The Old English Sheepdog is a herding breed that grows over 21 inches tall, weighing 60 to 100 pounds as adults.
This intelligent, brave, and gentle breed is best known for its profuse, shaggy coat.
Despite a burst of popularity for the breed in the 1960s and 70s, nowadays it is less common to see one as a family pet.
Are you keen to find out if this breed is your next ideal companion?
What’s In This Guide
- Old English Sheepdog At A Glance
- In-depth Breed Review
- Old English Sheepdog Training And Care
- Pros And Cons Of Getting An OES
Old English Sheepdog FAQs
Check out our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about this fluffy dog.
- Are Old English Sheepdogs good family dogs?
- Do Old English Sheepdogs shed?
- Are Old English Sheepdogs hypoallergenic?
- How much is an Old English Sheepdog?
- Where can I buy an Old English Sheepdog?
Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: 72 out of 196 AKC breeds
- Purpose: Herding group
- Weight: 60 to 100 pounds
- Temperament: gentle, courageous, intelligent.
Old English Sheepdog Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose
- Fun facts about the OES
- Old English Sheepdog appearance
- Old English Sheepdog temperament
- Training and exercising your OES
- Old English Sheepdog health and care
- Do OES make good family pets?
- Rescuing an Old English Sheepdog
- Finding an Old English Sheepdog puppy
- Raising an Old English Sheepdog puppy
- Popular breed mixes
- OES products and accessories
History and Original Purpose
The Old English Sheepdog was, as its name suggests, developed in England in the 1700s. Specifically in the south west of the country, the counties Devon, Somerset, and Cornwall.
Their name suggests they were used as sheepdogs, but this isn’t completely accurate. In fact, the breed was more common as a drover, used to move cattle to markets.
Some shepherds would even shear their Old English Sheepdogs’ coats to make yarn and clothing.
Fun Facts About Old English Sheepdogs
These large, lovable dogs might not be the most common family dog, but they have been used in lots of films and TV shows.
Here are some places you’ll see an OES:
- The Little Mermaid
- 101 Dalmatians
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Old English Sheepdog Appearance
One of the main reasons people love the OES breed is because of their appearance. They’re quite big dogs, growing to over 21 inches and weighing between 60 and 100 pounds as adults.
They are a muscular breed that usually looks bigger because of their long, fluffy fur.
This is available in a number of colors, including blue and white, gray and white, grizzle and white, and blue merle and white. These are all accepted colors by the AKC.
But, there are a number of other shades that an OES can come in, including fawn and brown!
Old English Sheepdog Temperament
It’s important to ensure a dog’s temperament matches yours before bringing it into your family.
The Old English Sheepdog is gentle, intelligent, and adaptable. They can also make good guard dogs, because they are watchful and courageous.
But, puppies should be well socialized to minimize any risk of aggression and fearfulness as adults.
You should also be aware of natural herding and working instincts in this breed.
These dogs are known to be good with children. But socialize them well with kids as puppies, and make sure to supervise any interactions. Their large size means they could easily accidentally hurt a small child.
Training and Exercising your OES
Old English Sheepdogs need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Training can provide both of these.
But, even though these dogs have worked alongside humans for generations, they are known to be independent.
It’s important to only use positive reward methods when training an OES. This will guarantee you the best results.
They can also become easily bored. So it’s important to keep training methods short and fun.
Old English Sheepdogs are active, muscular breeds. So they need regular exercise every day.
But, they aren’t tireless. These dogs will also enjoy relaxing with you inside at the end of the day.
Old English Sheepdog Health and Care
If you’re thinking of welcoming this breed into your family, you will also need to learn about the potential health risks to the breed.
Here are some health problems that are known to occur in the Old English Sheepdog:
- Eye problems, like PRA
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- Hereditary Deafness
- Cerebellar Ataxia
- Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia
- And more.
Importance of Health Testing
Sadly, there are quite a lot of health problems that plague the Old English Sheepdog breed.
Many of these problems can be avoided with health testing. Breeders can health test adult dogs, and only breed using those that have no problems.
Grooming and Shedding
Old English Sheepdogs have a profuse, double coat. So, they will require grooming to ensure there are no tangles and dirt caught in their coat.
Regular bathing is also a must, and you might choose to go to a professional groomer to trim their coat.
