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Official U.K.C. Breed Standard*

Herding Dogs Group
  © Copyright 1991, United Kennel Club, Inc.


According to legend, the English Shepherd is almost pure Roman sheep and cattle dog, originally brought to the British Isles by Caesar when he invaded in 55 BC He used these dogs to herd the livestock brought along to feed his troops. As the livestock was depleted, surplus dogs were left along the way, and were used by local natives and interbred with existing types of dogs with similar "herding" talents, to intensify those instincts.

The English Shepherd was brought to the American colonies by some of the first settlers and followed the development of the United States from east to west. This multi-purpose breed was highly prized as it was used to herd valuable livestock and to protect the isolated homesteads.

The United Kennel Club is the original registrar of the English Shepherd and has recognized them since 1934.


A medium-sized dog of sturdy balance and harmonious proportions. Built for speed and maneuverability. The English Shepherd's alert face shows intelligence. Being a "total" breed, they should be judged both on their ability to work livestock and their physical and structural appearance. To be taken into primary consideration are type, balance, soundness, gait and temperament.


Energetic, intelligent, very active, agile, courageous and gritty. Fearless for their purpose. Acting immediately when commanded; very responsive to the master's voice. Adapting themselves almost at once to working commands around farm stock. Working characteristics include: strictly low heeling; and very free with the use of their teeth. Also very watchful as guards of the home. Companionable to their master.


The head is of medium length and slightly rounded between the ears. The head and neck are carried slightly raised. The skull is wide and flat above the eyes; broad between the ears. The width of the skull, between-the inner corners of the bases of the ears, is approximately the same distance. The flews are straight and do not droop. The jaws are deep and powerful.
Faults: Peaked or domed skull.

Medium stop; moderately defined.

The muzzle is moderately broad, but is neither wide and stubby nor thin and snipey. The length of the muzzle, from the tip of the nose to the stop, is about equal to the distance from the stop to the occiput.
Faults: Heavy, pugged. Snipey.

Strong and regular, scissors bite.
Faults (severe): overshot and undershot bites.

Wide at the base. Folding over approximately 3/4 down and laying close to head.

Dark or medium brown. Moderately round with a slightly oblique set. Express character with a strong, intelligent look.
Faults: Almond-shaped. Protruding.

Pigment color always black.


Short, heavy and rounded. Moderately outstretched.


The backline is horizontal. The shoulder is set obliquely, with the angulation to the perpendicular of 45 degrees considered ideal. The ribs are well-sprung. The body length, from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock, is about the same as the height at the withers. The loins are strong and deep. The flank is not tucked up.
Faults: Roached or sway back.


Deep, extending down approximately to the elbows. Wide, allowing large lung capacity.


Wide, muscular. Very compact, denoting strength to spring.


Straight. Medium bone. Muscular. Not too short.


Slightly bent at hock. Very muscular. Well-haired.


Large and round. Directly under the legs. Well padded.


Moderately long with the tip of the bone reaching to the hock joint. Heavily haired. Carried slightly higher than back; only slight curve. Natural bobtails are acceptable; should be about six to eight inches long and carried level with the back line.
Disqualification: Tail carried straight up and over the back.


Heavy, abundant and glossy. May be straight or curly, except on the face, skull and legs. Fully covering body, from ears down to feet. Excessive over main body. Not maned about the neck. Soft. Reaching well under the body and on the upper half of the legs. The front legs are feathered. The tall is plumelike. The undercoat is soft and fine, affording protection from the elements.
Faults: Kinky coats. Heavy manes and heavy frills on the underside of the neck and on the chest.


There are four predominant color patterns: Black and White; Black and Tan; Black, White and Tan; and Sable and White.

The Black and White has a well-defined black coat with white trim. White trim may include - a white neck ring, a blaze of white on foreface and/or topskull, or both - as well as those areas defined below for tan trim. However, the white blaze should not extend back so far as to meet the white neck ring.

The Black and Tan has a well-defined black coat with tan trim, which appears on the cheeks, as "shepherd spots" over the eyes, as a broad chest bar, on the front legs as stockings up to just above the knees, inside the hind legs, on the feet, under the tail and inside the ears. If any white appears in the trim areas, the dog is not a Black and Tan, but is defined as a Black, Tan and White (tricolor).The Black, Tan and White (tricolor) has a well-defined black coat with some white replacing the tan trim. There must be, however, tan "shepherd spots" over the eyes.

The Sable and White has a well-defined, sable-colored with white trim. Tan includes colors from light gold to mahogany brown. Permitted - white neck ring, white tip on tail, white chest; white on lower legs; blaze on face.

Disqualifications. White covering more than 30% of the body. Solid white coats. Whites with black or sable spots. Blue merles. Solid red or red merle. Solid black coat.


The gait is smooth, without choppiness. Indicating the ability to change direction instantaneously. Moving ahead with effortless motion, without rolling. Viewed from the front, the forefeet track close together, but do not cross over. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs are straight from the hocks to the ground, and move as to take the weight under the center of gravity.


Eighteen to 23". Males - 19" to 23"; 20" to 21" preferred. Females - 18" to 22"; 19" to 20" preferred. The same height at the shoulders as at the hips.


Males, 45 to 60 pounds. Females, 40 to 50 pounds.


Dewclaws are common. it is recommended that they be removed a few days after birth as a preventative measure against injuries which may lead to infection.


Excessive nervousness.


Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Extreme aggressiveness or shyness. Nose color other than black.

* NOTE: This information has been contributed by, and is property of The United Kennel Club, Inc. and is gratefully used here with permission.

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