Old English Sheepdog

What Is The History Of The Old English Sheepdog Dog Breed?

The Old English Sheepdog, a British breed, was originally developed for herding sheep and cattle. The term “sheepdog” was first recorded in English in 1471, referring to dogs used for herding. The breed is characterized by its large, muscular build and a thick coat of shaggy hair. Known for their gentle and amiable nature, these dogs make excellent family companions. Often referred to as the Bobtail due to their short tails, Old English Sheepdogs were once a common sight on English farms. However, their role has shifted, and they are now more commonly cherished as household companions. Interestingly, the American Kennel Club ranks the Old English Sheepdog as th 72nd most popular dog breed in the United States.

What Does An Old English Sheepdog Look Like?

The Old English Sheepdog boasts a substantial, shaggy coat. Though the precise origins of the breed remain uncertain, it is believed to have originated in England through a crossbreeding of the Briard and the Bearded Collie. These dogs are large, with males typically weighing between 65 and 80 pounds and females weighing around 55 to 70 pounds. Their coat is long and dense, consisting of a soft undercoat and a coarse outer layer. The coat colors typically include Blue Merle, Blue, Grey, and Grizzle, though variations in white or cream tones also exist. Often, the hair on their heads is longer than that on their bodies, possibly forming a distinctive “topknot” or “crest.”

How Big Is An Adult Old English Sheepdog?

Adult Old English Sheepdogs are notably sizable and muscular. Their weight usually ranges from 60 to 80 pounds, and they stand at a height of 20 to 26 inches at the shoulder. Typically, male Old English Sheepdogs are larger than their female counterparts. Occasionally, certain individuals might even exceed 100 pounds. Despite their substantial size, they are known as “gentle giants” due to their amiable nature. It’s important to be aware that these dogs shed significantly due to their thick double coats, requiring regular grooming to maintain their health and prevent matting.

Are There Other Dog Breeds Related To The Old English Sheepdog?

Yes, there are several dog breeds that share certain traits or have historical connections with the Old English Sheepdog. These breeds might have similar appearances, temperaments, or purposes. Here are a few examples:

  1. Bearded Collie: The Bearded Collie is believed to be one of the breeds that contributed to the development of the Old English Sheepdog. Both breeds share a shaggy coat and were used for herding purposes. Bearded Collies are known for their intelligence, playfulness, and affectionate nature.
  2. Briard: The Briard is another breed that is often mentioned as a potential ancestor of the Old English Sheepdog. Briards are also herding dogs with long, wavy coats. They are known for their loyalty, protectiveness, and versatility as working dogs.
  3. Puli: The Puli is a Hungarian breed with a corded coat that might remind you of the shaggy appearance of an Old English Sheepdog. Pulis were bred for herding and have an active and agile nature. While their coat requires special care, they share some similarities in terms of appearance with Old English Sheepdogs.
  4. Komondor: Similar to the Puli, the Komondor is a Hungarian breed known for its distinctive corded coat. While Komondors are more often associated with guarding livestock, they share the same shaggy appearance that sets Old English Sheepdogs apart.
  5. Polish Lowland Sheepdog: This breed shares a herding heritage with the Old English Sheepdog. They both have long, dense coats and were bred for working with livestock. Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are known for their intelligence and loyalty, much like their British counterpart.
  6. Bergamasco Shepherd: Originating in Italy, the Bergamasco Shepherd is another breed with a unique coat that forms mats and resembles the shaggy appearance of an Old English Sheepdog. Like other herding breeds, they are intelligent and have strong working instincts.
  7. Pyrenean Sheepdog: Hailing from the Pyrenees region of France, this breed has a coat that can be long and shaggy, similar to the Old English Sheepdog’s coat. They were also used as herding dogs and are known for their agility and energetic nature.

While these breeds might share certain traits or historical connections with the Old English Sheepdog, it’s important to note that each breed has its own distinct characteristics and should be researched thoroughly to understand their specific needs and suitability as a pet.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of An Old English Sheepdog?

Old English Sheepdogs typically have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Falling into the medium to large breed category, they are recognized for their loyalty and protective behavior toward their families. To thrive, they need daily exercise and benefit from a home with a yard for running and play. While generally robust, like all breeds, they can be susceptible to specific health issues such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and eye problems. By providing proper care and regular veterinary check-ups, you can ensure your Old English Sheepdog enjoys a fulfilling and lengthy life.

Can An Old English Sheepdog Be Trained?

Certainly, Old English Sheepdogs are trainable and can master various commands. Their intelligence allows them to learn tasks such as sit, stay, come, down, heel, and more. With appropriate training techniques, they can develop into well-mannered companions that bring joy to their owner

What Are Some Interesting Facts About An Old English Sheepdog?

Here are some interesting facts about Old English Sheepdogs:

  1. Distinctive Appearance: Old English Sheepdogs are known for their unique shaggy appearance, with long, dense coats that cover their eyes and bodies. This iconic coat helps protect them from the elements while herding sheep.
  2. Bobtail Name Origin: The nickname “Bobtail” refers to their historically docked tails. However, tail docking is less common today due to changing attitudes toward the practice and breed standards that discourage it.
  3. Herding Heritage: While they’re now often recognized as companion animals, Old English Sheepdogs were originally bred for herding purposes. Their herding instincts might still manifest in behaviors like circling and corralling people or objects.
  4. Playful Disposition: Despite their size, Old English Sheepdogs have a playful and goofy side. Their joyful antics and love for playtime make them great companions for families.
  5. Gentle Giants: These dogs are known as “gentle giants” due to their large size and gentle nature. They tend to get along well with children and other pets.
  6. Smart and Trainable: Old English Sheepdogs are intelligent and can learn a wide range of commands and tricks. However, they may also exhibit some independence, requiring patient and consistent training methods.
  7. Attention-Grabbing Appearance: Their shaggy coat isn’t just for looks; it also helps them stand out in the fields while herding. Their appearance might even remind you of a walking mop!
  8. History of Working Dogs: These dogs were once integral to farm life, herding and protecting livestock. Their versatile abilities made them valuable assets to farmers.
  9. Social Butterflies: Old English Sheepdogs tend to enjoy socializing with people and forming close bonds with their families. They often have a strong desire to be around their loved ones.
  10. Watchdog Instincts: While they have a friendly disposition, Old English Sheepdogs also possess protective instincts. They can be alert and will bark to alert their owners of any potential threats.
  11. Famous in Pop Culture: The breed’s distinct appearance has led to its popularity in movies, advertisements, and other forms of media. You might recognize them from various appearances on screen.
  12. Grooming Challenges: While their coat is a defining feature, it requires regular grooming to prevent matting. Proper care involves brushing, occasional baths, and attention to their eyes and ears.
  13. Adaptable Living: Although they were originally bred for farm work, Old English Sheepdogs can adapt well to living in urban or suburban environments, as long as they receive the exercise and mental stimulation they need.
  14. Health Considerations: Like many large breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues, such as hip dysplasia and eye problems. Regular veterinary check-ups and a healthy lifestyle can contribute to their well-being.
  15. Old English Sheepdog Rescue: If you’re interested in this breed, consider adopting from rescue organizations that specialize in Old English Sheepdogs. This can be a wonderful way to provide a loving home to a dog in need.

These facts showcase the unique characteristics and history of the Old English Sheepdog breed, making them a fascinating and endearing choice for dog lovers.

How Does An Old English Sheepdog Interact With People?

Bred as companion animals, Old English Sheepdogs excel in this role. Their intelligence and trainability make them ideal family pets. They possess a gentle and affable demeanor, balanced by a playful side. These dogs relish human interaction, forming close bonds with their owners. Their loyalty and protective instincts also make them effective watchdogs. However, it’s important to note their independent streak, which may translate into not always seeking cuddles or pets. As each Old English Sheepdog has a distinct personality, it’s essential to become acquainted with your dog’s behavior and preferences to foster a harmonious relationship.