One of the larger teddy bears of the dog world, the Old English Sheepdog is a wonderful pet as well as a capable working dog. With his long and fuzzy coat obscuring all but this personable fellow’s black nose, he remains one of the most easily recognizable breeds of dogs in the world and a favorite amongst those who actually get to know the breed. While some are put off by these loveable giants’ thick furry coats, the Old English Sheepdog is really no more work than any other long-haired breed of dog, and fanciers are sure to tell you that this fuzz ball’s great personality makes any amount of upkeep well worth it.
Old English Sheepdog History
The true origins of this magnificent breed have been lost in the turn of centuries, though it is believed that the Old English Sheepdog can be traced back to the early parts of the nineteenth century. In the counties of Southwestern England, there were references made to a large animal, known as the “drovers dog,” a breed which may have been a descendant of the Scottish Bearded Collie or a dog known as the Russian Owtchar. This large canine was used for driving cattle and sheep to market and, due to the fact that their working status made them exempt from taxes, their tails were cut off (a practice known as “docking”) in order to identify them as such. The practice of docking the tail remains in effect in these modern times, the breed having earned the nickname of “Bobtail” or “Bobs” because of this.
Old English Sheepdog Appearance
Square-bodied and sturdily-built, the Old English Sheepdog is easily recognized by his shaggy waterproof coat and large size. Standing a minimum of 21 inches at the shoulder, this hardy working breed was bred large enough to handle the cattle that had to be driven to market, and yet agile enough to handle the sheep in the fields. Also unique to the breed is their strange shuffling gait, not unlike the movements of a bear. The Old English Sheepdog is also known to have a distinctive bark, known to have a “pot-casse” tone.
The Old English Sheepdog can be found in any shade of blue, gray, grizzle, or blue merle and can be found either with or without white markings. Their eyes are intelligent and bright, found in shades of blue, dark brown, or an eye of each color. Additionally, the blue-colored Sheepdogs typically have one pale eye, known as a pearl, china, or wall-eye. While some people think that this pale eye is due to a defect and is a sign of blindness it is, in fact, just a normal eye and considered to be perfectly acceptable. Yellow or amber eyes are considered a fault, however.
Old English Sheepdog Temperament
The Old English Sheepdog is a loving and friendly fuzz ball that tends to get along well with other dogs, children, and a variety of other pets. While keenly intelligent, they can have a bit of a stubborn streak and their bull-headed determination can make them a challenge to train, but they remain a steadfast and loyal companion to those who take the time with them. Well known for their stable disposition, the Old English Sheepdog may make a good watchdog, but is not known for being shy, nervous, nor is he an aggressive dog.
Old English Sheepdog Exercise Info
Due to his size, many think that the stout Old English Sheepdog is a lazy dog that does not require much exercise. In truth, however, he is an athletic giant, bred for the purpose of working for a living. While he doesn�t mind the opportunity to nap in the shade, the Sheepdog does enjoy a healthy amount of exercise and can be prone to obesity if he does not receive it.
Should you choose an Old English Sheepdog as your ideal pet, you will probably want a large back yard where younger dogs have plenty of room to run, frolic, and race around. If you don’t have this, the new Sheepdog owner had best be prepared to go for frequent walks or to take regular trips down to the dog park.
Old English Sheepdog Grooming Info
For many years, the Old English Sheepdog was shunned by the mainstream public, due to a misinterpretation of the term “profuseness of coat,” which caused many to believe that this meant that the breed had an excessive coat which required an abnormal amount of maintenance. In truth, the ideal Bobtail’s coat requires no more upkeep than any other breed of long-haired dog. For those who don’t wish to groom their dog every couple of weeks, a simple trip to the groomers for a clip-down may be in order, allowing the dog to enjoy the hot and humid days in a short-shorn coat. Don’t be fooled, however – the Old English Sheepdog coat actually serves to insulate the dog, helping to keep him cooler on hot days, warm on cold days, and protection from the damp.
Old English Sheepdog Training Info
The Old English Sheepdog is a notoriously clever dog with a strong mind of his own. They rarely react to loud voices and will come downright belligerent if any type of physical reprimands are used against them. When training the Old English Sheepdog, it’s important to bring a great deal of patience, and to stock to routine. Most dogs are creatures of habit and will learn through positive reinforcement – the Sheepdog is no exception. In fact, it’s important to realize that edible treats aren’t the only kind of “reward” that a dog can receive. If you’re not careful, you can reward him in a negative fashion, such as chasing after him in an attempts to retrieve a slipper that he was chewing on. Instead of teaching him this behavior is “bad,” he learns that he can get his owner to come and enjoy a great game of tag simply by stealing the slipper.
It’s also equally important to teach your Old English Sheepdog how to respond to non-physical cues. When teaching him to sit, try taking a tasty-smelling treat and hold it in your hand, letting him smell it. Instead of pressing down on your dog’s hindquarters or patting him on the back, instead tell him to “sit,” in a firm tone as you slowly raise the treat up over your dog’s head and in the direction of his back several inches over his head. Ideally, your dog will raise his head to try and see the treat and will instinctively sit down so that he can look up.
Old English Sheepdog Health Info
Like any breed of dog, the Old English Sheepdog is subject to a variety of health concerns. Your best bet is, when deciding to choose a new Old English Sheepdog puppy, check around with several breeders and ask about the various health issues that can affect these beautiful little dogs. A reputable breeder should be well-versed in the health concerns and should be able to give you more details, as well as showing you the sire and dam of your potential puppy. Some of the health problems that can affect Old English Sheepdogs include:
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
Old English Sheepdog Right Breed Info
A loving and protective companion, the Old English Sheepdog makes an ideal family pet. They enjoy being the comical clowns of the family and are very playful dogs who exhibit a great deal of patience with children and other pets alike. While they can be somewhat stubborn, taking them to obedience classes can prove very helpful, and the cooperative Bobtail is a fast learner.
The main drawbacks of this breed would be the Sheepdog’s large size and people being intimidated by the dog’s long, shaggy coat. While the Old English Sheepdog does a couple of brushings throughout the week, most fanciers will tell you that the merits of this wonderful dog far outweigh any brushing-related drawbacks. If you have room in your heart for this big lovable teddy bear, chances are that the Old English Sheepdog may fit perfectly into your life.
More Information about the Old English Sheepdog Dog Breed
Old English Sheepdog on Wikipedia