Welsh Sheepdog

26-42 lbs
15-18"
Wales, England
Welsh Collie


As a herding dog with exceptional intelligence and energy, the Welsh Sheepdog makes for an independent and hard working companion. Responding well to a firm yet fair owner, the Welsh Sheepdog is a tireless worker best suited to a life outdoors.

Strong, incredibly active and highly alert at all times, the Welsh Sheepdog needs constant mental stimulation. If you want to keep this beautiful animal as a pet or watchdog then exercise is a must. This dog will quickly become bored if kept in the house and is at its best when allowed to partake in physically demanding and disciplined activities. 

Our breed profile of the Welsh Sheepdog delves further into the breed’s history, characteristics, temperament, maintenance requirements and more. Keep reading for more information such as:

  • The Welsh Sheepdog is bred more for performance than appearance. That said, there are black and white varieties, red-and-white and tricolor Welsh Sheepdogs.
  • This dog is easy-to-train but requires a strong, direct owner to stop it from learning all the wrong things.
  • Welsh Sheepdogs crave an abundance of mental stimulation and are happiest outside.
  • Welsh Sheepdogs are generally fit and well but are prone to hip dysplasia.

Welsh Sheepdog breed overview

The Welsh Sheepdog is an interesting animal to study. It’s not a pedigree, but is instead described as a ‘landrace’ dog. This is the term used to describe canines with greater variation in appearance and temperament. Landrace dogs such as the Welsh Sheepdog are physically adapted to meet the needs of a specific environment, which in this case is the harsh terrain of Wales. They’re often selected for their work ethic over appearance. 

While the origins of the breed are unclear, the ancient Welsh staghound kept by Welsh noblemen for hunting purposes could have formed part of the foundation stock.

In comparison, the Border Collie is a standardized breed, recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1995. This dog is often used to herd sheep instead of the Welsh Sheepdog. While Welsh Sheepdog puppies have waned in popularity due to the popularity of Border Collies with Shepherds, the Welsh Sheepdog is still very much used and bred for its original purpose. 

In fact, efforts have been made in recent years to maintain the indigenous Welsh Sheepdog as a distinct variety of canine.

As a highly-skilled herder, Welsh Sheepdogs are often acquired for their ability to work independently - often far away from their owner. They respond to positive reinforcements over harsh corrections but take commands extremely well.

Calling all owners! As Welsh Sheepdogs are outside for most of the day taking on challenging tasks, pet insurance is a must. The right cover will offer financial protection if your dog becomes ill or has an ongoing health issue. Use the super-fast Wag! Compare service to check out the best pet insurance deals available.


purpose Purpose
Herding and Guarding
history Date of Origin
18th Century
ancestry Ancestry
Old Welsh Grey, Black and Tan Sheepdog, Sable or Blue Merle Hillman

Welsh Sheepdog Health

Average Size
Male Welsh Sheepdog size stats
Height: 15-19 inches Weight: 30-45 lbs
Female Welsh Sheepdog size stats
Height: 15-18 inches Weight: 26-42 lbs

Welsh Sheepdog Breed History

Unlike the very distinctive history of the Cockapoo or the German Shepherd, the past of the Welsh Sheepdog is shrouded in mystery. What we do know is that Welsh law manuscripts dating back over 800 years mentioned the uniqueness of herding dogs that are thought to have preceded the modern Welsh Sheepdog. Dogs of this kind were used to guard and herd livestock which were a very valuable commodity at the time. 

As farming evolved, Welsh Sheepdogs were commonly used by ‘drovers’ to walk livestock over long distances, typically from Wales to London and other markets. As ‘droving’ is a type of herding, Welsh Sheepdogs were the perfect fit for this role due to their determination, work ethic and ability to cast their eyes over their entire surroundings. Unlike Collies who have a more fixed eye, the Welsh Sheepdog’s ‘loose-eyed’ gaze kept them aware of potential threats all around them

When returning back from market with a pocketful of money, Welsh Sheepdogs would also guard their owners from highwaymen and thieves looking to snatch up the profits.

Welsh Sheepdogs remain a popular choice for farmers looking for a herding professional. And while traditional Welsh Sheepdogs have been threatened with extinction, they’re now thriving globally. American rangers, like UK and European farmers, have been amazed by their outstanding work rate and endearing qualities.

Welsh Sheepdog Breed Appearance

The Welsh Sheepdog is a medium sized dog, with a well proportioned body and solid build; they tend to have a boxy proportion with long strong legs and rounded, padded paws which enable them to travel in a diverse landscape.

These dogs have lovely, expressive faces with a long pointed muzzle and ears that are alert and pointed, and held high.

This dog has been valued more for what they can do, rather than their aesthetic appeal; therefore, their coat can be either short or long, often with a dense undercoat, and they come in the black, tan, red or blue merle colors with white accents on the body or face.

Welsh Sheepdog puppies may have blue eyes, which change to a warm brown at a more mature age . 

Similar breeds to the Welsh Sheepdog

Whether you’re looking for a lively yet loyal family pet or a reliable herding dog, the Welsh Sheepdog is perfect. There are many similar breeds to this dog, however. So if you’ve just started researching, it’s worth casting a wider net and then narrowing down your choice. 

