King Shepherd vs German Shepherd: 14 Differences & Facts

Ever heard of a King Shepherd dog? You probably have seen one but made the mistake of thinking it is a variety of the German Shepherd.

It’s a common misconception to think these two are the same breed, and because the German Shepherd is more popular, the less known King Shepherd finds itself being misrepresented. 

Part of this misrepresentation stems from the lack of recognition of King Shepherd.

The latter can’t be registered under the American Kennel Club or any other Kennel Clubs because King Shepherd is a cross between the German Shepherd and the Shiloh Shepherd.

Not being a pure breed, getting recognition is impossible, and that plays a big role in it being mistaken as the German Shepherd. 

King Shepherd and the German Shepherd do have similar traits, but they also have divergent points.

This article will serve to distinguish between both breeds, as well as give some needed information on them. 

King Shepherd vs German Shepherd – General Facts

Close Up King Shepherd and German Shepherd Dogs Laying Side by Side on Grass
Tatyana Consaul / Getty Images

King Shepherd

  • Height: 25–31 inches
  • Weight: 75–150 pounds
  • Coat Type & Colors: Double, medium, dense; Fawn, red, black, brown, sable
  • Temperament: Confident, strong, loyal
  • Life Expectancy: 10–11 years
  • Trainability: High
  • Energy: High
  • Good First-Time Dogs: No
  • Good with Kids: Yes
  • Good for Apartments: Yes
  • Good for Family: Yes
  • Shedding: Yes
  • Barking/Howling: Yes

German Shepherd

  • Height: 22–26 inches
  • Weight: 75–95 pounds
  • Coat Type & Colors: Double, medium, straight; Black, black and tan, blue, gray, silver, white
  • Temperament: Intelligent, loyal, aloof
  • Life Expectancy: 10–14 years
  • Trainability: High
  • Energy: High
  • Good First-Time Dogs: No
  • Good with Kids: Yes
  • Good for Apartments: Yes
  • Good for Family: Yes
  • Shedding: Yes
  • Barking/Howling: Yes

King Shepherd Dog Breed – All You Should Know

Huge King Shepherd Dog Resting on Couch
VacharapongW / Getty Images

King Shepherd History and Origin

King Shepherd is a new breed and was developed in the 20th century.

It is still considered a breed in development and came to life thanks to breeders like Shelley Watts-Cross and David Turkheimer. 

The main dogs that were crossed to develop King Shepherd were the German Shepherd and the Shiloh Shepherd (itself a cross between the German Shepherd and the Alaskan Malamute).

Some other dog breeds were also included in the process, like the Great Pyrenees and the Akita. 

King Shepherd Appearance

King Shepherd is a huge dog, falling into the category of “gentle giants.” Unlike some other hybrids, this breed has a set standard.

Males are usually bigger than females. They weigh between 90 and 150 pounds, while the females weigh between 75 and 110 pounds.

The Males are also taller than the females by 2 to 3 inches. Suffice to say; this isn’t a breed you can coop on your laps. 

King Shepherd has a dense, medium-length coat with hairs that look a lot like feathers.

The coat often comes in a fawn, red, black, brown, or sable color. This breed is a high-shedder and, as such, isn’t the best for an allergy sufferer. 

In looks and body shape, this dog is just as you’d expect. Pointed wolflike ears with a long muzzle and brown eyes characterize its face.

The breed is athletic and muscular, as its body shows.

King Shepherd Temperament and Personality

King Shepherd is gentler than its looks and body suggest. That said, it is also protective and won’t hesitate to defend its family from an intruder.

Its size alone is enough to deter someone, and if that doesn’t work, it will go full protective method. With people it considers friends, it will be loving.

King Shepherd is a hard worker and would never pass off an opportunity to work. This dog will be frustrated in a household with nothing to do.

Whether big or small, having a job to do gives this breed a sense of purpose.

For some families, this means a lot of mental games to keep them stimulated.

However, working is not all this dog is good at. This breed loves its family and is affectionate with them.

It is good with kids, other dogs, and cats, especially when well socialized. This breed shouldn’t be left alone, or it will become bored and destructive.

German Shepherd Dog Breed – All You Should Know

German Shepherd Dog Standing on Grass
Alexandrumagurean / Getty Images

German Shepherd History and Origin

The German Shepherd dog comes from Germany and is also considered a new breed compared to others.

In 1899, a retired army official named Max Von Stephanitz started breeding what he hoped would be a standard and unparalleled herding dog breed.

German farmers used a lot of herding dogs then, but there was no uniform breed.

After studying how best to go about his vision, he bought a wolflike dog named Hektor Linkshrein, who he later renamed Horand von Grafrath.

This dog became the foundation of the GSD.

When Germany became industrialized, the need for herding dogs diminished. Max von Stephanitz then used his connections to get the GSD enlisted in the military.

The breed participated in the 1st world war as a military dog and played various roles like Red Cross dog, messenger, and sentry.

It got the attention of American soldiers during the war, and after the war, the popularity of this breed increased. The years after the war saw a lot of Anti-German sentiments, and that affected the GSD too.

