Old English Sheepdog

July 20, 2020 // 7 minute read

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The Old English Sheepdog is a medium to large-sized dog standing at a height of 22 inches and up. Dogs of this breed have muscular and compact bodies covered by a long, fluffy coat that comes in white (at the front of the body) and black (at the back). They have dark brown or blue eyes that are usually covered by their facial hair.

The Old English Sheepdog is also nicknamed Bobtail because of their docked tail. These dogs make excellent family pets as they are easygoing, fun-loving, and intelligent. They are also adaptable to any living conditions, whether you’re living in an apartment or a spacious home.

With the right person, these dogs wouldn’t be much of a problem. The only thing you need to take note of is they are high maintenance dogs that require hours of grooming, attention, and care.

Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog Breed Statistics

Dog Breed GroupHerding
Breed SizeMedium to Large
Height22 inches & up (male); 21 inches & up (female)
Weight60-100 pounds
Lifespan10-12 years

Old English Sheepdog Breed Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive

Old English Sheepdog History

The origin of the Old English Sheepdog is still unclear. Historical evidence suggests that these dogs were first found in the southwestern cities of English around the 19th century. They stood among the iconic dogs of Britain and were developed in the countries of Devon and Somerset.

Around 200 years ago, England needed a dog breed that is large enough and capable of driving cattle and sheep. At the same time, these dogs need to be sturdy enough to drive out large predators like wolves. With this in mind, English breeders created the Old English Sheepdog with the iconic bobbed tail, which gave them the name ‘bobtails.’

It wasn’t until the late 1880s when the Old English Sheepdogs were brought to the United States. The first owner of the dog breed was an industrialist in Pittsburgh named W. Wade. And in 1885, the American Kennel Club recognized the dog breed.

By the 1900s, a lot more rich families started breeding more of Old English Sheepdogs. In the year 1904, the Old English Sheepdog Club of America was founded by a man named Henry Arthur Tilley.

Until the 1950s, the Old English Sheepdog was labeled the “rich man’s dog’, but when the 1960s came, the dog breed moved down to being a family’s pet.

However, this didn’t stop the rise in the popularity of these dogs. Currently, they rank 72nd as the most popular dog breed in the US. They even made appearances in TV shows and films and were also used as dog inspirations in cartoons.

Old English Sheepdog Temperament

The American Kennel Club described the Old English Sheepdogs as adaptable, gentle, and smart dogs. They love spending time with family, and despite their large size, they can be playful and affectionate clowns.

These dogs love people, and they make excellent children companions. But, this doesn’t mean that you can leave them with toddlers without any supervision. As herding dogs, their herding instincts can kick in at any time, and they may try to herd small kids. So, this is something to watch out for.

The same thing will happen with small animals. Generally, they are good with other animals and pets, especially those they grew up with.

Although these dogs love people, they are just polite to strangers. They will bark when someone they don’t know comes within their territory. They make excellent watchdogs, but not great guard dogs.

Early socialization and training will significantly help in making these dogs more well-rounded. This also helps them in getting accustomed to new people, sights, sounds, and animals. Always treat them kindly and never be harsh.

Old English Sheepdog Facts

Old English Sheepdog Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: Like any other dog breeds, the Old English Sheepdog requires a high-quality and well-balanced meal. It doesn’t matter if you’ll feed them dog food or home-cooked meals as long as you ensure that all ingredients are of high-quality. If your dog is allergic to any ingredient, stay away from those. For healthy choices, you can always opt for high-quality animal meat as the source of protein. You can get fats from chicken oils or fish oils, while whole grains are excellent sources of carbohydrates. You can add in some fruits and vegetables too for sources of vitamins and fiber. For dog food, always go for the premium ones. It should not contain fillers, additives, or even plant-based proteins. These have very low nutritional content and can cause problems with your dog’s digestion.
  • Grooming: The Old English Sheepdog’s coat requires a lot of maintenance. Although it doesn’t shed a lot, frequent brushing is needed to keep it free from mats and tangles. Brushing at least 2-3 times a week is required, but if you can do this daily, better. This is also a great bonding between you and your old English Sheepdog. You can take him to a groomer for trims at least once a month or every two months, depending on his needs. Baths should be given at the same frequency to keep their skin free from dirt and, of course, keeping it healthy. Make sure to keep their nails short always. Long nails will cause a lot of discomfort and pain to these dogs.
  • Exercise: The energy level of Old English Sheepdogs varies from one another. Some have high-energy levels while there are those satisfied lying inside the house all day. Regardless of which two you have, regular exercise is much needed for this dog breed. This will help keep their bones and muscles healthy as they grow older.
  • Health: Old English Sheepdogs are generally healthy dogs; however, they are still susceptible to some diseases. One of the most common health conditions found in most large dog breeds is hip dysplasia. This causes discomfort in the way your dog walks or runs and will progress as they age. Eye diseases such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy are also common to the breed. Hypothyroidism and deafness are also health conditions to watch out for. Your dog can take some screening tests to detect some of these conditions. Meeting one of its parents will also help a lot in knowing any existing conditions that might be present to your dog. It’s also best to watch your dog’s behavior and monitor any changes.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy of Old English Sheepdogs is 10-12 years.

Famous Old English Sheepdogs

  • Slumber: The first Old English Sheepdog to win Best in Show in 1914
  • Sir Lancelot: The second Best in Show winner in 1975
  • Barkley: The Old English Sheepdog from Sesame Street
  • Max: The Old English Sheepdog from the Disney film The Little Mermaid
  • Tiny: Pet of President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fun Facts about Old English Sheepdogs

  • The Old English Sheepdogs originated from England about 200 years ago.
  • English men used to call them “Bobtail.”
  • They were brought to America by William Wade.
  • They were named “rich man’s dog”; five of the ten wealthiest families were the first to own the breed.
  • They have a loud, distinctive bark called “broken jar’ or “cracked bell.”
  • The Beatles Song, Martha My Dear, was about Paul McCartney’s Old English Sheepdog.
  • They were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888.

Check Out These Other Herding Dog Breeds:
Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Bearded Collies, Beaucerons, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, Bergamasco Sheepdog, Berger Picards, Border Collie, Bouviers des Flandres, Briards, Canaan Dog, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Collie, Entlebucher Mountain Dogs, Finnish Lapphund, German Shepard, Miniature American Shepherd, Norwegian Buhunds, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Polish Lowland Sheepdogs, Puli, Pumi, Pyrenean Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog, Spanish Water Dog, Swedish Vallhunds

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