If you’ve been searching dog breeds, you’ve more than likely come across the English Shepherd. This adorable and highly intelligent breed is great for families, part of the collie lineage, and a perfect for outside work like herding. Even if you don’t have any farm work ready for the English Shepherd, you may want to consider this breed to be a part of your life.
What is an English Shepherd?
The English Shepherd is primarily a working dog, but they’re also loyal companions and very smart, making them very valuable for in-home tasks. These pups have been bred for generations to help with herding, vermin, livestock, and even watching over children. Their strong instincts mixed with their agility, stamina, perseverance, and some good training allow them to accomplish most tasks set for them.
Even if you don’t have any work for the English Shepherd, these dogs make loving and loyal companions. They’re perfect for families and are great at sports. If you need a dog for Search and Rescue, or for Therapy, the English Shepherd is one of the best choices. They’ve been helping farmers for centuries, so you can rely on them for other tasks as well.
English Shepherds come from England and Southern Scotland, but have been bred a little differently than show collies or border collies. This breeding is why they’ve been used to do many farming tasks since they arrived in the United States in the 17th century. They were used on small farms to do specialized work, like watching livestock or getting rid of vermin threatening crops. They’re able to learn routines very quickly and can work independently without too much guidance.
Over the centuries, the English Shepherd has continued to be used on farms. Up until the early 1900s, they were very popular for farm work, and were the most common breed in the US. Now, they’re much more commonly seen in showcases. They’re so versatile as a breed, since they’re capable of hunting, tracking, searching, agility, and more, that people have begun to use the English Shepherd for a variety of new jobs.
Despite the fact that you may now see this breed in competitions for sports, they’re primarily bred to be working dogs still. They’re often used in search-and-rescue efforts now rather than farming, and are loved by families who love the companionship and loyalty.
English Shepherd Size and General Appearance
You might have already fallen in love with this dog breed due to their high intelligence and adorable face. It’s hard not to, but how can you recognize the breed when you see it when they have such a variable appearance?
English Shepherd Vs Border Collie Type
Since this breed is so variable, the most recognizable part of them is that they generally look like a collie. For the most part though, you can distinguish the English Shepherd from the Border Collie since the shepherd is larger and more powerfully built.
Size, Weight Measurements
This breed is a medium-sized dog, although they’re generally closer to large rather than small. Males are between 19-23 inches tall, while females are just an inch shorter, at 18-22 inches. The English Shepherd is a very long dog too, and the English Shepherd weight ranges between 40-60 pounds normally depending on its gender.
You should see a thicker body and thicker legs on this breed, since they’re built for working outdoors. The same goes for their head and neck, which are usually slightly raised, but not necessarily square.
The coat of the shepherd is medium length, and can be straight, wavy, or curly. You’ll see feathering on the legs, tail, and ears, and colors in sable and white, tricolor, black and white, or black and tan. Despite the length of the coat, it’s actually really easy to care for it, meaning that you won’t need to do much grooming. Be careful of shedding though.
English Shepherd Shedding and Grooming
One of the most important things about grooming your dog is that you should not cut its whiskers. Because this breed relies a lot on their senses that come from their whiskers. Because they are a working breed and have thick hair around their feet and hocks, so it could help to trim that once in a while. Apart from that, any other fur trimming should just be to make their appearance a bit cleaner.
English shepherd shedding might be a worry of yours. Because they have double coats, dirt can get trapped and mat their fur if not brushed regularly. Mud can be easily removed from their fur with a bath or two, and using both a shampoo and conditioner can help loosen your coat’s fur so that any dirt, old fur, or particles trapped in them can get washed off.
When drying your dog off, using a blow dryer while brushing your dog’s coat is helpful in getting dead hair off your dog. Plus, you can control how it dries (ie. Flat against the body vs. wind-blown). Continue brushing even after your dog is dry to get the tangled or matted fur out. Loose hair can usually be found behind the ears, near their arm pits, as well as the parts of their body where their coats are thicker.
Tooth brushing is important to avoid dental and gum diseases. The younger your dog is, the more likely they are to be agreeable to toothbrushes. That’s why you should start their brushing while they’re still young so they can get used to it. Never use human toothpaste as there are toothpastes best suited for dogs.
As long as your dog gets enough exercise on rough surfaces, their nails will remain short enough. So nail trimming shouldn’t be a problem. However, indoor dogs or dogs that don’t get to walk around much should have their nails trimmed so that they wouldn’t be uncomfortable. But this is best prevented if an English Shepherd can live in their ideal environment.
