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Old English Sheepdog

Country/Date of Origin: Great Britain/1800s

A droving dog as much as it is a herding dog, the Old English was a utility dog in the west of England. It is thought to be about 150 years old in its present form. At one time it served double duty. When the sheep were sheared in the spring, the dog was lined up with them and garments were made from its hair. The breed was brought across the Atlantic in the 1880s and the Bobtails were shown at some of the first sanctioned dog shows in the United States. It wasn't however, until 1921 that fanciers put on their first specialty show.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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AKC Group: Herding

Breed Club: Old English Sheepdog Club of America

Rescue Club: Old English Sheepdog Rescue

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Body Type:

  • A large, shaggy dog whose outline is almost lost in the great puff of hair that surrounds its body
  • Height: 22-24 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 65-90 pounds
  • Medium size hanging ears, hidden in the hair, are carried flat against the head. They are not altered
  • The tail is very short naturally or is docked to 2 inches or less
  • A distinctive rolling gait gives an Old English on the move, the appearance of a bear


  • A lovable dog in an adorable fuzzy package
  • A slow learned but trainable
  • Protective of its people; the Old English is not as docile as it looks
  • Rather wild as a puppy
  • Slow to mature, this breed takes more than two years to settle down; by then your house could be wrecked


  • The immense, shaggy double coat is this breed's distinctive feature
  • The pattern of brushing is unusual
  • The hair on the legs is brushed upwards
  • On the face and ears it is stroked down
  • On the rump it is pushed forward over the back and the shoulder hair is combed straight back toward the nonexistent tail
  • Grooming is very high maintenance
  • Colors are any shade of gray, grizzle, blue or blue merle, with or without white markings
  • Needs a bib at mealtime

Health Concerns:

  • Congenital eye defects including cataracts
  • Some skin disorders
  • Subject to hip dysplasia
  • Possible bleeding disorders
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • This is a country dog. It does not do well in apartments or small suburban homes
  • Seasonal shedding makes the Old English a mobile fur spreader in the spring and summer
  • One of the most distinctive features of the Old English Sheepdog is the deep, ringing bark; it sounds like a bell and is particularly loud. It is not excessively used however

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