old english sheepdog

Are you ready for a large dog breed? We introduce you to the Old English Sheepdog (OES), a dog breed prized for its shaggy coat fur.

Bred as companion animals to cattle drivers, sheepies are agile creatures despite their bulky size.

Now popularly known for being a family dog, Old English breeds have a friendly temperament for owners who can impose leadership.

In this blog, we’ll discuss everything that you need to know about the Old English Sheepdog breed—from its history, care, and living with them.

Without further ado, let’s start!

Old English Sheepdog Breed History

Now, you may be thinking that the name Old English Sheepdog automatically tells a lot about its breed history.

Well, not quite.

You can say that the name is actually misleading about the breed’s true origins.

That’s because Old English Sheepdog is not an old breed, an English dog, or originally a sheepdog!

First, the Old English dog is not an old breed. It’s actually a relatively new breed, with its pedigree leaving a lot of experts to debate and argue.

Old English Sheepdog also has most of their ancestries originating outside England.

Because some part of their blood came outside England, OES dogs aren’t technically full English as well.

They suspect that the OES breed came from Scotch Bearded Collie or French Briard, even leading to some Russian breed origins.

Regardless of its origins, people branded OES as English because of the pieces of evidence of its emergence in the country.

Documents suggested that Old English Sheepdogs became a common breed in the 1700s.

Lastly, rather than being a sheepdog, as the breed name suggests, Old English shepherds drive cattle flocks instead.

These dogs would go with cattle drivers that would transport, transfer, and sell livestock from one marketplace to another.

Apart from the accompaniment, drivers would also work with Old English Shepherds to pull wagons and carts.

Eventually, people began associating the breed with the cattle driving profession, essentially becoming every English drover’s dog.

English Sheepdogs also started appearing in dog shows, exhibits, and sports.

OES breeds became a consistent contender in dog shows, earning the recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a herding breed in 1888.

It also appeared in TV shows and movies where it became the main face of 1959 Disney’s, “Shaggy Dog.”

old english sheepdog physical trait

Old English Sheepdog Physical Trait

Old English sheepdogs are one of the most popular dog breeds in dog shows and exhibits.

Here are some of its unique characteristics to help you distinguish it from other breeds.

Weight and Height

An Old English Sheepdog size falls on above-medium size with muscular built bodies that match its athleticism.

Their height and weight can differ between both genders. Usually, male dogs are taller, larger, and heavier than their female counterparts.

In terms of height, male dogs can reach 22 to 24 inches, while females can grow up to 22 inches.

Despite slightly varying per gender, a typical Old English Sheepdog's weight can range from 70 to 100 pounds.

English Sheepdogs are undeniably larger than their medium contemporaries. But they’re still a bit smaller than giant dogs like a Great Dane and Saint Bernard.

Thanks to their great physique and strong muscles, OES are always ready to run and roam around.


this dog breed is easily recognizable for its shaggy and long fur coat.

These sheepies have rough, long, double-coat types at their disposal. Their furs warm them up during a chilling winter and shade them from the intense heat of summer.

English Shepherd’s coat is also responsible for making the dog look large and chunky. It’s as if its Old English Sheepdog size is not enough!

The coat color for Old English dogs comes in white and grey. Some breeds will have other color variants like grizzle and merle blue.

Old English dogs have white-colored fur on their head, face, and front limbs. On the other hand, you’ll see the darker shade of fur enveloping their backs and hind legs.

Markings can also appear differently in dogs.

Some dogs will have no markings on its face. Other dogs can have a dark-fur spot on one of their eyes or both.

Distinct Features

Like its body, the Old English Shepherd has a square face, solidifying its compact and bulky appearance.

This breed also earned the nickname “Bobtail” dog because owners used to dock their tails.

Some Old English Sheepdogs, on the other hand, have a rare genetic condition that is born without a tail.

Old English sheepdog has thick coats, enough that they can hide their eyes.

This is why some old English dogs can appear eyeless, especially when their hairs are still untrimmed.

It makes you stop to wonder how they can see with all of the furs near their eyes.

Old English Sheepdog Temperament

Let’s talk about Old English sheepdog temperament.

An Old English dog is a well-tempered dog that can fit most families and owners’ lifestyles.

Old English shepherds are affectionate dogs that are capable of showing loyalty and empathy to their owners.

Sometimes, they become too affectionate that they get overly excited to spend time with you.

Apart from being an affectionate breed, sheepies are also intelligent creatures. Many objects can spark the dog's curiosity, and it will wander as it pleases around the vicinity.

