Broken Hearted Breed Founder Update – 2004

Written by Tina M. Barber


We all know it only takes 3-4 generations in order to set “type” as far as breed development is concerned. Once “set” it is imperative that proper selection is continued in order to “lock in” the desired qualities. That’s when good Hobby Breeders step in to help the founder properly expand the gene pool!

In my kennel it took me nearly 2 decades before I knew enough about the various genes in the particular lines I was using, before I even ventured out to set MY “type” for the “breed” that would later be known as the Shiloh Shepherd™.

Good breeders use a variety of techniques (tools) in order to attain the desired results, although each program should properly combine each of the options at various intervals in order to maintain a solid balance of homozygosity.

Back Yard Breeders (BYB’s) and Puppy Millers are not concerned with the genetics involved, and just breed for phenotype (2 dogs that look similar) in order to produce others somewhat like them. In old well established breeds this type of “mentality” is not as dangerous as it would be in a young “Rare” breed with a limited gene pool—or worse yet—a breed still under development like my Shiloh Shepherds.

Many moons ago, a friend of mine had a Golden/Sheltie mix female.  Lady looked like a small Golden Retriever with some white on her chest.  That Christmas season she gave my friend an interesting surprise ... 5 pups!!  Since she had not been with any "male" that he could think of (they lived in a wilderness cabin in Canada, doing some scientific research) the only conclusion was that she must have bred to the lone coyote that had been hanging around!!

As the pups grew, it was clear to see that 2 of them looked a lot like little coyotes, by 5-6 weeks of age they both had small erect ears!  The other 3 were very different, almost resembling longer haired Beagle mixes!!  One of those, as he grew had some severe temperament problems & was put down, the other 2 males were neutered and placed with friends .. but Peter could not resist keeping the "coyote" pair!!  He was interested in seeing if he could produce a litter that would resemble the coyote, but still retain Lady's wonderful (gentle) personality!  We call this "type"
breeding, focusing only on the phenotype (what the "dogs" looked like) instead of what they had mixed in their genetic (genotype) recipe.

His first few tries did not produce anything, but finally when "girl" was 3 years old "boy" managed to impregnate her.  This resulted in 4 pups, 3 that looked a LOT like Beagles, but the smallest  one almost looked like an Aussie, with a heavy plumed tail!!  None of the pups had erect ears, except for Bingo (the last one) whose ears were smaller & partially erect, like a Sheltie.  Two of the pups were females, and he chose to try breeding both of them back to their sire, for one last try.  Bingo never conceived, but Snoopy did manage to have 2 pups. Neither one resembled a coyote, yet both had terrible temperaments and Peter ended up putting them both down!  By the time they reached 4 months of age they were destroying his cabin, and it was time for him to move back to "society" so he had no choice but to send them over to the rainbow bridge.  His study proved that such mixes just don't work!!  He also proved that breeding just for phenotype is a lot more complicated then folks may realize!!  Puppies often resemble their grandparents more then they do their actual parents, and when you drastically mix extremes in "type" & temperament, you could be asking for some major heartbreaks!!

I used to have pictures of all of these pups, but unfortunately they were lost in the fire, and I have not been able to contact him with a request for replacements (he could be off on some other project) but I am sure that once I can reach him, you will find the pictures quite interesting! ;-)

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about genetics, please be sure to read all of the articles we have listed for you in our Learning Center!

As you can see by the story I shared, breeding is a much more complex endeavor than people tend to assume it to be. Much thoughtful consideration has to be properly utilized in order for the final “product” to be all that it was meant to be! After all, we are dealing with living creatures that need to be cared for, even if they are born genetically inferior! A conscientious breeder understands the potential hazards that must be overcome each time any two dogs are selected for a specific mating. Decades of experience should be applied to each selection. If the specific Hobby Breeder has not been involved with a particular breed for several decades, he/she should certainly seek the advice of a REB mentor that has!! Self appointed “experts” (without proper credentials) will never be able to produce litters of quality pups consistently!

They may occasionally “luck out” with a few good specimens—but over all the gene pool will not benefit—instead it will only continue to deteriorate.

Please take a few minutes to read Puppy Producers: What Are They?

For example, let’s take a look at what has happened to my Shiloh Shepherds™ since the splinters, aka oxymorons started to mess with my dogs!

In 1998, the ISSDCr (now defunct) set out on a “new” path that convinced a few inexperienced BYB's to ignore my advice. Did they manage to “improve” the “breed”? You be the judge, just click on my special reports showing pictures of their “best” dogs in competition.

Cherry Blossom 1999 | Brookville 2000 | Frederick 2001 | Sportsman Show 2004|

Now let’s take just one point—in the report I wrote in 2001 I put a lot of emphasis on the TAIL.   

