King Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Differences and What’s Best for You

By John Martin - April 21, 2023

King Shepherd

If you’re planning to bring home a dog and are confused between a German Shepherd Dog (GSD) or a King Shepherd and are wondering which breed is the best for you, in this article, we have discussed everything about the two breeds, their similarities and differences that will make your choice a lot easier. So, dive in to know more.

King Shepherd vs German Shepherd: History and Origin

King Shepherd History

A fairly new breed, King Shepherds were developed in the U.S. in 1990 by David Turkheimer and Shelley Watts-Cross. The King Shepherd breed is essentially a hybrid of German Shepherd and other breeds such as Alaskan Malamute, Great Pyrenees, Akita and/or Shiloh Shepherd.

The King Shepherd was the result of the efforts of the breeders who wanted to create a dog similar to the German Shepherd in terms of appearance and temperament, but much larger and also with fewer health problems.

The King Shepherd was officially established in 1995 when the American King Shepherd Club was created. However, the breed is considered a rare breed and is not recognized by the AKC.

German Shepherd History

Among the most recognized dog breeds in the world and top 10 most popular breeds in the United States, German Shepherds (Deutscher Schäferhund in German) are native to Germany and were originally bred in 1899 by the ex-cavalry captain, Max von Stephanitz.

Officially called the Alsatian Wolf Dog in the United Kingdom, after WWI, the breed’s name was changed back to German Shepherd in 1977. Initially, German Shepherds were bred as working farm dogs and herders to herd and protect the flocks of sheep.

Considered as a pure breed, GSDs became quite popular in Germany during WWI and were brought to the U.S. by Corporal Lee Duncan when the war ended. GSDs rose to popularity in the U.S. because of the doggie movie star Rin-Tin-Tin who starred in several movies. The German Shepherd Dog breed was recognized by the AKC as a breed in 1908.

Today, GSDs are a lot more than just herding dogs and they are used as sniffer dogs, military and police dogs, in search and rescue operations and as support dogs for the blind.

GSDs became national heroes when they were used to look for survivors and rescue them by crawling through the wreckage of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks.

Also Read: 36 Adorable German Shepherd Mixes with Pictures

King Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Appearance

What the King Shepherd Looks Like

In terms of their appearance, King Shepherds are quite similar to German Shepherds. Typically, King Shepherds are larger. The males are usually around 27-31 inches tall and weigh around 90-150 lbs, while the female dogs are around 25-27 inches in height and typically weigh between 75 and 110 lbs.

King Shepherds have medium-length, double coats that keep them protected in extreme weather conditions. They have thicker and longer fur around the neck. King Shepherds usually come in colors such as black and tan, black and gold, black and red, black and cream, black, fawn, brown, sable and red.

What the German Shepherd Looks Like

GSDs are mid- to large-sized dogs and have a wolf-like appearance. Typically, male GSDs grow to around 24-26 inches in height, while females are around 22-24 inches tall. GSDs usually weigh around 60 to 95 lb.

GSDs have a long, square muzzle, domed forehead, black nose, large, erect ears, medium-sized, brown-colored eyes, strong jaws and a bushy tail. They have a medium-length double coat that helps to protect them in harsh climates. The outer coat typically has dense, straight hair, while it may sometimes be wiry and wavy.

GSDs come in various colors including bi-colors such as black and tan, black and red, black and cream, black and silver or solid black, sable, gray, blue, liver and white. However, liver and blue are not favored as breed standard colors, while white is not acceptable as breed standard coloring.

King Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Temperament

King Shepherd Temperament

Despite the large size and daunting appearance of the King Shepherd, these dogs are gentle giants. They have a very sweet, calm and even disposition that makes them excellent family pets, especially families with kids. They are gentle with smaller kids and tolerant of other pets in the home.

King Shepherds are not aggressive nor are they hyperactive, making them suitable for single-family homes. While these dogs are quite friendly, King Shepherds are protective by nature, which makes them good guard dogs. King Shepherds love to be busy and like to work. They are driven and can learn any task, however big or small.

These dogs are very intelligent and can be trained very easily and do very well with positive reinforcement and praise. They make excellent police, protection or therapy dogs. Since they were originally bred as herding dogs, King Shepherds need a lot of exercise, with plenty of playing and running around.

When they don’t get enough exercise, King Shepherds can get bored and indulge in destructive behavior to release their pent-up energy. Lots of physical activity can keep your King physically and mentally stimulated, active, healthy and happy.

These dogs love company and if left alone for long periods, they can suffer from separation anxiety, become bored, frustrated and depressed leading to undesirable behaviors.

The Good

  • King Shepherds have gentle, sweet, calm and good-natured dispositions.
  • They are very intelligent and can be trained easily.
  • They are very friendly with kids and other pets, making them excellent family pets.
  • Kings are extremely loyal and fiercely protective of their families but not aggressive.

The Bad

  • These dogs are high on energy and quite active with high exercise requirements.
  • The large size of the King Shepherd does not make them well suited for small apartments as they need plenty of outdoor space.
  • They shed a lot and need to be groomed daily to prevent excessive shedding.
  • Kings can be quite clingy. They hate being left alone for long and can suffer from separation anxiety, leading to destructive behaviors.

