The German shepherd is one of the best known and most easily recognised dogs worldwide, and is consistently one of the most popularly owned dogs in the UK. However, the chances are that unless you know your shepherd breeds very well, you may have spotted a dog and thought it was a German shepherd, when in fact it was another breed entirely, sharing a range of similar traits!
The German shepherd is such a popular dog because they are intelligent, versatile and good workers, and can turn their paws to a wide variety of talents as well as making for great pets. But these traits are also shared by various other dog breeds with the term “shepherd” in their name too, and in this article, we will introduce you to just a few of them.
The Carpathian shepherd dog originates from Romania’s Carpathian Mountain range, and they were first developed to produce a dog that was strong, alert and fast moving, and able to stand up to some of the region’s large predators, such as the lynx and the wild boar.
They tend to be taller and rangier than the German shepherd dog, with long, rough fur in mixed colours such as black and tan, but with a more evenly distributed colour pattern than the German shepherd. Their faces are slightly less pointed and angular, and their ears are usually drooped rather than erect. They also tend to be straighter backed, with less of a slope towards the hindquarters.
The Belgian shepherd dog, also sometimes known as the Belgian Malinois is a very versatile breed, which is often used in working roles interchangeably with the German shepherd. Like their German cousin, they were originally used for combined herding and guarding roles, but their versatility soon saw them seguing into a wide variety of other roles, including police and military work and property guarding.
They are around the same height as the German shepherd but slightly lighter weight, and their coats are either solid black, or black with white areas. Their coats tend to be longer and heavier than the German shepherd, which can make them look bulkier than their cousins, and they also tend to have a noticeably sloped back in the same way that the modern German shepherd breed does.
The king shepherd is the giant of the shepherd dog range, produced from the crossing of the German shepherd, Great Pyrenees dog and the Alaskan malamute. This means that they are both taller, heavier and more muscular than the standard German shepherd, and tend to look much like the German shepherd only bigger! They are renowned for being calm, kind and non-aggressive, making them excellent as both pets and working dogs for certain roles.
They can stand up to 81cm tall, a good 16cm taller than the top end of the German shepherd scale, and weigh up to 68kg, again, a good 28kg heavier than the top of the German shepherd scale!
The Dutch shepherd dog, as the name indicates, is a herding dog of Dutch origins that was created to be versatile, tough, and very hardy. They are still widely used as working herding dogs, and are also intelligent and versatile enough to turn their paws to canine sports such as agility, guarding and obedience training. They make for excellent pets and family companions too, although they require a lot of exercise, and can be prone to being stubborn.
They fall into the same sort of height range as the German shepherd, but are not as heavy, overall having a more lean and lithe appearance. They are generally seen in an all over brindle coat, which, with their lighter build, marks them out from the German shepherd.
The Shiloh shepherd is a new breed that is still in the development stages, and as such, has not yet received wide recognition as a breed in its own right. Their bloodlines consist of the crossing of the German shepherd with the Alaskan malamute, which gives them a look very similar to the German shepherd, but they have a tendency to better hip health than the German breed, which is prone to suffering from hip dysplasia.
They are lively and intelligent dogs that need lots of exercise and access to the outdoors, without which they are apt to become unruly and very destructive.
They tend to be taller and heavier than the German shepherd, standing up to 11cm taller than the top end of the German shepherd range, and potentially weighing up to 19kg more. They can also be found in a wide range of coat colours, ranging from tricolour to bicolour, with black and tan being their two basic coat colours.