Historically, the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd dog was essential to the lives of many rural Tennesseans. But the utility of these all-purpose working dogs spread beyond the borders of Tennessee. In the Southeast, Black and Tan English Shepherds were well-known to farmers in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. To the west, these gritty dogs were especially useful to cattle ranchers in Texas.Guy Gordon, “How the English Shepherd Became a Cattle Herder,” The San Francisco Examiner, December 1, 1957 To the north, Black and Tan English Shepherd dogs earned a living on farmsteads throughout the Ohio river valley. And further east, these dogs were well-known to rural citizens of the Mid-Atlantic region. But the history and use of these farm dogs is particularly well-documented in Tennessee.
On dairy farms, cattle ranches and rural family homes, the Black and Tan English Shepherd provided a variety of essential services. Horace Curtis of Algood, Tennessee writes about his black and tans from the early nineteen-hundreds. He tells of their ability to eradicate vermin, protect children, and drive cattle.Horace Curtis, “A Match for Man or Beast,” English Shepherd Club of America’s Who’s Who Breeder Manual, pg 22 At about the same time, John Blankenship’s father rode into town on his old gray mare. Charles Blankenship of Wilson County kept a black and tan English Shepherd at his side to drive home the livestock he purchased.John Blankenship, “The Blankenships’ Best Friend,” English Shepherd Club of America’s Who’s Who Breeder Manual, pg 19 Further east, Walter Oglivie of Allisona pushed his cattle through the thick woods of the Cumberland Mountains. He followed on horseback while a pair of black and tan English shepherds drove his stock over the narrow mountain paths. Upon reaching the rail head in Pikeville, Oglivie and his two dogs loaded the steers into train cars.Walter Oglivie, “Pete The Mountain Dog,” English Shepherd Club of America’s Who’s Who Breeder Manual, pg 25
It is difficult to overstate the influence of John and Pauline Blankenship on the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd bloodline. Over the span of four decades, the Blankenships bred dogs on their family farm in Rutherford County.Josephine Murphy, “Sold on Shepherds,” The Nashville Tennessean Magazine, May 23, 1953 John and Pauline Blankenship were master farmers,“Rutherford Countians First Man, Wife Team in Plowing Contest”, Nashville Banner, September 22, 1956“Farmer Blankenship Will Plow for National Title,”, The Rutherford Courier, September 11, 1955 respected community leaders, and arguably the most prolific breeders“English Shepherd Training School Set in August,” The Rutherford Courier, July 21, 1953“Named Board Member of Shepherd Club,” The Daily News-Journal, August 10, 1953“English Shepherd to Observe Pioneer Days,” The Daily News-Journal, July 17, 1953 of English Shepherds in the history of the breed. The Blankenships’ dogs were selected and bred to bring in cows, herd sheep, catch and hold hogs, and load livestock into loading chutes.Murphy, op. cit. Advertised as “the world’s best all-purpose dog,” a Blankenship dog was also your faithful companion and an ardent night watchman. John Blankenship writes of a female black and tan English Shepherd named “Queen” whose ancestry could be traced back 100 years through a line of purebreds in Tennessee.Blankenship, op. cit. With his assertion, Blankenship establishes the existence of Old-fashioned Black and Tan English shepherds in Tennessee around 1850.
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Stodghill traveled to middle Tennessee in the early nineteen-fifties.“Some Farm Dogs Said True English Shepherds,” The Rutherford Courier, January 23, 1953 Stodghill’s grandfather was a native of Rutherford County named George Dromgoole. Dromgoole used black and tan English Shepherds to work his cattle. So when Dromgoole moved his family to Texas in the late nineteenth century, he brought his cattle dogs along with him. Sixty years later, his grandson founded the English Shepherd Club of America in Quinlan, Texas. When Stodghill needed new blood for his English Shepherd breeding program, he returned to middle Tennessee. The Stodghills and Blankenships spent several days together, travelling the rural counties of DeKalb, Jackson, Putnam and Wilson. Their search bore fruit, finding middle Tennessee families which had been using these dogs for generations to manage their livestock. The markings, performance and behavior of the unregistered dogs led Stodghill and Blankenship to assert that they had been bred true down through the years. A number of these middle Tennessee dogs were registered and used to form the foundation of the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd bloodline.Farm Dogs, op. cit. Over the next several decades, the Blankenships, Stodghill and other members of the ESCOA would proceed to breed and ship the descendants of middle Tennessee’s black and tan English Shepherds to all fifty United States.Tom D. Stodghill, “All Fifty States,” English Shepherd Club of America’s Who’s Who Breeder Manual, pg 15
Today, the bloodline of the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd is at risk.Rebecca Wingler, “If We Don’t Do Something They are Going to Die Off,” English Shepherd Club Yahoo! Mailing List, June 23, 2009 As lifestyles in America have shifted, these rare and historic dogs have dwindled in population. But fortunately, a few like-minded advocates have formalized as a Tennessee nonprofit corporation. The mission of the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd Association is to assist with breeding, registration and training. OBTESA works to preserve the unique qualities of the bloodline, to preserve the integrity of the bloodline, and to protect the longevity of the bloodline. The OBTESA Breeder Incubator program identifies and supports select breeders who are committed to the revitalization of the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd bloodline by providing mentorship, resources and quality breeding stock. Visit www.obtesa.com for more information.
