What’s the Largest Breed of German Shepherd

by Lisa
How to Train a German Shepherd Puppy

German Shepherds are a widely recognized and admired breed, known for their intelligence, loyalty, and versatility. As one of the most popular breeds worldwide, they are often seen in various roles, from family pets to working dogs in military and police forces. Within the breed, there is a range of sizes, and some enthusiasts and breeders focus on producing larger variants. This article delves into what is considered the largest breed of German Shepherd, exploring their characteristics, history, breeding practices, and considerations for potential owners.

Introduction to German Shepherds

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD), originally bred in Germany in the late 19th century, was intended to be the perfect herding dog. Max von Stephanitz, credited with developing the breed, aimed to create a dog that was not only intelligent and trainable but also physically capable of handling demanding tasks. The breed quickly gained popularity for its versatility, excelling in roles beyond herding, such as search and rescue, protection, and companionship.


Defining “Largest” in German Shepherds

When discussing the “largest” breed of German Shepherd, it’s important to clarify what is meant by “largest.” In this context, “largest” refers to the dogs’ physical size, including their height, weight, and overall build. Standard German Shepherds typically weigh between 50 to 90 pounds (22 to 40 kg) and stand 22 to 26 inches (55 to 65 cm) tall at the shoulder. However, certain lines and breeding practices aim to produce dogs that exceed these typical dimensions.


The King Shepherd

One of the most notable examples of a larger German Shepherd is the King Shepherd. This relatively new breed was developed in the United States during the 1990s by breeders Shelley Watts-Cross and David Turkheimer. The goal was to create a dog that retained the desirable traits of the German Shepherd while increasing size and enhancing certain physical characteristics.


Origins and Development

The King Shepherd was developed by crossing traditional German Shepherds with other breeds such as the Alaskan Malamute and the Great Pyrenees. These crosses aimed to enhance specific traits, such as size, coat texture, and overall robustness. Over time, selective breeding helped stabilize the breed, resulting in dogs that consistently exhibited the desired characteristics.


Physical Characteristics

King Shepherds are larger than the average German Shepherd. Males typically stand 27 to 31 inches (68 to 79 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh between 90 to 150 pounds (41 to 68 kg). Females are slightly smaller, standing 25 to 27 inches (63 to 68 cm) tall and weighing 75 to 110 pounds (34 to 50 kg). Their coats are dense and can be either straight or slightly wavy, providing excellent protection against harsh weather conditions.

Temperament and Abilities

King Shepherds are known for their gentle and loyal temperament. They are highly intelligent, making them easy to train and adaptable to various roles, including therapy work, search and rescue, and as family pets. Despite their size, they are generally good with children and other pets, provided they are properly socialized.

Breeding Practices for Larger German Shepherds

Breeding larger German Shepherds, such as the King Shepherd, involves careful selection and management. Responsible breeders prioritize health, temperament, and conformation to ensure the dogs not only meet size expectations but also remain healthy and well-adjusted.

Selective Breeding

Selective breeding involves choosing parent dogs that exhibit the desired traits, including larger size. Breeders often use detailed pedigrees to track lineage and make informed decisions about which dogs to mate. This practice helps minimize the risk of genetic disorders and ensures the offspring inherit the best possible traits.

Health Considerations

Larger dogs are prone to specific health issues, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, which can affect their mobility and quality of life. Responsible breeders screen their breeding stock for these conditions to reduce the likelihood of passing them on to the next generation. Regular veterinary check-ups and a balanced diet are also essential for maintaining the health of larger German Shepherds.

Socialization and Training

Proper socialization and training are crucial for larger German Shepherds. Early exposure to various environments, people, and other animals helps them develop into well-rounded and confident adults. Training should focus on positive reinforcement techniques to build a strong bond between the dog and owner and ensure good behavior.

Considerations for Potential Owners

Owning a larger German Shepherd, such as a King Shepherd, comes with unique considerations. Prospective owners should be aware of the breed’s specific needs and be prepared to meet them to ensure a happy and healthy life for their dog.

Space Requirements

Due to their size, larger German Shepherds need ample space to move around comfortably. While they can adapt to apartment living if given sufficient exercise, a home with a large yard is ideal. Regular physical activity is essential to prevent obesity and keep them mentally stimulated.

Exercise and Activity

Larger German Shepherds are energetic and require daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. Activities such as long walks, hikes, and play sessions are beneficial. Engaging them in dog sports, such as agility or obedience competitions, can also provide physical and mental stimulation.

Diet and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is vital for maintaining the health and well-being of larger German Shepherds. A balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs is essential. Owners should consult with a veterinarian to determine the best diet plan, considering factors such as age, weight, and activity level.

Grooming and Maintenance

Larger German Shepherds, especially those with dense coats like the King Shepherd, require regular grooming to keep their fur in good condition and prevent matting. Brushing several times a week helps reduce shedding and keeps the coat clean. Regular baths and nail trimming are also part of the grooming routine.

Health Monitoring

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for monitoring the health of larger German Shepherds. Owners should be vigilant for signs of common health issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, and heart conditions. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the dog’s quality of life.

See also: Can Australian shepherds be left alone?


The largest breed of German Shepherd, exemplified by the King Shepherd, offers an impressive combination of size, intelligence, and loyalty. These dogs are well-suited to various roles, from working dogs to family companions, provided their specific needs are met. Potential owners should be prepared for the responsibilities that come with owning a larger German Shepherd, including providing adequate space, exercise, nutrition, and grooming.

By understanding the unique characteristics and requirements of these magnificent dogs, owners can ensure a fulfilling and rewarding relationship with their larger German Shepherd. As with any breed, responsible breeding practices and proper care are essential to maintaining the health and well-being of these remarkable animals. Whether for companionship, work, or sport, larger German Shepherds like the King Shepherd continue to capture the hearts of dog lovers worldwide with their impressive presence and unwavering loyalty.


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