In 1917, the American Kennel Club changed the breed’s name to the Shepherd Dog, and the British Kennel Club renamed it the Alsatian Wolf Dog. It took a while for the clubs to revert to the old name.

German Shepherd Appearance

This dog is big but won’t be considered a giant. Males are bigger than females, just like with many dog breeds, but the difference isn’t much.

The Male German Shepherd is taller than females by 2 inches, while the weight ranges between 75 and 95 pounds.

It has a double coat which is usually medium in length, though there are some longhaired German Shepherds.

The outer coat of this breed is both dense and straight, while the undercoat is thick.

German Shepherds are heavy shedders and go on all year. It comes in a variety of colors, the most popular being black and tan.

As a descendant of a wolflike dog, this dog has a close resemblance to the wolf. Its ears are large and erect, with a long snout, bushy tail, and muscular back.

German Shepherd Personality and Temperament

German Shepherds have all it takes to be a guard dog, from their courage to their reserved nature. They are popular police dogs for a reason and function well as guard dogs of a house.

The breed isn’t an overly friendly dog. It is aloof towards strangers, an instinct from its herding days. But to those it loves, it is a highly loyal dog.

The GSD is also affectionate towards its family members, and it doesn’t enjoy being left alone as it can suffer from separation anxiety.

This guard dog also doubles as a companion and would love to protect you while being by your side. It is also a worker and has a strong work ethic, needing a lot of physical activities.

These dogs make good household pets as they are good with kids and can also co-operate with other dogs and animals.

King Shepherd vs German Shepherd – What’s the Difference?

Close Up King Shepherd and German Shepherd Dogs Face Side By Side
Getty Images

The major difference between King Shepherd and German Shepherd dogs lies in the fact that the latter is a purebred dog, while the former is crossbred. This is not surprising as the German Shepherd has been around since 1900, while King Shepherd was first bred in 1991.

However, while both breeds are easily mistaken for each other and have similar traits, there are some known differences.

Size

King Shepherd is generally bigger than the German Shepherd, and while the latter is classified as medium to large, the former is solely large.

Some are even classified as giants because they weigh more than 100 pounds! 

King Shepherd generally weighs between 75 and 150 pounds, while the German Shepherd weighs between 75 and 95 pounds.

King Shepherds are also taller by a difference of 3 to 5 inches. If you see a German Shepherd that weighs more than 100 pounds, chances are it is a King Shepherd.

The King Shepherd’s head is also bigger than that of the German Shepherd, and it looks more imposing.

Appearance

Appearance is the major common point between both breeds. At first glance, it is hard to tell the difference, so if you’ve once made a mistake, you’re in good company.

One main difference between King Shepherd and the German Shepherd is the coat. King Shepherd’s coat is usually thicker than that of the German Shepherd, and though the latter can be longhaired, the former is longer.

Another difference between both breeds is the dark color often found on the paws, noses, and fur of King Shepherd.

The German Shepherd is usually lighter and might have pink shades on the paws. You’ll also find more colors on the GSD than on King Shepherd.

Energy

Both breeds are both highly energetic dogs. As working dogs, they love having enough physical and mental activities to do.

These dogs aren’t suitable for an idle or laid-back owner. That said, they can cope in an apartment after enough exercise.

King Shepherd needs a minimum of 1 to 2 hours of exercise each day when it is an adult. The puppy needs about 20 to 30 minutes of low-intensity exercise.

Physical activities for the King Shepherd adult include jogging, hiking, and long walks. They should be allowed to exercise till they get tired, but do not let them overexert themselves as they may not know when to stop.

The German Shepherd sometimes needs lesser exercise, but that’s not always the case. Their exercise level often ends up being relatively the same as King Shepherd.

The German Shepherd needs at least 1 hour and 30 minutes of exercise each day. Hiking, jogging, fetch, and walking are suitable for this breed.

Temperament 

There’s a noticeable difference in the temperament and behavior of both breeds.

King Shepherd was bred with the temperament of the German Shepherd but with a gentler edge.

While the German Shepherd was bred primarily for work, breeders of King Shepherd had family in mind.

Because the latter is gentler, they tend to be friendlier, even towards strangers.

The German Shepherd may be polite if the visitor is accomodating enough, but it is usually aloof and reserved.

They are usually more protective and more likely to attack an intruder.

Trainability

German Shepherd Dog Training
Sergii Baibak / Getty Images

Both breeds are intelligent and love to work, two qualities that make them highly trainable. However, they aren’t for everyone to handle.

New pet parents will find it highly challenging to train these Shepherd dogs because they’re independent and can sometimes be stubborn. 

Start training King Shepherd at a very young age so you can establish your place as the leader.

If adopting an adult, hire the services of a professional trainer as it would be challenging to train at that time.

The ideal moment to start training your King Shepherd is at eight weeks. It should know how to recognize its owner and obey commands.

It should also get socialized and relate with strangers alongside other animals. 

