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English Shepherds are medium-sized purebred dogs that were created to work as farmhands and hunting companions. These are courageous dogs that have plenty of energy and spirit. The English Shepherd has evolved to be an awesome family dog that loves children and adults alike. They like nothing more than to please their owners, and they will do whatever it takes to protect their closest human companions.
18 – 23 inches
40 – 60 pounds
12 – 14 years
Black and white, black and tan, brindle, sable and white, tricolor
Houses with yards, family households, farms, adventurous types
Smart, adaptable, independent, playful, friendly, energetic
This breed typically has a long double coat that is either straight or wavy, except for the face and front legs, where hair grows short and thick. Feathering can usually be spotted on the tail and along the hind legs. While generally considered low maintenance, the English Shepherd does require human intervention when it comes to grooming. Are you interested in learning more about this fascinating breed of dog? Keep reading because we have dished all the goods here!
English Shepherd Characteristics
English Shepherd Puppies
English Shepherd puppies grow up to be boisterous, lively dogs. They all have unique personalities and temperaments, but in general, they share the same basic motivations and characteristics.
Temperament & Intelligence of the English Shepherd
English Shepherds are strong-willed, independent, and extremely intelligent. However, they are loving and sociable, which makes them great for large families and living environments where many people tend to come and go, like on a farm. Overall, these are good dogs for a wide range of different applications. They are expert hunting companions and have no problem herding animals on the range.
Their loyal disposition means that they are never far away and that they rarely become disobedient. These dogs are easy to train, and they enjoy time spent outdoors where they can stretch, run, play, and explore. Above all, the English Shepherd has integrity and rarely goes beyond their usual temperament and behavior patterns.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
The English Shepherd is a fun-loving dog that gets along well with kids of all ages, provided that they are well socialized, trained, and supervised. Once integrated into a family with kids, an English Shepherd will become a best friend and do whatever they can to be a part of the family dynamic. They do well indoors when it is time to cuddle, but they need plenty of time to exercise and spend time outside for this to happen. Overall, these are great family dogs if exercise and training are made a priority.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?
This is a breed that does get along well with other dogs if they are socialized from an early age. This means that they should be introduced to new dogs outside of their pack for playtime and socializing, so they know how to manage new and ongoing relationships. However, the high prey drive of the English Shepherd makes it tough for them to learn how to cohabitate with smaller animals, like cats, hamsters, and birds. Smaller animals should never be left alone with an English Shepherd and should be separated from the dog whenever someone is not there to protect the “prey.”
Things to Know When Owning an English Shepherd
There are still many things to cover about the English Shepherd before you decide whether this breed is right for your household environment. Here is what you should know about feeding, exercise, training, grooming, and more.
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
English Shepherds rely on a high-protein diet to fuel their energy needs as time goes on. Quality commercial dog food that includes real meat as the first ingredient and that lacks fillers like corn, soy, and artificial colors and flavors should be the main staple. Commercial snacks and fresh fruits and veggies can be offered occasionally for fun and as nutritional supplementation.
Due to their high energy levels, these dogs are not generally at risk of becoming obese due to overeating, but they should not be offered unlimited food throughout the day because overeating could still lead to other health problems. Feed your English Shepherd twice a day for optimal results. This breed needs access to fresh, clean water both indoors and out all day long.
Like all dogs, the English Shepherd needs daily walks outdoors for physical and mental wellness. However, their exercise needs do not stop there. These dogs require at least 2 hours of physical engagement each day, whether that means playing at the dog park, playing fetch in the yard, practicing on the agility course, or training in the living room.
Without enough exercise, these dogs get bored quickly and have a hard time listening to directions when it comes time to behave indoors or in a public setting. They can also become destructive due to boredom, which gets them in trouble and creates inconvenience for the owner. It is crucial to make exercise a priority for the breed to ensure good behavior, good health, and a high quality of life.
The intelligence of English Shepherds makes them fairly easy to train, which is awesome because training is essential to ensure proper behavior and social interaction for a lifetime. Obedience training should start early when these puppies are just 8 to 12 weeks old. Training should be practiced several times a week throughout adolescence and periodically as adults.
English Shepherds also do well with agility and hunting training. They always enjoy a challenge, and the training can help establish self-esteem and independence as time goes on. Those with no experience with training dogs should consider working with a professional trainer to learn the ropes.
Due to their long, thick double coats, the English Shepherd tends to shed heavily throughout the year, especially throughout the summer months. To keep dog hair from piling up inside the house, brushing or combing should take place several times a week. Their hind legs may need to be trimmed because the feathering can affect movement, particularly in old age. This can be done with scissors or an electric razor. Just be sure not to trim too close to the skin.
It is a good idea to clean their ears out with a damp cloth once a week or so to ensure that dirt and debris do not build up and create infections. There is usually no reason to bathe the English Shepherd because they are good at keeping themselves clean. Their nails also do not usually need to be trimmed due to all the outdoor exercise that this breed should get every day. Movement on roads, gravel, and grass offers natural trimming and filing.
Health and Conditions
While this is a generally healthy breed, there are a few health conditions that they are susceptible to, whether due to genetics or lifestyle. It is important to schedule regular checkups with a veterinarian throughout your dog’s life so any health conditions that do start to develop can be caught and addressed early.
Male vs. Female
All in all, both male and female English Shepherds harbor similar attributes and temperaments. However, males tend to be a little more independent and outgoing than females. Girls typically enjoy staying close to their human companions, while boys do not mind separation during the day. Both sexes are full of energy, yet females usually get worn out more quickly than males. They both love to play, enjoy time spent with kids, and eat hardily.
3 Little-Known Facts About the English Shepherd
1. They Have Collie Ancestors
English Shepherds were derived from the lineage of Collies, which is why they look similar, albeit larger and bulkier. Today, the two breeds do not have much in common when it comes to energy drive, working habits, and overall personality.
2. They Are Natural Chasers
Due to their history of hunting and high prey drive, English Shepherds are natural chasers and will not hesitate to go after small animals that scurry or run around them. Therefore, they should always be leashed when hanging out in social or public settings.
3. They Are Susceptible to Having the MDR1 Gene Mutation
Descendants of the Collie lineage, such as English Shepherds, are susceptible to having the MDR1 gene mutation when they are born. This means that they could have resistance or reactions to certain drugs that they might need for health reasons.
The English Shepherd is a fun-loving, beautiful dog that makes an excellent family pet if enough family members are around enough to keep them company and give them exercise. They are strong farmhands and can make life as a farm owner more enjoyable and less time-consuming overall. However, these dogs need plenty of attention, training, discipline, and interaction to stay happy and healthy throughout their lives. Make sure you have the time and inclination necessary to commit to a lifetime of caring for this dog before you even consider talking to a breeder.
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Featured Image Credit: Jennifer-McCallum, Shutterstock