This article will help if you plan to bring an Old English Sheepdog home as your pet and want to gather more information about it.
This article will give you all the information you require about the Old English Sheepdog, including Breed Information, history, temperament, health, grooming needs, and more. We have even included pictures of the Old English Sheepdog so you understand their physical appearance better.
Let’s take a sneak peek!
|Old English Sheepdog Breed Information|
|Dog Breed Group:||Herding Dogs|
|Temperament:||Playful, loving, intelligent, friendly, courageous|
|Alternate names and nicknames:||Shepherd's Dog, Bob-tailed Sheepdog|
|Tendency to Bark or Howl:|
|Health and Grooming:|
|Amount Of Shedding:|
Breed Information About Old English Sheepdog
One look at the Old English Sheepdog, and you get the impression of a shaggy breed epitomizing cuteness because of its hairy appearance.
This breed isn’t one of the ancient breeds. Neither does it have a completely English lineage. Also, it isn’t an out-and-out sheepdog. In other words, the name Old English Sheepdog is rather a misnomer.
Did you know that the Old English Sheepdog is more popular as ‘Dulux Dog’ since it is the Dulux Paint’s brand mascot? Shepton Daphnis Horsa, nicknamed Dash, was the first Dulux dog advertised in campaigns in 1961. The saga has continued since then.
They’ve been a hit in popular culture as well. Remember the 1959 American comedy, ‘The Shaggy Dog’? The movie reveals a teenage boy’s story who eventually transformed into an OES. This breed has even been featured in several films. These include “Cats & Dogs,” “101 Dalmatians”, and “The Little Mermaid.”
History of The Old English Sheepdog
How did the Old English Sheepdog evolve? Well, there are no documents to validate its origin. However, they are said to be the ancestors of England’s pastoral breeds.
Evidence shows these dogs originated in England’s southwestern counties in the late 18th century. In 1771, a drop-eared dog portrayed in one of the paintings of English painter Thomas Gainsborough closely replicated the OES of the early times.
They will likely owe their origins to Scottish breeds like the Bearded Collie and Russian dogs like the South Russian Ovcharka.
The Smithfield Collie, a herding breed seen in the southwestern English counties around the beginning of the 19th century, is also regarded as one of the OES’ ancestors.
They weren’t those typical sheepdogs, quite the opposite of their name. However, they were often tasked with moving cattle along the dusty roads of the countryside. They would take the cattle up to the markets from their pasture.
Their coats have been one of their priciest possessions. Even in the early times, shepherds sheared their coats yearly and used the same for making yarn.
The OES were initially known as the Shepherd’s Dog, though the name currently stands obsolete. They were even called by the name bob-tailed because of their docked tails.
These dogs were an instant hit at the show ring due to their plush coat, pleasant demeanor, and powerful gait. They appeared in shows for the first time in 1873 in Birmingham. Their performance has been quite steady since then.
In the latter half of the 1880s, the dog arrived in the United States. Its stature elevated from a working dog to a rich man’s pet. Mr. William Wade, a prominent industrialist of Pittsburgh, was the first to own an Old English Sheepdog in the United States.
Since then, the breed has been owned by around five of the ten most affluent families in the US within 20 years.
The breed gained the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) recognition in 1888. In 1904, the OESCA (Old English Sheepdog Club of America) was formed. The credit goes to dog fanciers Freeman Lloyd and Henry Arthur Tilley. The OESCA gained the AKC’s recognition in 1905.
More About The Old English Sheepdog
The Old English Sheepdog’s appealing looks and wonderful temperament make for a perfect family pet.
Its alertness and intelligence also raise it to the stature of an able watchdog. If you wish for a dog to flaunt at the show ring, the OES is one of the perfect picks.
They’ve fared fabulously well in the Westminster Kennel Club dog shows. Slumber was the first OES who triumphed in this show in 1914. Judges thought that Slumber was so near perfection in the way he performed. There was a gap of 61 years between the first and second victory. Dudley was the second winner, who won in 1975.
Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect was another OES that emerged victorious and clinched the Reserve Best in Show title in 2013.
