Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
Meet the Old English Sheepdog, a giant ball of fluff that is ready to be your best friend! This breed is known for its distinctively shaggy coat that is major #HairGoals. Plus, Old English Sheepdogs have much more to offer than luscious locks. They are incredibly devoted companions who form strong bonds with their human families. They also have a wicked sense of humor and get a kick out of entertaining their family members. To learn more about the shaggy sheepdog, read on!
Also Known As…
Sheepdog. Bobtail. "Hey, it's the dog from those old Disney movies where the guy turns into a dog!"
Despite the breed's name, Old English Sheepdogs are not old by canine standards, not fully English, and not even sheepdogs. The Old English Sheepdog was created in the late 1700s and potentially hails from Scotch, Russian, and English ancestry. Rather than herding sheep, this breed was used to maneuver cattle. The Old English Sheepdog started making rounds in British dog shows in 1865. By 1888, these fluffy Fidos were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. And in 1914, the Old English Sheepdog made its debut in the Westminister Kennel Club's winners circle. Who wouldn't want to show off with a mane like that?
At the withers, females typically stand at 21 inches or higher while males are typically 22 inches or higher.
These large canine weighs as much as a small human! On average, the Old English Sheepdog weighs 60 to 100 pounds.
At Canine College, the Old English Sheepdog would be voted Class Clown! This cheeky breed is known for its sense of humor. They love entertaining with their comical antics. At times, they even appear amused by their owners' reactions at their naughty behaviors. This spunk and charisma has landed the Old English Sheepdog in many starring roles - such as the lead in Disney's The Shaggy Dog.
The Old English Sheepdog is an incredibly loving and devoted companion. They are ready to shower their humans with affection and loyalty. Their favorite place is wherever their family is! Because of this, Old English Sheepdogs do not like being left alone for extended periods and need lots of attention.
Intelligence / Trainability
The American Kennel Club advises, “Never allow your puppy to do something that you would not want a large, shaggy, wet, possibly muddy dog doing in your house.” While Old English Sheepdogs start off as adorably small puppies, it is important to keep in mind their vast adult size. A puppy Old English Sheepdog jumping to greet guests may be harmless. However, it may be alarming (or even painful) once the pup reaches 100 pounds. Early training can help curb undesirable behaviors.
The Old English Sheepdogs is a very intelligent pup with a great memory. While this is conducive to training, it also causes them to get bored with repetitive and robotic training techniques. Their independent spirit may also cause them to become disinterested with training. Add variety to training techniques and rewards to keep your Old English Sheepdog interested!
Old English Sheepdogs are not fans of confinement or solitude. This gentle giant is sensitive to being ignored and neglected. Thus, this breed is not recommended for those who would need to leave their pup home alone or crated for long periods of time.
While an Old English Sheepdog would love a yard to romp around in, daily walks and playtime can also suffice their exercise quota. Due to their heavy double-coat, Old English Sheepdogs should not be kept outdoors in hot or humid weather.
These loyal companions are excellent watchdogs. Due to this protective instinct, Old English Sheepdogs have a tendency to bark. They boast a loud, ringing bark. Those living in close quarters to others should consider this before adopting the breed.
Good For Families And Kids
Nothing makes an Old English Sheepdog happier than being part of a family! This breed is incredibly loyal, devoted, and affectionate. In fact, the Old English Sheepdog is very sensitive to being excluded from his family. So, if you're looking for a dog that is more of a furry family member than a pet - look no further!
Old English Sheepdogs also make excellent babysitters - oh, we mean child companions. True to their Gentle Giant status, Old English Sheepdogs are patient and protective playmates perfect for any kid. Given their herding background, it is reported that this breed may even supervise and heard children by keeping them contained to a certain area.
Old English Sheepdogs typically live 10 to 12 years.
While Old English Sheepdogs are generally healthy, like all breeds, they are prone to certain health issues. Among these are hip dysplasia, eye conditions (cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy), hypothyroidism, and deafness.
The American Kennel Club reports that there is a "wide variance in activity levels" among Old English Sheepdogs. Some are super hyper while others are much more mellow. On average, Old English Sheepdogs are quite active dogs given their background as herders. This breed needs regular exercise to stay healthy and mentally stimulated.
Despite their active nature, Old English Sheepdogs have a a tendency to become couch potatoes and overweight when exercise is not encouraged. So, it's important Old English Sheepdog parents combat this by encouraging physical activity and exercise daily! Also, be mindful of your pup's heavy double-coat. On hot days, opt for indoor playtime to avoid overheating.
Friendly With Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?
Old English Sheepdogs tend to be very welcoming towards strangers. They are also tend to get along with other canines and pets of other species. Like with most breeds, sufficient socialization is vital in ensuring harmonious living between another pet and an Old English Sheepdog.
Coat & Grooming
The Old English Sheepdog's most distinctive feature is that oh-so-fluffy coat! They are basically giant balls of fluff! Regular grooming and maintenance is necessary to keep their double coat lush and healthy. This breed needs a thorough brushing 2 to 3 times a week. Hair trims are also recommended between major haircuts, especially at the feet and eyes. Pup parents should be prepared to invest time in grooming or money in hiring professional groomers.
Toys Old English Sheepdogs Would Like Best
Treat your Old English Sheepdog with a toy as fluffy as he is! BarkShop's Plush Toys come in a wide array of designs, shapes, and colors. So there's sure to be a Plush Toy perfect for your pup!
Old English Sheepdogs not only share Einstein's voluminous hair, but some of his intellect too! That's right, this breed is pretty smart and appreciates a mental challenge. So train your pup's brain and treat their tastebuds with a Thinker Toy, like BarkShop's Treat Maze! Not only will your Old English Sheepdog go crazy for the treats hidden within the toy, but they'll love the attention and praise they get while navigating the maze.
And of course, you can't go wrong with a Fetch Toy. Try throwing the popular "Lady Liberty Ball" if you want your Sheepdog to get a little exercise, too!
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Old English Sheepdog puppies grow very rapidly. To keep your fur ball from growing too fast or becoming overweight, provide a high-quality, low-calorie diet. Detecting weight gain is quite difficult in Old English Sheepdogs given their incredibly fluffy exterior. Thus, it's important to avoid overfeeding by keeping track of their serving sizes.
This breed's rapid growth also makes them prone to bone conditions during puppyhood. Bone and joint supplements may be helpful, but as always, ask your vet before administering them.
This supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Old English Sheepdog with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
For Sheepdogs with joint issues - or any dog who just loves to lie around! - a nice comfortable bed with orthopedic support is probably a good idea.
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed provides support for even the most active of dogs! The combination ergonomic memory foam and gel foam relieves pressure points, and helps ease body aches caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis and other orthopedic issues. It offers the best therapeutic support for your canine companion. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Old English Sheepdog Of Your Dreams
While the Old English Sheepdog is not the most common breed, there's no need to run to a specialty breeder. Many loving and deserving Old English Sheepdogs are available for adoption and can't wait to be a part of your family! Checkout these rescues and adoption databases to find the Old English Sheepdog that's meant for you!
- Old English Sheepdog Club of America - Directory of Rescue Contacts and Organizations
- Old English Sheepdog Rescue of Southern California
- Texas Old English Sheepdog Rescue
- New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue
- Old English Sheepdogs on Adopt a Pet
- Old English Sheepdogs on Petfinder
Notable Instagram Old English Sheepdogs
Sirs Winston & Percy @thedukesofgoodland!
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Featured image via Rocco_Roni/Instagram