We first heard about English Shepherds from friends of ours, who had grown up with the breed. They promised them to be intelligent, loyal dogs. They’re bred to be herding or hunting dogs, but adapt well to being a family pet.
English shepherds are medium sized dogs, weighing between 40-70 pounds. The color and markings of English Shepherds are varied, and not emphasized as much as in other breeds. They can be black and white, black and tan, tri-color, red or liver colored, and sable or yellow to brown. They have a soft dense coat that doesn’t tangle or require too much maintenance (other than more frequent brushing when they’re shedding.) They can be born with a natural bobtail. They used to be referred to as a “farm collie” or a “farm shepherd”, but have been recognized as a distinct breed through the UKC and English Shepherd Club since 1930.
They’re prized for their intelligence, coupled with a willingness to cooperate. They love to work closely with their favorite humans.
ESs are also known for their loyalty. They usually choose one person as their favorite, or master, and are extremely loyal to that person. Junie would often sit under my desk while I was typing, or lay on my feet in the living room. She definitely listens to me better than anyone else in the family, but she’s found a way to relate to each of us differently. She even knows each of us by name, and will go check on them if she’s told “Go see what so-and-so is up to.”
ESs are territorial, and tend not to stray too far from home. Most often, an ES will alert you of a new person in her territory, and stand guard until you give her the all clear. Once she knows this person is supposed to be there, she’ll accept that and calm down. Junie has assigned herself the job of patrolling our yard. Every day she’ll run the same route around the property, scaring off any hawks or eagles. Should she come across something that maybe shouldn’t be there, such as a baby possum, she’ll bark and keep it cornered until we come check on it. One time my cousin’s dog was over playing with Junie. It was all fun and games until they ran toward the railroad track. I hollered to Junie, and she sent that other dog packing. I’m guessing she thought I was telling her he didn’t belong in our yard.
Because of the working background of English Shepherds, they make great pets for active families that want to include their dog in all of their adventures. ESs are happiest when they have a job to do, even if that job is escorting the family on an outing to the park or alerting everyone to the arrival of the UPS man. If an English Shepherd isn’t given jobs to do, he’ll make them up for himself, and you might not be happy with what he decides to do. These animals love to be a part of the family, so families without the time to train or involve their dog in daily routines should reconsider this breed.
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