English Shepherds

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There are a lot of different dog breeds and it can be confusing as to which is best for your needs. While English Shepherds are often confused with German Shepherds thanks to their name, they more resemble Border Collies. Learn why this type of dog will fit right in with your family.

Why should you choose an English Shepherd?

English Shepherds are the perfect family pet. Their breed was first developed after British and Scottish settlers came to the Americas. While their quick intelligence and adeptness at herding made them ideal farm dogs, their fierce loyalty and playful nature have now made them ideal for a family addition.

What is an English Shepherd dog?

English Shepherd dogs come from the line of collie dogs. They originated in the United States after English and Scottish settlers brought dogs over from the 17th to 19th centuries when they came to American colonies.  

While English Shepherds are becoming more popular as a family pet, they were primarily used as working dogs on farms. They are very intelligent and able to follow a lot of commands.

English Shepherds are very good herding dogs and were used to control livestock such as sheep and goats. They also were used to hunt vermin such as rats.

What does an English Shepherd look like?

An English Shepherd most resembles a border collie, as that is where their lineage lies. While they share the same black white and brown markings as collies, they are larger and so more distinguishable.

History of English Shepherd

When the first settlers from the British Isles came to America in the 16th and 17th centuries, they brought dogs which them. Through breeding generations, the English Shepherd as we know it today was produced.

English Shepherds were used on farms because of their versatility. Not only can they herd livestock, but they can also protect animals, catch vermin, and be loyal companions.

As more people have moved away from farming, English Shepherds have remained as a sought-after breed because of their high intelligence and loyalty.

They are now seen mostly as family pets, although their high energy should be maintained through lots of play and exercise.

Characteristics of the English Shepherd

Height

English Shepherds are medium-sized dogs. Male English Shepherds will grow to be about 19 to 23 inches in height while female English Shepherds will be about 18 to 22 inches in height.

Weight

A healthy weight for an English Shepherd is between 40 and 60 pounds. Male dogs will be on the heavier end of the spectrum than female dogs.

Friendliness

When it comes to friendliness, English Shepherds make an excellent choice. They are both docile and patient, making them the perfect dog for a family.

While English Shepherds might take exception to strangers at first, a quick command and an invitation to get to know the person will put their minds at ease. Once an English Shepherd knows who you are, they will be happy to play with you.

Intelligence

One of the really nice traits of English Shepherds is that they are intelligent. While previous generations viewed them as farm dogs and engaged them in such activities as herding sheep and catching vermin, you can still see the high intelligence of these dogs in a family setting.

English Shepherds are quick to learn commands and lover performing new tricks. It’s best to use their intelligence and constantly challenge them so they don’t become bored.

Make sure you include lots of playtime for English Shepherds including a homemade obstacle course and showing off their newly learned tricks.

Health problems

There are two major health problems with English Shepherds.

Hip dysplasia

At around 6 months of age, your English Shepherd may be diagnosed with hip dysplasia. While the severity is different for all dogs, severe cases can lead to eventual lameness in the hind legs.

Early detection can lead to physiotherapy to strengthen the hips and prevent more serious symptoms.

MDR-1 Mutation

Like other herding breeds, about 15% of English Shepherds have this gene mutation. It makes them allergic to some drugs. Thankfully, a quick cheek swab is all that is needed to check for the mutation.

Exercise

Like all dogs, it’s important to provide your English Shepherd with regular exercise. Daily walks are always a great idea but use their playful and intelligent manner for more exciting pursuits.

Running and swimming are excellent forms of exercising. If you want to get creative, build an obstacle course in your backyard and teach your new pet how to go through it.

Lifespan

English Shepherds will typically live between 10 to 13 years. This is a really nice age and a bit longer than the average lifespan of other dogs.

If you have small children, the long lifespan means that you should have a family dog for most of their childhood, which is quite precious.

Colors

For colors, you can expect to see a range of black, brown, and white on English Shepherds. There coloring is similar to border collies and they will often have white chests with brown and black faces.

Litter size

When it comes to litter size, you can expect a female English Shepherd to produce between 5 and 8 puppies. The average litter size is 6 puppies.

English Shepherd puppies take the normal 63 days for gestation although this can vary as it is often hard to determine just when a litter of puppies was conceived.

