The Old English Sheepdog also is known as the ‘shaggy dog’, is a jolly dog, but also gentle. It is a well-mannered family pet and loves human companionship.
At A Glance
- Breed: English Sheep Dog
- Breed Group: Herding
- Temperament: Adaptable, Gentle, Smart
- Dog House Times Outdoor Ranking: 5/10 For Temperate Climates
- Worldwide Popularity: Low
- Breed Origin: England
General Information and Breed History
The origin of the Old English Sheepdog is England. Although there are still arguments over which breed it descended from in Europe. A bloodline has not been decided as to which breeds these are, but the Scotch Bearded Collie and French Briard are the most likely.
This breed made its appearance in the 1800s and farmers used them as ‘drover dogs”, driving livestock to the markets along with pulling wagons and carts.
Also known as ‘bob’ or ‘bobtail’ due to the fact that owners would often dock their tails to show evidence that they were working dogs. They are born with tails, but breeders would tend to dock them after they reached a few days old. English Sheep Dogs were recognized as part of the herding group with the AKC in 1888, they also went on to become a popular great show dog and loved pet.
The good news is that docking tails have been banned in many countries including Canada, so there are more undocked Old English Sheepdogs nowadays. Yay!
The Old English Sheepdog is very affectionate, loving and protective.
A very large, muscular and shaggy dog, the OES is known for its shaggy coat that covers its face and eyes.
The body is short and compact, broad at the rump, with the ribs well sprung. The loin is stout and gently arched. The neck is long and well arched. The topline stands lower at the withers than at the loin with no evidence of weakness. The topline is a distinguished characteristic belonging to this breed.
Long and shaggy the coat of an OES has lots and lots of hair! Their coat is a double coat, with a textured outer coat and soft undercoat. They are heavy shedders and need daily brushing to remove dead hair and keep it free from mats. See the section for coats for more details.
Drooling is something the OES does a lot of and this tends to turn the coat around their mouth yellow. A good tip is to apply cornstarch to their beard. Once it has dried, brush it off.
Grey, grizzle, black, blue merle, and White
Capacious and square
Legs & Feet
Forelegs are straight with plenty of bone. The hindlegs round and muscular. Feet are small and round, toes are well arched, paid are thick and hard. Feet are pointing straight ahead
- Life Expectancy: 10-12 Years
- Size: 20-22 Inches Female
- Size: 22- 24 Inches Male
- Weight: 60- 100 Lbs
Recommended Dog House Dimensions
These recommendations can be found on the dog house dimensions chart for 440 recognized breeds which includes this dog breed that is known as the Shaggy Dog. But to save you time, here are the dog house minimum size requirements.
- Door Height: 26.4
- Door Width: 16.8
- Inside Ceiling Height: 32.4
- Interior House Length: 52.8
- Interior House Width: 33.6
Breed Average Puppy Cost: $1000 – $2000 USD
Starter Costs: $3,000
This is our estimated starter costs that can include the cost of the dog, plus any medical shots or examinations, food, bedding, leash, things like that. This will get you started, but costs will go up when the dog matures and needs to be neutered or spayed and regular check-ups.
Anticipated Annual Care Cost: Up to $7,600 which includes monthly grooming fees of $88 per visit and potential care costs (as noted on Las Vegas Review-Journal- reviewjournal.com)
How The Old English Sheepdog Reacts To
This breed does very well with babies and children and an ideal breed for families as it is known to supervise and herd young children, keeping them safe and in one area. They are also known to be the support for toddlers who are learning to walk. But remember to never leave any dog alone with children regardless of their temperament or breed.
Other Dogs and Animals
This breed gets along well with other dogs and pets, as long as it has been socialized at a young age and well trained.
Since the Old English sheepdogs are instinctively gentle this makes them a purrfect companion for your cat, as long as your cat is not scared of dogs. But with frequent introductions and training, these two can become bffs!
Old English Sheepdogs require a lot of exercise. They are a huge dog with lots of energy. This breed was originally used for hard work. They love to run and need to run daily. So be prepared to run, walk, or jog every day with this breed or risk having your house destroyed. But don’t worry too much, once they come back in-doors they hit the off switch and are ready for a little nappy poo.
The exercise also keeps the dog sharp and mentally healthy. Also, a dog who gets its energy out on a run will be more unlikely to stay out of trouble due to boredom and pent up energy.
Keep in mind that if the weather is extremely hot and or humid to keep outdoor activities to a minimum. The OES has a lot of hair and can suffer from heat exhaustion or worse if outside for too long.
This dog likes cold weather, but it should be left outside for hours.
Grooming & Coat Info
OES requires A LOT of grooming. Their coat is a double coat and requires a very good brushing down to the skin, over the entire body of the dog. This should be done every day to keep their coat from mats, and looking its best.
- Pin brush
- Coarse steel comb
- Slicker brush
Remember to be gentle when brushing too much-pulling hurts and any woman can agree that their hair has been pulled with a brush too hard a few times at the hairdresser.
Mats are a serious danger for OES, as they can cause skin problems. Hair mats are very difficult to remove and in some cases, the dog needs to be shaved.
If you feel you do not have the time for coat care, then you will have to hire a professional groomer for a few sessions a month for the life of the dog.
Health & Nutrition
Some known health issues with this breed are:
Thighbone doesn’t fit snug in the hip joint. Ask the breeder for proof that the parents are cleared of any hip dysplasia
Cataracts cause poor vision. You will notice a cloudy appearance in your dog’s eye if it is suffering from a cataract. They usually show up in old age, and at times can be removed by surgery.
Caused by a deficiency of the hormone produced from the thyroid gland. Signs are obesity, lethargy, irregular heartbeats. Fur can also become coarse and fall out and the skin turns dark and tough.
Fairly common and very challenging for both owner and dog. There are some forms of deafness that can be treated with medication. Before buying an OES ask the breeder the proof that both parents are deaf free.
The Old English Sheepdog will do great on high-quality dog food with a daily amount of 2.5 to 4.5 cups of dry food.
How much your dog will eat depends on a few things like age, build, size, energy level, and metabolism. Not all dogs need the same amount of food. For example, a high energy dog will need more food than a dog that is not so energetic. Make sure you buy high-quality food for your dog as it makes a difference, the better the food, the better and healthier your dog will be.
Overfeeding an OES can be an issue since you can’t see if they are getting fat due to all that hair! It is important to weigh your OES regularly and make sure not to overfeed.
You should check in with your veterinarian on the best food to give your dog.
Good news! This dog is intelligent and once they learn something, they never forget it. Keep in mind that this breed will get bored with the same training exercises, so make sure to mix it up a bit. Make sure to get in some early socialization for this breed, It will make a world of difference.
Prone to weight gain, this is also a very good reason to make sure your dog gets the exercise it needs. An overweight dog is unhealthy for the dog and costly.
Do Old English Sheepdogs have tails?
Yes, Old Engish Sheepdogs have tails. Although they did not have always have long tails. That is because back in the 1800s these dogs were used for hard work and to prove that they were working dogs, owners had to have the tails docked. Since then a lot of countries have banned tail docking including Canada.
Are Old English Sheepdogs Aggressive?
Old English Sheepdogs not aggressive naturally. They do, however, have a loud bark that may scare some people into thinking they are aggressive.
Do Old English Sheepdogs Shed?
You betcha! They are huge shedders and require daily grooming to keep the coat healthy, free of mats and off your floor and furniture.
- American Kennel Club
- Canadian Kennel Club
- The Old English Sheep Dog Club of America
- The Kennel Club UK:
- Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds: D.Caroline Coile, Ph.D.
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