German Shepherds have similar requirements, except that they may need more socialization than King Shepherd because they tend to be more aloof.

You might also need a professional trainer if you adopt an adult German Shepherd, so it is best to get a puppy if you want to handle the training yourself.

Obedience training and socialization are vital for this dog.

Health and Life Expectancy

Both dogs are healthy breeds, but they do not have the same lifespan. While King Shepherd gets up to 11 years, the German Shepherd peaks at 14 years.

Both breeds are vulnerable to hip dysplasia, a condition that’s common amongst big dogs and a couple of small dogs.

Hip dysplasia is usually inherited and is caused by a looseness in the hip joint. Left untreated, the joint will deteriorate and lead to arthritis.

It comes with symptoms like limping and a reluctance to exercise. They are both also susceptible to elbow dysplasia.

Another issue common to both breeds is bloating, also known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV). It is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the stomach gets filled with air, food, or fluid and twists.

Coat and Grooming

While both breeds have a double coat, the length and coat texture of King Shepherd and the German Shepherd differ.

The King Shepherd’s coat usually grows longer and is thicker, but both breeds have the same grooming need.

As high shedders, they need regular brushing. Owners also should invest in good vacuum cleaners.

They should be bathed, but only when necessary. Too much bathing can remove the oil from their skins, which can lead to irritation and dryness. Use a mild shampoo that won’t harm the coat.

Other forms of hygiene are common between both breeds. The nails, teeth, ears, and the areas around the eyes need to be properly taken care of.

Status

Perhaps the biggest difference between King Shepherd and the German Shepherd is the breed status.

The German Shepherd is a pure breed that was recognized under the Herding Group of the American Kennel Club.

On the other hand, King Shepherd hasn’t achieved purebred status and may not get there anytime soon. It remains a designer breed, albeit with more standards.

Origin and AKC Recognition

The German Shepherd originated in Germany and only got popular in the United States after the World War. King Shepherd originated in the United States in the 1990s.

They are related, though, as the German Shepherd is a parent of the King Shepherd. That could explain the close resemblance between them.

The GSD is the only one of the two that is recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Feeding 

Both breeds are big eaters, but because of the King Shepherd’s size, it will need more than the GSD.

This isn’t an absolute rule, however, as other factors contribute to the nutritional requirements of both breeds.

Generally, King Shepherd requires 3 to 4 cups of food divided into two meals.

The diet should be targeted toward big dogs, and you should still meet a veterinarian for your dog as its feeding ratio might defer from the usual. German Shepherds, however, require around 2.5 to 3.5 cups a day.

Both breeds are prone to overfeeding and obesity, so you should measure their meals and avoid free-feeding them.

Bloating is another condition to avoid, and you can do that by not letting them rush their food. Also, do not exercise your dog immediately after a large meal.

Price

The GSD is more popular and more in demand, so it tends to be more expensive.

You can get a standard German Shepherd puppy between $1,500 and $3,000. The King Shepherd puppy price also starts at $1,500, but it hardly gets to $3,000.

It does depend on the age, breeder, and location. Some breeders might increase the price of King Shepherd if they realize there’s a high demand for it in their environment.

Regardless of which breed you want, find a reputable breeder. You do not want to battle with an ill-bred pup. Avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills.

You can opt for rescue shelters too. Those with German Shepherds might have some King Shepherds for adoption.

Are They Good Guard Dogs?

Both King Shepherd and German Shepherd are good guard dogs, but the latter has garnered more reputation in guarding because of its long-term police career and fierce protectiveness.

King Shepherd is gentler, though it appears more intimidating. Those in need of fierce guard dogs often prefer the GSD to King Shepherd.

Are They Good with Kids and Other Pets?

Both breeds are known to be good with kids. King Shepherd is gentle, sweet, and tolerant with children, including rowdy ones.

German Shepherds are also kid-friendly, but they are not so gentle around kids. They might accidentally knock a toddler down.

King Shepherd is best suited for a house with younger kids. They are good with pets and other animals when well socialized.

Are They Good Family Dogs?

Both breeds are good family dogs, but they’re not for everyone.

Your level of experience, environment, family, lifestyle, and personal preference all play a role in determining which dog breed will do better for your family.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is the King Shepherd aggressive?

King Shepherd was bred to be a gentler version of the German Shepherd. As such, it is less aggressive than the GSD. However, it has a fiercer look.

Is the King Shepherd a German Shepherd?

King Shepherd and the German Shepherd look the same, but they aren’t. They are different breeds with distinct traits.

Is the German Shepherd better than King Shepherd?

King Shepherd and German Shepherd share similar looks and temperament, so one can’t be said to be better than the other.

More people go for the German Shepherd because it is popular, but King Shepherd has its assets that people recognize.

King Shepherd vs German Shepherd – The Verdict

German Shepherds have parented a good number of designer breeds, including the King Shepherd.

The latter still remains uncommon, but with many pet parents prioritizing gentleness in their breeds, the popularity of King Shepherd is set to increase.

Both breeds have their strengths and weaknesses, and your choice depends on you.

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