Because of its intelligence, you can easily train this type of breed without repeating a command over and over again.

With its affectionate personality plus intelligence, you have an outgoing dog with an appetite for exploring different places.

Living with an Old English Sheepdog

How does it feel to live with an Old English Sheepdog?

If you want to live with a bobtail dog, ideally, you would want a large area outside and near your house.

It can be your front lawn or fenced backyard. It can also be a park where you can take your dog for a walk.

Their muscles aren’t just for show, you know!

Let your dog flex their Old English Sheepdog size across a wide area of space. Your dog would appreciate a large space to run and roam around.

You can also let your dog run freely in an open grassy area like a farm, ranch, or large patch of pasture grass.

Give them herding duties to encourage interacting more with other creatures.

Old English Shepherd breeds were once herding dog breeds, so they are still perfect dogs for farmers and livestock owners.

Conversely, it can also adapt to living in an apartment lifestyle.

Make sure, however, that you can still provide an adequate amount of space for your Old English Dogs to move around and exercise.

Can Old English Sheepdogs Be Left Alone?

You can’t leave an Old English Sheepdog alone. Here’s why…

This particular breed is a naturally curious dog. Without any mental stimulation, it will get easily bored, up to the point of committing destructive behaviors.

Furthermore, the most affectionate and dependent English sheepdogs will constantly demand your attention and interaction.

Leaving them can trigger serious separation anxiety from them. That being said, you can teach your dog to be alone.

You should practice separation management with your old English shepherd until they can grow out of their anxiety.

Do Old English Sheepdogs Bark a Lot?

Old English Sheepdogs are working dogs. It’s only natural that they won’t bark as much as guard dogs.

However, do take note that OES is a type of breed made for herding.

Although they usually don’t snarl as much as guard dogs, they are still capable of barking loud.

Some Old English dogs are protective and will bark profusely at their targets.

At other times, barking had been their means of communicating with their owners. If that’s the case, make sure to assess their behavior and needs to find out why they’re barking non-stop.

old english sheepdog health

Old English Sheepdog Health

Old English Sheepdog is generally a healthy dog breed that stays in shape because of its athletic prowess.

Below are some health facts and concerns that you need to know should you decide to adopt an Old English dog.


When it comes to lifespans, Old English shepherds have a life expectancy of ten to twelve years. This lifespan is standard compared to other dog breeds as well.

With proper diet, care, and exercise, your dog can reach the maximum Old English Sheepdog lifespan that’s expected from them.

It would also help if you treat your Old English Sheepdog’s diseases as they come. Here are some of the common health problems that a sheepies dog can get.

Health Problems

No dogs are immune from health problems, and the Old English sheepdog breed isn’t exempted as well.

In general, three health problems are common for this specific breed. These are Hip Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Hypothyroidism.

Hip Dysplasia on Old English Sheepdogs:

  • Is a common health issue across large dog breeds
  • Is a condition where there is an abnormal or uneven ball-and-socket joint growth
  • This can lead to “bunny-hopping” gait and even lameness
  • It has no cure but has therapies and medical prescriptions to relieve the pain.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) on Old English dogs:

  • Is a canine eye problem that describes the deteriorating retinas of the dogs
  • This can be a catalyst for more serious eye problems like glaucoma, cataract, and total blindness
  • This can be preventable through Vitamin A supplements

Autoimmune Thyroiditis in this dog breed:

  • Is a specific type of hypothyroidism
  • Is a condition where the dog’s immune system attacks its unrecognized thyroids
  • Is a hereditary disease that dogs deal on the later years of their life
  • Causes a significant reduction of thyroid hormones which would impede normal body functions
  • Requires the dog to have proper diet, supplement, and maintenance to regulate the unbalanced hormones.

Across all these common health problems, it’s best to consult a veterinarian about its diagnoses and the necessary medications.


High-quality food is the name of the game when it comes to feeding your Old English Sheepdogs.

Their food can either be commercial dog food or homemade, as long as you consult your veterinarian.

Ideally, you would want a protein-rich diet for Old English sheepdog puppies and adults.

This is to support their muscle development and growth that can match their outgoing temperament.

You also want to give dog treats that are rich in Vitamin A for eye support and Vitamin E for healthy fur.

Lastly, Old English Sheepdogs are susceptible to obesity.

Controlling their calorie consumption—with the approval of your local vet—helps maintain a good muscle-to-fat ratio in your dogs.

old english sheepdog grooming

Old English Sheepdog Grooming

A lot of dog owners adopt Old English sheepdog breeds mainly because of their beautiful coats.