Similar breeds to the Welsh Sheepdog include: 

Welsh Sheepdog Breed Maintenance

In need of constant stimulation and set tasks, the Welsh Sheepdog is not low maintenance to live with. But when it comes to grooming and day-to-day care, it’s pretty easy to keep this dog in good condition. With little patience for pampering, the Welsh Sheepdog can be brushed just once or twice a week to remove dead hair and prevent shedding. Longer-haired varieties might need more brushing than their shorter-haired friends. 

Bathing this dog isn’t an issue either. Damp grass, showers of rain and traipsing through streams and floodwater tends to keep these dogs clean. Cleaning muddy paws might be necessary to protect your home. But if a full bath is needed, be sure to use a very mild dog shampoo to maintain the waterproofing qualities of their coat and to prevent dermatological issues and allergies.

Welsh Sheepdog puppies can be trained to sit quietly and wait patiently for their teeth to be brushed and their nails to be clipped. Teeth brushing should take place at least once a week (more if possible) and nail clipping is around every three-to four weeks.  

Introducing this grooming routine to an older dog can be more difficult but it’s perfectly possible with patience and plenty of praise. If the dog knows they can go and play afterwards, they’re more likely to behave. Remember, Welsh Sheepdogs are highly intelligent. They just want to run around. Be consistent with your training for best results.

Last but not least, always check your dog’s ears and coat for ticks and parasites. You should also wipe the inner ear gently to prevent any dirt or wax from building up as this could lead to inflammation or infection. Worming may be necessary every six weeks to prevent sheep and other livestock from becoming infected.


Welsh Sheepdog health

Welsh Sheepdogs are considered to be strong, fit, agile and athletic canines who thrive in the great outdoors. But, like all dogs, they can experience health issues. Some of the most common health problems affecting the Welsh Sheepdog include:


Hip Dysplasia 

Sadly, Hip Dysplasia is not uncommon in herding dogs such as the Welsh Sheepdog and Border Collies. It’s a genetic condition that refers to the malformation of the ball and socket of one or both hip joints. This can lead to pain, restricted movement and a loss of hip function. Because the thigh bone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint, it’s subjected to painful wear and tear. 

Dogs with this condition tend to have rear leg lameness and many mobility issues — such as problems with getting up and jumping. 


Elbow Dysplasia 

Elbow Dysplasia is a general term for arthritis in the elbow joint and can cause front leg lameness in canines. Symptoms include limping after exercise, a decreased range in elbow motion, an unwillingness to exercise (which is out of character for the Welsh Sheepdog), an abnormal gait and feet that rotate outwards.


Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)

As the name suggests, this is more associated with Collies. However, as a herding breed, Welsh Sheepdogs can also be at risk of Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA). This condition can affect the choroid, sclera and retina of the eye. Severity differs from dog to dog.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Welsh Sheepdogs can be susceptible to Progressive Retinal Atrophy. This is a hereditary condition that can lead to blindness. PRA affects the rod cells in the retina, causing gradual deterioration of sight. A loss of night vision comes first followed by day vision degeneration. As the condition takes hold gradually, Welsh Sheepdogs have a habit of adjusting, using other senses to guide them. 

With Welsh Sheepdog costs rising due to sickness, taking out pet insurance is a great way to protect your bank balance.


What to feed a Welsh Sheepdog

When it comes to owning a Welsh Sheepdog, finding the right type of foods for their needs is a must. This will depend on Welsh Sheepdog size as well as their age and activity levels. Young working dogs that are outside for most of the day, for instance, will require more energy than a retired dog who is less active or has health problems.

Welsh Sheepdogs enjoy everything from beef and chicken to lamb, turkey and duck. Again, each canine is unique so they might have preferred food brands, blends and consistencies. Sometimes, it’s a case of trial and error. Both gently cooked and shelf-stable dry dog food is suitable for Welsh Sheepdogs.

Find out how to choose the best food for your dog here.

You’ll also find a host of dog food reviews and ratings here, from our online partners, Dog Food Advisor. 

Ongoing Welsh Sheepdog costs can be greatly impacted by food type and dietary needs, so this is worth keeping in mind.

Welsh Sheepdog Temperament


Loyal, intelligent and gentle with children, the Welsh Sheepdog loves being included in a wide range of activities. As long as you’re a sporty, on-the-go family who is always walking, cycling and going on adventures, the Welsh Sheepdog will be a good fit. While built to work, the Welsh Sheepdog is affectionate and can build a close bond with humans. 

Welsh Sheepdogs are at their happiest when they live an outdoorsy lifestyle with plenty of exercise. They also need toys, games and mental stimulation and are not the type to snuggle up by a fire and sleep all day. As herding animals, they’re a top choice for farmers. But this instinct never dies meaning they might even try to herd the family — particularly young children. Firm but kind training can help break this habit in the house.

As with all breeds, training is crucial to ensure your Welsh Sheepdog is the right fit for your farm, ranch or household. These dogs can quickly learn bad habits and routines, but with tasks, rules and consistency they can be the very best workers and companions.  

