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Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdogs are distinctive the world over thanks to their appearance in advertising campaigns, with their long, shaggy coats covering thickset bodies. Their eyes appear to be totally covered but their vision is never impaired.

10–12 years
Any shade of grey, grizzle, or blue with or without white markings
Kennel Club group
The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys more than two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming daily
  • Quiet dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
This breed may encounter health problems

The Old English Sheepdog breed can be prone to:
- Hip dysplasia 
- Gastric dilatation volvulus 
- Hereditary cataracts which is a condition where the lens in the eye becomes cloudy and this can result in blindness. 
- Primary ciliary syskinesia which is where a dog is not able to clear mucus from their airways as normal, which can result in inflammation. 
- Congenital deafness¹ 
- Multiple drug sensitivity which is a condition where dogs are particularly sensitive to certain types of drugs.
Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing:
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme 
- Eye screening scheme 

¹G. M. Strain, 'Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk', 2004, The Veterinary Journal


Old English Sheepdogs are cheerful extroverts and are popular family companions. They are known for being intelligent, loving, watchful, faithful and protective. They are fearless and make excellent watch dogs, especially with their resonant bark. They can be overly boisterous however and need plenty of exercise, training and grooming.

Did You Know?

  • Thanks to a long running advertising campaign, the Old English Sheepdog will probably forever be known as the Dulux Dog, (although having one around while you’re trying to paint your house is probably a recipe for disaster!).
  • At one time the Old English Sheepdog was a status symbol within the American Industrial period and the five richest families in the world (the Vanderbilts, the Guggenheims, the Morgans, the Goulds and the Harrisons) all owned Old English Sheepdogs as did many of the film stars of the day.
  • Paul McCartney owned an Old English Sheepdog called Martha who lived in the Mull of Kintyre and whose puppy appeared on one of his album covers.
  • Their coat is insulating and waterproof so it keeps them warm during cold, wet winters and warm summers.
  • Old English Sheepdogs have won Best in Show at Westminster twice, once in 1914 and then again 1975.
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