The Old English Sheepdog: Your complete guide!

The Old English Sheepdog, a picture of charm and unruly shaggy coat, unwavering loyalty, and intelligence, has captured the hearts of dog enthusiasts and families alike. With British origins, its distinctive physical features, and a unique set of temperament traits, this breed has secured its place as an affectionate and distinctive family companion with a penchant for herding.

Old English Sheepdog portrait
Shaggy | Playful | Good-Natured
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    Everything you need to know about the Old English Sheepdog!

    Category (Explanation)Breed Information
    Year of Breed Conception19th century
    Country of OriginUnited Kingdom
    Weight (lbs & kg) (Male)80-100 lbs (36-45 kg)
    Weight (lbs & kg) (Female)60-85 lbs (27-39 kg)
    Coat TypeLong double coat
    Color VariationsGray and white
    Shedding Level (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Height (cm & in)21-22 inches (53-56 cm)
    Breed SizeLarge
    Trainability (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Mental Needs (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Intelligence Level (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Energy Level (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Agility (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Loyalty (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Playfulness (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Exercise NeedsRegular exercise and mental stimulation
    Guarding Proficiency (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Sociability with Children (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Barking Level (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Digging Tendency (Low, Moderate, High)Moderate
    Destructive Behavior (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Drooling Level (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Obedience Level (Low, Moderate, High)High
    Apartment Friendly (Yes/No)Can adapt to apartment living with sufficient exercise
    Inherent Prey DriveModerate
    Physical Risk to Others (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Travel Fatality Risk (Low, Moderate, High)Low
    Allergen PotentialLow
    Health Concerns (List of Common Health Concerns)Hip Dysplasia, Eye Issues, Hearing Problems
    Average Life Expectancy (Life Expectancy in Years)10-12 years
    Make sure to take care of your Old English Sheepdog and

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    History of the Old English Sheepdog

    The Old English Sheepdog’s history is one of iconic shagginess and herding in England. These dogs were bred for herding tasks, particularly with sheep, in the English countryside.

    Their distinctive shaggy coat and expressive eyes have made them beloved figures. Old English Sheepdogs were known for their herding abilities and their loyalty as farm dogs.

    Today, they are celebrated for their herding skills and their role as family pets. They embody the enduring charm of English herding dogs.

    What makes the Old English Sheepdog so special?

    Old English Sheepdog standing

    What makes the Old English Sheepdog special is its shaggy coat and gentle demeanor. These herders have a history of working in England. Their adaptability and loyalty make them exceptional working dogs and family companions.

    Old English Sheepdogs have a tradition as herding and working dogs in the United Kingdom. Their agility and herding instincts made them skilled at guiding and protecting livestock. They were known for their intelligence and loyalty. Today, they participate in herding and dog sports and serve as loyal family companions, preserving their tradition as dependable working dogs.

    Old English Sheepdogs are celebrated for their spirited and loving personalities. They have a history of herding in England.

    Their agility and herding skills make them excellent herders, and they have a sweet and loyal nature. Old English Sheepdogs are characterized by their agility, devotion, and a sweet disposition, epitomizing the perfect blend of energy and affection.

    Old English Sheepdogs are affectionate and protective. They are typically good with children and other pets but may be reserved with strangers. Early socialization is important for a well-adjusted temperament.

    Mental and physical exercise is crucial for their well-being.

    Old English Sheepdogs are large-sized dogs with a well-proportioned and shaggy appearance. They have a square-shaped head with expressive eyes and small, square-shaped ears.

    They have a dense, double coat that hangs down over their eyes and covers their entire body. Coat colors are typically shades of blue, gray, or grizzle. Their tail is often docked or naturally bobbed.

    Males typically stand between 22 to 24 inches (56-61 cm) at the shoulder and weigh between 60 to 100 pounds (27-45 kg), while females are slightly smaller and lighter.

    Old English Sheepdogs have a shaggy and friendly presence, reflecting their role as herding and working dogs.

    Old English Sheepdogs come in various coat colors, including blue-gray, blue merle, gray, or grizzle with white markings. They may not have distinct coat colors.

    Old English Sheepdogs come in various coat colors, including blue-gray, blue merle, gray, or grizzle with white markings, contributing to their lovable and shaggy appearance.

    Old English Sheepdogs have a high shedding level. They shed year-round and require frequent grooming and brushing to manage shedding and keep their coat in good condition.

    Old English Sheepdogs have a long, dense double coat that requires regular grooming. Grooming habits for this breed include:

    1. Brushing: Regular brushing, at least once or twice a week, is essential to prevent matting and remove loose fur. Use a slicker brush and a pin brush for thorough grooming.

    2. Bathing: Bathe Old English Sheepdogs when necessary using a dog-specific shampoo and ensure thorough rinsing.

    3. Ears: Check and clean their ears regularly with a veterinarian-recommended solution to prevent wax buildup or infections.

