Old English Sheepdog Guide

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This is a square-proportioned, thick-set dog, combining agility with strength. Its compact body is broader at the rump than shoulders. A distinguishing characteristic is the top-line, which is lower at the withers than the loin. Its gait is free, powerful and ground-covering, yet gives the appearance of being effortless. This breed may pace or amble at slower speeds. Its ambling gait is sometimes described as a "bearlike" roll or shuffle. The coat is profuse, but not excessive. It consists of a waterproof undercoat and a hard, shaggy outer coat that is neither straight nor curly. The expression is intelligent. The bobtail's bark should be loud, with a "pot-casse" ring to it.

The amiable Old English is jolly but gentle. At home, it is a well-mannered house pet that often amuses its family with comical antics. It thrives on human companionship and is very much a homebody. It is extremely devoted to its family and protective of family members, tending children as flock members. It is friendly toward strangers. Some can be headstrong.


FAMILY livestock, herding




TODAY'S FUNCTION herding trials

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 22+ Weight: 70-90

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 21+ Weight: 60-80


Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Moderately playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly

Ease of training Easy to train

Watchdog ability Medium

Protection ability Moderately protective

Grooming needs High maintenance

Cold tolerance High tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

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The Old English sheepdog needs daily exercise, either a moderate to long walk or a vigorous romp. It particularly enjoys herding. It can live outside only in temperate to cool climates, but it is strongly advised that this breed have access to the house or indoor quarters because it thrives on togetherness. Its coat needs brushing or combing every other day, or it may form mats. It may tend to track in debris.
• Major concerns: CHD
• Minor concerns: gastric torsion, otitis externa, retinal detachment, cataract, deafness
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: hip, eye, (hearing)
• Life span: 10 – 12 years
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The Old English sheepdog originated in the west of England, possibly from the bearded collie or Russian owtcharka. The breed was the answer to the need for a strong dog capable of defending the flocks and herds from the wolves that existed at one time in England. By the middle of the 19th century, these dogs were used mainly to drive cattle and sheep to market. As working dogs, they were exempt from dog taxes, but their tails had to be docked as proof of their occupation. This custom continues in modern times and has led to their nickname "bobtail." The breed was first exhibited in the late 1800s, and by the early 1900s the breed was a popular show exhibit. The Old English was recognized by the AKC in 1905. Early Old English sheepdogs could be brown, but were later restricted to shades of gray with white. Although the modern bobtail is very similar to the early specimens, it has a more profuse coat and compact body. The breed's popularity as a pet grew slowly, until the 1970s when it became a favorite media animal. Its popularity exploded, with pet owners wanting an exotic but lovable mop. Since that time, its numbers have gradually declined, but the OES still remains a well-known breed. It is now more often seen as a pet or show dog than as a working dog.
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