English Shepherd Dog
English Shepherds are hardworking, intelligent farm dogs and devoted pets. As such, these high-energy pups make a great addition to active homes and outdoorsy families.
English Shepherd Dog History
Don't let their name fool you—English Shepherds are an American original. The breed likely descends from English and Scottish shepherd dogs that early settlers brought to North America.
Bred to be all-around farm dogs, English Shepherds herded sheep and cattle, hunted vermin, and guarded property. Thanks to their versatility, they were among the most prominent breeds in the United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. But as the farming industry grew larger and more specialized, the English Shepherd's skills became less valuable, and their numbers shrank.
Today, the English Shepherd may not be as popular as other, more recognizable herding breeds, such as Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. But true fans remain devoted to this American workhorse.
English Shepherd Dog Traits
English Shepherds are medium-sized, alert-looking dogs built for speed and agility. They have sturdy, balanced bodies and harmonious proportions.
Coat and Coloring
The English Shepherd has a thick, medium-length coat that can be straight, wavy, or curly. They also have furnishings under their bodies and on the upper half of their back legs. The backs of their front legs are feathered, and their tails are plumed.
English Shepherd coat patterns include black and white, black and tan, tricolored (black, white, and tan), sable and white, and tan and white. White trim may include a neck ring, blaze on the forehead, or a white patch on the chest.
In black and tan or tricolored dogs, tan trim appears on the cheeks, front legs, feet, and underside of the tail, as well as above the eyes, inside the hind legs, and as a chest bar.
Distinctive Physical Traits
The English Shepherd's key features include dark or medium brown eyes, folded ears, a deep, powerful jaw, and a medium-length head that's slightly rounded between the ears. These dogs typically have moderately long tails, but natural bobtails occur and are accepted in the breed standard.
English Shepherd Dog Temperament
English Shepherds are intelligent, gentle dogs that make great pets for active families. They get along well with other animals and children. But their natural herding tendency may lead them to corral other family members. English Shepherds can be wary of strangers. But with a bit of time, they typically warm up to newcomers.
Like most herding dogs, these busybodies thrive when they have a job to do. Without enough activity and mental stimulation, they may get bored and look for ways to entertain themselves (e.g., digging through the trash, chewing on a favorite pair of slippers). Because of their high energy and exercise needs, this breed is not well-suited for apartment living or families looking for a couch potato.
English Shepherd Dog Care
English Shepherds do best on a high-quality diet formulated for their life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior) and energy level.
Obesity is a growing epidemic for dogs and can lead to other health challenges. To help your dog maintain a healthy weight, keep an eye on their food intake and measure their portions to avoid overfeeding. And don't forget to account for treats. As a guideline, treats should make up no more than 10% of a dog's daily calories.
English Shepherds require regular brushing to keep their coats looking their best—especially during periods of seasonal shedding. Brush a few times a week to remove loose hair (and keep tufts from tumbling across your floors). Ear cleanings and nail trims should also be part of your dog's monthly grooming routine.
Dental disease is one of the most common health conditions in adult dogs and, left untreated, can lead to serious issues. So, in addition to professional dental cleanings, be sure to establish an at-home dental care routine that includes regular teeth brushing.
English Shepherds are athletic, high-energy dogs. They need lots of exercise to be happy during the day and calm and relaxed at night. Long walks, jogs, trail hikes, and backyard play sessions are excellent ways to help them release pent-up energy. They also make great agility dogs and shine in canine sports that allow them to show off their physical and mental abilities.
English Shepherds are extremely intelligent—which can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to training. On the one hand, they easily learn obedience commands and tricks. But on the other, they may have strong ideas about how things should be done.
You can overcome this potential stubborn streak through firm and consistent training methods. Win their respect, and the rest will fall into place.
Finally, socializing your pup early will help them develop into a well-mannered adult dog.