Regarding their popularity, they ranked 74th out of the 199 breeds in the American Kennel Club’s Most Popular Dogs of 2022.
One of the most identifiable features of this breed is its long, shaggy coat, which makes the OES easily recognizable.
The breed gives you the impression of a well-built, muscular dog with a compact and squarish body.
Its furry head generates an intelligent expression. The eye color may vary from dark brown to pearl blue. Though, amber or yellow eyes aren’t accepted as per the breed standards.
They have medium-sized ears carried flat against their head. Their neck is long and arched, adding to their graceful appearance.
Coming to their tail, OES of the past had a docked tail held quite close to their body, earning them the name bob-tailed sheepdog. However, with tail docking being banned in many countries, OES with an undocked tail is a common sight. Their tail (if undocked) appears furry and low set, mostly hanging down.
The kennel clubs differ in opinion regarding tail docking. The Australian National Kennel Council and the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom consider dogs with both docked and undocked tails eligible for the show ring. The American Kennel Club has a different parameter in this regard.
According to its breed standards, the tail must be docked quite close to the dog’s body if it does not have a naturally docked tail.
The Old English Sheepdog is big. The males are around 22-24 inches in height. The females measure 21 inches on average. Regarding weight, the male dogs are slightly heavier than their female counterparts. The males weigh between 70-100 pounds, while the females weigh 60-80 pounds.
Personality And Temperament
According to the American Kennel Club, this breed is even-tempered, intelligent, and adaptable. However, nervousness and shyness isn’t acceptable behavioral trait though.
These dogs are perfect entertainers. They would keep one and all in their household hooked to their clownish antics and incredible sense of humor.
Herding dogs always remember their lineage, even if they aren’t employed in the job anymore. Herding is in its genes, and it may go on to herd the kiddos of the family by giving them a gentle bump. It’s no different with the OES.
As per the New Zealand Kennel Club, these dogs could often become couch potatoes. Hence, giving them proper exercise is a mandate.
These dogs excel as brilliant watchdogs because of their alert nature. They would warn their owners if they sensed something unusual in their vicinity.
The breed standards mention that their bark has a pot-casse ring that stands for a cracked bell or broken jar in French.
The OESCA has taken the sponsorship of investigating some diseases this breed may be susceptible to. It would help breeders to select the healthiest among the lot when breeding.
Responsible breeders must screen their dogs for hip dysplasia, deafness, thyroid problems, and cardiac anomalies. Cancer is also highly responsible for fatalities in this breed. Some of the significant health problems in this breed are given below:
Hip dysplasia is heritable. Dogs suffering from this condition can show symptoms when they are 1-2 years of age. They will have difficulty moving around and may even suffer from limping.
OES could be deaf from birth, either in a single ear or both ears. Some dogs have a white trim on their normal-colored coats. The trim is from the unpigmented area of the skin producing white hair. If the inner ear has unpigmented skin, then the nerves surrounding that area die off right after the puppy’s birth. It causes deafness. Deaf dogs need specialized care and training throughout their life.
Lymphoma is the commonest kind of cancer affecting these dogs. It is primarily responsible for death in the Old English Sheepdog. The symptoms include lymph nodes behind their knees or under their jaws. Other signs include appetite loss, weight loss, leg and face swelling, and lethargy.
The Old English Sheepdog is able-bodied and strong. So, they would need to exercise to remain physically and mentally stimulated.
They’ll do their best when kept in a rural setting. If they have a job, that would be a bonus.
The adaptable dogs that they are, the OES would do well in an urban setting if their exercise needs are met.
Because of their agile nature, these dogs can participate in several canine events. These include rally obedience, tracking, flyball, dog agility trials, showmanship, herding events, and Schutzhund.
Avoid exercising them when it is immensely hot outside. These dogs have a dense undercoat that is highly warm and tends to overheat quickly.
You’ve got to bathe your dog every 6-8 weeks. Moreover, trim their nails at least once a month. Long nails click to the ground as your dog walks. So, that’s an indication that their nails have grown.