From the ISSR Breed Standard:

"TAIL: Bushy with the last vertebra extending past the hock joint.  It is set smoothly into the croup and should appear to hang as a plume. At rest the tail hangs in a slight curve like a saber. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve is accentuated and the tail is raised, but it should never curl forward beyond the vertical line nor above the level of the back. The tail should never be carried straight out or rolled up over the back. A tail that is raised above the vertical line and/or past the horizontal line of the croup is a DISQUALIFYING FAULT. Tails that are too short, thin, or ratty should be severely penalized."

The following quote from pages 223-226 of  McDowell Lyon's book  The Dog in Action  should prove illuminating.

"The tail is also a barometer to the set of the pelvis and the value of the muscles attached to the pelvis and croup. Furthermore a normal tail or any part of it will tell us several important things about the dog in front of that tail.

"Examine a normal tail and you will find that the vertebrae are progressive in size but that the members taper from one juncture to the next and that each one observed will give you a good idea as to what to expect of the next closest one. Just as one bone in the leg will give you a good mental picture of the adjacent one and from there on to the full structure of the dog, the base vertebrae of the tail will tell you volumes about the spinal column. One or two bones taken at random from any animal will enable you to construct a full skeleton of a normal specimen.

"Many old-timers picked their dogs by the size of the tail at its base. 'A dog is no better than his tail,' has been said often. Another old time comment was, 'A dog thinks with his tail.' Certainly its carriage and action indicates the dog's mental attitude.

"Two muscles activate the top side of the tail and one the bottom. If the tail is curled, 'sickle,' or 'squirreled' continuously when this is not characteristic, it is not that the top muscles have become more tense but that the one on the bottom has lost or did not have sufficient tension. The tail that takes a corkscrew turn has normal tension on only one of the lateralis muscles on top.

"These lateralis muscles are the continuation of muscles which start at the back of the rib structure and play an important part in tensing the loins. You will note that a dog at play, throwing a gay tail will have slightly more than the usual arch to his loins. The wry or twisted tail indicates that one of the lateralis muscles is weak. Unless these conditions have become characteristic over generations, it is safe to conclude that muscles which are not functioning correctly at their terminals are not doing any better along the spinal column.

"The length and cross section of all the vertebrae in the spinal column are quite important and should be considered in any dog, particularly those used in breeding. The diameter of the body of the dorsal vertebrae decreases from the first to the eighth, the longest vertical spire coming on the second or third. From the eighth the cross section increases. The lumbar or loin vertebrae decrease in vertical diameter and increase in transverse diameter progressively from the back to the croup.

"The ruggedness of these bones provide substantial anchorage for the attached muscles and indicate the size and length of the ribs that spring from the dorsals.

"A number of breeds have altered the tails by mutation and developed the drop, hook, kink, rabbit, screw, and spike. One has to watch for one trouble in these: mutation does not always stop where it is visible but tends to cast an influence to bones beyond this point.

"The vertebrae of the croup and the pelvis bones are apt to reflect the mutation of the tail and manifest this at whelping and other times. Whatever condition you have in one vertebra will be extended to the next in milder degree. So, if mutation is to be  the fashion it is more safely practiced if it is not permitted to enter the last visible vertebra at the base of the tail.

"Even as the dog begins with his head, he ends with his tail, and by it many a story is told for it expresses health, mental attitude and what may be expected in the rest of the spinal column. Beware of any type tail that is not normally characteristic of the specific breed."

Yet have any of these oxymorons been paying attention? I think not! 

Here’s what the latest version of their “Show Dogs” (the best they can produce) looks like:

Seeing is believing—just compare them to some of the ISSR dogs being shown at our last shows:










Throughout the years--standing or moving, the Real ISSR Shiloh Shepherdare an awesome sight to behold!

(Photos courtesy of Rich Lewis, taken at Shiloh Shepherd™ Homecomings between 1995 and 2003)

Now be sure to compare these Shilohs to what the oxymorons have been producing.

Although conformation shows were designed as a venue for selecting specific dogs that came closest to the ideal represented by the Breed Standard—blueprint of what a particular “breed” should look and act like. Rare Breed shows often don’t adhere closely to such idealistic goals. I have often seen dogs that look more like bat eared coyotes or needle nosed GSD's being selected by some uncaring/unqualified judges!

After all, if the breed becomes popular, it may be accepted by the AKC, where the dogs would have an opportunity to compete under accredited judges.  However,  if the “breed” is unable to succeed at expanding its gene pool—sufficiently enough in order to circumvent forced extinction—inbreeding depression will eventually set in and the “breed” will fade away into oblivion.

It is for those reasons that I encourage all Shiloh Shepherd™ fanciers to forge onward, aggressively educating the public regarding our difficult plight.

Over the past decade I have written dozens of articles explaining the importance of proper selection as well as the importance of maintaining a carefully planned outcross program that will protect these dogs from the pitfalls of inbreeding depression.

I have also continued to encourage all of my LB's and VIB's to follow the strict LER procedures for selecting future breeding stock. All of these steps are critical, and must be scrupulously adhered to if we hope to continue producing healthy dogs for future generations to enjoy!

Nevertheless, they must also be good "Breed" representatives as per the Shiloh Shepherd™ "blue print" aka the Breed Standard.

