Dogs are amazing, one of a kind animals that have long served the role of man’s best friend. Loved across the world as pets, companions, and service animals, dogs provide all kinds of benefits to their owners. Throughout history, humans have taken an active role in the development of dogs as a race through controlled breeding practices that attempt to bring out specific aspects of a dog to better serve their purpose (or just to look cuter or be healthier).
Today, after many years of controlled breeding, there are countless numbers of breeds that all exhibit their own unique physical and behavioral characteristics. The English Shepherd breed, also known as the Farm Collie, is a specific breed of dog that has been put to use as a herding animal for all kinds of livestock as well as a family companion for many generations. The English Shepherd is known for its intelligent, alert nature as well as its friendliness towards humans and animals alike.
English Shepherd Appearance
The English Shepherd is a medium-sized dog (weighing in at around 45-60 pounds when fully grown). They tend to be longer than they are tall by a small margin with long snouts and rounded skulls. English Shepherds have a medium-length coat that can be straight, curly, or wavy with many different colorations. Their coat is typically a combination of black, tan, sable, or white with various mixtures. They most often have two separate colors among these but there are also tricolored English Shepherds. Most English Shepherds have black noses though some of the sable coated dogs can have brown noses.
Their oval-shaped eyes are generally brown, and they have wide-set ears which they hold semi-erectly when alert. They have an arched neck and a strong, level back which remains level and straight while the English Shepherd runs. They have long, upward curved tails which they tend to hold below horizontal when in a relaxed state. They have proud, fairly deep chests and an overall agile and sturdy bearing. Male English Shepherds tend to be considerably larger and denser than their female counterparts, which is the reason for the large variance in the full-grown sizes.
English Shepherd dogs were not bred for their appearance but were instead bred for their function as a utility animal primarily used on farms. This means their appearance can vary from one litter to the next especially in regard to coat texture, color, and length. Athletic builds and intelligent natures are the hallmarks of this classic American breed.
English Shepherd History
Despite being named as English Shepherds, this breed has its origins set firmly in North America where they were bred from English and Scottish settler’s dogs and used as reliable farm animals for both herding livestock as well as eradicating vermin such as moles and hares. English Shepherds are believed to have once been the most prominent breed of dog in the United States during the 19th and early 20th century.
The English Shepherd breed played an important role in the early settlement of America during colonial times. They were primarily found in the East and Midwest and there was a time when you would find one on just about every piece of farmland across the country. Dogs have always been a reliable companion for working families and the English Shepherd was especially renowned for its utility and loyalty.
English Shepherds have been registered with various Kennel Clubs for many decades and have been registered in the United Kennel Club (UKC) registry since 1927. As small and diversified farms gave way to the larger and more specialized farming of the new era, English Shepherds became much less useful and as such their numbers and prevalence across the United States has dwindled.
English Shepherd dogs are quick to learn routines and can work independently with little direction. They also take well to training and have seen use as hunting dogs and guardians of property and livestock. English Shepherds can track and tree vermin like raccoons or squirrels. In more recent years, they have also been used as search and rescue dogs, for animal therapy, as well as competitors in various agility competitions.
English Shepherd Personality and Temperament
One of the primary standout benefits of English Shepherds, when compared to other herding breeds, is their gentle nature. They are capable of herding all types of livestock from cattle to chickens with their highly adaptive nature and quick wit and light touch. Their nature makes them great family pets that adapt well to the mood of the home. They are patient and obedient animals that get along well with children and other animals.
Their herding tendencies can lead to them attempting to make order out of chaos which leads to them often appointing themselves as leaders in situations with other animals or small children. This can lead to them herding other dogs at dog parks or attempting to get children to stick together out in the yard. They have great empathy for animals as well as humans which makes them great dogs to add to your family. They are naturally intelligent and take well to training for owners who are willing to take the time to train their English Shepherds.
English Shepherds are considered to have a unique type of kindness towards their family members and other animals in their homes. They are also quite capable of working independently and generally don’t require constant minding. Many English Shepherds can be wary of strangers which can make them great guard dogs. Once an English Shepherd becomes familiar with a person or animal, they tend to become quite accepting and kind towards them and incorporate more members into their trust family easily.
English Shepherd Health and Nutrition
English Shepherds are generally found to be healthy animals with an expected lifespan of 12 to 15 years. Their general vitality is thanks to the relatively diverse gene pool from which they originated as English Shepherds were bred from many different types of herding animals over a long period of time. This genetic diversity means they are less likely to have negative traits passed down to them, unlike other purebreds that have very limited gene pools and therefore tend to exhibit specific familial defects.
