Introducing the English shepherd dog breed. As its name implies, this dog breed is a descendant of the farm dogs of the British Isles.
However, it is thanks to British settlers who brought these dogs with them to the New World that we can nowadays enjoy these lovely dogs.
This dog breed has collie blood running through its veins and therefore shares a common ancestry with the Border Collie, Scotch collie and Australian Shepherd.
Watching these dogs in action is a pleasure. Do you have what it takes to own these energetic dogs?
History of the English Shepherd Dog
The English Shepherd dog's history dates back to the 1600s when the first British settlers came to America from Great Britain.
This brought the English Shepherd into the United States, particularly in the Midwest and East, where the breed became a favorite.
However, the breed's popularity declined considerably in the 1940s, and by the 1970s, the English Shepherd was considered a rare breed causing people to suspect it would die out. Fortunately, the breed was revived and the rest is history.
Although the English Shepherd was one of the earliest breeds to set their paws in America, its breeders were not interested in the conformation dog show circuit.
As a result, they were rarely entered in the early AKC conformation events, and never achieved full recognition.
This situation caused English Shepherd breeders to turn to the United Kennel Club, a group formed specifically to register working dogs.
The group's mission was to promote the welfare of working dogs, and the English Shepherd was quickly adopted by the breeders of this new organization granting the breed full recognition in 1927.
Today, the English Shepherd dog is a popular breed for both working and companionship.
Physical Characteristics of the English Shepherd
The English Shepherd is a medium dog breed weighing between 40 and 60 pounds. Male dogs are typically larger than females.
Overall these dogs share harmonious proportions with bodies purposely bred for both speed, agility and high maneuverability.
One staggering characteristic is the long, double coat with visible feathering on the rear legs and tail and its appealing coat colors.
English shepherds come in five coat colors: black and white; black and tan; black, white and tan; sable and white, and tan and white.
What Were English Shepherds Bred to Do?
English shepherds are categorized by the United Kennel Club under the herding group. These dogs have been used for working for a very long time.
Indeed, Romans used these dogs for herding livestock that were brought along on foot to feed their troops.
Once they were no longer in use, local farmers used these dogs on their farms for herding where they interbred with other existing dogs sharing similar herding talents in hopes of emphasizing their talents.
British settlers then brought along several specimens to the American colonies during the development of the United States from east to west.
These dogs were used for several purposes such as herders and protectors of the farm and home and therefore they were highly prized. As a result, the English Shepherd was once one of the most popular breeds in the United States.
Although they love chasing a ball in the backyard, English shepherds are best used as working dogs on a farm.
What's the Herding Style of English Shepherds?
When it comes to their herding style, they tend to adopt a strictly low style of heeling, and are prone to use their teeth to get livestock moving.
It is recommended to start training this breed with small tame animals so to bring out this breed's gentle side. Then, with practice, the English Shepherd can ready for tougher animals.
Although English Shepherds are natural herders capable of working with a minimum of direction, they still need some training.
Socializing the English Shepherd
English Shepherd dogs make excellent watchdogs who will raise the alarm if anything seems to be out of place.
Given the opportunity, this loving and devoted pet will strongly bond well with their owners. They can actually be fiercely loyal to their family.
While this breed can be a fearless protector of the family, they can also be nervous around strangers, hence the importance of early socialization.
To ensure the highest level of dog socialization, English Shepherd puppies must be exposed to a variety of different environments so they have the opportunity to learn more about their world and that there's nothing to fear.
Despite their aloof demeanor, English Shepherds are highly social and make wonderful companions for families.
A well-socialized and well-trained English shepherd in the right hands can be a dream dog to own.
Training the English Shepherd
If you are considering getting an English Shepherd as a pet, you may be wondering how to train the breed.
Ask the Vet: Is My Dog Done Giving Birth?