Before you run out to pick up your English Shepherd, you should know a little bit about their temperament and how they might adjust to being in your home. These highly intelligent dogs aren’t a preferred breed for nothing, with intelligence and kindness that’ll give you a run for your money and a love for you and your family.
The English Shepherd black and tan is very independent, and can quickly learn the routines you teach it. This is great for working, but you may find that they are too independent at times. This leads to them enforcing rules and exhibiting their power over others, which can end in some undesirable behaviors that you’d like to get rid of. Despite this, it is a wonderful breed for mental and physical stimulation, and work well if they feel like a partner to you.
This breed is energetic, lively, smart, active, and brave, so be prepared to spend a lot of time outdoors with them. They need that physical activity to stay out of trouble. This is why it is a preferred breed for kids.
gYou can tire out your kids and your dog all at once with this friendly breed that won’t harm even small children. Of course, this means that this breed is great with other animals as well, although they’re usually reserved when meeting strangers.
Some dogs are more variable with their temperaments, but most English Shepherds are fairly similar. They all possess devotion and loyalty and will follow you anywhere you need to go. They’re not too pleased when you leave them alone though and tend to suffer from separation anxiety. If you are gone for a little while, be sure you have a way to at least help them expend energy and check in on them.
The ideal environment for an English Shepherd is one with a huge space that they can move around in. If you live in the city, your English Shepherd should still have enough exercise through walks, ideally ever day. Because they have a lot of energy and herding is one of their instincts, they can be engaged in activities that require them to do this.
If you want to train your dog well, you’ll need to be both calm and consistent. Firmness and confidence are also important for your English Shepherd to respect and obey you. Because they are an intelligent breed, you’ll find that they can be trained really well and will learn fast.
Health Risks and Problems To Note
English Shepherds generally live long and healthy, and exercise plays a huge role in this. It also helps that the breed has not been subjected to the kind of puppy mill breeding that other breeds have, so their genes are less compromised. However, there are still several diseases that have been observed in the breed. It would help to have your English Shepherd be checked by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and/or the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) as they have the equipment that can detect health defects in dogs before they manifest.
Around six months of age, a dog with hip dysplasia can start showing symptoms. One symptom is what appears to be stiffness after a dog was ay rest. While hip dysplasia isn’t usually a problem for other breeds, they are at risk of becoming lame (particularly in their hind legs) because of it. It can be diagnosed with the help of X-rays, and any dog who has hip dysplasia should not be used for breeding as this increases the chances of it getting passed on further to the next generations of the breed.
This is another health problem that is common in this breed. This mutation causes them to be allergic to some drugs like ivermectin, which is commonly given for anti-parasitic purposes. The allergy can manifest as neurological symptoms which can prove deadly to them. If this mutation is present in your dog (which can be checked through a DNA test), then you should be careful about what medications to give to your dog.
Some genetic eye diseases that are common in other herding breeds can also manifest in English Shepherds. Particularly, Collie Eye Anomaly and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. The Collie Eye Anomaly causes visual impairment and manifests from birth. It’s very easy to inherit this disease genetically.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy on the other hand, progresses after it gets acquired. It can begin as night blindness around 4 years of age, and will continue to progress. At its most severe, dogs who have it can lose all eyesight, while others fare better. There is no known treatment for PRA at the moment.
Training and Exercise
Around one to two hours of exercise per day should prevent your dog from having excess energy that they’ll use up destructively. If you’re on a busy schedule, these hours can be broken into smaller intervals within the day, like around 2-3 short walks. Fetching, swimming, and wrestling are also great exercises for your English Shepherd. They also make good jogging buddies, so if you’re a physically active person then you should enjoy having this breed around.
English Shepherds are very intuitive and can pick up on training really well. What you’ll need to do is to keep them engaged and challenged so that they’ll enjoy the training. Variation in method is good, and you can also train them for more complicated tricks after you’ve gone through all the basic commands.
The breed is workaholic, so you’ll really need to keep your dog occupied to prevent them from becoming frustrated about the lack of activity. Don’t forget to socialize them so that their temperament will become milder.
Is The English Shepherd Good For My Family?
Short answer, yes, they work really well with children. But because each dog has their own distinct personality, you should still actively look for a calm yet outgoing puppy. Resilience is also important, as your dog shouldn’t succumb to stress. Mild-mannered English Shepherds don’t get born like that, they need good training and socialization (which can be easily done).
The English Shepherd is not only one of the cutest breeds out there, but one of the most intelligent too. This breed has been used for centuries to do work outdoors, and remains loyal, loving, and perfect for families. If you’re looking for a pooch to enrich your life, as long as you can spend some time outdoors with it, the English Shepherd may be perfect for you.