Our introduction to the English Shepherd came in early 2006. We really wanted a dog yet had particular needs. Wanting a versatile dog for our suburban homestead complete with laying hens and meat rabbits and for a future rural life with more livestock, we began researching breeds. Quite by chance, I saw “English Shepherd” in an email signature. After exchanging emails with that breeder and visiting every ES website I could find, we knew the English Shepherd was a match for us. And they will always have a place in our lives and hearts!

Through Natural Rearing we are committed to the health of our dogs and the English Shepherd breed for future generations.

We approach life in a natural, holistic, gentle, back-to-nature manner. Natural Rearing of our dogs harmonizes with this beautifully, seamlessly in fact! Here is what Natural Rearing, based on the principles of animal naturopathy, means at Highland Glenn English Shepherds.

DIET: Like their wild cousins, English Shepherds are carnivores, thus we feed our dogs an exclusive prey model-style Species Appropriate Raw Food diet (SARF). The meat is whole, medication/hormone-free, and grass-fed as much as possible. Along with their raw meaty bones and organs, they enjoy fresh water, clean air, lots of love, jobs to do, and sunshine. They have pearly white teeth and healthy gums, energy, and stamina for any activity, and amazing muscle mass. The satisfaction in seeing the bright eyes of our dogs eagerly anticipating their raw meat meal is priceless! Our dogs (and cat) rarely go to the veterinarian, proof that Natural Rearing suits them well.

CHEMICAL-FREE ENVIRONMENT: Our dogs are first and foremost companions, living with us as part of the family. We use no chemical cleaners of any kind in our home or on ourselves, nor are synthetic or chemical ‘-cides’ or fertilizers used in the garden or anywhere on the Ranch. We do not expose our animals to flea/tick insecticides, heartworm treatments, worming, shampoos, etc. Chemical products are simply not used on or in our dogs and home! This is beneficial for the environment and wildlife, too. Animals with a strong immune system rarely have parasite overloads. If it is a concern, there are many natural modalities at one’s disposal.

VACCINES: Hand in hand with a natural raw diet came changes in our vaccine protocol. We started to question the safety of vaccines – was there sound medical evidence that multiple shots as youngsters, and then annual boosters for life were necessary, much less safe? The answer we found is ‘No’. In fact, scientific research is proving just the opposite. Our dogs are vaccine-free (except as compulsory by law) their bodies have been allowed to build true immunity naturally… through mild exposure.

This is a decision every pet owner must face and make for themselves, carefully weighing the risks of all options to find where one is comfortable. Nature knows what to do and how. The immune system was marvelously designed! A strong, healthy system is more resistant to All disease than one that has been compromised by over-vaccination.

HEALTH SCREENING: The English Shepherd is primarily a healthy breed. English Shepherds are among the collie breeds that can inherit a mutant MDR1 gene resulting in a defect in the blood-brain barrier that allows certain drugs like ivermectin, as well as common parasiticides and insecticides to pass through. Although we do not personally use those products, we feel it is important to know the status of our dogs for the sake of puppy families. Their MDR1 status is determined through lineage and/or testing. NOTE: It is important to realize, however, that even an MDR1 normal/normal dog can have sensitivities to chemicals and drugs.

Our dogs are DNA tested for Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), Degenerative Myopathy (DM), and pra-PRCD. Results for each dog can be found on their individual web page.

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is found in some dogs. Research says improper nutrition and hormone levels are the main culprits in the development of CHD rather than the commonly held view that it is solely genetic. Paying close attention to such in our rearing methods, we have made the personal decision not to expose our dogs to harmful radiographs. However, for those who do not practice Natural Rearing, we feel hip screens are a valuable tool to avoid injury and aid in early diagnosis/treatment.

Would we ever return to a chemical-laden life, commercial pet food, or vaccination methods we’d been told were good for our pets? The answer is unequivocal, No. Our beloved companions deserve the best; after all, that is what they always give us! It fills our hearts with gladness to see them thrive in this natural life.

The poetic words of Juliette de Bairacli Levy speak volumes: “I pray you who own me, let me continue to live close to Nature. Know that: I love to run beneath the sun, the moon and the stars; I need to feel the storm winds around me, and the touch of rain, hail, sleet, and snow; I need to splash in streams and brooks, and to swim in ponds, lakes, rivers, and seas; I need to be allowed to retain my kinship with Nature.” – The Complete Herbal Handbook For Dog and Cat.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer