Old English Sheepdog



Life span

12 Years


30.5 Kg

Breed Group

Pastoral Dogs


The Old English Sheepdog is a large dog that originated in England. It is immediately recognizable because it is profusely covered in grey and white shaggy coat all over its body. The eyes and face are also covered in fur. It has a general appearance of a strong, square-looking dog. It exhibits a gently rising topline, with a head that is proportional to the size of the pear-shaped body (when viewed from the back). The skull has a well-defined stop, strong, square muzzle with a large, black nose with wide nostrils. It has dark or wall eyes set well apart. The ears are small and carried flat side to head covered with fur all over. The head is supported by a fairly long and strong neck. The short but compact body has well sprung ribs supported by perfectly straight front legs while the hindquarters are well-boned and muscular with well-turned stifle but not exaggerated. The back legs are more heavily coated than the rest of the body. All four legs are supported by thick and hard pads that cushion the whole body. The feathered tail is either customarily docked or a natural bobtail that normally hangs down. The breed stands lower at the shoulder than at the loin and exhibits a bear-like roll from the rear when walking. Coat colour comes in all shades of grey, grizzle or blue. Dogs typically stand at a minimum height of 61 cm while bitches stand at 56 cm upwards.

Old English Sheepdog

History & Origin

There are no written records as to the origins of the Old English Sheepdog but the known earliest types of its ancestors are the very old pastoral type dogs of the early 19th century from the south western counties of England. Some suggest that this breed has a large gene pool of the Scottish Bearded Collie and the Russian Owtchar brought to Scotland by Baltic sailing ships. Others maintain that the Briard and the Bergamasco are the progenitors of this breed. The oldest portrayal of this breed on painting was done by Gainsborough in 1771 depicting the Duke of Buccleugh with a “bobtail collie.” The breed was first shown in England in 1873. In the old days, shepherds would dock the tail of the Old English Sheepdog because it was primarily used to drive sheep and cattle to market and not for herding. It was this customary docked tail which led to its nickname “bobtail”.


The Old English Sheepdog is a bright and social animal with a jolly attitude and a very flexible temperament, able to adjust to different surroundings. It is loyal and protective which makes it an excellent addition to the family. It also has a very high herding instinct which makes it a reliable guard dog.


The Old English Sheepdog is one remarkable breed. It is highly intelligent and obedient and can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, Rally, showmanship, flyball, tracking and herding trials. It needs a firm, calm and gentle owner that it can look up to for training. Like any other sheepdogs of its size, this breed is an excellent worker and is able to follow commands without hesitation provided that the owner knows how to properly train the dog


The harsh texture coat of the Old English Sheepdog is shaggy but free from curl with a waterproof undercoat. This breed requires a great deal of grooming requirements because it is covered in fur all over the body. Many Old English Sheepdog owners often end up clipping the fur because of this. However, clipping is not necessary. Daily brushing or combing with a small size, medium-teeth comb is sufficient to strip the undercoat and maintain not only a full or partial length fur but also a healthy skin underneath. It is best to do this while the dog is laying down on the floor or on a grooming table.


The Old English Sheepdog typically lives between 10 and 11 years. Among the health issues associated with this breed include:

  • Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA), which causes a progressive loss of muscular co-ordination.
  • Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD), although a relatively new disease (found in approximately 15% – 20%), is a group of inherited structural and functional disease that that affects the cilia of the respiratory tract mucosa and other organs resulting in recurring respiratory tract infections.
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip socket which can cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints.
  • Cataract, a clouding of the lens in the eye which causes decrease vision. It can affect one or both eyes.
  • Glaucoma, which can cause damage to the optic nerve and vision loss.
  • Entropion, where the lower lid of the eye folds inward causing the eyelashes to rub against the cornea.
  • Hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
  • Deafness
  • Diabetes
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy, characterized by the bilateral degeneration of the retina causing progressive vision loss.
  • Allergies and skin problems


This is a large breed that requires ample amount of exercise on a daily basis. An ideal setting for the Old English Sheepdog is a wide open space where it can run and play until it is tired. A house on a farm is the typical home for this breed, although it can be a great companion in an urban or suburban setting if it is exercised and trained properly.

Children and other pets

The Old English Sheepdog is an intelligent and social breed which makes it highly suitable to a family with children, although it may sometimes gently bump children in an attempt to herd them. It can be as docile as a couch potato or it can be clownish at times. Because this is a large breed, adult supervision is required when the dog is playing around small children as it can easily bump a small kid during “innocent” play.

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