One of the primary issues that can be seen with some frequency in English Shepherds is an allergy to some canine prescription drugs. This occurs with a frequency of roughly 15 percent in English Shepherd dogs which means it would be wise to test your animal for allergies before giving it any prescription medication. Thanks to the fact that these dogs are generally sturdy and healthy individuals, this issue tends to not pose much of a threat or inconvenience to owners.
In addition to their potential to have canine drug allergies, English Shepherds are also slightly prone to common dog health issues like hip dysplasia and visual issues that can develop later in life. These conditions do not typically impact younger English Shepherds but may arise later in life for them. Overall, these animals are sturdy and healthy pups with a tendency to live long and happy lives when raised properly and fed appropriately.
English Shepherds are medium-sized dogs that tend to be roughly 50 to 60 pounds when fully grown and as such require a moderate amount of food on a daily basis. Many owners choose to feed their animals once or twice daily depending on the habits of the family. It’s recommended to feed your English Shepherd at regular intervals and to avoid human food other than for special occasions.
A healthy dog is a happy dog and premium dog food brands have formulations made specifically for animals of different ages and activity levels that are designed to give your animal the nutrition it needs. Feeding your English Shepherd proper food for its age and activity level is essential for ensuring the animal remains healthy and vivacious throughout its entire life.
English Shepherd Exercise and Activity Level
Speaking of activity levels, English Shepherds were originally bred specifically for their athleticism and ability to work long days out on the farms across America. As such, they have quite high energy levels and do best with owners that will spend a lot of time with them outdoors. A large yard and someone to play with will go a long way in ensuring the happiness of your English Shepherd, but regular walks or even runs are also recommended for this active dog.
The more exercise your English Shepherd gets, the happier and calmer they will be when it’s time to relax. This can mean that English Shepherds who don’t get enough exercise throughout the day can be more on the anxious and hyperactive side due to pent up energy. They are wonderful animals but are known to act out when their exercise needs are neglected. The English Shepherd is a perfect companion for those who like to jog with a companion or who spend a lot of time outdoors on trails or in the backyard.
English Shepherds would not be an ideal pet for those who prefer spending more time on the couch than outside. Furthermore, English Shepherds are generally not suited for apartment living unless they have a companion who can get outside with them every day. Regular walking and games of fetch will go a long way in ensuring your English Shepherd doesn’t act up in the house or take to destroying things in frustration.
English Shepherd Grooming
English Shepherds are very natural looking dogs that were bred for practicality. As such, they don’t require any form of professional grooming and their coats are generally quite healthy. Having said that, they do have full coats which can shed quite a lot. It’s advised that they are brushed regularly (about once every other week should do) in order to help reduce the amount of hair they leave flying around the house in tufts.
Aside from hair care, English Shepherds, like all dogs, should also have their ears and teeth checked and cleaned every so often to prevent buildup from causing infections or disease. Ears should be checked for buildup and cleaned with q-tips. English Shepherds should also have their teeth looked at to make sure excessive buildup doesn’t occur. Feeding treats designed to clean the teeth can go a long way in keeping your pet’s teeth and mouth healthy.
English Shepherd Training
As mentioned above, English Shepherds are very intelligent animals that have a fair helping of independence along with a heaping helping of strong work ethic. These animals have been successfully trained for all kinds of tasks throughout history whether that was herding livestock, digging up vermin, hunting, or even search and rescue. Their intelligence means they are very capable of learning complex tasks and tackling difficult chores.
However, this intelligence is a double-edged blade in some ways. Due to their intelligence, independent nature, and history of functioning as herding animals, they can have a bit of a stubborn streak and respond best to strong personalities and firm leadership. The English Shepherd is no pushover, but it will gladly follow a competent leader who has gained its respect. As with all animals, consistency and confidence are key in establishing a bond and trusting relationship with these animals.
Training with rewards can be a bit of a shortcut that works wonders for quickly establishing trust. Rewards should be healthy treats that don’t impact the dog’s diet, but not all rewards need to be in the form of food. Praise and affection can work equally well if not better when utilized properly while training English Shepherds. Confidence and kindness in equal helpings will help to ensure your dog takes on desirable characteristics like obedience and calm nature.
English Shepherd – An American Classic
The English Shepherds would be better named as America’s Settlers because of the large role they played in helping the country establish itself in the world during the early years of colonization and general farming. The English Shepherd is an intelligent and loyal animal that does well with company when properly trained. They do have a high energy level and require a lot of exercises to ensure they are kept happy and relaxed. This can make English Shepherds great emotional support animals due to their love of accompanying their owners out in the world.