Old English Sheepdog – Everything You Need To Know

Old English Sheepdog is a purebred, large-sized dog known for its good nature and shaggy coat. Also called OES by its fans, it belongs to the herding dog group. Farmers primarily bred OES to help drive cattle and sheep to the market. They are athletic and excel in competitions like conformation, obedience, agility, and herding trials. Their coats are shaggy yet shed less than one imagines. Despite being large, they are adaptable and fit in apartments with enough exercise and play sessions. 

Old English Sheepdogs are also intelligent and protective of their families. Moreover, they are affectionate and make a loyal and loving family companion. So happily welcome this puppy into your family!

Old English Sheepdog Overview

The Old English Sheepdog belongs to the giant breeds and is children’s favorite. Nicknamed OES or Bobtail, they are more often seen in TV shows and Hollywood movies. They are hardworking dogs with strong, sturdy, and lovely personalities. These fluffy bobtails are playful and protective, with a lot of energy that comes with high exercise needs. They are also intelligent and easy to train, with less tendency to bark or howl. Though covered with hair, they shed less, and grooming is easy. 

Old English Sheepdogs are great in general health and need a balanced diet as they are prone to weight gain. They can be fluffy and cute but also highly affectionate, protective, and friendly with family, kids, and strangers.

Old English Sheepdog Pros and Cons

Good-natured and friendlyRequires maintenance
Athletic and intelligentShort life expectancy
Easy to trainNot hypoallergenic

Old English Sheepdog Basic Information

  • Name: Old English Sheepdog
  • Origin: England
  • Group: Herding dog
  • Size: Large
  • Height: Male: 22 inches; Female: 21 inches
  • Weight: Male: 80-100 pounds; Female: 60-85 pounds
  • Coat: Double-coated
  • Color: Blue gray and white, gray and white, grizzle and white, blue and white, or blue merle and white.
  • Energy: High 
  • Activities: Agility, obedience, conformation, and herding trials
  • Barking Level: Low
  • Shedding Level: Low 
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Litter Size: 5-12 puppies
  • Another Name: Bobtail
  • Original Passtime: Driving cattle and sheep
  • Life Span: 10-12 years

History of Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog was famously called “Bobtail” because of the docked tail and is children’s favorite in television shows and movies. Their origin is unclear, but there is evidence that may indicate it to the early 19th century. However, there are also chances that its origin is a Scottish Bearded Collie, Russian Owtchar, or some other dog. This breed came to the United States in the 1880s and was first owned by an industrialist W.Wade. Only the five wealthiest families owned this dog, even by the 1900s. Henry Arthur Tilley founded the Old English Sheepdog Club in 1904.

Old English Dog was the rich man’s dog in the 1950s and moved to a family pet status by the 1960s. The AKC recognized the breed in 1885.

Old English Sheepdog Highlights

  • Old English Sheepdog is an enthusiastic puppy and needs proper Training and socialization.
  • They are heavy shedders and drool a lot. They are not very clean dogs and are often seen with dirt and debris on their furs.
  • They are active and energetic and require plenty of exercise.
  • Old English Sheepdogs are high-maintenance dogs whose coats require frequent grooming.
  • They love their families and get destructive when left alone for long periods. They tend to suffer from separation anxiety.

Old English Sheepdog Personality

Old English Sheepdogs are large breed dogs with robust, compact, and square bodies, growing up to 20-21 inches and weighing about 60-100 pounds. They are non-hypoallergenic and shed a lot. The coat is double-coated and shaggy. The coat color includes shades of gray, grizzle, black, blue, or blue merle, with optional white markings. 

Old English Sheepdogs have blue or brown eyes with intelligent expressions. Their ears are medium-sized and flat, tails are docked close to the body, and necks are long and gracefully arched. Overall, they look robust, muscular, and balanced and are everything that needs to be a shepherd’s dog.

