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The English Shepherd is the ultimate farm family dog

Updated on March 8, 2013
Rip watching over her farm.
Rip watching over her farm.

Why choose an English Shepherd

Two years ago we lost our beloved farm dog and the search for a new pup began. our first dog was a stray and we had no idea what breed she was, but I knew I wanted those qualities in her that we had all come to treasure.

I needed a dog that wouldn't chase livestock but would guard it. I needed a dog the children could climb on, wrestle with and snuggle with. I needed a dog that would guard us and our children and the farm without being too territorial (we have a lot of clients come and go). I needed a dog that wouldn't stray or roam and who was completely loyal to the family and regarded the farm as his/her personal kingdom. I needed a dog I could trust to keep varmints away and keep us safe. And she had to be friendly and part of the family.

That's a lot to ask. I started out googling "farm dogs" and came up with all sorts of answers...but finally I stumbled across something called the "farm collie" otherwise known as the English Shepherd. After some research, I decided that this was the dog for us. Boy was I right.

Rip is all those things I wanted and more. She is smart, guards and protects the animals (and people) on the farm and is vivacious and friendly. She shadows my son on his adventures and I never worry about him when I know she is with him - whether in the woods or at the creek. In the evenings, she is content to sit with us on the porch, play a game of fetch or join us for a game of basketball (she's quite good, actually). All the while, she is alert to her surroundings and is quick to note when something is not right. She'll fetch us if she thinks we're needed or she'll handle certain situations herself - putting stray guinea hen back in the coop or warding off predators.

These things are what the English Shepherd was bred for - and I wouldn't have any other breed on our farm.

Our faithful Ripley.
Our faithful Ripley.

About English Shepherds

There are a couple of good web sites and some pamphlets that go into more detail, but here is a brief synopsis of the breed we've come to treasure.

English Shepherds (or Farm Collies) have been here since the early English settlers came to America. They were the all-purpose dog and used to herd and guard livestock, protect the family and home, and even help hunt. English Shepherds are not generally well known today, as the all-purpose dog fell out of favor to more highly specialized dogs such as the Border Collie or Aussie.

English Shepherds are smart and like rules. They also like order and will try to enforce your rules on others - which includes your other pets, livestock, or even your children!

English Shepherds LOVE their people and are completely devoted. They do not stray or wander. Sometimes they are known as "English Shadows" as they tend to shadow their people.

English Shepherds don't come with an exacting standard - they can be from 19-24" tall, and anywhere from 40 to 70 lbs. They should be balanced, athletic and hardy. They are a moderately built and sized dog.

English Shepherds have a double coat - and they do shed heavily twice a year, but otherwise little grooming is necessary as they don't tend to matt and dirt doesn't stick to the coat.

They come in four main colors; black & white, black & tan, sable & white and tri-color.

English Shepherds can live in suburban environments but need plenty of exercise and companionship. They are often described as Border Collies with an "off" switch, meaning they are not as intense a working dog. They do not need to be penned when not working. They are content just to be with you.

For a lot more information on the English Shepherd, please visit their site at They have several good books including The English Shepherd Club Breed Information, The Farmdog Handbook, and Raising Your English Shepherd Puppy. In addition, they have a list of breeders and links to breeders' web sites which is most helpful.


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      Christa 3 years ago

      Yup, I have a male English shepherd and you described them perfectly!! Great all around farm and family dogs. I grew up with Lassie stories and always wanted a collie. I was sad to discover rough collies aren't what they used to be, so thankful for this breed!!