King Shepherd

Canis lupus

Last updated: March 12, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Northern Exposure by JR/

This hybrid breed is the largest among the shepherd class.


King Shepherd Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

King Shepherd Locations

King Shepherd Locations

King Shepherd Facts

Fun Fact
This hybrid breed is the largest among the shepherd class.
Hard-working and loyal

King Shepherd Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Fawn
  • Red
  • Black
Skin Type
11 years
150 Lbs

King Shepherd as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Cold climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
$1,500 - $2,500
Dog group
Male weight
90-150 lbs
Female weight
75-110 lbs

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The King Shepherd is available with either a straight or curly coat. In both cases, the King Shepherd’s coat is a combination of multiple colors including brown, black, tan, and white.

The King Shepherd was first introduced in the 1990s as an attempt to retain the strong personality traits of the German Shepherd while minimizing the health risks and behavioral issues associated with that breed. This giant, hybrid breed has yet to gain formal recognition from the American Kennel Club, but it does have a breed guide. They share their size, fur, and facial features with the German Shepherds and other herding dogs they’re descended from — but they’ve adopted a great deal of that personality as well. Their enormous size may be intimidating to some, but these are gentle dogs that can adapt well to families and other pets.

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These dogs are hard-working and smart enough to have utility in a number of ways — and they’re protective while still being friendly to people outside of their family. In many ways, this breed feels like it’s a touched-up version of the traditional German Shepherd, although they’re still a work in progress.

Breed Evolution

King Shepherds are a relatively new breed and are still considered to be in development. Started in the 90s by two Americans, David Turkheimer and Shelly Watts-Cross, who wanted a dog that was larger and similar to a German Shepherd but didn’t have the same health issues. They were able to do this by combining the German Shepherd with The Alaskan Malamute, The Great Pyrenees, and at times the Akita,

3 Pros And Cons Of Owning A King Shepherd

The King Shepherd is a great dog, but that doesn’t mean it will be a right fit for every family. Here are the pros and cons.

They get along well with other pets and intentionally exhibit a light touch when dealing with cats, smaller dogs, and children.They shed prolifically and have relatively high grooming demands when compared to other breeds.
They’re smart and hard-working and can fulfill a number of different roles around the house.As a highly active breed, they require a caregiver that’s willing to put in the effort to make sure they get to play and exercise.
They’re protective of families but smart and conscientious enough to evaluate the facts and recognize when a person or animal is not a threat.They’re prone to anxiety issues and can resort to barking and chewing when they’re left alone or ignored for extended periods of time.
King shepherd lying on a sofa.
King shepherds are a highly protective.

©Vach cameraman/

Size And Weight

The King Shepherd is larger than the German Shepherd and ranks as the largest breed in their group. Males can reach a height of nearly three feet, and they fill out that frame with a weight of up to 150 pounds. Females tend to be a little smaller but are still intimidating large when compared to the average breed.

Health and Entertainment for your King Shepherd

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Male Weight110 – 140 lbs
Male Height27 – 32 inches
Female Weight90 – 120 lbs
Female Height25 – 20 inches

Common Health Issues

One of the primary reasons for breeding the King Shepherd was to reduce the risk of health issues that come with the German Shepherd lineage. For the most part, it’s a tactic that seems to have worked. That’s not to say that King Shepherds have a perfect bill of health, but most of their issues are relatively minor and typical across a variety of breeds. The most concerning is Von Willebrand’s disease — a condition similar to anemia that affects blood’s ability to clot after an injury.

King Shepherds are also prone to issues that other large breeds share. Hypothyroidism can throw off the metabolism of a King Shepherd, but it’s most worrying as a harbinger of potentially worse issues like heart disease and diabetes. They’re also prone to an issue called joint dysplasia which can lead to joint pain and poor balance. This is an important issue to keep an eye out for, as severe dysplasia can lead to inactivity and obesity, potentially compounding existing issues.