If you take the time to study the ISSR Breed Standard carefully it should not be difficult for you to picture an extremely large boned Giant Shepherd, somewhat resembling the old style GSD, yet very different as well!!

Take a look at these young plush coated males:

 Or these beautiful older smooth coated representatives:

Although you may recognize some GSD similarities, you must also admit that they have many differences as well.

The Shiloh Shepherd was bred for size - hips - temperament yet many of the dogs you now see at the various Rare Breed shows have not followed the strict standards of the ISSR Rules. The oxymoron BYBs producing these Fake "Shilohs" stopped focusing on SIZE--just look at the small dogs that are now being shown. These dogs are not any more "Shiloh" than any other long haired GSD.  Just take a few moments to compare "them" with Long Haired GSDs

The only difference you may find is in the price!

 If you don't  care about HUGE SIZE, then I would like to suggest that you research the Long Haired German Shepherd!! Most LHGSD pups can be purchased for $250-$400, although a few (from long time GSD breeders) may be priced a bit higher, the fact that they were not produced via the dangerous over inbreeding program used by the oxymorons makes these pups a much safer choice!

Hips: The true Shiloh Shepherdhas been established as per the LMX program, and we still have the lowest incidence of CHD among all Shepherds! Even Dr. Padgett noted that our incidence of problem hips is much lower than what has been reported by the GSDCA for the GSD!  (Tina Barber/Dr. George A. Padgett "Fireside Chat" September 2001) Although our Health Survey 2000 showed an incidence of 11% that did not pass OFA Breeding requirements, most of this was due to sublaxation (slight looseness due to our huge size at maturity) that can often be corrected as the dog reaches three years of age, with many of these dogs passing their second x-ray!

Photo courtesy of Melody Bennett

After examining every permanently registered Shiloh Shepherd, our incidence of crippling hip dysplasia has been rated at less than 1%.  In other words, less than 1 out of 100 dogs have been shown to exhibit serious hip problems, and some of these may have been caused by environmental (injury) or nutritional (over supplementation) factors. 

ISSR Shiloh Shepherd Hip Ratings Actual data collected for the ISSR since 1990 has been tabulated and presented  in these charts. Please note that it has ben been fully documented that the combined data from the past decade. (1991-2002) data indicates a 0.89% incidence rate for ISSR Shiloh Shepherds™ breeding quality dogs.


Temperament:   The most critical characteristic of the TRUE Shiloh Shepherd™! These dogs were designed to be the ultimate family companion and a Child's Best Friend.

They are extremely intelligent, loyal and protective when needed--yet not unnecessarily aggressive like most "guard dog" breeds.

The Shiloh Shepherd possesses a temperament that is closer to his Great Pyrenees and Tibetan Mastiff ancestors  (without the independence) as well as the "old style" Newfoundland type of dogs without the drooling! Their greatest attribute is to unconditionally love and protect young children!

There has never been a time in our history that a REAL Shiloh Shepherd  has ever hurt a young child! Unfortunately, this reputation could easily be tarnished by the dissidents that insist on crossing over inbred LHGSD's with DDR (attack dogs) and then claiming the progeny from such breedings to be Shiloh Shepherds™! Such "OTX" [sic] mixes could prove to be   EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!!!

If your dog is not ISSR registered, he is not a Shiloh Shepherd™ and  you have been deceived.

Please bookmark this page to return for future updates and join us on our Shiloh Shepherd™ Community Forums!

Be Sure to Read the Other Articles in the Continuing Series of "Live" Reports from the Shiloh Shepherd™ Breed Founder:

Broken Hearted Breed Founder (1998)| Cherry Blossom 1999| Brookville Report (2000) |
Frederick Report (2001) | Sportsman Show (2004) | Broken Hearted Breed Founder Redux (2004) | Cherry Blossom Classic 2004 | Cherry Blossom 2004 Collage | What Should a Shiloh Shepherd Tail Look Like? (A Lesson for the Judges) | NCA Show 2005 | Rarities Show at the Hartford Pet Expo 2005 | Canada Show Update: May 2006 | Cherry Blossom Classic 2006 | NAKC and Rarities Show: October 2006 | Empire Classic: July 2007 | Rarities Show: Lums Pond Park: September 2008 | Broken Hearted Breed Founder Series |

Be sure to read:

What is a Shiloh Shepherd? |Examples of Real ISSR Shiloh Shepherd Pedigrees |Real Questions Honest Answers from the  Shiloh Shepherd Breed Founder | Puppy Producers: What are They? | Shiloh versus Long Haired GSD | Don't Fall 4 the Fraud | Registry Comparisons | Protecting Breed Development | Shiloh Fraud | Learning Center

And to see what the ideal Shiloh Shepherd should look like, please view our ISSR, Inc. Illustrated Breed Standard and don't miss Tina Speaks!

Shiloh Shepherd Story: Against the Wind - A Breed is born

ISSR Shiloh Shepherds
ISSR Shiloh Shepherds
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