Old England: a green, luscious and pastoral place that reckons back to the family farms and quaint homesteads. The dog that fits into this scene is one that is old, English and friendly to boot. BestBullySticks.com spotlights the Old English Sheepdog, a dog with lots of fur and lots of happiness to share with his family.
History & Background: First simply called “The Shepherd’s Dog,” Old English Sheepdogs originated as working dogs in pastoral England. Most speculate this dog was developed from the Bearded Collie and Russian Owtchar. Farmers quickly learned these dogs were highly intelligent and used the dogs as drovers and herders. Farmers began to dock these dog’s tails as a symbol the dogs were used for working purposes, which earned them a tax exemption. Just as the farmers would shear the sheep, the dogs were shorn as well and their coats make into warm blankets and clothing.
In the late 19th century, this dog was first shown in Birmingham, England and gained popularity throughout England shortly after. This dog has changed very little since then. Exported to the U.S. in the 1880s, the breed quickly became a household pet in 5 of the 10 wealthiest American families. To this day, Old English Sheepdogs are commonly seen as family pets and in the show ring.
Height: Males: 22-24 inches; Females: 20-22 inches
Weight: Males: 65+ pounds; Females: 60+ pounds
Coat: An Old English Sheepdog has a lot of hair, which covers the whole body, but not so much hair as to make this dog look overly fluffy or even appear fat. The texture of the coat is shaggy and coarse, not straight or soft. The undercoat is waterproof but is sometimes removed in grooming or nonexistent during warmer seasons. The coat is also a good guard against cold, heat and moisture. The body of the OES is well coated including the skull. The ears have medium-length hair. In confirmation showings, only the feet and rear are trimmed, otherwise this breed is show in its natural state.
Color: OES’s range in the shades of grays and blues with white markings. More specifically gray, grizzle, blue or blue merles are the preferred colorings of this breed. Puppies are born with black and white coats and after the first few periods of shedding, more distinct coloring appears.
Appearance: Old English Sheepdogs are large, square, well-muscled, fuzzy dogs. Their eyes, which are either brown or blue, give off a very intelligent expression. These dog’s ears are flat and close to the head and the nose is always black. The compact body widens toward the rump and the backside is panda-like in appearance with a bob or docked tail. The front legs are very straight and the back legs are muscular and rounded. The OES’s feet are small, round with thick, hard pads. Other than the distinctive coat, the gait of this sheepdog is also unique and is likened to the shuffle like a bear’s.
Temperament: The happy-go-lucky personality of the Old English Sheepdog is immediately evident. These dogs are highly adaptable, loving and friendly. Gentle to a fault, these dogs are great with all children. Nervousness or aggressiveness aren’t in the OES’s personality at all. This breed is prone to herding, but only through nudges and gentle pushes and has a “clownish” energy. OES’s need plenty or exercise and are natural fits in rural settings. However, these sheepdogs are fine fits for apartment life if they have dedicated exercise time on a daily basis.
Health & Grooming: An Old English Sheepdogs commonly suffer from cataracts, hip dysplasia, thyroid problems, diabetes, deafness, allergies and skin problems. Cancer is a major cause of death for these dogs. A healthy OES can live from 10-11 years.
Grooming this dog shouldn’t scare a potential owner away. No different than any other dog with a long coat, grooming is a matter of weekly if not daily upkeep. One to three times a week, the coat should be fully brushed. If the coat isn’t taken care of, mats, tangles and ingrown hairs can become very painful and problematic for these dogs. The thick hair can also easily trap moisture, be host to parasites and the dog can contract a myriad of skin problems if their coat isn’t tended to regularly. Clipping out small tangles and mats is a regular practice. If the dog isn’t being shown for confirmation, it’s standard practice to have the hair trimmed professionally. In times past, when this dog actually herded sheep, the Old English was shorn along with its flock every spring.
Product Suggestions: Keep your OES’s joints healthy and ready to move! BestBullySticks.com’s 12 Inch Beef Trachea are all-natural dog treats high in both chondroitin and glucosamine. Trachea is a tasty and crunchy treat any sheepdog is sure to love!
Stay on the move with the Ruff Dawg K-9 Flyer! Made from a sturdy rubber that is puncture and tear-resistant, this tough flying disc will last your sheepdog for hours of fetching fun!
Do you own or know a Old English Sheepdog? Tell us your favorite Old English Sheepdog story in the comments section!