English Shepherd History Overview

RCW 3“English Shepherd breed founders were the multi-purpose shepherds of the British Isles, brought to North America beginning in the 1800s. Over more than a century, these stocks became so widely distributed and consistent in type that they were the archetype farm dog celebrated by the artist Norman Rockwell. As dogs, English Shepherds were shaped somewhat by the natural environment and even more so by selection for the agricultural niche where they worked.

Farmers needed the English Shepherd for several important farm jobs. This need created a consistent dog with an optimum range of size, weight, athletic ability, intelligence, and a strong sense of intuition and partnership with their owners. There were always regional variations based on climate, type of stock worked, and farmer preferences, with many localized groups as the result.” (Excerpt from Breed Conservation for the English Shepherd– link below)

The English Shepherd was commonly found on the farms in America even prior to becoming a registered breed through the UKC in 1927. Known for its intelligence, the breed was prized as a farm helper and a companion. It was also known by other names including the Old Fashioned Collie, Farm Collie, Farm Shepherd, Black Shepherd, Ring Tailed Shepherd and Ring Necked Shepherd. Hilborn photoThese were all the same dog.

Many of the old Collie pictures from the turn of the 20th century look like the English Shepherds of today. The term English Shepherd was used prior to the UKC recognition, as evidenced by this envelope from Jan Hilborn’s collection.

The English Shepherd is truly an American breed.

More information about the breed’s beginnings and registries may be found by clicking here.