Originating from the country of Wales, the Welsh Sheepdog is a member of the herding group and is used primarily for herding sheep in the Welsh countryside.
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The Welsh Sheepdog looks much like the Border Collie, who also originated from the United Kingdom, particularly the Anglo Saxon border of Scotland.
Like the Border Collie, the Welsh Sheepdog is tall and robust. Though he resembles the Border Collie in color, the Welsh Sheepdog’s coat is much shorter in length. His head is roughly the same shape as the Collie’s, yet it is generous in size and rather flat between its ears, with a wide and powerful muzzle.
The Welsh Sheepdog has been gifted with a strong jaw, which will aid him greatly while herding. Sheep and other stubborn livestock can pack a powerful punch if agitated. His lips and mouth are well constructed, with a nose that is almost always black.
This dog’s eyes are relatively medium in size and take on an oval shape. They are mostly found in brown, and if you are lucky enough to own a merle-colored dog, their eyes have a beautiful blue or even multicolored iris. Much like the eyes that you might see on an Australian Shepard, these eyes are not only handsome but commanding.
Set quite high on his head, the Welsh Sheepdog’s ears are medium to large-sized. They sit up proudly but with the characteristic fold at the top you see in many similar breeds.
The Welsh Sheepdog sports an athletic and strong body, which is necessary when performing his daily tasks of herding farm animals. His neck and back are wide with a beautifully sloped croup, ending in a generous tail, complete with a curl at the tip. Like his back, the Sheepdog’s chest is thick and strong. The dog’s belly should be firmly tucked.
This dog walks on long legs that blend in nicely with his muscular shoulders and hindquarters. His pads are tailor-made to handle the Welsh countryside’s rocky terrain, with well-arched toes that will aid him as he pivots.
Though shorter than the Border Collie’s, the Welsh Sheepdog’s coat length will vary in size. It can be short or on the longer size, and the fur is usually either rugged or quite soft to the touch. He gives us several different combinations of beautiful colors; black and white, red and white, or the stunning merle color.
The Welsh Sheepdog does vary in size. A typical male measures 22 inches (56 cm) high and can weigh anywhere from 40-55 pounds (18-25 kg). As is usually the case in dogs, the female is more dainty. She can reach roughly 20 inches (50cm) in height and weigh between 35-50 pounds (16-23 kg).
Welsh Sheepdog Personality and Temperament
Like its cousin, the Border Collie, the Welsh Sheepdog is an extremely smart and speculative animal. He is always a step ahead as he anxiously awaits his master’s next move. The Welsh Sheepdog is a worker and thrives on the farm. He is always eager to start his workday, and when kept busy, he will be at his most content.
If you are keeping the Welsh Sheepdog as a pet, he needs to have a job. They would be more than happy to keep your backyard goats or chickens in order if you own any. They are easily trainable to retrieve your favorite things around the house as well.
The Welsh Sheepdog needs to feel useful, or he can quickly become bored. Without sufficient incitement, you can find yourself dealing with some destructive behavior from your dog.
This dog is bred to be a natural protector, whether watching the sheep on the farm or his family members. They are constantly vigil and keen to sound the alarm if they hear any suspecting activity in their homes.
It’s very important to make the Welsh Sheepdog understand his place. If he isn’t properly socialized, he can become quite aggressive towards people he isn’t used to. This dog will quickly grab the upper hand with an owner who is inexperienced and doesn’t establish his or her dominance.
The Welsh Sheepdog is a self-confident and often aloof breed and may not be the wisest choice for a family with small children. He can be quick to bare his teeth when he is not happy, and he sometimes may use them on the wrong person.
This doesn’t mean the Welsh Sheepdog isn’t a desirable breed. He certainly is, but his personality is powerful and needs to be in the right set of hands. If you have a strong personality yourself, along with experience and the time to devote to this dog, the Welsh Sheepdog can absolutely be a terrific companion.
Is the Welsh Sheepdog a Good Family Dog?
In a short answer, yes, with a lot of dedication and training. The Welsh Sheepdog is an incredibly hard worker and is quite capable of being a strong leader and making the right decisions when on the job. He is also keen on accepting firm direction from his master.
When it comes to owning the Welsh Sheepdog as a family pet, it’s very important to know that they need an active family to keep up with. If left to their own devices, they easily become inattentive without stimulations and can wreak havoc on your home.
The Welsh Sheepdog would not fare well in a small apartment where they are cooped up all day. If left alone, the Welsh Sheepdog will let the rest of the world know about their misery. They are incredibly vocal with a deep bark, and you may not be the envy of your neighbors if your dog is left alone.
Ideally, country living or even a large yard is more suited to this energetic breed. These dogs are bred specifically for their herding ability and enormous work ethic. But the Welsh Sheepdog is also incredibly loyal and intelligent.
Although he may be overly protective of children, he has a gentle and loving nature if raised properly. Along with being a great benefit on the farm, the Welsh Sheepdog can make a wonderful family pet if given direction from day one.
