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English Shepherd: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

english shepherd

Height: 18 – 24 inches
Weight: 35 – 65 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Colors: Black and tan, tricolor, sable and white, black and white
Suitable for: Active families, houses with yards or in the country
Temperament: Intelligent, reserved, energetic, devoted, bossy, kind

The English Shepherd is a descendent of the Shepherd and Collie breeds from Scotland and England but truly had their origins in the Americas in the 1600s. The Shepherd dogs brought over from the UK to the United States were bred with other types of Collies and were apparently prevalent farm dogs in the 1940s and 50s. They are not as popular in modern times as they were in the mid-20th century, and they have never truly been trial or show dogs but are still used as effective all-around farm dogs.

The English Shepherd is a dog that is medium in size with a medium-length coat of fur that can be straight, wavy, or curly and a dense, short undercoat. They have feathering on their legs and tail and a ruff of fur around their neck and chest, and they come in four color patterns of sable and white, black and white, black and tan, and tricolor (usually black, tan, and white).

divider 10English Shepherd Puppies

English Shepherd puppy
Image Credit: Ariel Celeste Photograph, Shutterstock

There are a number of English Shepherd breeders in North America, so take your time to find the one that has the best reputation. Quality breeders should let you visit the breeding facilities and introduce you to the puppy’s parents or siblings. Meeting the puppy’s parents can give you an idea of the health and temperament of your puppy. Another alternative is adopting an English Shepherd in a dog shelter or rescue. Adoption fees are a lot lower than buying a puppy and you’ll be changing a dog’s life for the best.

The English Shepherd is a highly energetic and active dog with a long lifespan, particularly for a dog of his size. They are highly trainable, and while they are very friendly and devoted dogs with their family, they are quite reserved with strangers until they are introduced.

3 Little-Known Facts About the English Shepherd

1. The English Shepherd is not English.

While they had their origins in England and Scotland, what we know as the English Shepherd of today was created in the United States.

2. The English Shepherd is a versatile dog.

They were bred to herd sheep like most shepherd dogs, but they also make excellent hunting and guard dogs as well as amazing companion dogs. They are also excellent Search and Rescue and Therapy Dogs and excel in agility sports.

3. The English Shepherd has a unique herding style.

The Border Collie is famous for its stalking style and “giving eye” or intense staring at the sheep. The English Shepherd herd sheep in what is called a “loose eye” style and in an upright manner. They can generally work with minimal supervision and can be left alone with livestock.

English Shepherd at full attention_Robert F Apple_shutterstock
Image Credit: Robert F Apple, Shutterstock

Divider 3

Temperament & Intelligence of the English Shepherd 🧠

The English Shepherd will need a house with a big yard as he will need the space to guard and run around in. They will excel in the countryside and on a farm, but you’ll need to avoid this dog if you live in an apartment. They are quite wary and reserved with strangers until they are introduced and will guard their family and territory but not aggressively.

The English Shepherd is highly intelligent and devoted to his owners but can think and act independently. They are known to be rather bossy dogs as they prefer things to be a certain way and will ensure that people and other dogs will fall into line when they think it’s necessary.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

English Shepherds are fantastic family pets! They make wonderful companions for the entire family and are known to be gentle and playful with children of all ages. Keep in mind that because they have that bossy nature, they might try to keep your children in line if they believe the kids are acting in an unruly fashion. Your children should be taught to respect your dog and not to play roughly or to pull on tails and ears.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The English Shepherd does get along with pets of all kinds, particularly when raised with them. Again, if you have other dogs, the English Shepherd will be prone to bossing them around and might resort to herding behavior, but they are also quite playful and energetic and will enjoy romping around with both the family cats and dogs.

English Shepherd at lake_Jennifer McCallum_shutterstock
Image Credit: Jennifer McCallum, Shutterstock

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning an English Shepherd:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The English Shepherd is a medium-sized, highly energetic dog that will need high-quality dog food that should be appropriate for his current age, weight, and activity level. To help decide on how much you should feed your dog, you can follow the directions on the back of the bag and speak to your veterinarian if you’re concerned about his diet or weight.

Exercise 🐕

English Shepherds are highly energetic and will need at least two long walks every day in addition to other activities to keep them occupied. A bored English Shepherd is a destructive English Shepherd and might resort to chasing everything that moves outside and ripping things apart inside the house. Make sure he has a job to do and consider engaging him in agility or herding trials.

shepherd at the entrance to a home_Jennifer McCallum_shutterstock
Image By: Jennifer McCallum, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

Training your English Shepherd tends to be relatively easy as he is very intelligent and devoted to his owner. He will learn very quickly and will retain the training, and is an active and alert learner. They will listen to your commands and are quite willing to follow them but also have the ability and smarts to work out things for themselves.

Grooming ✂️

The English Shepherd does not require a large amount of grooming. They have a medium-length outer coat that might be straight, curly, or wavy and a thick undercoat, so they tend to shed all year round. You’ll need to brush your English Shepherd a couple of times a week but more often during the spring and fall shedding seasons. You’ll only need to bathe your English Shepherd when absolutely necessary and not more than once a month with a dog shampoo (like this one).

You should brush your English Shepherd’s teeth 2 or 3 times a week, trim his nails about 3 to 4 weeks and clean his ears once a month or as often as necessary.

Health and Conditions ❤️

The English Shepherd is a robust and healthy breed with less of the health issues of many other purebred dogs.

The veterinarian will check your dog’s eyes and ears to ensure he is in good health.

Divider 3Male vs. Female

The male English Shepherd is larger than the female and is 18 to 24 inches in height, and weighs 40 to 65 pounds compared to the female at 35 to 60 pounds.

Spaying the female dog is a more complicated surgery than neutering the male, so expect to pay more and a longer recovery time. The advantage to spaying or neutering your dog is not only preventing pregnancy, but it will help to stop the more aggressive behaviors and from your dog wandering away. It is also known to help prevent serious health conditions from developing in the future.

The final difference between males and females is believed to be the difference in temperament. There are those that state that males tend to be a little less affectionate and are not as easy to train as female dogs but many debate this. Temperament is usually determined by the breed but mainly from how the dog was socialized as a puppy and how he has been cared for throughout his life.

Divider 5Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for an English Shepherd to add to your family, as previously mentioned, there are a number of breeders found throughout North America that you can contact. If there aren’t any breeders in your neck of the woods, many breeders will send their puppies via air travel, or you can speak to them about helping you find a breeder closer to home. You can also post your interest in the English Shepherd on social media.

If you would like to adopt an English Shepherd, there are breed-specific rescue groups like the National English Shepherd Rescue that rescue and foster English Shepherds. You could also consider fostering one of these amazing dogs!

The English Shepherd is a unique and gorgeous dog that will make a devoted and affectionate companion for a family or an individual. If you want a very intelligent, playful, and sweet dog that you don’t mind taking charge once in a while, the English Shepherd might just be the perfect dog for you.

Featured Image Credit: shabawasing, Pixabay

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