Shepherd originated in England. Their ancestors coming from the Romans, Celts, Vikings and Anglo-Saxons tribes. At one time each had invaded Britain leaving behind livestock and surplus dogs. These dogs are known to be the ancestors of the first “Shepherds dog” or “Working Colley”.
In the Middle Ages farmers of Great Britain found these dogs useful and began breeding them selecting for purposeful traits. With the different terrains and type of work, many strains of working dogs were developed, such as the Harlequin Collie, Dorset Sheepdog, Ban Dog, Welsh Grey Collie, Welsh Hillman (Fox Collie), and the English Handy dog.
Unfortunately, many strains were lost during the industrial revolution, no longer needed for their original purpose. It then became fashion to own dogs as companions, influenced by Royalty (Queen Victoria) and the wealthy who enjoyed showing their dogs.
Fortunately the herdsmen of England had developed an exceptional multi-purpose farm dog that managed to dodged the companion dog craze. These English herdsmen, also called “English Shepherds”, were known for raising quality livestock. Many American farmers valued their knowledge and hired them to manage their flocks.
The dog the shepherds used to manage the flocks were also highly valued by the American farmers, who called them “English Shepherd dogs”, believed to have been named after the England’s herdsmen or Shepherds. Some believe the breed was brought to this country by the English settlers and livestock importers.
The United Kennel club (UKC) recognized the English Shepherd in 1927, being the original register of the breed. The English Shepherd was very popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Then with the decline in farming and ranching in the 1960’s the breed became rare.
The English Shepherd is an active, energetic dog, very intelligent with a calm, gentle nature. They are known to be gentle and patient with children, courageous with strong protective instincts. Many a child has grown up with an English Shepherd as their guardian and best friend. Some are reserve around strangers, therefore early socialization and training are recommended.
They do best with positive, reward base training.
The English Shepherd is a working dog and requires regular activities and daily exercise. They require an owner who will take charge and be their leader, someone that will give them rules and provide direction. Although the breed is not consider to be as high energy as their cousins the Border Collie, they still require regular daily exercise as part of their needs. Without a leader, rules to live by and daily exercise they can become destructive and difficult to live with.
They do well with a good game of ball or frisbee, hiking, jogging, long walks or any of today’s dog sports like agility. Its also important to exercise their mind. This can be done with training and games like finding the hidden toy or tricks like roll over or play dead.
The breed is very loyal to their family and social with them; therefore they need to be included in the families lives. They generally do very well living in the house and can be easily housetrained. They are very aware of their surroundings making them wonderful watchdogs.
Being a herding breed they may be inclined to herd the children or chase the cat. Early socialization, training and rules to live by are recommended to prevent undesirable behaviors.
The English Shepherd is primarily a healthy hardy breed.
Epilepsy is not very common but has shown up in some dogs.
Some dog breeds are more sensitive to certain drugs compared to other breeds. The problem is due to a mutation in the multidrug resistance gene called (MDR1). Click here for more information, a list of drugs dogs have reacted to and other breeds.
Eye disorders are not common in the breed. CERF -Canine Eye Registration Foundation can test dogs for eye disorders.