Also known as the Bob or the Bobtail, the Old English Sheepdog is a large breed of dog with a profuse, shaggy looking coat. The dog has an unusual body shape in that the hindquarters are actually higher than the shoulders, giving an upward topline from the front to the back. The long, shaggy coat is usually blue, gray, blue merle or blue-gray with our without white markings on the legs, chest and face. Some Old English Sheepdogs may be mostly white, and this is acceptable as well. The head is square and large, with hair falling over the eyes if left natural. The eyes may be blue or brown or even one of each. Many of the breed are born without tails or the tails are completely removed shortly after birth. The legs are strong and sturdy with somewhat small feet. The breed is very muscular and compact and is able to travel great distances with their distinctive rolling gait.
Temperament of an Old English Sheepdog
As with most of the herding breeds, the Old English Sheepdog has an amazingly calm and friendly personality. They love to be with children and will tolerate even young children with endless patients. They do require firm training, as they are prone to be somewhat stubborn and independent, especially through their puppyhood. The love to please and will often naturally herd other pets, children and even people by pushing up against them to give direction. The Old English Sheepdog gets along very well with all other types of pets including cats with little training or socialization. They are not typically dog aggressive but socialization is needed to prevent them from being shy or timid in new situations.
Grooming & Shedding of an Old English Sheepdog
A heavy shedder year round the Old English Sheepdog will completely shed out its coat in the spring, requiring additional grooming. Throughout the rest of the year the breed will need at least every other day grooming and ideally daily grooming if they are outside. The coat will mat and tangle easily, clipping may be required to remove well-established tangles. Many people that are not showing the breed keep the coat clipped year round to eliminate problems in caring for the coat. Most owners trim around the eyes to prevent irritation and also around the anal area to keep the dog clean.
History of the Old English Sheepdog
The exact origins of the Old English Sheepdog are not known, but many experts suggest that the breed has elements of the Scottish Deerhound, Bearded Collie and the Russian Owtchar as well as the Briard. The breed as we now know it started in the West country area of England roughly 200 years ago. It was originally bred as a dog to herd both cattle and sheep to market. Many farmers in the 19th century used to shear the coat of the Old English Sheepdog to make various types of blankets and cloth. While still used as a herding dog in some agricultural areas and in competition it is largely a companion dog.