Friendliness Overview

Affection levelHigh

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment livingHigh
Good for new ownersMedium
Sensitivity levelHigh
Tolerates being aloneLow 
Cold toleranceLow
Heat toleranceLow

Old English Sheepdog Physical Features

Head: The skull is square, and the eyes are blue or brown with an intelligent expression. The ears are medium and flat, the cheeks and jaws are long, strong, and square, and the nose is always black. They have a scissors-like bite with sharp teeth.

Neck: The neck is long and gracefully sloppy.

Topline: The topline is level and firm. They have deep and muscular chests.

Body: The body is short, compact, and broad.

Tail: The tail is docked close to the body.

Forequarters: The shoulders are laid back and narrow. The measurements covering the area of the forequarters are all the same.

Hindquarters: The hindquarters are muscular, firm, and round. 

Feet: The feet are small and round with well-arched toes. The pads are thick and hard.

Coat: The coat is flat, not straight and fuzzy, but not curly. The undercoat is waterproof. The ears, skull, and neck are well-coated with hair.

Color: The coat color includes shades of gray, grizzle, black, blue, or blue merle, with optional white markings.

Gait: The action is free, sturdy, and firm with well-balanced movement.

Disqualification (AKC Standards)

  • The eyes are amber or yellow. 
  • The coat color with any shade of brown or fawn

Old English Sheepdog Temperament

Old English Sheepdogs are large, athletic, sturdy, hardworking, adaptable, easygoing, and intelligent dogs. Despite their size, they can live in apartments and large homes. They are known for their comical nature and are playful and fun-loving pooches. They are also powerful and will be the guardian and protectors of their families. They are friendly and affectionate and get along with children and other pets. They sometimes act as the children’s nannies. Their overall temperament includes:

  • Loyal
  • Playful 
  • Affectionate
  • Companion dogs
  • Lively
  • Hard-working
  • Guardian 
  • Intelligent
  • Comical 
  • Protective 

Old English Sheepdog Training

Old English Sheepdogs are intelligent, which makes training easy. However, like other dogs, they need early socialization, obedience training, and puppy training classes. Bobtails are active and look forward to the training sessions; activities like playing fetch and frisbee help in training regarding behavioral corrections. 

Old English Sheepdog’s workout session requires patience and consistency. They are sensitive to any adverse reactions and need positive reinforcement while training. They do not respond to harsh commands; hence lots of praise, cuddles, and treats can help during the training. Their activity can include the following:

Here are a few dog interactive toys and products that you can use while training:

ASOCEA Dog Extendable Teaser Wand
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Ultra Tug & Toss Dog Toy
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Dog Puzzle Toys
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Milk-Bone Soft & Chewy Dog Treats
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Blue Buffalo Health Bars
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Trainability Overview

Easy to trainHigh 
Prey driveMedium
Mouthiness tendenciesLow
Barking and Howling tendenciesLow
Wanderlust tendenciesLow

Old English Sheepdog Exercise Need

Old English Sheepdogs have massive bodies but are highly active, energetic, and get enough exercise. A daily exercise routine of 30-60 minutes is ideal for keeping the dog’s mental and physical stimulation intact. Walking 2-3 times daily with running and play keeps the dog happy and healthy. They excel in activities like agility and flyball. In addition, they enjoy running, walking, hiking, and indoor games. A proper exercise routine helps the dog with the following benefits:

  • Social interaction
  • Weight Control
  • Stress Relief
  • Behavioral Corrections like excessive chewing, persistent barking
  • Brain stimulation
  • Strengthening Muscles
  • Routine Toileting
  • Mental health and happiness

Here are a few puzzles and dog toys to keep your Bobtails engaged:

Nina Ottosson Interactive Treat Puzzle Game Dog Toys
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TOMAHAUK Snuffle Mat for Dogs
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TRIXIE Dog Activity
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LOOBANI Dog Food Puzzle
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Benebone Wishbone Durable Dog Chew Toy
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Pacific Pups Products
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Exercise Needs Overview

Energy levelHigh
Exercise needsHigh 

Old English Sheepdog Grooming

Old English Sheepdogs are double-coated and have shaggy coats. They shed heavily and can have seasonal shedding during the spring. As a result, they are not easy to groom and must be brushed 2-3 times per week. Brushing helps remove matted hair and pull out the loose fur during shedding. 

