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Pet Breed Information for most breeds of dogs and cats
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English Shepherd Dog Breed Information

English ShepherdThe English Shepherd is an American breed of dog. In 1900 the most common dog on small farms in the US was the English Shepherd. The English Shepherd is an all around farm dog, being used as a herding dog, watch dog, hunting dog, and child's companion.

English Shepherds are similar in appearance to Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. English Shepherds usually have tails and have a flatter head than Aussies. English Shepherds are never merle and Aussies frequently are. They are generally not square in body like an Aussie. English Shepherds tend to be larger than Border Collies but are most readily distinguished by their very different herding style.


The English Shepherd is a medium sized dog, usually somewhat longer than it is tall. It generally weighs between 40 and 70 pounds (20 to 30 kg) and is balanced in proportions. As a small farm dog, English Shepherds have evolved to fulfill a variety of needs. This has resulted in a wide range of regional variations.

The coat is medium length and can be straight, wavy, or curly. There is frequently feathering on the legs and tail. As a working dog, the coat should be easy to keep, requiring no grooming. Dirt and burrs tend to just fall away. There are four coat colors: sable (clear and shaded), tricolor, black and white, and black and tan. There are no merle English Shepherds.


The English Shepherd temperament is the defining characteristic of the breed, with great intelligence and often a unique type of kindness for those in his home, both animals and people. The English Shepherd is often an independent worker. English Shepherds are adaptable but learn routines quickly. Some can be standoffish with strangers and more one-person dogs. However, once he accepts people or children or stock as his own, there are few better caretakers than an English Shepherd.

The English shepherd frequently exhibits a bossy or "enforcer" streak in his temperament. If the dog's desire to enforce order is not channeled and directed to a suitable end by an owner who is a strong, confident leader, he may exhibit many undesirable behaviors. English shepherds can thrive as companion dogs in many environments, but do not make "good pets" for the average person.


English Shepherds are generally healthy dogs, however hip dysplasia is not uncommon. Anyone contemplating getting an English Shepherd would be well advised to research the hip ratings (OFA or PennHIP) of the breeder's stock.


The historical English Shepherd is known in some areas as the Scotch Collie or "Farm Collie", but in other areas was always considered a distinct breed. There was no breed club or registry at the time so there is some dispute over exactly which name applies to which dogs. All of these names were applied to the common farm dogs of the era. The Australian Shepherd is likely a derivative of these farm dogs and appeared primarily in the Western United States. The English Shepherd was more common in the Midwest and East. The English Shepherd is a descendant of the working farm dogs of the British Isles, however the name is believed to derive from the Amish use of the word "English" to refer to anything not Amish.

Working Life

They are very quick to learn the farm routine and will work independently with little training, but will benefit from some training and guidance. The modern English Shepherd is still best suited for farm work, but they are also used as search and rescue dogs, as therapy dogs, and as competitors in dog agility, obedience, tracking, and flyball. English Shepherds are frequently larger than Border Collies, but the quickest way to tell the two apart is to put them on stock. Border Collies tend to herd with distinctive strong eye and a crouching stance, while English Shepherds have an upright, loose-eyed herding style. English Shepherds can work all types of stock, be it cattle, sheep, goats, or ducks.

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