Complete English Shepherd Guide: 6 Must Read Facts

English Shepherds make loyal companions who will always happily help you in any way that they can.

They have always got your back and want to protect you.

These dedicated workers perform every task with grace and an incredible aura of beauty.

This dog is a devoted pet who will quickly become the caretaker of any family and will capture the hearts of anyone that encounters them.

They are a low-maintenance breed as long as they are given the proper outlet for their energy.

English Shepherd

What is an English Shepherd?

The English Shepherd is a historical breed that dates back many years.

These hard working dogs quickly became the spokesperson for all farming dogs due to them being diligent, gentle, and versatile in the field as well as within the home.

These purebred dogs can perform a variety of tasks with ease and grace. They are extremely focused on their work, rarely deviating from their serious nature to play or receive affection.

English Shepherds are gorgeous dogs that are eager to please and are always glued to their owner’s side. These protective pups will watch out for your children and will be loyal to anyone they connect with.

This breed is perfect for first-time owners with children that are ready to dedicate much of their time to a very active lifestyle.

  • Overview: Purebred.
  • Purpose: Working breed.
  • Weight: 35-65 pounds.
  • Size: 18-24 inches.
  • Temperament: Hard working, loyal and protective.

English Shepherd Appearance

English Shepherd Close Up

Just by looking at an English Shepherd you can easily see that this dog was born to work.

Their muscular and agile bodies make them incredible workers.

These dogs are sturdy and can run for miles and miles with a smooth gait that would strike awe in anyone watching. Their size lets them change direction in an instant and their broad chests give them a confident and able appearance.

These dogs have warm brown eyes full of intelligence and wisdom. The only features they have that take away from their strong appearance is their small, flopped ears that give them an endearing look.

These dogs are not the traditional image of breed sophistication, but their rugged features and kind faces make them beautiful regardless.

Height and Weight

English Shepherds are medium sized dogs.

These dogs typically weigh between 35 and 65 pounds and stand 18-24 inches tall.

Their moderate size makes them quick on their feet and allows them to perform a variety of tasks.

Colors and Coat

These dogs come in one of four color combinations:

  • Black and tan.
  • Tricolor (black, tan and white).
  • Black and white.
  • Sable and white.

Sable is an interesting color on this dog’s coat because it can take on many forms.

English Shepherds may have a black mask around their face, but overall there is not a lot of variety in their coat color.

This breed has a very low maintenance coat – it is weatherproof and dirt-resistant.

Their medium length fur can be straight, wavy, or curly and grows quite beautifully over their entire bodies.

Because they have such thick, luxurious fur, you will find yourself vacuuming often as these dogs tend to be quite heavy shedders.

7 Fun Facts About English Shepherds

  1. They are often mistakenly labelled as Australian Shepherds or Border Collies because of the farm dog qualities that all 3 breeds contain.
  2. English Shepherds are loose-eyed herders meaning that they do not make intense eye contact with their herds and crouch down (like a Border Collie would do). They stand upright and herd the livestock with their bodies rather than with their eyes.
  3. This dog has lots of nicknames including: The old style Collie and America’s farm dog.
  4. You can expect them to form a very nurturing bond with their livestock (rather than a relationship built on fear). These pups care for their herds and want to protect them like family.
  5. Despite this breed’s long history the American Kennel Club has never officially recognized this breed.
  6. English Shepherds are very organized and disciplined. These dogs like routine and get very upset when their lifestyles change.
  7. The origin of this breed is a bit of a mystery. Some believe that they were created in the British Isles in 55 BC when Julius Caesar brought both sheep and cattle dogs to the British Isles producing the dog we know today. Others argue that this breed’s origin occurred much later when English and Scottish settlers brought their farm dogs to the U.S. and mated these dogs.

English Shepherd Personality and Temperament

English Shepherd Dog

This serious breed was born to work.

They have huge amounts of energy that needs to be channeled productively.

Unlike Border Collies (who intimidate the flocks they oversee), English Shepherds care for the animals in their flock and treat them in a very gentle, yet disciplined, manner.

They are also incredibly capable at completing lots of other jobs.