One of the essential parts of grooming is bathing which keeps the dog clean. You can bathe your dog once a week using pH-balanced shampoos; pet wipes keep his coat fresh, clean, and shiny. Frequent bathing may cause dry skin and itches. However, daily brushing helps to keep the fur from knots and tangles.

WAHL Dry Skin & Itch Relief Pet Shampoo for Dogs
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Earth Rated Dog Wipes
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Bobtails are prone to collect ear wax quickly. Hence, ears should be cleaned and regularly checked as they are prone to ear problems. Brush their teeth daily to prevent plaque and other dental problems. Never brush their teeth with a stiff brush, as it will harm the gums and teeth. Also, make sure to use dog-friendly toothpaste. 

Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste
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Arm & Hammer for Pets Tartar Control Kit for Dogs
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Virbac EPIOTIC Advanced Ear Cleanser
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OPULA Dog Eye Wipes
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Also, clean their eyes and trim their nails as a part of everyday grooming needs. Their toenails must be checked once a week as longer nails may harm and injure the dog. You can trim the toenails with a commercial dog nail trimmer or with the help of a vet or professional groomer.

Dudi Dog Nail Clippers and Trimmers
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Pet Union Professional Dog Grooming Kit
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Grooming Overview

Easy to groomLow 
Drooling tendenciesHigh 
Amount of sheddingLow

Old English Sheepdog Health

Old English Sheepdogs are healthy and active dogs. Yet, it’s always wise to be aware of their health conditions. 

Health Overview

General healthHigh 
Weight gain tendenciesHigh to medium

Deafness: While some dogs are born deaf, others may develop it with age. While hereditary deafness is due to genetic defects, acquired deafness results from decreased blood supply to the cochlea of the inner ear, which results in the loss of hair cells necessary for sound transmission. Deafness may affect unilaterally (deafness in one ear) or bilaterally (deafness in both ears). Bilaterally deaf dogs require some special considerations. To get to know your pet better, you can adopt a reliable scientific test called the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response), which helps you detect deafness in dogs.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which a dog’s metabolism is slowed due to the lack of thyroid hormone production. Symptoms are: 

  • Lethargy  
  • Gaining weight  
  • Reluctance to work out  
  • Hair Loss 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Many eye infections involve the retina’s slow deterioration. In the initial phases, puppies become night-blind. As it progresses, they lose their eyesight during the daytime as well. However, most canines slowly adapt to their slight or complete sight loss as long as their home surroundings remain the same.

Cataract: As in humans, canine cataracts are characterized by cloudy spots on the eye lens that can grow gradually. Cataracts may develop at any age and often don’t damage vision, although in some cases cause vision loss. A board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist certifies the breeding dogs after testing them free of hereditary eye disease before breeding. Usually, cataracts are removed surgically with good results.

Bloat: Sometimes, dogs suffer from bloat. It is a condition where the stomach is filled with air and twists. The gas in the gut leads to bloat. This can be life-threatening and need immediate vet care.

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is outwardly a painful disease that occurs when the bones of the back legs do not fit properly in the joints. While some dogs will exhibit symptoms, the majority of canines will not. Hip dysplasia is primarily genetic, although other causes, such as accidents, excessive weight gain, and inappropriate training, can also cause it. Even though this disease is fatal, therapies range from medicine to hip replacement surgery. This condition causes defects or damage to the hip bones and joints and worsens without treatment. To avoid this problem, avoid breeding dogs with hip dysplasia parentage and get annual examinations.

