- 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
|Colours:||Any shade of grey, grizzle, or blue with or without white markings|
|Kennel Club group:||Pastoral|
|Easy to train:||3/5|
|Tolerates being alone:||2/5|
|Likes other pets:||4/5|
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.
History and Origins
Country of Origin: England
Despite their name, the Old English Sheepdog isn’t that old and wasn’t historically a sheepdog! They were mostly used as drover’s dogs, employed to help move cattle and any work they did with the sheep was purely part time.
They were created in the late 18th century by crossing existing drover’s dogs with the Bearded Collie and possibly also some of the European breeds such as the Bergamasco. They were often known as Bobtails because they were traditionally docked as a tax avoidance scheme. Working drover’s dogs were exempt from taxes and so they were marked and ‘disabled’ in this way - whereas true sheepdogs needed their long tails to help with their complex and athletic sideways movements.
The Old English Sheepdog also helped with guarding duties and even sometimes worked as hunting retrievers. They would be shorn with the sheep every year and their ‘wool’ used in clothing. Today however they are almost exclusively companions and show dogs.
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.