How to Train a Welsh Sheepdog
The high intelligence of the Welsh Sheepdog may actually work against you if you don’t immediately establish that you are the pack leader. Because they are so smart, if not given the upper hand, they can assume that they have better ideas on what should be happening. This will present an unruly situation if you are not a dedicated and firm master.
The most important quality in any owner of any dog is experience. But the Welsh Sheep Dog, especially, needs to know this. He will have a great deal of respect for his master, and if he senses confidence in you, then his respect will come naturally. Your assertiveness will ensure that this easily trainable dog is willing to work with you.
The Welsh Sheepdog responds well to cues and commands quickly and with very little repetition. Once you feel you are willing and capable of handling the task, there are some general rules to follow that can really be adaptable to any dog.
House rules must be put in place right away. It’s up to you to decide what your Welsh Sheepdog is allowed to do. Decide whether or not you are going to allow them on the furniture. If you aren’t, make sure you stick to that rule.
If certain parts of the house are off-limits to your dog, make this known. Baby gates can work wonders in this regard. Once you determine and set house rules in place, both you and your dog will avoid confusion.
All dogs need a safe space that they can call their own. A dog crate is one of the easiest ways to do this. A crate provided stability and privacy. If a dog is introduced to their crate immediately, they will see it as a place to go if they are tired or stressed out.
Many think that leaving a dog in their crate is cruel. It’s the exact opposite. Your Welsh Sheepdog will benefit greatly from short periods of time where they are left alone to enjoy the safety of their crate. Crating is also an invaluable housebreaking tool.
The Welsh Sheepdog thrives on pleasing its master. From day one, if you reward your new dog for its positive behavior, you are already on the way to establishing a relationship built on trust.
Dogs love toys, excited praise, and yummy treats. And don’t forget the love. A rub behind the ears or under the chin will show your Welsh Sheepdog that you are pleased with him.
Making sure your Welsh Sheepdog comes when he is called is crucial to their safety. This is the first command you should be teaching your dog. This works well if you get on your dog’s level, especially if they are a puppy.
Ask them to come and when they do, reward them with lots of praise and a treat. Over time you can try the “come” command if your dog is a bit distracted, perhaps with food or a new toy. As your puppy grows, you will see the absolute benefits of this command.
Remember that dogs live in the moment. Less than two minutes after they have done something, they have forgotten what it was! So it’s important to react immediately.
If your dog is doing something unfavorable, a stern shout and a redirect at that very moment will help them to make the connection between their behavior and the correction. When teaching a new trick or command, consistency is key. Constant repetition will bolster your dog’s confidence in knowing they have done something to please you.
It’s best to discourage jumping immediately. While your Welsh Sheepdog may be adorable jumping up when he’s a little puppy, most people won’t feel the same if he is still doing it as an adult. Jumping is a bad habit of letting your dog get into. Turn your back if he jumps, and once the dog has settled down, you can then give positive reinforcement.
It’s also important to nip biting right in the bud. Puppies are mouthy, but a sharp, loud yell should help to discourage the behavior. While puppies chewing can be cute, they have needle-sharp teeth that will only get stronger as they grow.
Your Welsh Sheepdog is smart and should respond to a sharp verbal cue. You can also try a redirect by providing a chew toy. This is a great little trick as most puppies would rather chew on their favorite toy if given a choice.
Always end your training session with your Welsh Sheepdog on a positive note. Training is tough work for a dog, especially a puppy. Be sure to offer love, a treat, and kind words. Your dog will look forward to training if they know they will receive such wonderful gifts from their master.
Caring for a Welsh Sheepdog
This high-energy breed needs at least two hours of exuberant exercise every day. This is the absolute minimum. If your Welsh Sheepdog is being used as intended, this working dog breed should be able to get its daily requirements throughout the countryside while putting sheep in their place.
Unless you have endless hours to dedicate daily, these requirements will be tough to meet if your dog is being kept as a house pet. If you enjoy long-distance running or mountain hiking, then the Welsh Sheepdog may be perfect for you.
Grooming and Shedding
Despite its long coat, the Welsh Sheepdog doesn’t need to spend a lot of time at the groomers. Those will very long coats will benefit from a good weekly brushing. This will help rid him of clumps of debris that are easily picked up when roaming the mountains of Wales.
Brushing is also a good way to work through knots or mats that may be forming. Unless your dog’s coat is very soiled, bathing should only be done on an as-needed basis. If your Welsh Sheepdog is getting the appropriate amount of exercise, his nails should file themselves down, especially in rocky terrain.
Feeding and Diet
After being whelped, Welsh Sheepdog puppies between 8 and 12 weeks of age require almost four bowls of food a day. 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup per feeding should be adequate. As they grow, you can decrease their food to 3 times a day, paying attention to the manufacturer’s directions.
Puppies six months to one year can be cut back to two times a day. Some adult Welsh Sheepdogs do well with one generous feeding or two lighter feedings twice a day.