Other Causes of Hip Dysplasia: 

  • Injuries 
  • Excessive weight gain 
  • Wrong exercises 

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include

  • Reduced activity and movements
  • Reluctance to rise, jump, run, or climb
  • Lameness in the hind limbs
  • Reducing thigh muscle mass
  • Swaying, “bunny hopping” gait
  • Grating in the joint during movement

Epilepsy: The often-inherited Idiopathic epilepsy frequently causes seizures and can occur in moderate and extreme levels. The symptoms are unusual actions like running as if chased, stumbling, or hiding. Seizures are alarming, but dogs with idiopathic epilepsy have a favorable long-term prognosis. They may be caused by various reasons other than idiopathic epilepsy, including metabolic conditions, respiratory diseases of the brain, cancers, toxin poisoning, and extreme head trauma.

Heart Disease: Heart Diseases might cause abnormal heart murmurs and heart rhythm. You can diagnose this condition through an X-ray, an ECG, or an echocardiogram. Treatment depends on the cause and ranges from medication to dental care and weight control. 

Spay or Neuter: In spay, the ovaries or uterus in females is removed, and in the neuter, the testicles of the male dogs are removed. It is done to eliminate the possibility of pregnancy or fathering unwanted puppies and decrease the likelihood of certain types of cancer.

Recommended Tests for Old English Sheepdogs

  • X-Rays 
  • CT Scan 
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Blood Work
  • EIC DNA Test
  • Vet-certified proof of genetic testing

Old English Sheepdog Diet and Nutrition

Old English Sheepdogs need high-quality food and should eat 2.5 to 4.5 cups of meals daily. Each puppy is distinctive, and the correct amount and quality of food depend on age, weight, activity level, health, and more. You can split their meals into two 2 cups daily. 

Bobtails are prone to obesity, and hence overfeeding must be avoided. You can give them dry food, wet food, or a combination of both. Ensure the diet contains omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, chondroitin, and glucosamine with fruits and vegetables that give carbohydrate energy. Please provide them with clean, fresh water at regular intervals. Never hesitate to consult a vet to meet your pup’s dietary requirements to keep them happy and healthy.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food
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Pedigree Adult Dry Dog Food
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Purina ONE Adult Canned Wet Dog Food
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Pedigree Cuts Canned Wet Dog Food
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Old English Sheepdog Living Condition

Old English Sheepdogs love to be around their humans, follow them all day and night, are adaptable, and can live in apartments with sufficient exercise or homes with bigger yards. They suit homes with smaller kids and strangers with early socialization. Bobtails love outdoor activities like walking, running, playing, hunting, and visiting dog parks. They have surprising energy levels and love to chase squirrels and small animals at times. The place should be adequately fenced in a backyard, as they may wander chasing cats and squirrels. 

Old English Sheepdogs do well with other canines with adequate training and socialization. However, they are sensitive and prone to destructive behavior when left alone. They can tolerate cold temperatures, and during hot weather conditions, they need extra care. You can reduce outdoor activities if the weather is hot to prevent overheating. They enjoy companionship, playtime, training, praise, and cuddles.

Old English Sheepdog Club Recognition

  • American Kennel Club
  • United Kennel Club

Did You Know?

  • Old English Sheepdog is not primarily a Sheepdog as its name says. Also, they are not entirely English.
  • The coat is highly adaptable and protects the dog from harsh winters and warm summers.
  • The first Old English Sheepdog was brought to America by a wealthy person called William Wade, an industrialist in the 1880s.
  • Their bark sounds like two pots clanged together and are very distinctive.
  • They look like little fluffy bears and are known for their “bearlike” gait.
  • They featured in Disney’s famous comedy, “The Shaggy Dog” in 1959.
  • OES is strong, protective, and sturdy but also known for its sense of humor and playfulness.

Adding an Old English Sheepdog to Your Family

Things to Remember Before Adding Old English Sheepdog to Your Family

Getting Bobtails from a reputable breeder is best to prevent unavoidable circumstances like health disorders and provide you with vaccination certificates. It is best to check with the puppy’s parents to ensure her health and happiness. Always remember the following red flags to avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills.

  • Puppies are available around the year.
  • We recommend you visit the puppy and his parents and get health clearance and vaccination certificates, to avoid purchasing a weaker puppy.

Cost of an Old English Sheepdog

The cost of an Old English Sheepdog ranges from $1200 to $1500.

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