The ancestors of the English Shepherd accompanied the Romans, Celts, Vikings and Anglo-Saxon tribes who invaded England in ancient times. In due course, herdsmen in England developed these dogs into a multi-purpose farm dog they called the English Shepherd. Later brought to the United States by settlers and livestock importers, the breed also became highly valued by American farmers, enjoying particular popularity in the 1940s and ‘50s.
In general appearance, the English Shepherd looks very much like the Border Collie, although he is usually a little larger, averaging around 40-70 lbs. Like the Border Collie, his medium-length coat can be straight, wavy or curly, and its colors are primarily sable and white, tricolor, black and white, or black and tan (in fact, the easiest way to tell the two breeds apart is by herding style!). Regardless of texture, his coat is easy to keep clean, requiring very little grooming.
A natural working dog, the English Shepherd requires regular activities and daily exercise. His courage and intelligence make him a natural at search and rescue, and his gentle, patient nature — especially with children — makes him an ideal therapy dog. Early socialization and positive, reward-based training are recommended to make him more comfortable around strangers – and to keep him from trying to “herd” the children!
Gentility aside, the English Shepherd is still prone to a number of hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect his health – and your budget. Some of the conditions and illnesses the English Shepherd is prone to include joint problems such as elbow and hip dysplasia; eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts; and genetic abnormalities, including multi-drug resistance gene (MDR1).
Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your English Shepherd inherits anything more than a herding instinct, you’re protected.