But it’s also the reason why this particular breed requires high maintenance.

How do you take care of their appearance? Here are some tips in dog grooming your OES to bring out the best in them.

Bath Time

There are two types of baths that Old English Sheepdogs need.

The first bath is a cleaning bath. This is your ordinary bath session, where you wash your dogs clean.

Since your dog dirties itself as it plays, bath sessions are your chance to wash the dirt and debris away.

Washing also clears any particles in their fur coat that can cause irritations in their skin.

Additionally, your dogs will feel refreshed after a good time in the water.

The second type of bath for Old English Sheepdogs should be about taking good care of their coat.

You can apply dog shampoos and conditioners during their bath sessions to make the dog’s fur silky smooth.

Some shampoos can even make the fur more manageable to comb and trim.

Do take note, however, if your dog has some allergic issues with conditioners, use shampoos with milder formulations instead.


Fur Trimming

An Old English Sheepdog’s fur will always be its prized attraction. It’s also the main reason why many people keep them.

That’s why you have to be extremely careful when it comes to handling your dog’s fur.

For starters, a four-week groom trimming interval session is a must to maintain the beauty of this breed's fur.

Too little appointment makes your dog’s hair untidy. Too many trimming appointments, however, might cause more harm than good in the long run.

Old English dogs do need their fur, after all.

While puppy trims are permissible length cuts for Old English Shepherds, you always want these dogs to stay covered with fur.

You can contact your local professional pet groomer for more information about how to groom an Old English dog.

Dog owners of OES, who are active participants in dog shows, usually prefer not trimming their pet's fur. This allows the coat’s natural beauty to shine through.

Instead, they spend extensive hours brushing the coat.


Cleaning Ears

In case you missed it, Old English Shepherds have long furs, enough to cover their ears.

Because of it, a lot of dog owners make the mistake of forgetting to clean their ears during grooming sessions.

Some owners may even forget that old English dogs have ears too!

But taking care of their ears is just as important as taking good care of their coat.

You should see to it that their ears are clean, just like any other body part. Because of its spot, ears nest microbes that cause ear infections.

Make sure to check their ears at least once or twice a month, and clean them when there is visible dirt on them.

To clean your dog’s ears, find them in the coat, apply your ear-cleaning solution on a cotton ball, and carefully wipe their ears.

You can start with their ear flaps and until you reach their visible outer ear canal.

Paw Care

Don’t forget to take care of their paws and nails during grooming sessions!

Be sure to check their nails at the same pace as your dog’s grooming sessions. A dog clipper will do the trick in trimming their long, sharp nails.

Additionally, you can apply paw balm directly on their palm to prevent the paws from drying and cracking.

Are Old English Sheepdogs Hypoallergenic?

Are old English sheepdogs hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately for some dog owners, old English sheepdogs aren’t hypoallergenic.

They have a long fur coat that disperses around the area during Old English Sheepdog shedding.

old english sheepdog exercise

Old English Sheepdog Exercise

You’d be wrong to think that Old English Sheepdogs are lazy and laidback dogs.

In fact, these dogs would require their owners to do decent exercise per day.

Old English Sheepdog requires two hours of daily exercise.Without exercise, your dog will lose muscle mass, strength, and agility.

Your dog will also fail to maintain a good muscle-to-fat ratio without exercise. This means exposing your dog to obesity risk and even overweight-induced cardiac problems.

If you are unsure as to how you should exercise your dog, here are some activities that you can do with your dog.

Playing with Your Dog

Playing with your dog on your lawn is a common activity to exercise your dog.

When you play with your dog, you are fostering a bond with your pet while exercising them. Furthermore, playing increases the dog’s empathy and loyalty toward you.

To play with your OES, you can employ games like fetching balls or Frisbee throws at your dogs.

These are the more common games that you can adapt, even in a yard or lawn setting.

Jogging Partner

Nothing beats an overly enthusiastic dog as your jogging partner. Jogging is as beneficial to your dog as to you.

This activity enhances your dog’s cardiovascular endurance. It also helps develop firm limbs.

Bike Runs

If your dog is still beating you at jogging, you may want to consider bike runs instead. Simply attach a bike leash to your pet, and you're good to go!

With bike runs, you’re setting a higher intensity on your dog’s exercise as it tries to keep up with you.

Make sure, however, that your dog is up to that challenge and has built up strength and prowess to match your speed.

Park Walks

Can’t keep up with high-intensity exercise? Turns out, you can do a modest exercise with your dog too!

