Despite being named English Shepherd, the origins of these dogs are in North America. They are descendants of various dog breeds brought to North America with early settlers from Great Britain and Ireland. Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Scotch Collie or Rough Collie are very likely some of the ancestors of the English Shepherd. The English Shepherd was valuable helper of early settlers in America and they were used as all around farm dogs, for herding, guarding and also for hunting. The breed was known under some other general names in the past, such as Shepherd dog or Farm Shepherd.
Even though very versatile, the main utilization of the English Shepherd is herding. This breed has a loose upright style of herding, they have extremely strong herding instinct and they are natural low heelers, which means they are managing the stock from behind, often times nipping their ankles. The English Shepherd is very loyal to the stock, they create a strong bond with it. It is also said, that they are not forceful when working with the cattle and they are relatively gentle and they are not using more force than needed to get the job done. Overall, the English Shepherd is considered to be one of the most capable herding breeds.
Many herding dogs are also used to guard their livestock. And as i mentioned earlier, the English Shepherd creates a strong bond with the cattle, so it is not surprising, that they have natural tendencies to guard them and that they are naturally nurturing towards them. This is very alert and pretty brave breed that will try to deter any intruders and predators, such as foxes or racoons. But of course, if you live in area with strong predators, such as wolves, coyotes or bears, the English Shepherd will not be strong enough to deter them. In this case, you should look for a big and strong livestock guardian dog that will be better at this purpose. The English Shepherd was also used to guard property, to be a watchdog, and because of their territorial personality, they are quite good at this as well.
The English Shepherd is a dog of many talents, and one of the talents is hunting. They are especially good at treeing squirrels and raccoons. They naturally have higher prey drive and they will try to tree almost any smaller animal, including cats. And it is not uncommon for them to try to climb the trees as well! The English Shepherd has good sense of smell, which makes it good at tracking the game as well. Some hunters also use them for retrieving birds. As you can see, this dog breed can be trained to do almost anything and it will be good at it!
Of course, even though this is multitalented and versatile worker, it is also a loving, loyal and playful family companion. This is an intelligent and sensitive companion dog that bonds strongly to its owner, but will be friendly and affectionate with the whole family. It is true that they are only suitable for active people, as they are highly energetic, playful and they need a lot of mental stimulation as well, but if provided with enough exercise, than they are pretty relaxed and calm dogs that will be always by your side. Literally. This is extremely devoted dog that will want to spend all day next to its favourite person. They can live with kids or other dogs as well, but of course you should never leave any dog breed with a very young child unsupervised.
6) Dog sports
A lot of daily exercise, both mental and physical, is absolutely essential to have well behaved and relaxed English Shepherd. Without enough exercise, they will become bored and possibly develop some unwanted behaviour, such as excessive barking or destruction. Long walks, hikes, vigorous playtime, regular training sessions, different puzzle toys… The English Shepherd will love it all. But thanks to their high energy level and intelligence they are also amazing adepts for various dog sports, like agility, disc, rally, obedience, dock diving.. You name it. The English Shepherd will do great in any dog sport. And it is a fun way how to bond with your dog, how to learn him new things and how to exercise him properly!
The English Shepherd has a similar appearance as the Australian Shepherd. It is a dog breed with well proportionate body that exudes stamina and strength. The average height is between 19-22 inch, which is 48-56 cm and weight between 40-60 lbs, which is 18-27 kg.
8) Coat and color
The coat of English Shepherd is designed to protect them from bad weather and other nature elements and it allows them to work all day long outside without problems. It is a weather and dirt resistant doublecoat of medium length. The coat is pretty smooth. Ears and back of forelegs typically have feathering. And what about the color? There are four predominant patterns, which are black and tan, tricolor, black and white and sable and white.
Speaking of the coat, it is important to mention maintenance and grooming as well. The dense doublecoat sheds quite a lot all year long. Regular brushing is definitely beneficial to remove the dead and loose hair and to minimize the shedding, but it is impossible to stop it. Regular brushing will also keep the coat mat and tangle free and it will redistribute natural oils all over it. You should also regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clean them or clip them if needed.
The English Shepherd is fairly healthy dog breed with average lifespan around 14 years. They can suffer from the same health issues as most of other herding breeds, but the problems can be prevented by health testing and breeding responsibility. Some of the issues that can occur in the English Shepherd are associated with the MDR1 gene, which is causing sensitivity to certain drugs and medication. Other health problems can be hip and elbow dysplasia and some eye problems like Collie eye anomaly. But overall, this is pretty healthy and hardy breed.