- The first picture that may be of an Old English sheepdog dates from 1771, although whether it is actually an OES is unknown. More evidence exists that the breed originated in the west of England in the 1800s. It was developed to fill the need for a strong dog that could both defend flocks and herds, and to drive them to market. It may have been derived from the bearded collie or Russian owtcharka.
- At that time there was a tax on many dogs. Working dogs, evidenced by their docked tails, were exempt. As a drover's dog, the OES had its tail docked, or "bobbed," to avoid taxes. The tradition of tail docking persisted after the taxes were lifted. The OES is sometimes called the bobtail.
- By the early 1900s the breed was as popular, or more so, in the show ring as in the pasture.
- The AKC recognized the OES in 1905.
- In the 1970s, the OES became a popular media dog, appearing in movies and television. This helped spur its popularity as a pet for many years. Since that time its popularity has decreased gradually.
Old English Sheepdog Behavior Concerns
- Makes a gentle and entertaining companion.
- Devoted to and protective of its family.
- Good with children.
- Good with other dogs and pets.
- Does best with reward-based training involving games or food.
- Learns quickly, but can be headstrong.
Old English Sheepdog Suggested Exercises
- Makes a well-mannered housedog, given adequate exercise.
- It needs a moderate to long walk, or a good run or play session every day.
- Games and tricks provide needed mental exercise.
- Enjoys cold weather, but cannot live permanently outside in it.
Old English Sheepdog Grooming
- Coat is long, hard and shaggy, with a thick waterproof undercoat.
- It needs brushing and combing every other day or thick mats will form.
- Shedding is average to below average.
- The long hair around the eyes is usually tied back for everyday life so that it doesn't interfere with vision.
Suggested Old English Sheepdog Nutritional Needs
- OESs tend to stay in good weight.
- Changes in weight can be difficult to notice under the thick coat, so you must feel at least weekly.
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight.