Breed review: Old English Sheepdog puppies and dogs

Posted by Cyril. February 15th 2016.

Old English Sheepdog puppies and dogs are instantly recognisable, thanks to their shaggy coat and fur that cover the eyes.

Perhaps most famously, it’s the breed of dog used as a brand mascot by Dulux paint.

Here, we’ll take a look at the Old English Sheepdog’s characteristics and what they are like to have as pets.

Old English Sheepdog puppies are very loveable dogs

Breed history

The Old English Sheepdog is a working dog that, unsurprisingly, originated in England.

The origin of the breed is unclear but it is thought the breed was used to drive cattle and sheep, hence it’s early nickname of “the shepherd’s dog”.

Some believe one of the breed’s ancestors is the Russian Owtchar.

Old English Sheepdogs arrived in the US in the late 19th century after being taken as a pet by a wealthy industrialist and the breed maintained its reputation in America as the pet of choice for wealthy families until the 1950s.

Size and appearance

Old English Sheepdogs grow to be large, athletic animals. Typically, they grow to about 61cm (24ins). They weight between 36kg (80lbs) and 45kg (100lbs).

The body is stocky, with the shoulders lower than the tail, giving the breed a bear-like stance.

The head is big and square, while the eyes are blue, brown or a combination of both – though you might not be able to see them through the fur.

The trademark coat appears in a variety of greys, often with white patches. Old English Sheepdog puppies, however, are born with black and white coats, which they eventually shed to make way for the lighter tones.

The fur is double layers, with a thick and water-resistant under coat.

Traditionally, the tail was docked but tailed Old English Sheepdogs are now common due to the ban on tail-docking.

Old English Sheep Dog temperament

The personality of an Old English Sheepdog is affectionate and playful, even into adulthood.

They enjoy being with children and tend to be good with strangers. This means that they make good family pets but are not great if you’re looking for a watchdog.

The Old English Sheepdog’s kind nature makes them an ideal choice for families with children.

They are intelligent dogs who enjoy being taught tricks and set tasks.

They are quick learners and are adept at agility tasks, herding as well as search and rescue.

Hence, the breed is a popular show dog.

Old English Sheepdog

Looking after Old English Sheepdogs

The sociable nature of Old English Sheepdogs mean they do not enjoy being left alone for long periods and their intelligence means they benefit from training at an early age.

Their willingness to learn means training is not too difficult – consistent and patient training should do the trick.

Old English Sheepdog puppies have a lot of energy and need to be kept busy if you don’t want them to wreck your home.

Because of their size and athleticism when fully grown, it’s a pet that needs a lot of space, so is not a good choice for owners who live in a flat or apartment and don’t have access to a garden.

Old English Sheepdogs need plenty of exercise – ideally two good walks every day.

Grooming and maintenance

As well as physical and mental stimulation, Old English Sheepdogs need a significant amount of care to keep them looking good.

The breed will need regular care, with their fur requiring brushing daily from an early age, especially when he or she is shedding.

The length of the fur means matting is common, particularly near the footpads. It’s important to remove matted dog hair as soon as possible so that skin problems do not develop.

Old English Sheepdog owners will need to invest in a variety of brushes. You could also consider visiting a professional groomer on a regular basis, though this can prove expensive.

The dogs tend to drool a lot, meaning fur around the mouth becomes yellowish. Regular washing after meals will help prevent this.

Old English sheepdogs will need to be bathed every couple of months and the nails will need trimming once a month.


Old English Sheepdogs are a generally healthy breed. They are prone to weight gain and diabetes if they do not get enough exercise and their diet is not balanced.

Overfeeding is common in long-furred breeds such as the Old English Sheepdog. This is because their hair hides the fact they are piling on the pounds. It’s important to check your dog’s weight regularly.

There are no known health issues associated specifically with the breed but Old English Sheepdogs are susceptible to hip dysplasia, deafness, cataracts and glaucoma, particularly in later life.

The life expectancy of an Old English Sheepdog is 10 to 11 years.

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