Working Characteristics and Dog Sports

One of the remarkable characteristics of this wonderful breed is their incredible loyalty. All English Shepherds bond strongly with their owners and therefore it is essential that any prospective ES owner has enough time to devote to them.

They are supremely intelligent dogs; both easy to train and remarkably quick to learn. They can be motivated by both toys and treats, and although they can be a little distracted, this can easily be trained out of them. They are true all-rounders, excelling in canine sports and search and rescue, as well as working with livestock.


Although they share a similar lineage to the popular Border Collie, the English Shepherd differs in a number of ways.

First of all, the two breeds have distinctly different herding styles. The English Shepherd is described as a loose-eyed herder, meaning that they control stock using body movement, blocking and sometimes even bumping the animals into position. In contrast, the Border Collie is a strong-eyed herder, using an intent gaze to work the stock, approaching in a low-to-the-ground stalking manner, often fixing their attention on small groups or individuals.

English Shepherds were also bred to guard stock from predators and therefore can exhibit more guarding behaviour in their temperament. Although described as equally as intelligent as the Border Collie, they do not have the same obsessive nature meaning that they switch off quickly which can make them easier to live with.

Search and Rescue

There are currently X qualified ES search and rescue dogs in the UK and X undergoing training. Two of the Lakes Search Dog Association’s trainees, Cuillen and Fern, are currently the face of active outdoor dog brand, Hurtta.

The dogs work in challenging environments and have progressed well through their training. Here are some pictures of them in action!

Dog Sports

The intelligence and willingness to learn of the English Shepherd make them an ideal choice for a number of dog sports. In the UK there are a number of them competing at all levels of Flyball and Agility.


Read what a competing flyball dog owner has to say about their English Shepherd:

Wizz has her Bronze, Silver and Gold Kennel Club Good Citizen awards and does obedience training each week. She is mainly into flyball and currently runs with Tails we Win Flyball Club . She has won Divisional Championships at both the British and the European Championships. She has just been awarded the British Flyball Associations Platinum Award (her eight BFA Flyball title so far) she is the all time highest pointed ES at flyball, just overtaking her dad Adam in the 2013 season.


Agility is a sport which involves the handler directing the dog using voice commands and body signals through an obstacle course made up of jumps, tunnels, contact equipment and weaves. Agility can be done for fun to improve the bond between you and your dog, or at the highest levels of international competition.

English Shepherds are ideally suited to agility thanks to their intelligence allowing them to work to direction, as well as their speed and ability to turn fast. There are currently X English Shepherds on the agility circuit so keep an eye out for <insert dog names> the next time you’re at an agility show!

Read what a competing flyball agility owner has to say about their English Shepherd:

Summers love is Agility which she has been doing for the past year and a half. We have been very fortunate to be able to train with some of the best trainers in the UK and spent the last season going to various agility workshops and training shows. We are looking forward to working our way up the grades next season. Summer is fast powerful and agile in equal measure has great focus and drive all the things you need for agility. She lights up when she gets to the agility field and it has helped us build a very close bond and partnership.