Best known for its abundant fluffy coat, the Old English Sheepdog, also known as ‘Bobtail’ or Shepherd’s dog, is a hardworking farm dog with tons of personality. This breed is often mistaken for the Bearded Collie, so similar they are in appearance. Under all of that fluffy hair is an active, playful and cheerful dog with an even temperament. Let us study some fun facts and other details about the Old English sheepdog.
Cool facts about the Old English Sheepdog
- This beautiful breed is a product of the United Kingdom. It was developed in the late 19th century as a herder, drover and livestock guardian.
- Russian Ovcharka and Bearded Collie are both ancestors of this breed.
- Other than the Bearded Collie, a dog breed that resembles the Old English sheepdog is the Polish Lowland sheepdog.
- The reason behind Old English Sheepdogs (OES) being called Bobtail is that in England, during the early days of the breed, there was a tax levied on many ‘silly’ things including the number of windows a house had. One such ridiculous tax was also levied on all dog owners. All dog breeds came in the taxable category except farm dogs or working dogs like the Old English sheepdog. The tax collectors would check to ensure that the dog’s tail was docked for proof that this was indeed a working dog. Only sheepdogs with docked tails would be eligible for tax relief! Hence the name ‘bobtail’!
- The breed’s popularity rose thanks to movies such as The Shaggy Dog and Please don’t eat the daisies. However, after people realized that this was a high maintenance breed in terms of exercise and grooming needs, their popularity declined again.
- The Bobtail has also been featured in 101 Dalmatians 1 & 2 as Paloming. Also Barkley in the show Sesame Street was an OES. Max in Little Mermaid was an OES too!
- The OES is a popular show dog today but the first time it entered the ring, judges offered only a second place for any of the 3 entries as they felt the quality wasn’t as expected.
- Hot Dog, the famous shaggy dog in the Archie comics was also an OES.
- OES is a large, strong and compact dog.
- Under all that mop of hair on the forehead are eyes that are either brown or blue in color. Some dogs even have one eye of each color!
- Their medium size ears are drop and tail is a natural bob or docked.
- Their beautiful coat is long and hard and either white or gray in color. Grizzled or merle pattern is also seen.
- Height of the Old English sheepdog is between 21-23 inches while weight is between 60-100 lbs.
- They have a characteristic shuffling gait.
Where to find an Old English Sheepdog
A well reared puppy is a joy to own and raise. So always look for ethical and reputed breeders. Talk to several breeders and ask them various questions about their breeding programs. The breeder you select should only raise one or two dog breeds, no more. Also, a good breeder will have a long wait list because they will likely allow no more than a couple of litters per year. Reputable breeders will also have all genetic tests done on their dogs and will not hesitate to show you reports. To find top breeders of the Old English sheepdog, visit the website of the OES club in America. The price of a purebreed Old English sheepdog with pure bloodlines can lie in the range of $1200 and $1500. This will also vary from breeder to breeder.
When it comes to getting a dog, be it any breed, sound temperament is of utmost importance. Each puppy comes with its own temperament but certain personality traits are inherent to the breed. In general, you must avoid shy or fearful puppies. So always ask to see the litter and choose a pup that is well fed, active and playful. You also want a curious and an alert dog. Do ask to meet the parents of the puppy because their temperament also plays a role in your potential pet’s temperament. Owing to inherent herding skills, the OES has a tendency to herd; he won’t hesitate to even herd its owner! OES are noted for their clownish antics and protectiveness. Puppies that come from good breeders will also display good qualities like agility, intelligence, and an affectionate nature.
Training your OES should be a rewarding experience for both you and your pet. Use healthy treats so you can end up with success. Have fun with your dog, be consistent and end each session with lots of play. Positive training is the best way to train any dog. Immediately reward his wanted, good behavior and ignore unwanted or negative behavior. Avoid hitting, kneeing, or slapping your pet. This would only make him fearful and cowardly. Crate training will help him feel safe in his first few nights in your home. This will also help with housetraining.
The OES is an extremely active and energetic dog that needs an active owner. As stated before, the high grooming needs and higher exercise needs is what causes many of these dogs to end up in rescue homes and shelters. This is not a dog for an inexperienced owner. Nor is this a dog for a couch potato. Remember that this people oriented and active dog was bred for farm work and is happiest when he is part of the action. Thankfully, your Bobtail will also be happy indoors provided you and the kids let him be his cheerful and exuberant self.
Grooming and shedding
Old English sheepdogs have a double coat that keeps them warm in winters. However, it sheds the undercoat coat heavily when the weather turns warmer. To avoid mats and having hair all over the place, you must brush and groom your pet every day. Matted coat can cause many skin problems. Many sheepdog owners go for the short ‘pet cut’ which minimizes grooming requirements. The common thought that the head coat or the fall covering the eyes causes blindness in these dogs is not true. In fact, the hair protects the dog’s eyes while working in the field. You can remove or brush back the fall without harming your pet’s eyes.
Recognized health risks in the OES
Dermatological issues, cardiovascular problems, hematological and respiratory issues as well as endocrine issues are seen in this breed. They are also a risk for progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia. Lifespan of the OES is about 11.8 years.