California, United States
Posted March 11, 2009
Guardian/watch dog that is more likely to corner than actually attack
Excellent choice for search and rescue, agility, or herding
Prone to Hip Dysplasia
Semi-independent nature can make them hard to train
Need to be socialised early and often to people to prevent extreme wariness of strangers
Very energetic and creative
Will happily not listen to you if they think they know better
I got my mix from a breeder. A neighbor had an intact male Australian Cattle Dog that climbed a fence and bred with the English Shepherd bitch. Nine puppies resulted, 8 of which were blue merle and white, and a single little girl was a tricolor with a truly bizarre pattern. Mom was a clear sable so it was obvious from the start that the cattle dog genes were going to have a lot of influence on overall appearance. Normal breed appearance for the English Shepherd is something like a border collie on steroids. They're a larger dog, sometimes hitting 75lbs, with a medium coat and feathering and a broader head and muzzle than see on their border collie cousins. Colors are typically Black and white, Sable and white, Black and Tan, or Tri-color. Merle is not seen in the purebred English Shepherd. Black and white English Shepherds can be difficult to distinguish from border collies.
It was only after a bit more research that I realised what I'd gotten myself into. Kumo mostly displays the English Shepherd personality type. He's deeply bonded to me and doesn't like me to be out of sight. He's protective and is both a watch and guard dog, depending upon situations. Mostly he "wuffs" quietly to alert me that there is something he doesn't like and thinks I should know about. While sometimes over eager to please, my dog also thinks for himself. He'll figure out ways around orders, and despite being submissive will sass me when he doesn't want to do a particular command.
Tricks and basic commands were really easy to train. He picked them up within minutes. Stay is the hardest of his commands to follow as his breed is designed to be roaming around their owner.
While friendly with cats, he does have a tendency to "reprimand" them when they've done something bad by herding them into a confined space and not letting them leave until I call him off.
Overall English Shepherds are a sturdy and healthy breed due to still being only a working dog, rather than show dog. Their main genetic predisposition is for hip dysplasia, whick Kumo does have. However, also true to breed, he's certainly not letting it slow him down so it is very much up to the owner to help the dog keep their hips as good as possible.
Early socialisation is key as adult purebred English Shepherds are often standoffish with strangers and that usually starts becoming more noticable around the age of 2 years when they reach physical and mental maturity.