Old English Sheepdog History
The origins of the Old English Sheepdog are not very clear, it is widely acknowledged that the breed can be traced to the early 19th century. It was most likely developed in the west of England, in Devon and Somerset counties. Some believe that the Bearded Collie is a large component of the breed's family tree, while others insist it descends from the Russian Owtchar. The Old English Sheepdog was used as a "drover's dog", and herded sheep and cattle to market. These dogs were considered working dogs, not family companions, so they were exempt from taxes; this loophole in the tax law gave rise to the custom of docking the Old English Sheepdog's tail, as it was an easy way for farmers to display the dog's tax-exempt status. The Old English Sheep Dog was officially recongized as a breed by the AKC in 1888.
Old English Sheepdog Temperament
Old English Sheepdogs are a fun, intelligent and lively breed. They are known to be very loyal to their masters and make good family pets. Care must be taken with smaller children since these dogs tend to play roughly. They make effective watchdogs and will bark when they feel that something is amiss, but they are usually polite with strangers. They are an intelligent dog, but tend to be independent, which might make obedience training difficult. The OES is a breed that is best suited to an owner with dog experience. This breed is generally peaceful with other dogs and housepets. Since the OES is a herding dog, they may display thier abilities by trying to "round up" small children and other animals. Some bloodlines have temperaments that are prone to fearfullness and aggression, so it is important to find a reputable breeder. Old English Sheepdogs need a moderate amount of exercise and a good daily walk will suffice.
Old English Sheepdog Appearance
The OES is a large dog that usually weighs between 65 to 100 pounds and stand 22 to 24 inches at the withers. They have a profuse, fluffy coat that is always white and grey. They have a very bear-like appearance and a rolling gait when they walk.
Old English Sheepdog Grooming
The OES is not an easy dog to keep! The dog must be taken to a groomer a few times a year to have the coat shaved down so that it is more manageable. Even with a clipped down coat, your OES must be brushed several times a week to prevent mats from forming in the fur and one session may take up to an hour. Their beards must be cleaned daily to remove food and to keep it from smelling. Old English Sheepdogs are a very heavy shedding breed, some owners collect the fur and have it made into sweaters!
Old English Sheepdog Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The OES is a fairly healthy breed. Some of the health problems seen in this breed are; Cancer, Hip Displasia, Cataracts, Glaucoma, Deafness, Diabetes and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. The average lifespan of this breed is 12 to 14 years.
Famous Old English Sheepdogs
There have been many Old English Sheep Dogs in popular culture. The most famous is probably the dog used in the ad campaigns by the Dulux company. Farley in the comic strip For Better Or Worse was an OES. Barkley from Sesame Street was an OES, too. Other famous Old English Sheepdogs are;
Edison from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Sprocket from Fraggle Rock
Old English Sheepdog Pros and Cons
This simplified list may help you decide if an Old English Sheepdog might be a good fit for your lifestyle.
Do You Want
- a big, fluffy dog?
- a dog that makes a good watchdog?
Do You NOT Want
- a dog that can be independent and might be difficult to train?
- a dog that needs to be taken to the groomers a few times a year?
- a dog that needs extensive brushing?
- a dog that sheds a lot?
- a dog that may display it's herding ability by trying to "herd" small children and other animals?
Useful Old English Sheepdog Links