As long as you pursue regular checkups with the vet and keep an eye on the most common issues, the average King Shepherd will be perfectly healthy. Here are the conditions to look out for:

  • Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Joint dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism


King Shepherd on a snowshoe trail.

King Shepherds crave a sense of purpose and have high activity levels.

©Northern Exposure by JR/

The King Shepherd is renowned for its temperament, which takes some of the best qualities of a German shepherd and tempers them to make them more appropriate for families. King Shepherds bond closely with their caregivers and show an exceptional capacity to control their massive bodies. They can be gentle with both small animals and children — and while they’re highly protective of their families, they’re also friendly with strangers as long as they don’t pose a credible threat.

That said, these are big dogs with big energy. The facts are that King Shepherds were bred to be shepherds, and they crave a sense of purpose. Their high activity levels combine with their high intelligence to produce a dog that expects a lot from their caregivers and can act out when they don’t get what they want. Regular exercise can help expend that energy, but this dog is at its happiest when it has a job to do. Fortunately, they’re smart and adaptable enough to serve as everything from a guard dog to a seeing-eye dog to a police canine.

How To Take Care Of King Shepherds

Caring for a pet King Shepherd can feel like a full-time job, and they demand families that can keep up with their needs. Whether you just got your puppy from the breeder or you’ve adopted a full-grown King Shepherd, here are the facts you need to know about care.

The Best Dog Food For King Shepherds

King Shepherds are imposing dogs, so it should come as no surprise that they eat a lot. Unfortunately, they’re also prone to obesity and hypothyroidism. That means that you should work with a veterinarian to come up with a feeding plan if you’re noticing that your pet is too thin or too overweight.

King Shepherds don’t have any particular dietary requirement, but you should make sure that you’re providing them with food that’s appropriate for their age and nutritionally valuable. It’s recommended that you split feeding time between two to three meals. The average member of the breed will eat between three and four cups of food a day.

In our opinion at A-Z Animals, Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance 30/20 Salmon & Cod Formula Dry Dog Food is the best dog food for King Shepherds.

Dogs with a penchant for overeating often do best on a high-protein diet, since the more efficient energy source keeps them full and gives them lean muscle with sufficient exercise. That makes this high-protein kibble a great match for the King Shepherd. Additionally, this food with real salmon offers a double solution for issues like hip dysplasia, with glucosamine and an omega-3 fatty acid called EPA for joint protection.

See if your dog feels its best eating Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance dog food, available on Chewy and Amazon.

Best Fish Recipe
Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance 30/20 Salmon & Cod Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance 30/20 Salmon & Cod Recipe
  • High protein dog food contains 30% protein and 20% fat for lean muscle and metabolism needs
  • Glucosamine and EPA for joint health and mobility

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Maintenance And Grooming

One thing that King Shepherds inherited from the German Shepherd parents is a propensity for shedding. Whether their hair is curly or straight, grooming will help get rid of dead hair and improve circulation to their skin. Expect to brush your pet roughly every other day, and expect to need to vacuum up fur at least as often. Fortunately, these dogs don’t need regular baths. You can opt to only bathe this breed when their coat has gotten notably messy beyond the ability to be fixed with a brush.


The high intelligence of these dogs can be both an asset and a liability when training them, but patience and consistency will always prevail. These dogs are prone to learning lessons quickly and retaining them in the long term — but despite the fact that they actively seek approval, they’re also prone to distraction. Figuring out rewards that work for your specific dog will help with advanced training, but you can expect the average member of this breed to learn basic tricks very quickly and to fly through obedience training with flying colors.


Shepherding is hard work, and that’s exactly what this breed is built for — so expect to get a workout when you welcome one into your home. These dogs need regular hikes or walks every day — and while they can learn to adapt to living in an apartment, they really thrive when they’re in a larger home without a yard. That’s in large part because these dogs benefit from play as well as simple exercises. Games like tug of war and hide and seek can keep them both physically and mentally engaged, and keeping a variety of toys around can prevent them from growing bored or anxious.