    4. Nails: Keep their nails trimmed to a comfortable length to maintain proper gait and prevent discomfort.

    5. Teeth: Brush their teeth regularly to ensure dental health and prevent bad breath. Dental chews or toys can be beneficial.

    6. Tail and Paw Care: Maintain cleanliness in the tail and paw areas, inspecting for any signs of irritation or injury.

    Old English Sheepdogs have a moderate activity level and enjoy both physical and mental challenges. Key points about their activity level include:

    1. Exercise Needs: Old English Sheepdogs require daily exercise to stay content. Activities should be engaging and may include walks, playtime, and interactive tasks.

    2. Energy Level: They have a moderate energy level, especially when young. Regular exercise helps prevent restlessness.

    3. Herding Heritage: Historically, Old English Sheepdogs were bred for herding livestock. They excel in activities like obedience training, agility, and herding trials.

    4. Mental Stimulation: In addition to physical exercise, mental challenges through training and interactive games are important to keep them mentally sharp.

    5. Family Companions: They make good family pets and enjoy spending time with their human companions.

    Old English Sheepdogs are intelligent dogs known for their problem-solving abilities and adaptability. Here are some key points about their intelligence:

    1. Trainability: Old English Sheepdogs are trainable and respond well to positive reinforcement-based training methods.
    2. Problem-Solving: They exhibit problem-solving skills, making them effective herders and working dogs.
    3. Adaptability: They adapt well to different living environments and routines.
    4. Work and Utility: Historically, they were used as herders, where their intelligence and herding skills were highly valued.
    5. Social Intelligence: They form strong bonds with their families and are perceptive about human emotions.

    Old English Sheepdogs’ intelligence makes them effective working dogs and cherished companions when provided with proper training and mental stimulation.

    Old English Sheepdogs are intelligent and need mental stimulation. Engage them in obedience training, herding activities, and interactive games to keep their minds sharp.

    Social Interaction: They are social dogs and require regular interaction with their human family. Loneliness can lead to anxiety or destructive behavior, so provide companionship and attention.

    Exercise: Mental exercise is equally important. Offer them tasks that challenge their problem-solving skills.

    Training and Obedience: Old English Sheepdogs benefit from obedience training, herding activities, and mental challenges, which not only stimulate their minds but also strengthen their bond with their owners.

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    What to look out for, before you get a Old English Sheepdog!

    Old English Sheepdog barking

    Thinking about an Old English Sheepdog? Consider these factors:

    1. Activity Level: Old English Sheepdogs are active dogs that require regular exercise and mental stimulation.

    2. Training Needs: They are intelligent but can be independent, so consistent training is important.

    3. Space: Old English Sheepdogs need space to move around comfortably, making them better suited for homes with yards.

    4. Coat Care: Regular grooming is essential to manage their coat and prevent matting.

    5. Herding Instinct: Be prepared for their natural herding behaviors and tendencies.

    Old English Sheepdogs, known for their herding instincts, may pose a physical risk to others if not properly socialized, trained, or managed. The risk assessment factors include:

    1. Herding Instinct: Old English Sheepdogs have a strong herding instinct, which may lead to chasing or nipping at people or other animals. Proper training is essential to manage this behavior.

    2. Socialization: Early and thorough socialization is crucial to ensure Old English Sheepdogs are comfortable around people and other animals. Poor socialization can lead to fear or aggression.

    3. Training: Obedience training is essential to teach Old English Sheepdogs appropriate behavior and ensure they respond to commands. Well-trained dogs are less likely to engage in aggressive behavior.

    4. Owner Responsibility: Responsible ownership involves being aware of the dog’s behavior and taking necessary precautions in public settings.

    5. Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL): Old English Sheepdogs are generally not subject to BSL, but owners should be aware of local regulations.

    6. Individual Variability: Each dog is unique, and behavior can vary. Responsible ownership, proper training, and socialization are key to minimizing the potential physical risk to others.

    Old English Sheepdogs are typically good with children. They are affectionate and protective and may form strong bonds with kids. Proper socialization and training are important for their interactions with children.

    Old English Sheepdogs are generally capable swimmers, despite their shaggy appearance. Their coat colors do not affect their swimming ability. Many may enjoy being in the water and can paddle. However, individual comfort levels and preferences for water activities can vary, so always supervise them when they are in or around water.

