The English Shepherd is a medium-sized working dog popularly known as the “shadow shepherd” because of its love to follow the owner everywhere and at all times.
In this article, we will talk about the English Shepherd breed and explain everything you need to know – from history and physical traits to personality and health issues.
History of the English Shepherd Dog Breed
Origins of the Breed
The English Shepherd breed has roots that extend back centuries. The dog is thought to be descended from various collies and shepherd-type dogs that the Romans brought with them to England.
These dogs interbred with local British herding dogs, eventually creating a distinctive breed with a unique set of characteristics. The English Shepherd was originally bred to work on farms and assist with herding livestock.
They were highly valued for their intelligence, loyalty, and strong work ethic. These traits made them an essential part of farm life, and they were often seen working alongside their owners in the fields.
Development in England
During the 18th and 19th centuries, selective breeding allowed the English Shepherds to become even more specialized and were bred to exhibit certain traits, such as loyalty, a strong work ethic, and an affinity for herding.
These traits made them an essential part of farm life in rural England. English Shepherds were also used for hunting, as they were skilled at tracking and retrieving games.
The English Shepherd was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1927. Interestingly, the UKC register the breed under a different name (American Farm Shepherd) but changed it to English Shepherd in 2003.
Today, the English Shepherd continues to be used as a working dog, but it has also found a place in many American households as a beloved pet. They are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and affectionate nature and make wonderful family pets.
Size and Weight
The English Shepherd is a medium-sized dog, with males being larger than females. Male breed members weigh 45 to 65 pounds and stand 19 to 23 inches tall. Females weigh 40 to 50 pounds and stand 18 to 22 inches tall at the withers.
The English Shepherd has a sturdy frame and muscular build that make it well-suited for a variety of tasks, including herding, obedience, and agility competitions.
Coat and Colors
The English Shepherd has a thick, medium-length double coat that can be either straight or wavy. This coat provides excellent insulation, making them well-suited for colder climates.
The coat can be any color, although the most common color combinations are black & white, black & tan, sable & white, tan & white, and tricolor (black, white & tan).
The English Shepherd has an alert, intelligent facial expression that is a hallmark of the breed. Their exceptional problem-solving skills make them highly trainable, and they excel in a variety of activities, including herding, obedience, and agility competitions.
Temperament and Personality
The English Shepherd is highly intelligent and adaptable. It is also protective and has a strong sense of loyalty towards its owners. Breed members are known for their alertness, often warning their owners of any potential danger.
English Shepherds have a friendly and outgoing personality. They are loyal, affectionate, and they thrive on human companionship. They are also highly adaptable and can adjust to different living environments.
One of the unique characteristics of English Shepherds is their protective nature. They are watchful and alert. Members of the breed will bark to alert their owners of any potential danger, and they will not hesitate to protect their family members if necessary.
Intelligence and Trainability
English Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs and have a strong desire to please. This makes them highly trainable, though they can be strong-willed at times.
Early socialization and obedience training are vital to ensure they develop good habits from an early age. English Shepherds are known for their problem-solving abilities and can quickly learn new commands and tricks.
Socialization and Interaction with Other Animals
As with any breed, English Shepherds require early socialization. They generally get along well with other pets, though they may be more inclined to chase smaller animals, such as squirrels or rabbits.
English Shepherds are also excellent with children, making them an ideal family companion. They are patient and gentle with kids of all ages, and they will often form strong bonds with their human family members.
Health and Lifespan
Common Health Issues
English Shepherds are generally healthy, but, like all breeds, they are predisposed to certain health issues, such as:
- Orthopedic Problems: The breed is prone to orthopedic conditions, including luxating patella, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia
- Collie Eye Anomaly: An inherited eye condition in which the retina’s blood vessels fail to develop properly, resulting in vision loss
Preventive Care and Regular Checkups
Proper preventive care is vital to keep English Shepherds healthy throughout their lives. This includes regular check-ups with a veterinarian, a healthy diet, and exercise. They also require regular grooming to keep their coat in good condition.
English Shepherds typically live between 12 and 15 years, provided they receive proper care and attention throughout their lives.
English Shepherds are an excellent breed for families seeking an intelligent, loyal, and versatile dog. They are affectionate, playful, fun-loving, loyal, and extremely protective.
By understanding the breed’s history, temperament, and health, you can ensure that you are equipped to provide your pet with the best possible care and attention throughout their lives.