English Shepherd

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black & tan, tricolor (black, tan & white), black & white, sable & white
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The English Shepherd is a native to the United States, multipurpose dog, descended from Collie-type dogs brought from the United Kingdom. Its appearance isn’t so spectacular as number of different jobs this breed can do. Besides its original assignment for working with any kind of livestock, it has excellent skills of hunting, tracking, rescuing, obedience training, companionship, and can also serve as a guard for you and your house.

There is a myth that the Collie, direct ancestor of the English Shepherd, was brought by Caesar to the British Isles during his raid in 55 BC. The dogs herded the livestock, the nourishment for his troops. Gradually Caesar ran out of his supply so the left out dogs were used by local inhabitants who crossed them with other breeds with same «herding» qualities in order to enhance those traits.

The name of the English Shepherd describes its British origin, but it was developed as a breed solely in America and reckoned to be a native American dog. Its American part of the history started approximately at the beginning of the XVII century, when a few dogs travelled along with first settlers of American colonies and soon spread there from the East to the West. At the beginning though there were too few English Shepherds as many dogs died due to hardships of journey or later on failing to acclimatize. So American colonists used every available dog for breeding purpose, even if they didn’t fit for their appearance.

Most probably, some foreign breeds also took part in this process, in particular Spanish Alanos, French Beaucerons, Irish Cur-type dogs, and Native American hunting dogs. American farmers have also started using shepherds not only for herding purposes but also as a hunting dog. This multifunctionality indicates significant cur-influence on the English Shepherd, as most curs have outstanding results in both herding and hunting.

Unfortunately, disappearance of the family farming tradition by the end of the 1970’s put the breed almost on the verge of extinction. During last decades its population is being supported by the group of devoted enthusiasts, who strive to sustain natural hunting and herding abilities of English Shepherd as well as its good general health.

Prevailing focus of English Shepherd’s breeders on its working talents led to its neglecting at appearance-based dog shows. It’s rarely participated in the American Kennel Club (AKC) events and never got its full acceptance. In 1898, the United Kennel Club (UKC) was established by Chauncey Z. Bennett as a registry for working dogs, rather than show dogs. In 1927, the UKC conferred full approval to the English Shepherd, so it was the first purebred dog registration.

The English Shepherd has a wonderful character. It’s known for its outermost devotion and reliability. This dog strives to always be by the side of its owner and endures a great discomfort when it stays alone for a long time. Having said that, this breed is very shrewd and tries not only to be near its owner, but also to dominate him. When English Shepherd is brought up by a single owner, it becomes a one-person dog, but when it grows in a family most (but not all) breed members will develop tender devotion to all family members.

This breed is actually gentle with kids, though it has to be appropriately trained and socialized. At the same time some dogs fail to learn to treat children more accurately than adults and many can pinch at children’s heels trying to herd them. In essence this breed isn’t the best option for a first time dog owner because of its autonomous and somewhat hard disposition. The English Shepherd excels in all kinds of herding endeavours and can be also an effective search-and-rescue dog.

The attitude of the English Shepherd towards strangers differs greatly. When it learned manners, the majority breed members will be well-behaved and welcoming. Although the aggression in some cases can become an issue since this dog is one of the most protective of the herding breeds. The English Shepherd also has a strong guarding instinct, which makes it quite a good watch dog. Whereas most dogs can guard only in the way of growling and barking due to shortage of aggressive component, some are ready for a real confrontation.

Generally speaking, the English Shepherd gets along with all sorts of home pets, when correctly trained and socialized. It tends to be gentle with home cats, especially when they grow together. The dog tries to herd every living thing, which may not be so happily accepted, particularly by cats. Despite its eagerness to dominate, it will happily live with other dog, preferably of opposite sex.

The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• patellar luxation;
• anesthesia sensitivity;
• drug allergies;
• eyes problems.

Grooming requirements for the English Shepherd are relatively low. Twice a week its coat should be brushed in order to get rid of any possible tangles and mats, even though the breed isn’t prone to them. The dog sheds massively annually, so be prepared to large dogs hairs spreading all over the house covering sofas, clothing and carpets. Bath is not a regular necessity and can be done from time to time depending on the owner’s will and degree of dirtiness of the dog.

The English Shepherd is famous for its learning abilities and high intelligence. It grasps things at fascinating speed and is considered to be one of the most fast-learning breeds. The dog participates in all canine sports with brilliant results. While the vast majority is willing to gratify and will be obedient, the dog will obey only those who is alpha over it and ignore those who under it in social hierarchy. Some will react only to the orders of those they recognize being absolutely inconsiderate of strangers.

Socialization is not so mandatory for the English Shepherd as for other breeds, though it will greatly enhance adaptation to the family life and correct some breed’s distinct features such as craving for herding or need to dominate.

The English Shepherd is bred to be tough concerning tedious physical work. A crucial requirement constitutes a minimum of a 45 minutes of energetic daily exercise for the breed. If it isn’t exercised properly, some unwanted behavioural patterns may arise such as excessive destructiveness, hyper activity, extreme barking, over excitability, shyness, behavioural instability and so on.

However, the English Shepherd is substantially less dynamic than most other herding breeds and on the assumption of receiving enough daily activity the dog will usually be quite and at rest in the house.