QUESTION: My working sheepdog it getting older and slower now. At what age should he 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.
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.
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, so that you can get another dog trained and ready to take over when the time comes.