These dogs are susceptible to dental problems. Therefore, you must take extra care of their oral hygiene. Brush their teeth daily using a soft brush and a vet-approved paste. In this way, you can prevent tartar buildup and other bacterial infections.
Also, check its ears for redness, dirt, and bad odor once every week. It would help you keep a check on ear infections.
They drool a lot, so the coat surrounding their mouth often becomes yellow. So, ensure to clean their face and mouth well after every meal.
To keep your dog healthy, give them good quality food – homemade or store-bought.
You would do well not to give them one whole meal. Instead, divide it into two halves – one in the morning and the other at night. If giving them dry \dog food, the measurement for the adult dogs would be 2.5-4.5 cups each day.
They are prone to obesity, and it is difficult to identify the same. Remember, they have a fluffy coat. So, if they put on the extra kilos, it could get concealed within their plush coat, difficult to notice. Thus, keeping an extra watch on its weight would be helpful. You can give it treats but in moderation lest it triggers weight gain.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Old English Sheepdog comes in various colors. Common colors include black and white, fawn and white, brown and white, blue merle, blue, gray, grizzle, and gray.
They can even come in shades of white, grizzle and white, blue and white, blue, gray and white, blue, merle and white, and gray and white. There could be patches of white on their neck, head, under the belly, and on the forequarters.
Puppies have a black and white coat at birth. Once they shed their puppy coat, they acquire the adult coloration.
They have a double coat – a water-resistant, soft undercoat and a fluffy upper coat. So if you are in for a low-maintenance breed, there are better dogs than this one. The reason is that they are heavy shedders. So maintaining their coat is a mammoth task indeed.
You would have to brush the Old English Sheepdog’s coat every week, which can take between 1 and 3 hours. Choose the base of their hair as a point to start brushing. It will help prevent the formation of mats and tangles in the hair of their thick undercoat. A de-matting rake would help remove matted knots and furs with ease.
You may use a hairband to prevent the fur from getting into their eyes when brushing. If you are new to petting a dog, you may seek a professional groomer’s help.
Note: If the coat isn’t cared for regularly, it could be a breeding place for dust, waste matter, and dirt. It, in turn, would hamper your dog’s hygiene.
Children And Other Pets
These dogs are kind and friendly and are a perfect companion for kids. However, as per some breed standards, they tend to implement their herding skills on kids to move them to a particular location. So, parental supervision is essential when younger kids interact with these dogs
When brought up with other dogs in the family, they maintain a friendly demeanor with them. The same goes for cats. With those of the family, they’ll be fine. But, when it comes to an unknown cat, it could trigger their chasing instinct.
These dogs are intelligent and quick learners. They are even eager to please their masters. All these make training quite easy. Yet, they aren’t a suitable option for first-timers. They need a patient trainer who can handle them firmly and tactfully.
The OES may get bored if the training seems repetitive and robotic. So, you have to take the initiative in making the training fun, enjoyable, and interesting.
Socialization training has been mandatory since its puppy days. The more they get exposed to different people and situations, the better they will be able to adapt to their surroundings.
Obedience training is also important. It would be best if you started it early. Teach your dog to follow commands like ‘Come,’ ‘Stay,’ and ‘No’ when they are 8-12 weeks old. It will help discipline them as they grow.
So, for a perfect companion pet, and a wonderful show dog, there isn’t a choice better than the Old English Sheepdog. If you are okay with the hassles in grooming, then the OES is a perfect pet for your home. Give him work, and he will be the happiest in your home.
The Old English Sheepdog will cost between $1200-$1500. It’s when you buy them from a breeder who is reputed enough.
They are gentle, even-tempered, loyal, patient, and friendly. All these traits make them perfect family dogs and wonderful companions for kids.
Hi, I’m Walter,
I live in Oklahoma City, USA, and have extensive dog caring and grooming expertise. In addition, I provide dog training tips and tricks through my blogs in Canine Weekly. I have a Dog Behavior and Training diploma and have previously worked as a Dog Trainer at ROC Animal Training and Behavior and Tip Top K9 of OKC Dog Training.
Apart from writing on Canine Weekly, I share my views on Twitter and Linkedin.