Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog is built to assist in the demanding task of shepherding. The body is compact, square, and heavy-set with a thick coat. Flat, medium-sized ears are set on either side of a large, square head. The Old English Sheepdog is said to have a face that carries an expression of intelligence. The muzzle is long and square, with either a level or tight scissor bite. The nose is always black. The eyes may be brown, blue, or bi-eyed. The body should measure the same in length as in height and be broader at the hindquarters than at the shoulders. The tail is docked very close to the body if the dog is not naturally bob-tailed. The coat is profuse, but not so excessive as to give the impression of the dog being fat; it is hard and shaggy with no curl to it. The entire body is well covered with hair, except for the ears, which are only moderately covered with hair. The coat can be any shade of gray, blue, blue merle, or grizzle with or without white markings, or it can be white with or without markings.

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Fast Facts

Herding
10 - 12 years
England
19th century
70 - 90 lb
60 - 80 lb
22 - 27"
21 - 26"
Old English Sheep Dog, Old Englesh Sheepdog or Old English Shepdog.
None

Old English Sheepdog Photos

Old English Sheepdog Temperament

The Old English Sheepdog is a gentle, happy, family-oriented dog that loves to play and thrives on constant contact with its family....

The dog is well-mannered but by no means boring; rather, this is a jolly animal that is sure to make you laugh with its fun antics. The Old English Sheepdog is very devoted to its family and will treat children as though they are a part of their flock. They are not aggressive towards strangers, and get along well with other dogs and pets. The Old English Sheepdog is an extremely affectionate breed but can be hard to train due to its stubborn nature. The Old English tends to follow its own instincts more readily than instruction, so training should be thorough and strict, but not harsh.

Caring For a Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog was developed to run alongside livestock, so it has energy to last all day....

The dog loves a good run and needs daily physical exercise. They are inactive indoors and will behave themselves in an apartment or small house provided they are given ample opportunity expend energy. An average-sized yard is ideal, as it allows the dog to have playtime outside and be a couch potato inside. The dog's double coat needs a good brushing right down to the undercoat at least three times a week to prevent matting and skin irritation or infection. Non-show dogs should be clipped every couple months. The Old English Sheepdog is a seasonally heavy shedder, and its coat may require daily attention during the shedding season. This breed is vulnerable to canine hip dysplasia, and on occasion has been known to develop cerebellar ataxia, progressive retinal atrophy, hypothyroidism, deafness, gastric torsion, retinal detachment, deafness, cataracts and otitis externa.

Old English Sheepdog History

A Brief History of the Old English Sheepdog

Although the origins of the Old English Sheepdog are not exact, it is widely acknowledged that the breed can be traced to the early 19th century....

It was most likely developed in the west of England, in Devon and Somerset counties. The breeds from which it was produced are unknown, but there are many theories. Some believe that the Bearded Collie is a large component of the breed’s family tree, while others insist it descends from the Russian Owtchar. Writings from the 1800s refer to the Old English Sheepdog as a “drover’s dog”, being used to herd sheep and cattle to market. These dogs were considered working dogs, not family companions, and were thus exempt from taxes; this loophole in the tax law gave rise to the custom of docking the Old English Sheepdog’s tail, as it was an easy way for farmers to display the dog’s tax-exempt status. Initially, there was concern that docking the dog’s tail would inhibit its ability to steer its body, since many animals use their tail as a counter balance. As it turns out, the Old English Sheepdog’s maneuverability was not affected by a docked tail. In the late 1880s, a prominent Pittsburgh industrialist by the name of Wade first started promoting the Old English Sheepdog in the US, and the dog’s popularity grew in higher social classes. During the 1904 Westminster Show in New York, the Old English Sheepdog ring was dominated by the pets of five of the ten wealthiest families in America: the Morgans, Vanderbilts, Goulds, Harrisons and Guggenheims. Since its recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1904, the Old English Sheepdog has continued to guard its reputation as a hard working and determined breed with prestige and elegance to spare.