Whether your dog is done giving birth or not can be challenging to tell considering that it's not unusual for pregnant dogs to take their sweet time in delivering their babies. This is not really a time though for guessing, considering that not all deliveries go as planned.
The best way to train your English Shepherd is to treat it as an active learner, basically, a dog who is able to follow your cues and figure out new things for themselves.
Despite their independent nature, these all-purpose dogs are very obedient and will listen to your cues and praise.
These dogs are very adaptable and eager to engage in a variety of activities. You can train them in a variety of canine sports, but can also use them for search and rescue, nosework, trialing, tracking and obedience.
In the farm, they should be very responsive to what is being asked to do and eager to be near their owners.
If you can afford to hire a professional to help you train your dog, this might be an excellent option for you.
Do English Shepherds Like to Cuddle?
Yes, but ideally, at the end of the day, when they have done their "work" and they are ready to relax. They'll be happy to curl up with you at the end of the day in front of a crackling fire.
Don't forget to give your English Shepherd a doggy massage once in a while. They love the feeling of being petted and getting some doggy massages.
This will help them bond with you and relax. In addition to that, he will also be a better companion to your family.
If you're looking for a dog that will love attention without being overbearing, English Shepherds are great dogs to choose.
How Much Grooming Do English Shepherds Need?
The English shepherd tends to shed a lot during the warmer months. Because this breed's coat is weather and dirt-proof, you don't need to bathe it often.
However, you should still keep a close eye on its ears and keep his nails trimmed.
If you plan to let your English Shepherd roam in the open, it's a good idea to brush this coat at least once a week, or even more.
Do English Shepherds Bark A Lot?
These dogs do not bark a lot but will they will bark when necessary. This makes them an excellent choice for those who are looking for a good watchdog.
How Much Exercise do English Shepherds Need?
English shepherds need plenty of mental and physical stimulation to remain happy. They enjoy long walks and playing fetch.
Ideally, this breed will need at least an hour of exercise a day, but you can break it up into shorter walks.
English shepherd dogs also enjoy agility trials, which are an ideal alternative to herding livestock. In addition to these physical activities, English shepherd dogs will love to swim and play fetch.
Because this breed needs a lot of exercise, the ideal owners should look for large, open spaces or even better, a family farm.
Without enough exercise and mental stimulation, English Shepherds can become destructive or exhibit behavioral issues that make it difficult for them to live a healthy, happy life.
Are English Shepherds Healthy Dogs?
Unfortunately, this breed has been associated with a number of health issues. While many of these problems are genetic, most are preventable by providing proper care.
To start, a DNA test is necessary to determine whether or not your dog is affected by any genetic defects. For instance, one of the most common genetic disorders in English shepherds is the MDR1 gene mutation.
In dogs with the mutation of the MDR1 gene, the blood-brain barrier does not prevent the drug ivermectin from accessing their central nervous system as it should.
When given high doses of ivermectin, these affected dogs therefore end up accumulating high concentrations in their brain tissue causing serious and potentially deadly neurological problems.
Other common problems associated with English shepherds include hereditary eye diseases (like retinal progressive atrophy) joint pain, and hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is a serious affliction in English shepherds, which can result in painful, debilitating limps and often expensive surgeries. This condition occurs when parts of the hip joint do not fit properly, resulting in lameness, lethargy, and pain.
The good news is that, English shepherds are not as susceptible to all of these common problems as other breeds of herding dogs.
However, even though they're not known to have many health problems, annual vet visits can help you spot any potential issues early.
Do English Shepherds Get Along With Children?
In general, English shepherds do well with children and other pets.
When there is chaos in a household though, their ingrained instinct to herd comes out and they may attempt to round up children or animals.
This trait is reminiscent of their history to herd sheep and cattle for centuries. This is a bad habit you will need to break.
The best way is through early training and socializations. So make sure to socialize your English shepherd to children early on and start training them from a young age.
Also, make sure that you teach your children to respect your English Shepherd dog, and don't pull on its ears or tail!