Old English Sheepdog

Other names/Nicknames:
  • Bobtail
Country/Date of origin:
  • Great Britain
  • 1800′s
  • Females:  From 21 inches
  • Males:  From 22 inches
  • 65 to 90 pounds
  • A lovable dog in an adorable, fuzzy package.
  • A slow learner, but trainable.
  • Protective of its people.
  • The Old English is not as docile as it looks.
  • Rather wild as a puppy.
  • Slow to mature, this breed takes more than two years to settle down.

A droving dog as much as it is a herding dog, the Old English was a utility dog in the west of England.  It is thought to be about 150 years old in its present form. At one time it served double duty.  When the sheep were sheared in the spring, the dog was lined up with them and garments were made from its hair.  The breed was brought across the Atlantic in the 1880′s, and the Bobtails were shown at some of the first sanctioned dog shows in the United States.  It wasn’t, however, until 1921 that fanciers put on their first specialty show.

Body Type:
  • A large, shaggy dog whose outline is almost lost in the great puff of hair that surrounds its body.
  • Medium-sized, hanging ears (hidden in the hair), are carried flat against the head.  They are not altered.
  • The tail is very short naturally or is docked to two-inches or less.
  • A distinctive, rolling gait gives an Old English on the move the appearance of a bear.
  • The immense, shaggy, double coat is a distinctive feature of this breed.
  • The pattern of brushing is unusual.  The hair on the legs is brushed upwards.  On the face and ears, it is stroked down.  On the rump it is pushed forward over the back.   The shoulder hair is combed straight back toward the nonexistent tail.
  • Grooming is very high maintenance.
  • Colors are any shade of gray, grizzle, blue or blue merle, with or without white markings.
  • Needs a bib at mealtime.
Health and Wellness:
  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease.
  • Gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome (GDV, also commonly called bloat).
  • Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
  • Congenital deafness.
  • Cryptorchidism.
  • Cataracts.
  • Cervical vertebral instability (Wobbler’s syndrome).
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA).
  • Otitis externa.
  • Atopy.
  • Demodicosis.
  • Skin tumors.
What you should know:
  • This is a country dog. It does not do well in apartments or small suburban homes.
  • Seasonal shedding makes the Old English a mobile fur spreader in the spring and summer.
  • One of the most distinctive features of the Old English Sheepdog is the deep, ringing bark.  It sounds like a bell and is particularly loud.  It is not excessively used.
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