German Shepherd Temperament

German Shepherd dog

German Shepherds are reserved dogs with aloof personalities. They are quite wary of strangers and don’t make friends very easily and may even become aggressive. However, when they do make friends with you, they are very loyal.

They are quite pleasant and easy-going with their human owners, but when threatened, GSDs can be fiercely protective, which makes them excellent guard dogs.

GSDs are extremely smart and intelligent dogs and can be trained to do many things such as sniffing out substances, rescuing people lost in a snowstorm, acting as a support dog, etc.

The breed loves to please their humans, which makes them very easy to train. And, from when they are very young, GSDs form strong bonds with their owners and family.

German Shepherds thrive on companionship and love to be around people. And, if left alone for long, they may become bored, frustrated and even suffer from separation anxiety.

GSDs are highly-energetic and active dogs and require plenty of physical exercise every day including running, walking, playing fetch, hiking, etc. to keep them physically and mentally stimulated and happy.

If the GSD does not get sufficient exercise or is left alone for a long time, they can get extremely bored and indulge in destructive behaviors such as chewing, digging, howling or barking. Early socialization and training can help to make your GSD puppy a well-behaved and well-rounded pet.

The Good

  • GSDs are very smart and intelligent dogs that can be trained very easily.
  • Loyal and extremely protective of their owners, these dogs make excellent guard dogs.
  • Extremely agile and high on energy, GSDs are great pets for active owners.
  • These dogs make excellent service dogs, agility dogs, police dogs, rescue dogs and obedience dogs.

The Bad

  • If not properly trained, GSDs can become quite aggressive.
  • These dogs are not very friendly and may not get along with strangers and other pets.
  • They need a home with a yard.

King Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Health Concerns

King Shepherd Health

In general, because of careful and selective breeding to eliminate the diseases afflicting German Shepherds, King Shepherds are sturdier and healthier compared to GSDs. Typically, the lifespan of King Shepherds ranges between 10 to 11 years.

While in general, King Shepherds are healthier compared to German Shepherds, they still are prone to many health problems that afflict mixed breed dogs. King Shepherds commonly suffer from health problems such as elbow and hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand disease, hypothyroidism, bloat, eye problems and allergies.

German Shepherd Health

Generally, German Shepherds are quite a healthy breed and have a lifespan of around 7 to 10 years. However, since they are purebred dogs, they are predisposed to certain genetic conditions, especially as they grow older.

GSDs are prone to elbow and hip dysplasia, which can lead to arthritis and joint problems in the long run. The breed is also prone to other health conditions such as Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) or commonly known as bloat, degenerative myelopathy (DM) and elbow hygroma.

King Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Care and Grooming Needs

King Shepherd: Care and Grooming Needs

King Shepherds have a medium-length double coat of normal density, which keeps them warm in the cold and cool during the hotter months. While their coats are quite easy to care for; however, King Shepherds are big shedders and their coat sheds constantly, which make these dogs ill-suited for people suffering from allergies.

Brushing the coat of the King Shepherd thrice a week is sufficient to keep them well-groomed. An occasional bath with a mild shampoo is good enough because frequent bathing can strip your pet’s coat of natural oils, making it dry and flaky. Clean your pet’s ears every day and check them for any dirt, debris or pests.

Trim your King Shepherd’s nails 1-2 times a month and prevent them from growing too long and click on the floor when they are walking. Brush your pet’s teeth properly, at least thrice a week.

King Shepherds are usually prone to gaining weight and so, it is important to choose high-quality food for your pet and maintain a proper feeding schedule. Ensure that your pet gets around 60-90 minutes of exercise every day to keep him fit, active and healthy.

When your King Shepherd puppy is playing does not allow him to run and play on hard surfaces such as the road, pavement, etc. until he is around 2 years old and his joints are formed fully because this can damage your puppy’s joints. Let your puppy jump and play on the grass.

Also Read: When Do German Shepherds Stop Teething?

German Shepherd: Care and Grooming Needs

Like King Shepherds, German Shepherds also have a medium-length double coat, which is easy to maintain. Generally, GSDs shed a lot and brushing them 2-3 times a week can help to remove any loose hair and keep your pet well groomed.

However, they shed more than usual 1-2 times a year, when they require more frequent brushing to prevent the hair from getting all over your home and furniture. However, despite being a huge shedder, GSDs are clean and odorless dogs and so an occasional bath is fine. Avoid bathing your GSD too often as this will strip the natural oils from his coat making it very dry.

If your pet’s nails are not worn down naturally, then you must make sure to grind or trim your pet’s nails regularly because very long nails can cause structural problems and pain.

Clean your pet’s ears once a week with a cotton ball that has been dipped in mild ear cleaner and check your pet’s ears often for any dirt, bad odor or redness, which can be an indication of an infection.

GSDs love chewing on things and this also helps to keep their teeth clean. Give your pet bones or dental chew toys to chew on as this will help to prevent the build-up of tartar, especially on your pet’s molars. Brushing your pet’s teeth with doggy toothpaste and a soft toothbrush can help to keep his teeth and gums clean and healthy.


So, that brings us to the end of our in-depth guide on the King Shepherd vs German Shepherd and we hope that it has helped you understand the differences between both breeds. Now that you have all the information about both dog breeds, you can make an informed decision about which dog breed is the best for you and your family.