatian and the Silken Windhound, the dream of one breeder was responsible for the development of this new dog.

Tina M. Barber, a dog breeder from New York, wanted the German Shepherd type dog to look and perform the way it did when she was young—a larger dog, with a great personality around the family, and with none of the conformational defects affecting the modern German Shepherd Dog breed. She eventually separated from the AKC in 1990 and started the International Shiloh Shepherd Registry (ISSR) in 1991.


A Shiloh Shepherd puppy.
A Shiloh Shepherd puppy. | Source

What is a Shiloh Shepherd?

According to the breed standards, the Shiloh Shepherd should be strong, intelligent, and have a fluid movement despite their large size. (Males stand over 30 inches at the withers and weigh up to about 140 pounds. Females can be a little smaller but usually weigh over 100 pounds.)

Their eyes are dark brown, their backs wide and muscular, and their tails long and bushy. Some dogs have a smooth coat; others have thick coats with a distinctive mane. They move nicely and keep a good balance-the sort seen in exceptional quality GSDs. Because of their quality of movement, they are good as agility dogs. Any problems with movement should keep a dog out of the breeding program.

This breed of dog has also been accepted by the American Herding Breed Association since it has the ability and interest in herding. They are used as therapy dogs and search and rescue dogs.

What are the health issues?

This breed actually lives a little longer than most German Shepherd Dogs. Hip dysplasia is a concern in any large dog, but the developers claim to have eliminated this disease through careful selection. It is probably too early to tell.

All large breed dogs can also suffer from panosteitis during rapid growth stages. They might also suffer from bloat, but seem to have fewer problems than other GSDs.

Why are they great pets?

Shilohs look great. They can be black and tan, like a normal GSD, or black, grey, red, silver, or even golden. They might have a small white spot on the chest or toes, but always have a black nose and lips.

Excessive shyness and aggression are not acceptable in a Shiloh Shepherd and they have been developed to be good with children and other animals. They might just look like a big German Shepherd dog but they should be so much more—confident, serious, and attached to their family. Like the GSD they are intelligent, easy to train, and make good guards and watchdogs. If they are socialized correctly a Shiloh Shepherd will make a great companion dog.


A Shiloh Shepherd.
A Shiloh Shepherd. | Source

Should I buy one?

If you like German Shepherd Dogs but are concerned about some of the negative changes that have affected the breed in recent years, the Shiloh Shepherd is a good option. If you want to compete in AKC obedience trials this dog is not eligible, but you can show with other groups like the American Rare Breed Association, the National Kennel Club, the International All Breed Canine Association, and several Shiloh dog clubs.

If you decide to find and buy one of these dogs, you need to be the type of person who is going to take it on a walk once or twice daily. Do not just throw your new dog in the back yard and expect it to keep itself fit. Since they are intelligent they will become destructive if not exercised.

Since Tina Barber, the founder of the Shiloh Shepherd, passed away in 2011, there have been some debates about how the breed should be developed. Some registry organizations outcross with other breeds. In my opinion the dogs produced through the International Shiloh Shepherd Registry seem to be producing the best quality dogs. They seem to be the healthiest and have the least chance of developing genetic diseases. I am sure there are a lot of conflicting opinions.

Shilohs are available in several different colors.
Shilohs are available in several different colors. | Source
The Shiloh Shepherd has been developed to be good with kids.
The Shiloh Shepherd has been developed to be good with kids. | Source

Questions & Answers

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      • Efficient Admin profile image

        Efficient Admin 

        5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

        These dogs are gorgeous just like the shepherds, and as usual the puppy pictures make my day.

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