View our full series of dog training guides here for help and advice. Again, training Welsh Sheepdog puppies early will ensure you enjoy this canine to the max.

Welsh Sheepdog Activity Requirements

The Welsh Sheepdog is a working dog through and through — at their best when they have a job to do. Pure energy courses through their veins and for this reason they're best suited to a country setting, where they can work the land or at least be taken for long country walks.

You should be aware that the Welsh Sheepdog can be a bit strong willed and opinionated and is best with an experienced owner who can handle them. Without direction, this breed can become wilful. Keep a lid on that energy in a fair, yet firm way. They'll love to run beside you or your bike, walk for hours regardless of the weather, and are very adept at gently rounding up your children!

Their kind nature makes them ideal for a family, but again, keep this dog busy so they can be at their best. 

Being a pet owner is a huge responsibility and one that should be taken seriously. When welcoming a new dog into your home, be it a Welsh Sheepdog or another breed, be sure to find pet insurance plans using Wag! Compare and cover routine vet appointments with a wellness plan. 

This will help keep your pet safe and healthy, making it easy to enjoy your furry friend for many years to come.

Welsh Sheepdog Owner Experiences

Nova
2 Years
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
working on the farm
Walking
nova is very energetic and enthusiastic when walking/working. She is loyal and will become protective of certain people. She is quiet in the house and will happily lay down and sleep all day
1 year, 3 months ago
Luna
15 Weeks
2 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Nap
Catch treats
Brushing
Bath time
Playdate
Spa day
We live above a busy pub and Luna loves meeting all the punters and sometimes they bring their own fur-baby’s with them to have play dates
1 year, 10 months ago
Jess
1 Year
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Chasing balls
Very skittish needs calming down
4 years, 10 months ago
willow
13 Months
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Chasing balls
Walkies
from day one a lively friendly loving dog that makes a great guard dog when your not home he loves his walks his family loves children loves meeting the postmen/women has a lovely temperment enjoys going out enjoys grooming but hates the water so baths or showers a no go loves a walk on the beach dont like the waves
4 years, 5 months ago
Buddy
4 Months
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Fetch
Playing
Doesn't like walks,but loves his harness and lead, very playful, nippy, very vocal
4 years, 1 month ago
Red
2 Years
2 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Fetch
Hike
Run
cuddle
Very very high energy, but can turn it off and be very cuddly. Extremely protective of me. He has the intelligence to be trained but he decides on whether on not he wants to.
4 years, 1 month ago
Amber
1 Year
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Amber is a complete joy to own,she is loving, loyal and extremely affectionate. Also very playful & energetic, she will run after a ball all day long. If you have the time & the energy to put into these dogs, welsh sheepdogs make excellent family members.
4 years ago
Taco
17 Months
3 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Playdate
Walk
Run
Explore the woods
Look out the window
Tug-of-war
Agility training
Fetch
Dog-friendly events
Off-leash
Dog Parks
Laying in the sun
Yoga
Wonderful pet. Great character and hilarious behaviour
3 years, 10 months ago
Chewy
3 Years
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
She is amazingly intelligent and loves all children as if they are hers. She does not like men with bags in their hands but wants to be friends with almost everyone. Loves the cat but is such a softy she is scared of it. She came from a farm as she didn't like wet grass and she suffers separation anxiety.
3 years, 1 month ago
Colin
7 Years
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Explore the woods
Long walks
Tug-of-war
Agility training
Scent Games
Fetch
cuddle
Explore the city
Running
Horse riding
Colin is an amazing dog, he is so willing to learn and picks things up with little effort. He is very laid back and not totally crazy. I used to live in an apartment in London so we would explore the city, ride on the tube or train. Now I live in Wiltshire and we have lots of outside spaces to explore. Colin can be protective, if he enters a room and you are in it, he will most likely be your friend but if you come in after him he can bark to let you know he's there. He will soon settle down if you give him a stroke. Such an amazing dog and I'm so lucky to have him.
3 years ago
Luna
11 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Chasing the ball
Tricks
swimming
I've had luna for 9 months now and she is an absolute joy to be a part of the family.She is friendly with everyone but if an intruder comes near the house she soon tells us about it. She loves chasing the ball. It's life to her. She will do anything and everything to chase it. She has the best temprement of any dog I've owned. She loves to swim and get muddy. I love her to bits and would not change her for the world. She can be quite yappy however if she doesn't get her own way, but other than that she is a great addition to the family. She's great with kids, she absolutely loves them and they do her. She also loves to cuddle on the sofa and loves nothing more than to lie down after a long day. I would recommend getting a welsh sheepdog to anyone looking for an active dog who is great with kids and is very easy to train. She picks things up after 2 or 3 repetitions
2 years, 10 months ago
Animal Expert Question Icon
Question - My pet
Question

my welsh sheepdog has started having fits. What are the likely causes please?

Answer
Animal Expert Question Icon
Question - Other
Question

Hi please changeamenden Wales, England after the breed. Wales is not a part of England and is a separate country to England. Many thanks Ann

Answer
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
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