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Old English Sheepdog

 

Huggable, huge, and puffy, the Old English Sheepdog is kind of a big deal. This breed was the original cinematic Shaggy Dog, and Paul McCartney's Old English Sheepdog, Martha, inspired “Fool on a Hill” and other Beatles songs.

These fun-loving, eye-catching dogs are somewhat rare and are among the hairiest breeds around. Old English Sheepdogs got their start herding cattle and sheep in Western England. These days they compete for herding trophies and for their family's affection.

Originally from—you guessed it—England, this large-sized breed can grow to between 60-80 pounds and lives an average of 10-12 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Herding group.

 

AKC RecognizedY
Breed's original pastimeHerding
OriginEngland
Breed groupHerding
Average lifespan10-12 years
SizeLarge
Bark factorModerate
AKC Ranking69
FamilyLivestock, herding
Date of origin1800s
Original function Sheep herding
Today's functionHerding trials
Average size of maleHeight: 22+ Weight: 70-90
Average size of femaleHeight: 21+ Weight: 60-80

 

Other nameNone
Energy level Medium energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Moderately playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very Friendly
Friendliness toward strangersVery Friendly
Ease of training Easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Very protective
Grooming needs High maintenance
Cold tolerance High tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance

BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

WHAT IS AN OLD ENGLISH SHEEPDOG'S PERSONALITY LIKE?

These charismatic canines are highly social and highly silly. They make great family dogs. Old English Sheepdogs are devoted dogs who are especially protective toward kids. But their exuberance and large size means they'll need supervision with younger children.

WHAT IS OLD ENGLISH SHEEPDOG BEHAVIOR LIKE?

This is a very active breed. These dogs are strong, agile, and hardworking in the field. At home, plan for long daily walks or frequent extended play sessions. With enough exercise, however, the Old English Sheepdog makes a gentle and polite housemate.

These dogs have a distinctive bark, which makes them better suited to suburban or rural environments in which they're less likely to annoy your neighbors.

HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN AN OLD ENGLISH SHEEPDOG?

Old English Sheepdogs are a very intelligent and very biddable breed, if you can make training worth their while. They can be a wee bit headstrong, which is not unusual in a herder. These furballs respond well to games and food rewards. Old English Sheepdogs excel in herding, obedience, agility, and conformation events. Work early and often to discourage this breed from trying to herd children or other animals.

CARE & HEALTH

HOW MUCH DO OLD ENGLISH SHEEPDOGS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?

This breed's long outer coat is shaggy and hard, underlaid with thick, waterproof fur. The Old English Sheepdog is one of the hardest dogs to groom. Their coats are profuse and require lots of grooming. You'll need to spend hours brushing them every week, and find a way to keep their hair out of their eyes. The upside is this is a great excuse to put ridiculous bows on your dog's head or give her a punk rock haircut. They're minimal to moderate seasonal shedders. Bathe them as needed.

WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO OLD ENGLISH SHEEPDOGS HAVE?

As a breed, Old English Sheepdogs are generally healthy. Some are prone to cataracts, hip dysplasia, and cancer. Others suffer from thyroid, eye disease or blindness and they can be prone to bloat.

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