Feed your Welsh Sheepdog top-quality dry food to be sure he’s getting the correct balance of nutrition. You can mix dry food with a small amount of canned or even a little water or broth for taste. Welsh Sheepdogs may also fancy cooked eggs, certain fruits, and vegetables, as well as cheese.
It’s imperative to stay away from feeding your dog anything too high in calories as it can affect his vitamin intake. Once again, it’s always best to discuss this with your veterinarian. You should always provide clean, cool water and be sure to wash your dog’s dishes regularly.
Known Health Problems
Unfortunately, when owning any purebred dog, the risk of health problems comes with it. The Welsh Sheepdog shares many of the same problems that his cousin herding breeds do.
Though Welsh Sheepdogs are a fairly healthy breed, there is a list of problems that can arise that you should look out for.
Welsh Sheepdogs can have skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, but this seems to be more common in dogs that spend a considerable time indoors. This allergic condition can irritate the ears and paws and sometimes their genitals, as this condition is a response to allergens that come in direct contact with their skin.
Epilepsy, a brain disorder that causes seizures, is more common in large breed dogs. But unfortunately, this includes the Welsh Sheepdog. Seizures are difficult to watch, but their impact on the dog is usually fairly minor.
Some require treatment, but others do not. The dogs that do require a form of medication will usually do well as long as a veterinarian monitors the dosage.
Diabetes Mellitus isn’t a major problem that Welsh Sheepdogs are vulnerable to. However, it has been seen in the breed and deserves to be mentioned. There is usually damage to the pancreas, the organ that secretes insulin.
When a dog suffers from lack of insulin, they are unable to absorb glucose. This often leads to weight loss, increased hunger, increased thirst, and urination. This disease can easily be confirmed with blood and urine tests and managed with the care of an animal professional.
Unfortunately, Hip Dysplasia is common in several dog breeds, the Welsh Sheepdog being one of them. This can be a common cause of faltering in a dog. It is caused by poor symmetry between the ball and the socket of the hip joint.
This condition is usually inherited, so it’s important to be sure you have enough background from the breeder. In some cases, the symptoms can be eased by feeding a very high-quality food and keeping exercise to a minimum which unfortunately isn’t recommended for the Welsh Sheepdog.
Retinal Atrophy, a condition that can affect vision, is very common in all sheepdog breeds. This condition is not present upon birth, but rather, it tends to develop as the dog reaches adulthood. It can first be noticed as night blindness. However, the deterioration of the retina can progress rapidly to loss of full sight in many dogs.
As with hip dysplasia, it is important to be sure you are buying from an ethically minded breeder. And Welsh Sheepdogs should have their breeding stock checked for the Progressive Retinal Atrophy gene.
- Highly Intelligent
- Excellent Trainability
- Low Grooming Requirements
- Adaptable to changing environments
- Good With Children and Other Dogs
- Several Health Issues
- Strong Impulse to roam
- Does not do well being left alone
- Needs a great deal of exercise
Though the excitement of buying a new puppy may be overwhelming, it’s important to have caution. It would be best if you had several things in mind when buying that you may want to bring up with the breeder.
A well-bred Welsh Sheepdog may be high in price, so it’s important to know what you are paying for.
Be wary of online scams and know how to avoid them. Potential buyers should shy away from purchasing a puppy sight unseen. If you can, it’s always better to meet the dog and its parents in person.
Ask to see any paperwork that pertains to the puppy’s lineage, as well as their vaccination records and whether they have been microchipped.
Be sure you have an in-depth knowledge of the puppy’s parents and be cautious of any health issues.
How Much do Welsh Sheepdogs Cost?
Welsh Sheepdogs are not a terribly popular breed in the United States, but they can be bought starting at around $500. It’s important to know that the more a dog costs, the better his breeding may be. In the United Kingdom, Welsh Sheepdogs can cost close to 2000 pounds.
Quick Breed Summary Table
|Size||Up to 22 inches|
|Weight||Up to 50 pounds|
|Coat||Coarse or soft|
|Color||Black & White, Red & White, Merle|
|Do They Shed?||Moderate Shedders|
|Temperament||Alert & Protective|
|Socialization||Should be socialized at an early age|
|Destructive Behavior||Low to moderate if exercised properly|
|People Skills||Can be cautious|
|Good With Children||Protective of Children|
|Activity Levels||Extremely High Activity Level|
The Welsh Sheepdog is a highly intelligent breed that is most happy when working. He is ideal for sheep herding and is rugged enough for the Welsh countryside.
He is good-natured in temperament but can be destructive if not given a proper amount of exercise. He can make a good family pet as long his needs are met.
His grooming needs are low but be privy to the many health issues The Welsh Sheepdog can acquire. Be responsible when choosing a breeder to be sure you are getting a high-quality animal.
What is a Welsh Sheepdog?
The Welsh Sheepdog is an intelligent herding breed the originated in the Welsh countryside sometime in the eighteenth century.
Nobles commonly owned them due to their intelligence and companionship.