Shiloh Shepherd Dog

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Shiloh Shepherd
Plush-coated Shiloh Shepherd
Common nicknames Shilohs
Origin United States
Breed status Not recognized as a standardized breed by any major kennel club.
Notes Recognized by Rare Breed organizations for Showing purposes.
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Shiloh Shepherd is a rare breed of dog that is still under development. They are not recognized by any major kennel club, but may be shown in rare breed organizations.

Shiloh Shepherds are larger and have a straighter back than most modern German Shepherd Dogs;[1] they are bred for intelligence, size, and stable temperaments. Their coats can be a variety of colors and color mixes. They compete in obedience, agility and herding events and work as therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, livestock guardians and service assistance.



According to the breed standard, the Shiloh Shepherd should have a regal bearing that shows intelligence and strength. The balance between elegance and strength is the key to their distinct appearance and fluid movement. Their larger size should not impede their movement or grace.

The head should be broad and slightly domed with a gradually tapering muzzle; bite alignment is important since either an over or undershot bite is a disqualifying fault. Muzzles and lips should be black; though pink has been seen, it is a fault. Ears should be firm, triangular and well cupped; they are carried erect when at attention. Their eyes are always a shade of dark to light brown; no other eye colors are bred.

Their broad and muscular backs should be straight with a gradual slope from the withers that complements their full chest. Tails should be long, plush and slightly curved; they may show a more pronounced curve when the dog is excited or exercising but should never be a ring or a hook shape.[2]

Size standards

The Shiloh Shepherd is powerfully built and well-balanced and should have a proud carriage and smooth, effortless gait. The male Shiloh stands 30 inches (76 cm) or more in height with a minimum of 28 inches (71 cm); he weighs 120 to 140 pounds (54–65 kg) with a minimum of 110 pounds (50 kg). The female is smaller, standing 28 inches (71 cm) or more in height with a minimum of 26 inches (66 cm) and weighing 100 to 120 pounds (45-54 kg) with a minimum of 80 pounds (36 kg). With their even proportions, Shilohs should appear longer than they are tall.[2] They are bigger than German Shepherd Dogs.

Coat types

Shilohs come in two distinct coat varieties: the smooth or double coat and the plush coat. The smooth coat should be of medium length and lie close to the body; the hair at the neck and on the back of the fore and hind legs may be longer and thicker than other areas. The outer coat will be dense, straight, and harsh. The plush coat is longer, with a soft undercoat and a distinctive "mane" which extends to the chest. The body coat should not be over 5 inches (12.5 cm) long but will have feathering inside the ears and behind the legs which should not be over 3 inches (7.5 cm) long.

The smooth coat is easier to groom, though the plush coat may shed less. For show purposes, the tufts that grow between the toes and pads must be trimmed. Coats that are open, wooly or curly are serious faults.[2]

Coat colors

Shilohs come in a wide range of coat colors. They may be bi or dual colored in black with tan, golden tan, reddish tan, silver, or sable. They can also be solid golden, silver, red, dark brown, dark grey, or black sable. Solid black and solid white are possible, but for show purposes, the nose, lips, and eye rims must be solid black. Blue and liver colors are possible but not bred for since they are disqualifying faults.[3]

Shilohs may have a small white blaze on the chest or white on the toes, but white in any other area is a fault. To meet the standard, this should blend in with the lighter color of their coat. Pale, washed-out colours are discouraged.[2]

Movement and gait

The Shiloh's gait is smooth and rhythmic. Their long strides and flowing motion require good muscular development. Even while in a flying trot, the straightness of their back should be maintained. The full trot is steady and level, without swaying or rolling. To help keep their balance, their feet are brought in toward their middle line when running. Forward reach of the dog should be as long as possible, ideally extending past the nose, giving the Shiloh the impression of "flying". Faults in movement or carriage are serious.[2]


Bred as companions, Shilohs have loyal and outgoing personalities. They were developed to be gentle and loving, able to work with animals and children, while still possessing a trainable drive for working applications, such as assistive service, obedience, or herding. With proper socialization they adapt easily to a variety of environments and are stable. Extreme aggression or shyness is severely penalized in the breed standard.[2]


Shilohs have an average life span of 9–14 years, on par with the German Shepherd Dog breed.

