Old English Sheepdogs

Type: Herding Dog

Height: 22 - 24 inches.

Weight: 66 lbs.

Life Span: 12 - 13 years.

Litter Size: 5 - 8 puppies.

Country of Origin: Great Britain

Activity: Indoors - High. Outdoors - Very High.

Watch-dog: High. OES are aware of their surroundings and somewhat protective of their family.

Guard-dog: Low. Although protective, they are still a big friendly ball of fluff.


Description: Old English Sheepdogs are affectionately called the "Bobtail", so named because of their lack of a tail. The Old English Sheepdog is an affectionately loyal dog, protective of those they love. A natural protector, they were originally the guardian of flocks and this instinct is displayed in their tendency to adopt young animals and children. Known as the "nanny dog" from Peter Pan, Old English Sheepdogs do not make good guard dogs. Old English Sheepdogs are very playful and enjoy a good romp. They are kind, friendly and get along well with many other types of species. They are good with other people and other dogs. The Old English Sheepdog makes good watchdogs, but are too friendly for the protective owner. Their coat requires quite a bit of care, especially if they are in the show ring. Some grooming for the Old English Sheepdogs can take hours, but if they are just a regular pet, daily brushing should suffice. The breed does very well at performing, even with fur hiding their eyes. They can have brown or blue eyes, with a black nose and grey coloring on their white bodies. Puppies have naturally softer and fluffier fur, while the adults have a harsh and profuse coat. For the owner who wants a big "cuddly teddy bear" type of dog, the Old English Sheepdog is the breed suited for this very purpose.

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Other Names: Bobtail, OES, Olde English Sheepdog

Colors: Shades of gray, grizzle or blue on a white background. The nose is black, and the eyes are either brown or blue.

Coat: Profuse and long, but not excessive, with a good harsh texture. Puppy fur is much softer in texture.

Temperament: Old English Sheepdogs are active, playful, and clever. They are kind, friendly and greatly desire affection. Some demand it continuously. OES can be protective but are hardly ever aggressive. They are alert, good with children and other dogs and animals. Old English Sheepdogs should be trained with a firm but positive hand, as they are a large and sometimes rambunctious breed. Some Old English Sheepdogs do not seem to understand how big they are in relation to how playful they can be. Some lines of Old English Sheepdogs exhibit a more aggressive protectiveness than what is normal.

With Children: Yes, gets along exceptional well with children. May be too rambunctious and large for small children.

With Pets: Yes, enjoys the company of others.

Special Skills: Sheepdog and family pets.

Care and Training: Constant care is needed to maintain the longhaired coat of the Old English Sheepdog. Brush and comb through to the dense water proof undercoat at least three times per week. Clip out tangles carefully, and try to keep the fur mat-free by brushing regularly. Old English Sheepdogs can be professionally machine clipped every two months. Trim around the eyes and rear end. Not normally a lazy dog, the Old English Sheepdog does have a casual approach to exercise. A leisurely daily stroll will prove sufficient motivation for exercise. Gentle and consistent positive handling and training is the best approach. They can be mischievous if they are bored or lonely. Owners should try to train them even if they are simply house pets, as they are a large breed and should be kept under control.

Learning Rate: Low. Obedience - Low. OES have a strong will, and tend to be stubborn. Problem Solving - High. Although they look through a mane of fur, they still perform quite well when trained.

Special Needs: Attention and grooming.

Living Environment: A house with a fenced yard is essential. Old English Sheepdogs need an owner who is strong, confident and patient and who will dedicate time and energy to grooming their coat.

Health Issues: Hip dysplasia, ataxia (neurological incoordination of muscles), autoimmune disorders, epilepsy, eye problems and OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). They are also not suited for hot climates due to their heavy, thick coat.

History: In early times they were known as just "the Shepherd's Dog". The exact origins of the Old English Sheepdog are unclear, but the most popular consensus is that they were developed from the Bearded Collie, Briard, and the Russian Ovcharkas. Opinions agree that the breed began to develop by the hands of farmers in England's West Country probably around 200 years ago where they were used to herd both sheep and cattle. A painting by Gainsborough reveals an Old English Sheepdog from 1771. Later in 1835 a painting by Sidney Cooper gave history another glimpse at this breed. They are thought to have been developed in the 19th century, and the breed thrived at its job of sheep drover and protector. In the spring, the breed would be sheared down along with the sheep, and farmer's wives would actually spin the fur of the sheep and the dogs to make clothing. When a tax was levied on all dogs kept as companions rather than workers, the state distinguished worker dogs from companion dogs by docking the worker's tails. Because of this, the breed's tail was docked continually for years and years, eventually resulting in the breed no longer developing a tail at all. In 1888, a breed standard was given in Britain, and has changed little since. In 1961, this breed was used for a paint advertisement, and popularity of the breed shot straight up - as well as the paint sales! Since then the breed has been used for other advertisements, bringing their numbers up. Fortunately, the OES has not been over-bred, possibly due to their intense grooming needs. Today the breed enjoys attention from dog shows and pet lovers all over the world.

First Registered by the AKC: 1888

AKC Group: Herding Group

Class: Herding

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 1), KC (GB), UKC