Breed Group: Herding
Height: 21 inches and up at the shoulder
Weight: 60 to 100 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 12 years
Beneath that shaggy coat and gentle disposition, the Old English Sheepdog is an independent thinker with his own agenda and a powerful herding instinct. He loves people and is an excellent watchdog, but proper care of his coat requires a serious time commitment.
Did You Know the Old English Sheepdog is Known as a Devoted Clown Who Loves People?
There is no upper limit for the height of the Old English Sheepdog. Females are typically 21 inches and up, males 22 inches and up. That’s because sheep varied in size, so the dogs used to herd them also varied in size.
When you first look at an Old English Sheepdog, the hair is what you notice most, but when you live with one, it is the personality that stands out. On the surface, the Old English is a silly charmer, but underneath his shaggy coat lurks an independent thinker. The Old English has evolved from a multipurpose farm dog to a companion and show dog without losing the strong herding instinct that made him the sheep-raising farmer’s best friend in the 19th century. Here’s what you need to know if you are interested in sharing your home with this good-natured, athletic dog.
The Old English is described as a devoted clown who loves people, but he’s not for everyone. Grooming requirements and a sometimes stubborn temperament are just a couple of factors you should be aware of.
The Old English has a loud bark and is an excellent watchdog, but he is by no means a guard dog. He can be a good friend to children, but he takes his responsibility to them seriously. Unless you can confine him, he may well jump the fence and follow them as they walk to school.
Early, frequent socialization is essential to prevent an Old English from becoming overly suspicious or fearful of anything new or different. Purchase an OES puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people, before they go off to their new homes. Pending approval from your vet, continue socializing your Old English by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, visits to friends and neighbors, and outings to local shops and businesses. This should be fun for both of you. The Old English loves being the center of attention.
Begin training as soon as you bring your Old English puppy home, while he is still at a manageable size, because he’ll soon reach his mature size of 60 to 100 pounds. Use positive reinforcement training techniques such as praise, play and food rewards, and be patient. The Old English can be independent and stubborn, but he learns quickly and will respond to kind, firm, consistent training. He is athletic and does well in such dog sports as agility, herding, obedience and rally.
While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. Old English Sheepdogs are happy to live in any type of home, as long as they are with their people. An Old English should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, he should be in the house with them. Chaining an Old English out in the yard and giving him little or no attention is not only cruel, it can also lead to aggression and destructive behavior.
The glory of the Old English Sheepdog is his coat. The most difficult part of caring for an Old English is also his coat. The amount of coat on an individual Old English varies, but for a pet dog it’s a good idea to budget about half an hour to an hour per week to coat care. Grooming the coat of a show dog requires daily dedication. Along with time devoted to grooming, be prepared for dog hair around the house and on your clothes, as well as dirt, mud and debris tracked in on the dog’s furry feet.
Other Quick Facts About the Old English Sheepdog
The Old English Sheepdog has a shaggy double coat that comes in any shade of gray, grizzle, blue or blue merle with or without white markings.
Besides herding, the Old English can be found competing in agility, obedience and rally.
His bobtail is a distinguishing characteristic of the Old English. Working dogs had their tails docked so their owners wouldn’t be taxed for them.