If you follow English Shepherd groups on social media, you have probably heard people fretting that there are “too many dogs.” It is becoming a common refrain: there are too many breeders, too many litters, too many puppies, shelters and rescues are flooded, breeders can’t find homes for their puppies, and so on. It is this year’s headline – but is it true? If true, what does this mean for English Shepherd breeders trying to maintain the breed over the long term?
The claim that there are too many dogs is often followed by the admonition to breeders to stop having litters, with the implication that producing puppies at this time will contribute to the problem. It is not possible to maintain either a bloodline or a breed without producing puppies in each generation, however: breeders cannot simply pause for several years and then pick up where they left off.
So, what are responsible, conservation-oriented breeders to do? Let’s start by asking some questions:
- What do we know about the current status of the English Shepherd breed?
- How many English Shepherds are there currently?
- Among existing English Shepherds, how many are breeding dogs?
- What does the size of the breed population tell us about the future of the breed?
- How should this information effect our decisions, as breeders, today?
We would love to have you join us on Facebook to talk about these questions, share your experiences, and network with others interested in supporting the future of English Shepherds!