King Shepherds are a hybrid breed that isn’t formally recognized by every major kennel club, so you should know what to expect with the breed when seeking out a breeder for puppies. These puppies don’t require any particular care, though you may want to work with a veterinarian to come up with a dietary plan that suits their size. Keep in mind that this breed is prone to separation anxiety, so properly socializing and training is critical early on. Since these puppies require a lot of attention, they’re a particularly good choice for families who can provide them with varied and consistent attention.

King Shepherd puppy sleeping on the cold floor near the bed.
King Shepherd puppies require a lot of attention and are prone to separation anxiety.

©Vach cameraman/

King Shepherds And Children

It’s understandable to look at the size of these dogs and be worried about how they’ll do around children, but these dogs do exceptionally well even with younger children. They’re very conscientious about being gentle around smaller children and don’t tend to be easily spooked. Any kids that have been properly trained in how to behave around dogs should do well with a properly socialized King Shepherd.

Dogs Similar To King Shepherd

King Shepherds have the most characteristics in common with the breeds that they’re derived from. If you want a dog like the King Shepherd, the Great Pyrenees, Alaskan Malamute, and German Shepherd are very similar.

  • The German Shepherd is the most obvious ancestor of the King Shepherd, and they tend to possess very similar sensibilities. German Shepherds tend to be a bit more aggressive as well as territorial of their families.
  • The Alaskan Malamute is also a working dog, but they pull sleds rather than herding large animals. These big dogs also possess a gentle streak that they share with King Shepherds.
  • Great Pyrenees are also great watchdogs who used to work in the fields. They’re every bit as friendly, but they tend to be a bit more mellow.

King Shepherd Vs German Shepherd

King Shepherds were bred from German Shepherds with the intent of breeding out some of their less desirable qualities. And while these dogs may look quite similar, they have a few distinct differences as well. King Shepherds tend to be larger — usually both a few inches taller and a few dozen pounds heavier. Kings are generally more muscular as well, but they have a sweeter disposition on average. Both breeds are protective of their families, but Kings don’t have the same aggressive streak or standoffish nature when dealing with strangers. Both breeds have the same general colors and looks, although the King Shepherd has a slightly shorter lifespan.

Here are some popular King Shepherd names:

  • Prince
  • Goliath
  • Krypto
  • Malika
  • Fiona
  • Jade

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
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About the Author

Melissa Bauernfeind was born in NYC and got her degree in Journalism from Boston University. She lived in San Diego for 10 years and is now back in NYC. She loves adventure and traveling the world with her husband but always misses her favorite little man, "P", half Chihuahua/half Jack Russell, all trouble. She got dive-certified so she could dive with the Great White Sharks someday and is hoping to swim with the Orcas as well.

King Shepherd FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a king shepherd?

This hybrid dog breed is both larger and gentler than the German Shepherd it most closely resembles. These active and intelligent dogs demand a lot but are relentlessly loving and protective.

What is a King Shepherd mixed with?

These dogs are primarily bred from German Shepherds and Shiloh Shepherds, but many of them also have blood from Great Pyrenees and Alaskan Malamutes.

Are King Shepherds rare?

King Shepherds are a very new breed and still very rare. But these dogs are becoming a popular choice for families, so it’s likely that they’ll become more popular in the years to come.

How much is a king German Shepherd?

Thanks to their rare nature, King Shepherds are relatively expensive dogs. The price for one from a breeder in the United States can run from $1,500 to $2,500. You may be able to find members of the breed at a rescue for less.

Are King Shepherds good with kids?

This breed is great with kids and capable of being very gentle.

How long do King Shepherds live?

The average lifespan of this breed is 11 years.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.


  1. Dogtime / Accessed October 8, 2021
  2. The Spruce Pets / Accessed October 8, 2021
  3. Animalso / Accessed October 8, 2021
  4. World Of Dogz / Accessed October 8, 2021
  5. Pet ID Register / Accessed October 8, 2021

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