    1. Early Training: Start training your Old English Sheepdog puppy as early as possible. Puppies are like sponges, and their ability to learn is at its peak during their early months.
    2. Socialization: Expose your puppy to a wide range of people, animals, and environments to help them become well-adjusted adults. Socialization is crucial for reducing fear and aggression.
    3. Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, and toys, to reward and reinforce good behavior. This approach is effective and builds a strong bond between you and your puppy.
    4. Consistency: Be consistent with your training methods and commands. Use the same cues and rewards consistently to avoid confusion.
    5. Basic Commands: Teach essential commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “leave it.” These commands are the building blocks of obedience and safety.
    6. House Training: Be patient and consistent when house training your Old English Sheepdog puppy. Establish a routine for bathroom breaks and praise them when they eliminate outside.
    7. Crate Training: Crate training can be a valuable tool for housebreaking and providing a safe space for your puppy. Make the crate a positive and comfortable place.
    8. Social Skills: Encourage positive interactions with other dogs and people to develop good social skills. Puppy classes and playdates can be helpful.
    9. Exercise and Play: Old English Sheepdog puppies have energy to burn. Ensure they get enough exercise and playtime to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.
    10. Chewing: Provide appropriate chew toys to satisfy their need to chew and prevent them from chewing on furniture or belongings.
    11. Patience and Persistence: Training takes time, and puppies may not grasp commands immediately. Be patient and persistent, and avoid punishment-based training methods.
    12. Professional Training: If you encounter challenges or need additional guidance, consider enrolling your puppy in a professional training class led by a qualified dog trainer.

    Remember that Old English Sheepdog puppies, like all puppies, are eager to please and learn. Positive and consistent training practices will help them become well-behaved, obedient, and happy adult dogs. Building a strong and trusting bond with your puppy through training is a rewarding experience for both you and your canine companion.

    Old English Sheepdogs are typically moderate in terms of noisiness. They may bark or use vocalizations when they sense a need to protect their home or family, but they are not excessively vocal.

    Old English Sheepdogs are affectionate and adaptable dogs that thrive in various living conditions. Here are the best conditions for their well-being:

    1. Family Homes: They make wonderful family pets and are happiest when they are an integral part of the family, receiving love and attention.
    2. Space to Roam: Old English Sheepdogs appreciate homes with yards for play and exercise, but they can adapt to apartment living with regular outdoor activities.
    3. Socialization: Early socialization helps them become well-rounded dogs. Homes with opportunities for interaction with people and other animals are ideal.
    4. Mental Stimulation: Their intelligence thrives when they have access to activities that engage their minds, such as obedience training and puzzle toys.


    1. Lack of Exercise: Insufficient exercise can lead to restlessness and potential behavioral issues.
    2. Isolation: Old English Sheepdogs may become anxious if left alone for extended periods. They do best in homes with companionship.

    When traveling with Old English Sheepdogs, consider the following:

    1. Exercise Needs: Sheepdogs require regular exercise. Plan for breaks and playtime during travel.
    2. Size: They are a large breed. Ensure their security with suitable travel crates or seat belt harnesses.
    3. Anxiety: Some Old English Sheepdogs may experience travel anxiety. Gradual introduction to travel and familiar items can help alleviate stress.
    4. Air Travel: When flying, choose pet-friendly airlines with appropriate crate requirements.
    5. Identification: Ensure proper identification for your Old English Sheepdog during travel.

    Old English Sheepdogs are generally healthy, but they may be prone to certain health concerns, including:

    • Hip Dysplasia: A genetic condition that affects the hip joints and can lead to arthritis and lameness.
    • Cataracts: A clouding of the eye’s lens, which can lead to impaired vision.
    • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A group of inherited diseases that can lead to blindness.
    • Hypothyroidism: A hormonal condition that affects the thyroid gland.

    Proper nutrition is essential for Old English Sheepdogs. Follow these nutritional habits:

    1. High-Quality Dog Food: Choose dog food with high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient.
    2. Age-Appropriate Food: Feed the appropriate life stage formula.
    3. Protein: Opt for a diet with moderate protein content.
    4. Balanced Diet: Ensure a balance of protein, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.
    5. Portion Control: Prevent overfeeding with proper portion sizes.
    6. Fresh Water: Always provide clean, fresh water.
    7. Avoid Table Scraps: Refrain from feeding human food.
    8. Treats: Use treats in moderation for training and rewards.
    9. Consult Your Veterinarian: Seek guidance from your vet for the best diet.
    10. Special Dietary Needs: Address dietary restrictions or allergies with your vet.
    11. Weight Management: Maintain a healthy weight through exercise and portion control.
    12. Regular Check-Ups: Schedule regular veterinary check-ups for monitoring.

    Proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of Old English Sheepdogs.

