Old English Sheepdog
27-45 kg (approx)
12-14 years (approx)
A strong, compact-looking dog of great symmetry; absolutely free of legginess; profusely coated all over. All-round he is a thick-set, muscular, able-bodied dog, with a most intelligent expression, free of all Poodle or Deerhound character.
The ears hang down and the tail is docked as close to the body as possible. The eyes are dark and mischievous when seen under the heavy bangs. The coat is thick, dense, and profuse. Dogs in "show coat" keep the long, fluffy coat, but many pets are shaved down for ease of care. Colours are limited to shades of blue or grey with white. These are fairly slow maturing dogs, reaching adult height by about one year of age but not filling out totally until two or three years
The Old English sheepdog attained its modern appearance in the Devon and Somerset areas of England, but the breed probably derives at least partly from the Continental sheep herding dogs. A need in England arose about 200 years ago for a large dog capable not only of driving cattle and sheep but also of fending off large predators such as wolves. Since these were "working" dogs, their tails were docked or bobbed to denote their tax exemption, hence, the nickname "bobtails."
The Old English sheepdog had to drive animals many miles to market and developed a special gait, the amble or pace, for efficient coverage of the miles. The thick coat was easily maintained by simply shearing it off when the sheep were sheared each spring.
Old English sheepdogs are renowned for their sense of humour and have appeared in many films and television shows. "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" starred an Old English sheepdog, and many cartoons such as "Dennis the Menace" and "For Better or For Worse" have an Old English sheepdog as the main character.
Old English sheepdogs are smart but independent dogs. They can be strong-willed and need a firm hand to guide them along the right path. They do have a remarkable sense of humour and seem to enjoy their owner's dismay at some of their antics.
While not thought of as a guarding dog, some Old English sheepdogs can be protective. Their bark is loud and some become nuisance barkers. Digging and chewing develop in dogs that are not exercised or mentally challenged enough.
Grooming needs are great and should be started from a very young age. When puppies shed their adolescent coats, it is imperative that you spend the necessary time to ensure the old coat does not become matted with the new one. If left for any length of time, the coat can become so matted that the only solution is to clip which defeats the purpose of owning a longhaired dog! Regularly check the inside of their ears and remove dirt and excess hair to prevent infections from setting in. Ensure their claws are kept short and clip them as necessary. Any excessive hair between the pads on the feet should also be trimmed regularly.