As with other large/giant breed dogs, Shilohs may experience problems with bloat and torsion. Small intestine bacterial overgrowth syndrome has also been reported and can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and difficulty absorbing nutrients from food. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is another health concern although manageable with digestive enzyme supplementation. Each condition is serious and should be treated immediately by a veterinarian.[4] [5]

Shilohs are susceptible to hip dysplasia and other skeletal disorders. An exhaustive and detailed genetic breeding program has greatly reduced the incidence of hip and elbow dysplasia. [6] Panosteitis may occur during a Shiloh's growth stages.[7]

Titling and competition

Using their speed and balance, Shilohs perform agility related activities with ease. However, due to slower bone growth they should not perform strenuous obstacles or jumping until they reach maturity. Shilohs have herding instincts that make them excellent partners in the arena. Shilohs have been recognized by the American Herding Breed Association (AHBA) since 2004.[8] The AHBA's preliminary test for Herding Instinct is used to determine if a Shiloh has the instincts and interest for herding.[9]

Shilohs have been trained as search and rescue dogs. In March 2007, a Shiloh named Gandalf received national media attention after finding a Boy Scout lost in the mountains of North Carolina.[10]

File:Shiloh Shepherd Dog.jpg
Child with Shiloh Shepherd Dog

Shilohs' gentleness and calm temperament allow them to be a part of therapy work.[11] Their intelligence and willingness to please make them highly suitable for work as assistance dogs. They respond quickly to training and retain the capacity to make independent decisions when situations change. They are frequent recipients of the AKCs "Canine Good Citizen" Award and have been awarded the Companion Dog title, the Companion Dog Excellent title, the Utility Dog title and been certified as Reading Education Assistance Dogs.[12][13]

Shilohs are easy to handle and even children can be successful in the show ring. Currently Shilohs can be shown in the American Rare Breed Association, the International All Breed Canine Association, Rarities, Inc., the Rare Breed Club of South Western Ontario, the National Kennel Club Inc. and the National Canine Association as well as special shows by two Shiloh dog clubs and an annual Homecoming held by the breed founder.


German Shepherd Dog used as Foundation stock, circa 1978

The Shiloh Shepherd was developed by Tina M. Barber of Shiloh Shepherds (kennel) in New York, United States. In 1974, she began developing a new line of German Shepherd Dog. Her goal was to preserve the type of dog she remembered from her childhood in Germany: dogs that are good family companions, exceptionally intelligent, both physically and mentally sound, and large in size.[14][15]

Tina separated her foundation stock from the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1990, and the FIC (Federation of International Canines) agreed to register these dogs as a separate breed. FIC is not to be confused with the Fédération Cynologique Internationale – World Canine Organization (FCI). The name chosen for these dogs was "Shiloh Shepherd" after the kennel of origin. Shortly thereafter, the Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club of America, Inc. (SSDCA, Inc.) was formed to preserve and protect the future welfare of the breed. In 1991, the International Shiloh Shepherd Registry (ISSR) was established and took over registry functions from the FIC.[14][15]

In 1993, The Complete Computer Place (TCCP), using a specially designed database program, officially started maintaining breeding records. This program tracked nine generations of pedigree and LMX (Littermate X-Ray Program) data and computerized all the older paper files. The ISSR used this program to document vital data on each Shiloh Shepherd in its registry. Tina Barber was active in the development of the breed as the President of the SSDCA, Inc. and Breed Warden for the ISSR.[15][16] Tina Barber died at the age of 63 on May 30, 2011 in Warsaw, New York.[17] Lisa Barber (daughter) has assumed the role of Breed Warden and Registrar of the ISSR since the death of her mother.

In 1997, during a period when the SSDCA was inactive, The International Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club (ISSDC) was opened. In 1998, the ISSDC opened their own registry, calling it the ISSDCr. The Shiloh Shepherd Breed Association (SSBA) was opened shortly after and assumed registry functions for the ISSDCr. The National Shiloh Breed Registry (NSBR) was established in 2001 and The Shiloh Shepherd Registry (TSSR) in 2002. In 2004, the ISSDC was reorganized as a parent club for the NSBR, the SSBA, and the TSSR. In June 2009, the SSBA was closed.[15][18][19][20]

There are significant differences of opinion between the founding club and registry and subsequently established clubs and registries as to how best serve the breed.[21][22]


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  3. TSSR (2003). "Shiloh Coat Color Guide" (pdf).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Barber, Tina M (April 1, 2006). The Shiloh Shepherd Story....Against the Wind — A Breed Is Born. Mid-Atlantic Highlands. ISBN 978-0-9771978-2-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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