The Old English Sheepdog comes from the very old pastoral type dogs of England, but no records were kept of the dogs, and everything about the earliest types is guesswork. A small drop-eared dog seen in a 1771 painting by Gainsborough is believed by some to represent the early type of the Old English Sheepdog. In the early 19th century a bobtailed drovers dog, called the Smithfield or Cotswold Cor, was noticed in the southwestern counties of England and may have been an ancestor. Most fanciers agree that the Bearded Collie was among the original stock used in developing today's breed. Some speculate that the Russian Owtchar was among the breed's ancestors.
The Old English Sheepdog was at first called the "Shepherd's Dog" and was exhibited for the first time at a show in Birmingham, England, in 1873. There were only three entries, and the judge felt the quality of the dogs was so poor that he offered only a second placing. From that beginning, the breed became a popular show dog, and, although the shape of dog itself has changed very little over the years, elaborate grooming including backcombing and powdering the fur were recorded as early as 1907. The breed was exported to the United States in the 1880s, and by the turn of the 20th century, five of the ten wealthiest American families bred and showed the Old English Sheepdog. The breed continues to be a popular show dog today.
The Old English Sheepdog is a strong, compact, square dog. The topline is lower at the shoulders, sloping higher toward the back end. The chest is deep and broad. The head is large with a well-defined stop. The nose is black. The teeth meet in a level or tight scissors bite. Eyes come in brown, blue or one of each color. The medium sized ears are carried flat to the head. The front legs are very straight and the hind legs are round and muscular. The small feet point straight ahead and are round with well-arched toes. The Old English Sheepdog is either born tailless (as the name Bobtail implies) or is completely amputated. Note: it is illegal to dock tails in most parts of Europe. The shaggy, double coat is long and profuse with a good, hard, textured outer coat and a soft, waterproof undercoat. Coat colors include gray, grizzle, blue, blue gray, blue merle, gray with white markings or white with gray markings.
The breed standards describe the ideal Old English Sheepdog as never being nervous or aggressive. The New Zealand Kennel Club adds that "they are sometimes couch potatoes" and "may even try to herd children by gently bumping them." This breed's temperament can be described as intelligent, social and adaptable. The American Kennel Club adds that the breed has "a clownish energy" and "may try to herd people or other objects."
With wide open spaces being the ideal setting for an Old English Sheepdog, the breed is a natural fit in a rural setting, such as working on a farm; although, with proper exercise and training, they are perfectly comfortable with a suburban or urban lifestyle. Their remarkable, inherent herding instincts, sense of duty, and sense of property boundaries may be nurtured and encouraged accordingly, or subdued by their owners. Old English Sheepdogs should not be deprived of the company and the warmth of people.
An intelligent breed displaying no signs of aggression or shyness, the Old English Sheepdog is ideal for the home life. With an even disposition, this breed does very well in a herding or working environment. Natural herding instincts are present and would do exceptionally well in country life. Protective and sweet makes this the perfect household companion, and protector of family.
Even-tempered and faithful, the Old English Sheepdog has quite a presence about him. Excellent in a family environment, this breed does regularly bump, or sometimes push trying to herd the family. This trait can be trained out of this breed, however it is usually harmless. Great child's companion, and a wonderful teddy bear like appearance.
Males 22 - 24 inches (56 - 61 cm) Females 20 - 22 inches (51 cm)
Males from 65 pounds (29 kg) Females from 60 pounds (27 kg)
Some can grow to over 100 pounds (45 kg)
The Old English Sheepdog will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. These dogs are fairly active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard.
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.
The Old English Sheepdog does best with a medium sized yard, however if given regular opportunities to exercise, no yard would be fine. This breed loves a long brisk walk, or a nice run as they were originally bred for working. Proper water must always be available as this breed has a long coat and can become heated quickly.
The Old English Sheepdog does wonderfully in herding, and is rather intelligent. This sheepdog requires a firm handler as they can be strong willed and stubborn. A variety of training methods is recommended as this breed tends to do things the way he sees fit. A range of training techniques will keep him interested and alert
The Old English Sheepdog is harder to train than most other dog breeds. He learns new commands more slowly than the majority of other breeds. You will need to be extra patient when Training him.
About 10-12 years
Coat of this breed must be brushed down to the undercoat to prevent tangles or matting. Brushing and combing regularly will keep the coat soft and tangle free. The Old English Sheepdog is a heavy shedder during warmer seasons which makes clipping this breed ideal if not being used for show. Trimming is necessary.
Unless it is combed and brushed right through to the dense, waterproof undercoat at least three times per week, it will become matted and the dog may develop skin problems, making it prone to host parasites. Clip out any tangles carefully so as not to nick the skin. A grooming table will make the whole job easier. If the dog is not being shown, the coat can be professionally machine-clipped every two months or so, about one inch all the way around. In former times these dogs were shorn along with sheep. Trim around the eyes and rear-end with blunt-nosed scissors. This breed sheds like a human—not a lot, but in small amounts.
The OES is an athletic animal, filled with clownish energy, and therefore requires regular exercise or a job to do. Although affectionate with his family, he may try to herd people or other objects. If the coat is of the correct texture, the breed should not be any more difficult to groom than other long-haired dogs, provided a dog is introduced to it early.