The Old English Sheepdog (OES) is a large breed of dog known for its long, shaggy coat. Originally bred to herd sheep and cattle, the modern OES is a very popular pet who adapts well to home life.
The OES has a large yet compact frame covered in a shaggy coat which usually comes in blue, grey, blue/grey, blue merle, brown, with or without white patches. Their eyes are generally brown or blue, though some have one of each. As you might expect, the OES’s fluffy coat requires a decent amount of grooming. They shed heavily and require brushing each day to prevent knots and matting and to get rid of dead hair. Keeping the coat short is a good way to keep the OES’s grooming needs under control.
Male Sheepdogs weigh up to 45 kg and stand between 56 and 61 cm tall. Females are around 36 kg and stand at about 51 cm tall. The lifespan of the Old English Sheepdog is 10 – 12 years.
Old English Sheepdogs were bred to work and as such require lots of exercise. They love a good run and are more than happy to accompany their owners on a brisk walk or jog.
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Old English Sheepdogs are intelligent, fast-learning and quite easy to housebreak. They are amusing, loving and loyal companions who are protective of their family. They have been known to supervise and even gently bump children into a specific area in an attempt to herd them. They have also been known to be great assistants for toddlers learning to walk.
If the OES is socialised and trained at a young age, it will get along very well with other pets, though should be monitored carefully around small pets like rabbits and rodents.
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Very little is known about the origin of the Old English Sheepdog. Though its name suggests it came from England, it is possible that its ancestors may have been the Scottish Bearded Collie or the Russian Ovcharka. What is clear about the OES is that it was bred to herd sheep and cattle to market. Their tails were docked to indicate their working status, leading them to be nicknamed “bobtail”.
The OES was first brought to the US in the late 1880s by W. Wade. In the following 10-20 years, the breed was only bred by 5 wealthy families in the US before being officially recognised by the AKC in 1885. It maintained its status as the top choice for the upper class until the 1960s when it became a popular family pet.
By the middle of the 1970s, 15,000 Old English Sheepdogs were being registered each year. However, this number has lowered due to the cost and effort needed to maintain the OES’s coat. As of 2013 they were ranked the 78th most popular dog in the US by the AKC.
Old English Sheepdog Club (NSW): https://www.facebook.com/Old-English-Sheepdog-Club-NSW-120291364811334/
National Old English Sheepdog Council: http://noesc.info/
Old English Sheepdog Club of Victoria: http://oescv.org.au/
Old English Sheepdog Club of SA: https://sites.google.com/site/oldenglishsa/home