These pups are used for search and rescue, therapy purposes and excel in obedience and agility trials.

Because this breed is so focused on their job they are not extremely playful or affectionate.

They would rather work in the fields than chase a ball around the yard. These pups are independent and are happy to follow their owners around and help in any way they can. Although they may not constantly try to snuggle with you on the couch, they like the company of others and will happily sit at your feet after a long day of work.

These dogs are calm, gentle and even-tempered so they get along with pretty much anyone.

They will protect children and care for them like a parent would and they are tolerant of other animals in the home. If they are not socialized from an early age they can be skeptical of strangers and may try to protect their territory from newcomers. However with proper socialization this problem can be cured easily. Once these dogs warm up to a person they are loyal to them for life.

As long as English Shepherds receive the proper amount of exercise each day, they won’t bark much. These pups are calm and would rather save their barking for when it is necessary (to alert their owner to danger or to herd livestock).

Is The English Shepherd A Good Family Dog?

This nurturing and protective breed will practically raise your kids for you. These dogs are great with children of all ages and will always keep them safe.

They are gentle and patient with children and will tolerate your kids pulling on their tail, dressing them up, or annoying them in any sort of unique way.

Caring for an English Shepherd

English Shepherd Outside

English Shepherds are extremely low maintenance in terms of their diets, grooming and overall health, but owners of this breed must be prepared to provide them with plenty of exercise.

These dogs have lots of energy and need to have a job of some sort to feel fulfilled.

If you are a first time dog owner with an extremely active lifestyle, this breed would make a great addition to your family.

Exercise Requirements

If you do not have an active lifestyle this is not the breed for you.

The English Shepherd dog needs an outlet for their energy.

Ideally this breed will live on a farm, but this is not inescapable. If you cannot provide your dog with acres of land, you must at least have a large yard for them to release their energy.

If you cannot give your dog the opportunity to herd livestock, agility trials are a great replacement. This activity will mentally challenge your pup while also helping them get rid of some of that energy.

They need 1-2 hours of exercise each day (if not more), so be prepared for long walks and play. These dogs love going to the dog park, hiking, or swimming.

Regardless of where you live, you need to give this breed a job of some sort. Herding/guarding are the ideal job for these dogs, but you can also train them as therapy dogs, service dogs, or train them to do simple tasks around the house.

  • Number of Walks Per Day: 1+.
  • Total Exercise Needed Per Day: 90+ Minutes.

English Shepherd Exercising

Grooming and Shedding

Be prepared to see a lot of your English Shepherd’s fur scattered around the home.

These beautiful dogs have medium length hair that falls out quite frequently (especially during warmer months). To minimize the amount of shedding, brush them at least 2-3 times each week.

English Shepherds have wonderful coats that you won’t need to bathe often. These pups are both weather-proof and dirt-proof, so you won’t have to worry about their fur filling with dust or becoming covered with mud.

As these pups are so active, you will want to keep an eye on their ears. Dirt and dust can clog up their ears so make sure you clean them out often. You will also want to keep their nails trimmed.

Feeding and Diet

As long as your English Shepherd is getting the exercise that it craves, you won’t have to worry about them becoming overweight.

These dogs run so hard they burn off practically every single calorie that they consume.

This breed does not have a very particular diet.

They need plenty of calories to exercise as hard as they do, so investing in a kibble designed for active dog breeds is wise. Other than that, they will eat just about anything and would prefer a diet free of fillers that do not offer much nutritional value.

Calories Per Day:Cups of Kibble Per Day:

Known Health Problems

English Shepherds are the epitome of health. These hard working pups are prone to very few illnesses and tend to be healthy throughout their lives.

Because these dogs are so active they may develop a couple of issues with their bones and joints. Hip and elbow dysplasia are not uncommon in this breed and they may also have luxating patellas (or slipped kneecaps). These medical conditions can be very uncomfortable for your poor pup but can usually be corrected with surgery.

They may also develop cataracts, but this is quite common in older dogs and can be treated with surgery.