    Breed-specific laws (BSL) may affect Old English Sheepdogs in certain areas, and it’s important for owners to be aware of these regulations. BSL is typically enacted at the local or municipal level and can vary widely from one jurisdiction to another. Here are some types of restrictions that Old English Sheepdogs may face under BSL:

    1. Mandatory Spaying/Neutering: Some areas may require owners of Old English Sheepdogs to spay or neuter their dogs.
    2. Special Licensing: BSL may require special licensing for Old English Sheepdog owners, often involving additional fees and regulations.
    3. Liability Insurance: Owners of Old English Sheepdogs may be required to carry liability insurance as part of BSL.
    4. Muzzling in Public: In certain regions, BSL may mandate that Old English Sheepdogs be muzzled when in public spaces.
    5. Ownership Bans: In extreme cases, BSL may ban the ownership of Old English Sheepdogs altogether in certain areas.

    The rationale for BSL is often based on concerns about public safety and perceived risks associated with specific breeds. While Old English Sheepdogs are not inherently aggressive, they can be affected by BSL due to their physical resemblance to breeds that are sometimes included in these laws.

    It’s important to note that BSL is a controversial topic, and many advocates argue that it unfairly targets breeds rather than addressing individual dog behavior. They emphasize that responsible ownership, training, and education should be emphasized instead of breed-specific restrictions.

    To determine if there are breed-specific laws or restrictions regarding Old English Sheepdogs in your area, you should check with your local animal control or government authorities. Be aware of and comply with any local regulations to ensure that you are in compliance with the law while owning an Old English Sheepdog.

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    If you’re interested you can read more about our affiliate policy here.

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    Fun Facts About The Old English Sheepdog

    Myth 1: Old English Sheepdogs are Always Messy

    Truth: While they have a shaggy coat, Old English Sheepdogs can look tidy with regular grooming and maintenance. Their appearance is manageable with proper care.

    Myth 2: They Don’t Need Exercise

    Truth: Old English Sheepdogs are active and need regular exercise. They enjoy outdoor activities and playtime.

    Old English Sheepdogs, known for their distinctive appearance, may not have as many widely recognized famous individuals. They excel in herding and working roles, showcasing their adaptability and herding instincts.

    • Herding: Old English Sheepdogs have a history as herding dogs, excelling in herding tasks on farms.
    • Working Dogs: They are employed as working dogs in herding and guarding roles, particularly in herding and guarding livestock.
    • Companionship: Old English Sheepdogs are known for their loyalty and protective nature as family pets.
    • English Heritage: They are considered a part of English cultural heritage and have been celebrated in English art and literature.

    Old English Sheepdogs have been cherished by families and individuals for their herding and companionship. While specific historical owners may not be widely recognized, these dogs have a rich history as herders and working companions.

    Old English Sheepdogs, like all breeds, face certain challenges and dangers. Some of the greatest dangers and concerns for the breed include:

    1. Misunderstanding: Misconceptions about the breed’s exercise needs and coat care can lead to misunderstandings and potential challenges for owners who are not prepared for the breed’s requirements.
    2. Health Concerns: Old English Sheepdogs are susceptible to specific health issues, including hip dysplasia and certain eye conditions. Responsible breeding and regular veterinary care are essential to address these concerns.
    3. Coat Care: Their distinctive double coat requires extensive grooming to prevent matting and maintain skin health. Neglecting coat care can lead to discomfort and skin issues.
    4. Exercise Needs: These dogs require regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent restlessness and destructive behavior due to their high energy levels.
    5. Climate Sensitivity: Old English Sheepdogs are sensitive to heat due to their thick coat. Owners in warm climates must take precautions to prevent heat-related issues.
    6. Breed-Specific Legislation: Old English Sheepdogs may be affected by breed-specific legislation (BSL) in certain areas, leading to restrictions or bans on ownership.
    7. Irresponsible Breeding: Irresponsible breeding practices can result in health and temperament issues. Ethical breeding is crucial for the breed’s well-being.
    8. Training Needs: Proper training is important to manage their exercise needs and to provide mental stimulation for the breed.
    9. Socialization: Early and consistent socialization is necessary to ensure Old English Sheepdogs are well-adjusted around strangers and other dogs.

    By understanding these challenges and providing responsible ownership and care, many of these dangers can be mitigated to ensure the well-being of Old English Sheepdogs.

    The Old English Sheepdog, often called the “Bobtail,” is an English herding breed. Its origins likely include various British herding dogs selectively bred for their herding instincts and capabilities. Over time, the breed’s appearance and working traits were standardized.

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    Why you're going to love the Old English Sheepdog

    The Old English Sheepdog is a breed known for its charm, intelligence, and herding abilities. They excel in herding and companionship roles, winning the hearts of dog enthusiasts with their unique characteristics and affectionate nature.

    Being an Old English Sheepdog owner involves providing mental and physical stimulation, grooming, and regular veterinary care. Responsible ownership includes addressing potential health concerns and nurturing their herding instincts through training.

    With their shaggy coat and warm personality, Old English Sheepdogs continue to charm those who appreciate their distinct traits and loyal companionship.

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