Trim their nails and check their ears during grooming sessions.
OES dogs are known to shed seasonally. So, during these periods, you may need to groom them more to keep on top of loose fur.
Do Old English Sheepdogs make Good Family Pets?
For the right family, the OES can be a good choice. These dogs are gentle, courageous, and intelligent.
If you want a dog that you can spend plenty of time interacting with, by exercising, playing, and training, you could choose an Old English Sheepdog.
But, these dogs need a family that can dedicate time every week to intense grooming.
They need to be socialized well as puppies. But also, can suffer from a number of serious health problems.
Rescuing an Old English Sheepdog
Because of their health issues and the amount of general care needed for these dogs, there’s a chance that you’ll find a few in rescue centers.
Choosing an older rescue dog can be a good option if you don’t have the time to train and socialize a puppy.
It’s also a great way to offer an older dog a loving home.
Rescue center dogs are usually cheaper than puppies. And, you will know more about a dog’s personality before bringing them home.
Finding an Old English Sheepdog Puppy
As we’ve briefly mentioned, when finding Old English Sheepdog puppies for sale, the most important thing is to find a reputable breeder.
Make sure to see all health test certificates. And, try to meet both parent dogs used, to see what their temperaments are like.
Never go to a puppy mill or pet store, as these dogs are not as well cared for. Puppies from these places are cheaper. But they often suffer from additional health problems later in life.
You can use our puppy search guide for more help finding a new puppy.
Raising an Old English Sheepdog Puppy
Caring for a vulnerable puppy is a big responsibility.
There are some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training. You’ll find them listed on our puppy care page.
You can also find out everything you need to know about raising a puppy with our online Puppy Parenting course.
Popular Old English Sheepdog Breed Mixes
Breed mixes are becoming more popular than ever.
Breeders aim to blend the traits of two dogs together to get the best of both breeds.
But, there’s no way to predict exactly which traits the puppies will inherit.
Take a look below if you’re curious about any of the following breed mixes.
The OES isn’t the right dog breed for everyone. But, it does have some lovable traits.
Here are some breeds that are similar to the Old English Sheepdog.
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Caucasian Shepherd
- Icelandic Sheepdog
- Blue Bay Shepherd
- Carolina Dog
Pros And Cons of Getting An Old English Sheepdog
If you’re still struggling to decide whether this breed will suit your family, here are some points to consider.
- OES need a lot of grooming every week
- They can be a challenge for novice dog trainers
- There are lots of potential health problems
- As they aren’t a popular breed, it can be hard to find puppies
- They have great personalities
- Old English Sheepdogs have beautiful coats
- The majority of health issues can be tested for
- They are intelligent, so can learn lots of great tricks
Old English Sheepdog Products and Accessories
Here are some great links to check out if you’re preparing to bring home an Old English Sheepdog puppy.
- Best Dog Products of 2020
- Best Puppy Food
- Indestructible Dog Beds
- Interactive Dog Toys
- Best Ceramic Dog Bowls
Old English Sheepdog Breed Rescues
- Old English Sheepdog Rescue – England
- Southern California OES Rescue
- New England OES Rescue
- Tarheel OES Rescue
- Texas Old English Sheepdog Rescue
What Do You Think of this Breed?
If you have this lovable herding dog at home, let us know all about your dog in the comments!
What’s your favorite thing about them?
References And Resources
- Ramesh, S. (et al), ‘Hypothyroidism in a Dog – A Case Report’, International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences (2018)
- Winkler, P. (et al), ‘A Tool Set to Allow Rapid Screening of Dog Families with PRA for Association with Candidate Genes’, Veterinary Ophthalmology (2016)
- Feuntes, V. ‘Dilated Cardiomyopathy: How to Diagnose and When to Treat’, BSAVA Congress Proceedings (2018)
- Strain, G. ‘Hereditary Deafness in Dogs and Cats: Causes, Prevalence, and Current Research’, Tufts’ Canine and Feline Breeding and Genetics Conference (2003)
- Sanders, S. ‘Cerebellar Diseases and Tremor Syndromes’, Practical Guide to Canine and Feline Neurology (2015)
- Merveille, A. (et al), ‘Clinical Findings and Prevalence of the Mutation Associated with Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia in Old English Sheepdogs’, Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (2014)