English Shepherd, also known as the farm collie or old farm collie, is a descendant of the old shepherds’ dogs of England and is probably related to both the Collie and the Border Collie. Some experts feel that there is a relationship between the Australian Shepherd in the U.S. and the English Shepherd.
The English Shepherd dog breed has been used in the United States as a versatile farm dog, able to protect property, guard livestock, herd all manner of domestic animals, and even round up the family children. Even today, the English Shepherd is bred for function over appearance. He is a confident worker, able to take direction yet also able to make his own decisions. He is agile, quick, and strong, with the stamina to work all day.
English Shepherd dog breed standards suggest a height between 19 and 22 inches tall, and he should be lean and fit, usually between 35 and 65 pounds. He has brown eyes, dropped ears, a level back, and strong legs. The tail is long. The English Shepherd’s coat is medium length with an undercoat. He can be black and tan, black and white, sable and white, or tricolored.
Unlike the Border Collie, Collie, and Australian Shepherd, this dog breed does not have the merle coloring. Twice weekly brushing will keep the English Shepherd clean and looking nice. The undercoat does shed, and during heavy shedding, daily brushing may be needed to keep the hair in the house to a minimum. This is a high-activity breed that needs vigorous daily exercise and a job to do.
The English Shepherd will need sheep to herd or goats to look after, or, in the absence of livestock, he will need to go for a long jog or have a vigorous training session on the agility course every day. Without enough exercise, he will get into trouble. Many performance canine sport enthusiasts have found that this breed thrives in many different sports, including herding trials, agility, obedience competition, flyball, flying disc, and tracking. Many English Shepherds also serve as wonderful therapy dogs. This breed needs early socialization and training. A watchful breed, he can be wary of strangers, and socialization will help him make better decisions.
Training that begins in puppyhood will not only teach the English Shepherd puppies household rules and social manners, but also help challenge their bright, intelligent mind and give them constructive things to think about. The English Shepherd breed is extremely receptive to training, quick to learn new commands, tricks, or activities. This breed needs an active, involved owner who enjoys training and doing things with the dog. This breed is not happy when isolated for many hours each day.
The English Shepherd breed is warm and affectionate to the entire family, but each dog may have a favorite person. A wonderful working and herding dog, the English Shepherd can also be playful and silly. He can be great with children when raised with them and will be watchful and protective of the kids. He may not understand rough play with his kids’ friends. He can be good with other pets, although he may try to herd the family cat. He will chase cats that venture into his yard. This is a healthy breed, although hip dysplasia has been found in some dogs.
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The English Shepherd is noted for his calm dependability and is content to curl up at your feet at the end of the day.
However, that day must include a good amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation. This is an active, athletic dog. Herding, advanced obedience, agility, jogging or biking, chasing balls, and playing Frisbee are productive outlets for his enthusiasm.
Most English Shepherds are polite with strangers and make sensible watchdogs, but extensive socialization is required when young to avoid shyness.
Most are fine with other pets if raised with them, but they can be dominant with strange animals.
This is an attentive, sensitive breed who likes to keep his eye on you. Highly trainable, the English Shepherd is an all-purpose working and competition dog who learns quickly. Yet he does have the typical independence of a herding breed.
In other words, this is not a “push-button” breed. You must have the confidence to establish and enforce rules, or he will make up his own.
English Shepherds prefer their charges (family members and other pets) to be gathered together and may try to accomplish this by circling, poking, and nipping.