Old English Sheepdog

Not old by canine standards, this dog breed has been known for about 200 years, and it is now the most famous sheepdog of all, due to the paint advertising campaigns which featured it.


This dog is probably a relative of the Bearded Collie mixed with the Russian Owtcharka and other European and Asiatic breeds. At one time, there was a need for a strong, fierce dog to protect flocks of sheep from wolves. When these predators were brought under control. Old English Sheepdogs, or Bobtails as they are familiarly known, were an ideal cattle drover's dog – hard working, intelligent and healthy. With the advent of the railways, droving became superfluous and this breed became more of a companion dog, although a few stayed on the farms as general livestock workers. The first Old English Sheepdog club was formed in 1888 and the breed became a popular showdog.

The Old English Sheepdog has a profuse harsh-textured topcoat and waterproof undercoat.


Always reliable and even-tempered, this handsome dog is non-aggressive, exuberant and full of fun. Although it is fond of children, it is too boisterous to be left alone with small ones. It likes to be close to its family and is very affectionate.

must know

There may be genetic anomalies; elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, eye defects and other conditions exist. Buy from a breeder who tests their stock, and check with the breed club or The Kennel Club.


The huge coat is what differentiates this large dog from all others. It has a very thick undercoat with profuse grey/blue guard hairs on the body and white on the head and shoulders. In height, dogs are 61cm (24in) and upwards, while bitches are 56cm (22in) and upwards.

Whereas show dogs have well covered heads, so it is difficult to see their eyes, it is customary for many pet dogs to be trimmed, making everyday care and grooming easier for owners.

Strangers 1/5

Good guard dog, very watchful

Temperament 4/5

Biddable, intelligent and easily trained

Exercise 4/5

As much exercise as you can give

Grooming 5/5

Important to groom every day

Other dogs 3/5

Generally a friendly dog


An affectionate dog who needs a lot of attention

General care

Underneath the heavy coat is a strong, intelligent dog which needs long walks, exercise and doggie things to do. They are not too difficult to train and prefer to be active, particularly enjoying Agility.

Due to their hard-working rural past, they are hardy dogs and easy to feed. The problem for owners is maintaining the coat as it requires time and dedication and should be deep combed every day to remove any debris which will start tangles, leading to matting. The ears and bottom should be cleaned on a routine basis. If this is too much work for you, the dog's coat can be shorn three times a year.

Gallery of Old English Sheepdog