Retirement. At what age should my dog retire (FAQ)

Retirement. At what age should my sheepdog retire? FAQ

QUESTION: My working sheepdog it getting older and slower now. When should my sheepdog retire?

ANSWER: There is no set age for a dog to retire, some keep on working to a very old age, and others retire quite early. You will be the best judge of when your sheepdog is ready to retire.

As the dog gets older, you’ll notice it getting slower, and it’s wise to take that into account when you’re working the dog. Our old dog Mel had a nasty accident when she was a year old, and that meant she worked with a slight limp for most of her life, but she was determined not to be left out when there was work to be done with sheep.

We simply gave Mel the more highly skilled, but less strenuous work to do, and let one of the youngsters do most of the running. It worked out very well.

Old Glen on the other hand, showed an increased reluctance to work when he was about nine years old, while Kay continued to work into her early ‘teenage’ years.

No firm rules or guidelines.

There are no rules, and no firm guidelines. It’s up to each shepherd or sheepdog handler to watch out for the signs of ageing, and reduce the workload or retire the dog on their own judgement.

Obviously if you rely on having a sheepdog you need to consider your dog’s retirement well in advance. Ideally you should have a young dog coming along before your older dog needs to retire. Even if you don’t intend to train your own replacement, you’ll need to buy your new dog well in advance. Some dogs will take up to a year before they’re working at their best with a new handler.