As a dog breed, German Shepherds fit into the large dog category, not the Giant dog category that you would find Great Dane and St. Bernard dogs in.
So, what the heck is a Giant German Shepherd, and is this type of German Shepherd healthy?
We set out to find information on these sorts of questions, to give you a better idea of how an xxl German Shepherd fits into the German Shepherd breed.
Let’s dive in!
Giant German Shepherd: 14 Important Things To Know
1) What size is a normal German Shepherd?
We can’t start talking about Giant German Shepherds without first having something to compare them against.
The average German Shepherd will differ in size slightly depending on the bloodline, but in general they tend to be around the following dimensions and size:
- Males average 60-65 cms (24-26 inches) in height, and 30-40 kg (66-88 lb) in weight.
- Females average 55-60 cms (22-24 inches) in height, and 22-32 kg (49-71 lb) in weight.
2) Giant German Shepherd Weight – what size, and how big are they?
Giant German Shepherds don’t technically have a size.
But, if we were to unofficially define them, they generally fit into the category of any dog over the weight of about 110 lbs.
We say this because Great Danes are considered a giant breed of dog, and they start at about the 110 lbs mark.
3) What are the features of Giant German Shepherds?
Giant German Shepherds generally have the following features:
- Giant in weight and overall height/size – at least 110 lbs
- Thick heads
- Big and heavy bones
- Not overweight (when looking at body fat to body size ratio)
- Bred naturally with the health of the dog first in mind as a priority – not size.
- Have the relevant health checks and guarantees
- Are part of the German Shepherd breed – but, just have a genetic history for being big for the breed
4) Are Giant German Shepherds healthy, and is it safe to breed them?
Giant German Shepherds, when coming from a good breeder (with experience and knowledge in dog breeding, and who are ethical in their breeding i.e. place the health and well being of the dog first in addition to following breeding regulations), will simply be a product of parents who are naturally large.
So, Giant German Shepherds are a result of big/giant genes being in their bloodlines and ancestry (obviously these giant lines are rare), are bred the same way a regular sized German Shepherd is.
Giant German Shepherds should not be bred purposely through intentional cross breeding, overfeeding, or unnatural practices JUST to get a giant sized dog.
Having said this, does this mean there aren’t health concerns or risks with having a Giant dog, even if bred naturally and ethically with health as the first priority? No, it doesn’t.
The German Shepherd breed has their own set of genetic diseases and health issues that they are naturally prone to, but when they reach a giant size, they also become prone to other general health conditions that giant breeds like Great Danes are also prone to.
Joint problems, arthritis, and cardiac type issues are all common concerns with giant dogs.
5) How can you tell whether a Giant German Shepherd is simply big boned or heavy boned, or whether it is just overweight?
You’d want to get a professional opinion, but as somewhere to start, you might look at the BCS (body condition score of the dog.
This doesn’t just take into account total weight, as bones and muscle might make up a large majority of a dog’s weight over say fat.
A BCS of 5 out of 9 is said to be ideal – and might mean the following things:
- you should be able to feel the ribs without digging,
- the dog should have a visible a waist,
- there should be a dip under the lumbar muscles,
- and there should be a rounded back (it should be hard to balance a plate on top of the back)
6) What are the health concerns to be aware of with large and giant dogs?
Large and giant dogs not only have to carry around more weight, but their hearts and organs have to work harder, and the dog itself has to deal with genetic disorders and health conditions that are common to their breed.
Giant German Shepherds may be more susceptible to the following health concerns:
- Obesity if overfed, which can lead to a range of issues
- Joint Issues – DM, and Dysplasia in the hips and elbows
- Heart/Cardiac Issues
- + other German Shepherd breed related diseases
7) How can you increase the likelihood you are buying a healthy Giant German Shepherd?
Doing your research on what makes a good breeder is extremely important.
You want to make sure they care about the dog and eventual owner, as opposed to breeding purely for the purpose of producing giant dogs for more money.
You might look for the following things when specifically looking for a Giant German Shepherd:
- Evidence of tests and checks for Degenerative myelopathy
- The dog has been Cardiac tested
- OFA certification of hips and elbows, plus x rays of the hips
- A guarantee on health and temperament of the dogs (if a latent health defect occurs, or the temperament of the dog turns out to be unstable – there is a warranty for your purchase)
- Check whether the breeder states that size is secondary to the health and temper of the dog (this is important)
8) Where Can I Find Giant German Shepherd Puppies For Sale, Good Breeders, or even Adopt?
When it comes to getting a Giant German Shepherd, you can either buy from a breeder or adopt from a rescue or shelter.
Despite the myth, most dogs from shelters are not broken or aggressive. Many are probably the opposite – they are just looking for someone to give their love to.
Thousands of dogs die in shelters and rescues every day – if you are looking for a Giant GSD, strongly consider them first.
In terms of breeders, you’ll want to find a breeder that cares more about the dogs than the financial reward of breeding.
Here are some very helpful guides on considerations for breeders and rescues/shelters, and where to find good breeders and shelters/rescues:
- Things To Consider When Adopting or Rescuing A German Shepherd
- What To Look For When Buying A German Shepherd Puppy: Ethical Step By Step Guide
- Where To Find A German Shepherd Rescue or Shelter Near You
- Where To Find The Best German Shepherd Breeders Near You
While looking around on the net, we had a scan over several breeders that say they offer Giant German Shepherds.
We are not suggesting you go to any one particular breeder, you ultimately have to do your own research and due diligence and make up your own mind.
But, one breeder that stood out as caring about their dogs to us (just on what was presented on their site) was Royal Air German Shepherd.
They appear to be experienced, care about the health of their dogs, care about you as an owner offering health and temperament guarantees (see conditions on their website) for the dogs, and also express that size of their dogs is secondary to health and well being.
They are also very transparent with what they offer and photos of their dogs.
9) How Much Do Giant German Shepherds cost – what is their price?
You will generally pay more for a Giant type GSD because they are rare.
A regular purebred German Shepherd might be anywhere from $500-$1500 through a breeder, whereas a Giant German Shepherd might be anywhere from $1500 up to $3000.
It’s important to note that things like titles, pedigree, demand and supply, and the overall quality and experience of the breeder can increase the price.
10) How Can You Help A Giant German Shepherd live a healthier lifestyle?
Your vet can tell you this, but in general you could:
- Buy from a responsible breeder and get certifications for health, + a guarantee of health for your dog
- Feed your German Shepherd a healthy and balanced diet – get feedback from your vet on a diet that will suit giant dogs (natural joint supplements can help)
- Get regular vet health checks
- Be on the look out for symptoms of diseases and conditions that affect big and giant breed dogs
11) What do people mean when they are talking about large old fashioned German Shepherds?
If you look at pictures of what German Shepherds used to look like compared to now – there are many more variations now and the looks are much different.
There are some ‘old fashioned’ breeders that pride themselves on their dogs which have straight backs, wide heads, big/heavy bones, stable temperaments and an overall old fashioned throw back to what the breed was known for in some parts of the world.
12) XXL German Shepherd, Big Boned German Shepherd, Heavy Boned German Shepherd, Oversized German Shepherd – What Do All These Terms Refer To?
These are all terms used to refer to Giant type German Shepherds.
13) King Shepherd – Are They Giant German Shepherds?
No, they aren’t.
They are a mix breed of German Shepherds and do not fit within the German Shepherd breed.
You can read more about King German Shepherds in this guide.
14) Shiloh Shepherd – Are They Giant German Shepherds?
No, they aren’t.
Once again they are a mix breed or a new breed under development that sits outside the German Shepherd breed.
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