English Shepherd Frequently Asked Questions
The Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd is a breed of working dog native to the United States. The English shepherd is an all-purpose farm dog capable of working with any species of livestock. Rural families have favored these dogs for generations due to their grit, loyalty, and desire to please. ES activities include hunting, tracking, search-and-rescue, agility, obedience, companionship, and guard dog duty.
The English Shepherd is believed to have resulted from a combination of dogs native to the British Isles with sheep and cattle dogs that Caesar brought to the British Isles when he invaded in 55 BC. These dogs assisted the Romans in herding livestock that were brought to help feed the troops.
You should budget anywhere from $400 upwards to $800 or even more for an English Shepherd with top breed lines and a superior pedigree. The average cost for all English Shepherds sold in the U.S. is about $600.
English Shepherds are medium-sized dogs. Male English Shepherds will grow to be about 19 to 23 inches in height while female English Shepherds will be about 18 to 22 inches in height.
English Shepherds are some of the friendliest, most loving dogs you’ll meet. … Many of these dogs can make excellent companion dogs, provided they get enough physical and mental stimulation. They’re loyal and devoted pets, and they want to spend time at their master’s side if they’re not out rounding up cattle.
As a natural breed, they require little trimming. Their vibrissae (whiskers) should not be cut, as this is a breed that often works stock and relies on those sensory hairs to do their job properly
English Shepherds are not very common, so you will probably have to go on a waiting list.
English Shepherds can live as long as 14 years. Some longer.
English shepherds shed constantly. Routine brushing will help. Be prepared to vacuum often!
Black & Tan, Black & White, Sable & White, Tri-color.
Yes, English shepherd dogs tend to bark.
Border collies have very strong herding instincts, making them excellent to control sheep and other animals. On the other hand, while English Shepherds are also great herders, they are better suited as a multi-purpose working dog.
A dewclaw on the inside of each front leg is the norm in English Shepherds, as it is in all domestic dogs. Shepherds believed these working dogs’ double dewclaws provided stability and kept them from sinking too deeply into the rugged terrain’s snow and mud. The Black and Tan English Shepherd bloodline is known for having rear double dew claws.
Around 16 to 18 months old
The breed has a long, straight or wavy double coat with feathering on the legs and tail, traditionally it has four different color combinations, black and white, black and tan, sable and white or tricolor (black, white and tan), although shades of fawn and red tan to white are also seen in the breed.
English Shepherds have a double coat, with a soft dense undercoat and a silky outer coat.
Yes, English shepherds make some of the best guard dogs.
44 – 66 lbs
Ears typically wide apart, stand slightly outward at the base with a sharp bend and lie close to the head when relaxed, raised up slightly when alert. Variation in ear set is common and of trivial significance.
English Shepherds make great family pets because they are gentle and patient with kids. They are also tolerant of other animals, including cats.
English shepherds are great family dogs! Most of these dogs will be gentle and patient around kids, but, given their herding instinct, though, they may try to herd children by nipping at their heels or chasing them around. Firm, consistent training will help with discouraging this behavior in your English Shepherd.
Most English Shepherds do not tend to stray or wander away from the home. An English Shepherd should never be aggressive (bite) without provocation, however he may demand that unfamiliar visitors “halt!” until you say otherwise.
Due to his high intelligence, the English Shepherd also requires as much mental stimulation as he does physical. Without proper training and socialization, he can become stubborn and bossy.
English Shepherds usually have brown eyes but blue eyes (either one or both) can happen with any color ES.
|↑1||Guy Gordon, “How the English Shepherd Became a Cattle Herder,” The San Francisco Examiner, December 1, 1957|
|↑2||Horace Curtis, “A Match for Man or Beast,” English Shepherd Club of America’s Who’s Who Breeder Manual, pg 22|
|↑3||John Blankenship, “The Blankenships’ Best Friend,” English Shepherd Club of America’s Who’s Who Breeder Manual, pg 19|
|↑4||Walter Oglivie, “Pete The Mountain Dog,” English Shepherd Club of America’s Who’s Who Breeder Manual, pg 25|
|↑5||Josephine Murphy, “Sold on Shepherds,” The Nashville Tennessean Magazine, May 23, 1953|
|↑6||“Rutherford Countians First Man, Wife Team in Plowing Contest”, Nashville Banner, September 22, 1956|
|↑7||“Farmer Blankenship Will Plow for National Title,”, The Rutherford Courier, September 11, 1955|
|↑8||“English Shepherd Training School Set in August,” The Rutherford Courier, July 21, 1953|
|↑9||“Named Board Member of Shepherd Club,” The Daily News-Journal, August 10, 1953|
|↑10||“English Shepherd to Observe Pioneer Days,” The Daily News-Journal, July 17, 1953|
|↑11||Murphy, op. cit.|
|↑12||Blankenship, op. cit.|
|↑13||“Some Farm Dogs Said True English Shepherds,” The Rutherford Courier, January 23, 1953|
|↑14||Farm Dogs, op. cit.|
|↑15||Tom D. Stodghill, “All Fifty States,” English Shepherd Club of America’s Who’s Who Breeder Manual, pg 15|
|↑16||Rebecca Wingler, “If We Don’t Do Something They are Going to Die Off,” English Shepherd Club Yahoo! Mailing List, June 23, 2009|