History of the English Shepherd Breed
1860's Scottish Shepherd
English Shepherds are descendants of the Shepherds' dogs of England and southern Scotland. This group also gave rise to modern "show" Collies and Border Collies. English Shepherds differ from their cousins in having been bred primarily for an upright, loose-eyed herding style, and by the continuous selection for all-around ability. These abilities include not only herding but also guarding and hunting. The surge in popularity of dog shows and sheepdog trials in the 20th century resulted in increased demand for the Collie types which these venues were designed to showcase. English Shepherds have never been primarily show dogs or trial dogs, but rather practical versatile workers for farmers who were interested in function rather than flash.
For an introduction to characteristics of the breed, see the English Shepherd Club breed standard.
"There are several other types of Collie quite distinct from the Border Collie in that they are "loose-eyed" workers... They were easy-going, level-headed dogs, useful but not flashy workers ... For all around farm work they were often far more use than the classically bred (trials type) dog." -John Holmes, in The Farmer's Dog
English shepherds are the original all-purpose farm dog. Not only do they help with livestock chores, they also hunt vermin, guard livestock from predators, and become part of the family. With the decline of small family farms, English shepherds, and the traits that made them good farm dogs, have found homes in a wide variety of venues. In addition to traditional farm and ranch dogs, many English shepherds have become Search and Rescue dogs and therapy dogs. Others take part in activities such as agility, obedience, flyball, nosework, trialing, and tracking.