Upkeep

Food

It can cost a bit more to provide a healthy, balanced diet for English Shepherds. While you can provide their nutrient needs with store-bought food, it’s actually best to prepare your own food.

Their diet should be 50% vegetables, 20% fruit, and 30% meat. The meat should be leaner proteins such as chicken and fish.

If you do decide to purchase kibble, make sure it does not have any filler such as corn or potatoes. These are low in nutrients and won’t add to the overall health of your dog.

Grooming

You should brush your English Shepherd at least twice a week. Luckily, these dogs are very patient so they will enjoy snuggling next to you as you work through their coat.

If you don’t brush your English Shepherd’s coat often enough, the long hair can hide issues such as rashes and lumps.

As well, their long hair can quickly matte and turn to lumps. If you find you’re not brushing as often as you need to, you may need to take your dog to the groomer to shave off the matted fur and start fresh.

Shedding

Unfortunately, English Shepherds shed a lot. It might take a bit of effort but once you get into a grooming habit, you can stop the spread of dog hair in the house.

Start with the proper brush – you will need one made specifically for dogs with long hair. Then, start at the top of your dog’s head and slowly work your way down its entire body.

Once you get to the tail, start again. That’s right. To really stop the large amount of shedding it’s best to brush your English Shepherd twice or even three times in a session.

If you can, put a towel or tarp down under your dog before you start brushing. Then, once you’re finished you can either vacuum up the fur or put it outside.

Accessories needed

In addition to a brush specifically made for long-haired dogs, you will want a few other accessories.

A collar and leash are paramount to keep your dog safe. Invest in a collar that is soft and won’t cut into the skin. English Shepherds are easy to train but you should always keep them on-leash in public, just in case.

While you might want to snuggle up with your dog at night, its hair might stop you. In this case, make sure your new dog has a large enough bed to be comfortable and warm in.

Price

The price of purebred English Shepherds varies but you can expect to find puppies between $250 and $500. Remember to always research a breeder and make sure the conditions and lineage are solid.

Related Questions

Do English Shepherds make good pets?

Yes! English Shepherds are one of the best dog breeds to for a family. While they are well suited for all people, they are especially recommended as a family dog if there are young children involved.

Little kids love dogs and don’t always know their own strength. Thankfully, English Shepherds are very gentle and very patient.

They will lie there patiently if their noses are tapped on or their hair is pulled. And, if things get a bit too much, they will simply use a gentle paw to extricate themselves from the madness.

Furthermore, English Shepherds are very receptive to training. So, as long as you teach them commands like Stop and Sit, even if a dog is in a situation they aren’t happy about, you still have control over them to prevent any unwanted behaviors.

Are English shepherds AKC?

AKC stands for the American Kennel Club. It is the pre-eminent leader when it comes to anything dog-related, including recognizing and registering dog breeds.

The English Shepherd breed is not recognized, according to the AKC. Interestingly, they do recognize Australian Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, and Bohemian Shepherds, to name a few.

Obviously English Shepherds are a specific type of dog. Their lack of recognition by the AKC just means they may be exempt from entering some dog shows.

However, the United Kennel Club (UKC) does recognize the English Shepherd breed.

Are English shepherds aggressive?

One of the great benefits of English Shepherds is that they are not aggressive. Unlike some breeds who naturally want to bark or defend their territory, English Shepherds are much more docile.

Having said that, this breed of dog may raise an alarm if there are strangers who come to visit. But, with proper training, a simple command should put the dog at ease.

Do English Shepherds bark a lot?

Thankfully, English Shepherds do not bark a lot. They might sound an alarm with a stranger, but they can be easily commanded to stop.

Is an English Shepherd a good family dog?

Yes. While English Shepherds were first bred to help on the farm, even in these cases their companionship and loyalty were noted.

While most people don’t own farms anymore, they still keep English Shepherds are pets because they are friendly, playful, and even cuddly.

Do English Shepherds swim?

Yes, English Shepherds love to swim. In fact, this is a great form of exercise if you have a dog that is particularly active.

Do English Shepherds get along with other dogs?

English Shepherds have a very social demeanor, and this includes both humans and other dogs. They are not aggressive so will want to play with other dogs rather than fight them.

Interestingly, English Shepherds will also play with cats. So, if you already have a cat and are looking for a dog that won’t try to attack it in an aggressive manner, this breed is for you.

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