Overall these pedigree pups are incredibly healthy and you won’t have to worry about constant trips to the vets. However, you could get pet insurance regardless of your dog’s good health pedigree.

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How Long Does A English Shepherd Live?

These healthy pups often live long, fulfilling lives that can span anywhere from 10 to 15 years.

How Much Does A English Shepherd Cost?

There are several breeders that are devoted to producing healthy English Shepherds, but you will most likely pay $350-$1,000 for one of these pups.

How To Train English Shepherds

Training An English Shepherd

These dogs are highly intelligent and eager to please, so they will quickly pick up on your dog training.

As with any dog breed positive reinforcement is the way to go. These dogs love to make their owners happy, so if you praise them for a job well done, they will want to do that same task again.

Because English Shepherds are so intelligent they need to be challenged mentally. If you do not exercise your dog’s brain in addition to their body, they will become bored and destructive.

Food toys are a great example of a way to keep your dog mentally stimulated.

If you have the time, obedience and agility training are also great ways to keep your dog’s mind active. English Shepherds are extremely skilled at these tasks and do extremely well in competitions due to their nature.

Have fun with your dog and challenge them.

You may also have to train an English Shepherd to not herd children or other pets in the home. These pups love to herd and if they are not given the opportunity to herd livestock, they may try to corral your kids or other pets.

If you notice this behavior it is important to train it out quickly before it becomes a bad habit.

Buyer’s Guide

Dedicated to whatever job they are given.
High energy and exercise requirements.
Protective of children and family.
Not suitable for apartment life.
Relatively few health concerns.They are heavy shedders.
Intelligence makes them easy to train.
Can be territorial of home and family.

Quick Breed Summary Table

Breed Characteristics
Size:18-24 inches
Lifespan:10-15 years
Coat:Medium in length and straight, wavy, or curly in texture
Color:Black and tan, tricolor (black, tan and white), black and white, or sable and white
Do They Shed:Yes
Temperament:Serious when working but gentle and loving with their family
Intelligence:Highly intelligent
Socialization:Need to be socialized as a pup
Destructive Behavior:Can chew or bark when bored
People Skills:May take a while to warm up to new people
Good with Children:Protective of children and want to keep them safe
Activity Levels:Highly active and require lots of exercise


Herding, guarding, hunting, search and rescue and therapy: English Shepherds do it all.

These sweet, gentle, easy-going dogs do not ask for much. Just that you allow them to run around and perform some sort of job for you. With the proper exercise and mental stimulation they will happily be your companion for life.

They are wonderful, kind dogs that would fit well into most homes. These nurturing souls will care for your children and won’t require extensive grooming or veterinary care.

If you are someone with an active lifestyle and want a loyal, laid-back dog, the English Shepherd is perfect for you.

About Thomas Woods 224 Articles
Thomas has been a dog lover since he was 6 years old when his parents got him a rescue Labrador. Since then his love for dogs has lead him to study Animal Behavior & Welfare. He now keeps a six year old English Bullmastiff and educates pet parents through his online publication Perfect Dog Breeds.


  1. I had an English Shepherd. Rescued from an animal shelter in Ohio. She was the best. Would like to get another one. Unfortunately they are almost impossible to find. Around here anyway.

  2. I hike in the high desert here in Wyoming . I had a mixed breed 45 lb dog for some years . Wife acquired an English shepherd pup , a sturdy , agile , intelligent . A bit young yet but wondering
    If a work dog like this could be trained to be a companion dog for an aging but agile old man ?

    • Yes, as long as you have a place for exercise daily. I love mine, my third one and I am elderly now…I have an acre fenced for him to run, which he does with glee, and I also take him walking with me every day. He’s a good guard dog yet friendly. They are very smart and can size people up instantly. Enjoy your dog!

  3. I have a beautiful English Shepard that appeared here in my barn and no one locally has claimed. If you have an interest please calll me. 256 504-1563. I will send a picture of this beautiful dog which is around 10 months old and very sweet smart and entergetic. I already have A dog and do not need to keep another .

  4. I have a year old female ES that is completely blowing her coat not just shedding and wonder if this is normal or what could be causing this

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