English Shepherd Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
English Shepherd Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
The English Shepherd is noted for his calm dependability and is content to curl up at your feet at the end of the day.
However, that day must include a good amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation. This is an active, athletic dog. Herding, advanced obedience, agility, jogging or biking, chasing balls, and playing Frisbee are productive outlets for his enthusiasm.
Most English Shepherds are polite with strangers and make sensible watchdogs, but extensive socialization is required when young to avoid shyness.
Most are fine with other pets if raised with them, but they can be dominant with strange animals.
This is an attentive, sensitive breed who likes to keep his eye on you. Highly trainable, the English Shepherd is an all-purpose working and competition dog who learns quickly. Yet he does have the typical independence of a herding breed.
In other words, this is not a "push-button" breed. You must have the confidence to establish and enforce rules, or he will make up his own.
English Shepherds prefer their charges (family members and other pets) to be gathered together and may try to accomplish this by circling, poking, and nipping.
If you want a dog who...
- Is medium-sized and natural-looking
- Is very trainable
- Thrives on plenty of exercise and athletic activities such as obedience, agility, and herding
- Is usually polite with strangers, yet makes a sensible watchdog
An English Shepherd may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Destructiveness and barking when bored or not exercised enough
- Strong chasing instincts
- Shyness in some lines, or when not socialized enough
- Considerable shedding
- Waiting lists (hard to find)
An English Shepherd may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult English Shepherds have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your English Shepherd to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of the English Shepherd
If I was considering an English Shepherd, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. English Shepherds are not as high-powered as Border Collies, nor are they intense workaholics. But they MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing.
- Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, English Shepherds need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become suspiciousness or fearfulness, which are difficult to live with.
- Mind of his own. The best English Shepherds are versatile working dogs, capable of learning a great deal. But herding dogs sometimes have to think for themselves, so these are not "push-button" robot dogs. Some English Shepherds are stubborn and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
This is called Respect Training. Read more about Respect Training on the English Shepherd Training page.
- Shedding. English Shepherds shed a lot. Be prepared for hair on your clothing and furniture.
- Finding one. English Shepherds are not very common, so you will probably have to go on a waiting list.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.