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