Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog, with its distinctive shaggy coat and friendly demeanor, is a breed that combines intelligence and charm. Known for its excellent herding skills and affectionate nature, this British breed is both a skilled worker and a loving family companion. This article explores the detailed origins, striking appearance, and character traits of the Old English Sheepdog, along with essential care tips to ensure these gentle giants lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

Breed Summary

Country of Origin: England
AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 72 of 196
AKC Classification: Herding
UKC Classification: Herding Dog
Exercise Requirements: 20-40 minutes/day
Physical traits: Strong, Compact, Square
Personality traits/Temperament: Adaptable, Gentle, Smart
Coat
Length: Long
Characteristics: Double coat, curly
Colors: Black with or without white, grizzle, blue. blue merle, with or without white markings
Overall Grooming Needs: High
Height: Female: 21 in.; Male: 22 in.
Weight: Female: 60-80 lbs.; Male: 70-90 lbs.
Energy Level: Average
Tendency to Drool: Low
Tendency to Snore: Low
Tendency to Bark: Moderate
Tendency to Dig: Low
Social/Attention Needs: High
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Origin and History

The Old English Sheepdog originates from England and has a history that dates back to the early 19th century. Developed as a herding and drover dog, the breed was used to drive sheep and cattle to market. The Old English Sheepdog’s strength, stamina, and intelligence made it an invaluable asset to farmers. Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888, the Old English Sheepdog is celebrated for its versatility and cheerful disposition, making it a cherished companion and working dog.

Appearance

Old English Sheepdogs are large, muscular dogs, standing between 21 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing between 60 to 100 pounds. They have a sturdy, well-proportioned build with a dense, shaggy double coat that can come in various shades of gray, grizzle, blue, or blue merle, often with white markings. Their expressive, dark eyes are typically hidden by their long hair, and their distinctive bear-like gait adds to their unique charm. The breed's overall appearance is one of strength and fluffiness, reflecting its working heritage.

Temperament

Old English Sheepdogs are known for their intelligent, energetic, and affectionate nature. They form strong bonds with their families and are particularly good with children and other pets. Despite their herding heritage, they are friendly and sociable, making them excellent companions. Old English Sheepdogs are intelligent and eager to please, making them highly trainable, though they can be independent and require consistent, positive reinforcement. Their lively nature means they thrive on human companionship and can become anxious if left alone for long periods.

Health Outlook

The Old English Sheepdog has a relatively robust health profile with a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. However, they are prone to certain health issues, including hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and hypothyroidism. Common skin and hair conditions, such as dry, itchy skin, can also affect Old English Sheepdogs. Using a premium dog shampoo designed to moisturize and protect sensitive skin can help alleviate these issues. Such shampoos offer benefits like reducing itching, maintaining a healthy coat, and preventing infections.

Nutritional Requirements

A balanced diet is crucial for the Old English Sheepdog's overall health and well-being. High-quality dog food rich in protein and low in fillers is ideal. Given their moderate activity level, Old English Sheepdogs benefit from a diet that supports their energy levels and maintains lean muscle mass. Including a complete multivitamin in their diet can ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients, supporting their immune system, joint health, and overall vitality.

Exercise Requirement

Old English Sheepdogs are moderately active dogs that require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. Daily walks, combined with playtime and opportunities to engage in mental stimulation, are essential. Engaging in activities like herding, agility training, obedience work, and interactive play can also provide mental and physical stimulation. Without sufficient exercise, Old English Sheepdogs can become bored and potentially develop destructive behaviors.

Pros and Cons of Owning an Old English Sheepdog

Pros:

  • Intelligent and affectionate, excellent with children and other pets.
  • Highly trainable with the right approach.
  • Gentle and friendly, making them delightful companions.

Cons:

  • Prone to certain health issues, including hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism.
  • Requires regular grooming to maintain their coat.
  • Sensitive and can be anxious if left alone for long periods.

Space Requirements

Old English Sheepdogs can adapt to various living environments, but they do best in homes with access to a yard or ample space to roam. Their moderate energy levels and love for outdoor activities make them better suited to houses with yards.

Suitability for Elderly

The Old English Sheepdog's gentle and affectionate nature makes them suitable companions for elderly owners, provided they can manage the breed's grooming needs. Their moderate exercise requirements and loyal nature provide great companionship for active seniors.

Suitability for Kids

Old English Sheepdogs are good with children due to their friendly and protective nature. They are patient and enjoy the company of kids, making them a great addition to a family. Supervision is always recommended to ensure harmonious interactions, especially with younger children.

Cost

The cost of an Old English Sheepdog puppy can range from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the breeder's reputation and the lineage of the pup. Additional costs include food, grooming, healthcare, and training.

What Should the Owner Be Like?

Owners of Old English Sheepdogs should be gentle, patient, and committed to providing regular grooming and mental stimulation. They should be prepared for regular training sessions and consistent, positive reinforcement to manage the breed's sensitivity and intelligence.

Fun Facts

  1. The Old English Sheepdog is often referred to as the "Bobtail" due to its traditionally docked tail, a characteristic from its drover dog days.
  2. This breed has been featured in various movies and TV shows, most notably as the Dulux dog in a series of UK paint advertisements.
  3. The Old English Sheepdog isn’t that old or really English, and isn’t technically a sheepdog.

Conclusion

The Old English Sheepdog is a gentle and loyal breed that brings joy and companionship to any household. With their friendly nature, intelligence, and charm, they make excellent companions for families and individuals alike. While they come with some challenges, particularly in terms of grooming and sensitivity, the rewards of owning an Old English Sheepdog are immense. For those who appreciate a blend of gentleness and loyalty, the Old English Sheepdog is a perfect match.

Are you familiar with the Old English Sheepdog or have this wonderful breed in your family?

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