Park walks are most suited for individuals that are having trouble with a vigorous exercise routine. This exercise can still tone your dog’s muscles and maintain them.

A walk in the park also trains your dog to control its impulses. With a leash on them, you can walk them in parks and dictate the pacing of your movements.

Old English Sheepdog Socialization

Old English Sheepdogs are becoming social dogs too. Slowly but surely, Old English dogs are becoming affable to their owners.

They are also enthusiastic about the idea of socializing.

Combined with their high levels of energy, this dog breed can tackle not only its owners but their kids too.

Because of their outgoing personalities, they have no trouble intermingling with a crowd.

Regardless if it’s a group of people or fellow dogs, OES can interact well without getting agitated or aggressive.

It’s for the same reason why most Old English dogs fail as either watch dogs or guard dogs.

Old English Sheepdog Training

An Old English Shepherd requires an adequate amount of training for them to fit into your lifestyle, just like any other dog breed.

They are not completely flawless and would do better if you input enough training into them.

For instance, while these dogs are not fearful when meeting new faces, they can get so excited that they frequently jump on people.

They also like to sniff around and examine their surroundings with its mouth.

Then, there’s the issue of these dog breeds having destructive behaviors when bored.

Old English Sheepdogs are generally confident with this temperament dating back to their herding instincts.

So, if it’s not about lacking confidence, what is it about, then?

Exposure to People

Old English Dogs are usually open to the idea of socializing with people.

But if your dog can only do so much interaction with only a few people, it’s bound to get excited over a new face.

Exposing your dog to more people is a chance to interact with people other than individuals that your dog recognizes.

This social training helps make the dog comfortable the next time they see new faces.

Respect Training

Old English Dogs are easy to train and would obey to commands only if they respect you as their owner.

These dogs can irrefutably smell your confidence as an owner.

They are notorious for not following commands if they don’t deem you respectable enough.

This is where respect training comes in. Respect training simply means interacting with your dogs in ways that you are subtly asking them to respect you.

Without respect training, confident dog breeds like OES will assume the master role instead of following you.

They’ll do things on their own because they think that they are their own bosses.

Subtly, you demand respect from your dogs through:

  • Teaching it what actions are permissible and what are prohibited
  • Disciplining their rude behaviors
  • Asserting dominance in actions
  • Being firm with your commands
  • Staying consistent with behavioral conditioning
  • Keeping your dog safe and comfortable
  • Spending time together

Old English Sheepdog Roles

In terms of roles in people’s lifestyles, an Old English Sheepdog can easily fit as a herding dog.

As a dog that harbors confidence and intellectual prowess, Old English Sheepdogs are capable of leading and guiding a pack or a herd

Their energy levels and muscular body tone match the role assigned to them. This is why they’ve become drover’s dogs for such a long time in the past.

Is an Old English Sheepdog a Good Family Dog?

Loyal, affectionate, and kind—Old English Sheepdog breeds can be a great family dog.

Old English Sheepdogs may not be the most suitable breed for first-time and inexperienced users.

But if you’ve managed to take care of this dog, keeping them can be quite a rewarding experience.

Are Old English Sheepdogs Rare?

Yes, Old English Sheepdogs are becoming rare.

In the past, when this breed peaked in popularity, American Kennel Club saw 16,000 registrations of Old English sheepdog puppies.

Now, the numbers dwindled to a thousand registrations in the early 2000s. This number is eerily similar to the UK Kennel Club's statistics.

What had happened?

Surely, there has been a shift of interest amongst dog pet owners. Toy dog groups rose in popularity for having beautiful coats while still being a low-maintenance type of breed.

Nowadays, Old English Sheepdogs are finding their way again out in the fields alongside farmers and livestock owners.

Organizations like the Old English Sheepdogs Club of America are doing their best to preserve the breed and convince more pet owners to adopt one.

But Old English Sheepdogs are still valuable dogs that you can keep! Their rarity also helped increase their value to adopting dog owners.

Old English Sheepdog: Conclusion

If you are into large furry buddies as a pet, you may want to consider an Old English sheepdog.

Its prized coat is a beautiful sight to behold but a challenge to maintain.

Sheepie dogs are suitable as working dogs alongside farmers and as loyal companion dogs to families.

With the Old English sheepdog temperament being an outgoing and friendly personality, you can easily befriend this particular dog breed.

Through a constant outpour of love, care, and effort, Old English dogs will reward you with relentless loyalty and unwavering companionship for your family.