In your search for an Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd, you may come across a breeder who claims to have black and tans. Be aware that some breeders will inappropriately use “black and tan” as a marketing term. So, how can you tell the difference between someone who’s just trying sell you a dog and the real thing? There are three investigations we can use to ascertain if a dog is an Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd.
1 The first way you can tell is by appearance and behavior. To know what you’re looking for, familiarize yourself with the bloodline standard. This same standard of the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd has been around, unchanged, for decades. Here it is:
2 The second way to classify and Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd is by pedigree. The preferred Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd has nothing but black and tan dogs is his or her pedigree. Ideally, the pedigree will all he way back black and tan dogs who were registered with the IESRInternational English Shepherd Registry or the ARFAnimal Research Foundation. There are exceptions. For example, an ancestor 3 generations back who was black and white, so long as all the ancestors since are demonstrably Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherds. Conversely, if a dog’s sire or dam is not a black and tan, that is a composite dog. Not an Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd. In fairness, this is not a cut-and-dried investigation. I personally feel that an Old-fashioned Black and Tan’s three generation pedigree should be at least 7/8 black and tan. But some of my respected colleagues feel that the pedigree should be entirely black and tan. If you are in doubt, ask the opinion of an experienced black and tan breeder. I’ll link to a list of qualified breeders below. Be aware that many English Shepherd breeders who hang out on social networks such as Facebook will tell you another story. Most of these folks are members of what is called the “farm collie movement”. I’ll explain the economic motives and emotional viewpoints of the farm collie movement at some other time.
3 Finally, Genotype can be used to help with our classification. I’m not an expert on genetics, and this isn’t a post about genetics. So, let’s stay high level for this third investigation. An Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd will always have two parents who are ‘AtAt’ on the A Locus. And through in-depth research, we know that most of the modern males from the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd bloodline are of two possible haplogroup/haplotype pairs. Those pairs are A1a H1a.48 and A1a H1a.29. There may be exceptions to this, but we’re unaware of them. So, your dog’s sire should probably be of one of these two haplogroup/haplotype pairs. You don’t have to be an expert in genetics to use genotype as an investigation. You just have to pay for a test and read the report. Don’t let it intimidate you.
To summarize, three of the most conclusive investigations we can use to classify Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherds are genotype, phenotype, and history. In isolation, any one of these three investigations can be inconclusive. But when all three are used together, we can assert a classification with a reasonable amount of confidence. This last statement is an important point. The most accurate classifications will use all three investigations.
As a public service, OBTESAThe Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd Association is a Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation founded in August of 2021 investigates and endorses breeders of Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherds. You can find that list in each edition of the OBTESA quarterly newsletter, and it is also published online here:
Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd Association