Despite the name 'Old English', records do not confirm that the breed is either 'Old' or all 'English'. The breed emerged in England in the mid 1700's and it seems likely, given its characteristics, that it is linked to ancient herders, including the Bergamasco, the Bearded Collie, the Briard and the Armant. The nickname 'Bobtail' is significant in its history. In England in the 18th century, tax exemption was granted to drover dogs, which helped drive the herds to market. To mark these dogs, their tails were docked. OES's were excellent at this job because of their eagerness and weather-resistant coats. However no one in these days groomed the dogs and they were sheared annually along with the sheep. The farmers' wives spun the dog shearings as well as the sheep's wool into warm clothing. In 1873, the breed made its first appearance in a British Show and demand was soon to follow in America, Canada and other countries around the world.
Old English Sheepdogs are distinctive the world over with their long, shaggy coats covering thickset bodies. Their eyes appear to be totally covered but their vision is never impaired. From behind, their walk is a bear-like roll and when trotting show effortless extension with a powerful drive from the hindquarters.
|Colour||In colour OES can be any shade of grey, grizzle, blue or blue merle with or without white markings. Browns and fawns can also be seen.
|Coat Length||Medium Long
|Weight/Height Range||Bitches measure 56cms at the withers, dogs 61cms; there are no upper height limits. Bitches' weight starts at 30kgs, dogs at 36kgs. Again no upper weights can be given, it will depend on the size of the animals.
|Ailments||Hip Dysplasia is a real problem in this breed and screening of both parents is a must! Wobbler syndrome is also reported and is usually apparent between 3 - 12 months of age. This can result in total quadriplegia. Deafness is also known in some lines. Care must be taken in grooming to catch any skin or coat problems early on. Less commonly reported are juvenile cataracts and prepubertal vaginitis which usually clears with the first oestrous cycle.
|Breed Classification||Old English Sheepdogs belong to the pastoral group and are now popular for companionship, showing and obedience trials.|
Feeding & Ownership
As puppies care must be taken to follow the breeder's recommended diet sheet to ensure the correct nutrients are given to promote healthy bones. OES's are not fussy eaters and, indeed, considering their size, are not big eaters.
|Food Cost||More than $20|
||The grooming can work out expensive if you have to get it done professionally but you can learn to do it yourself.|
Old English Sheepdogs are cheerful extroverts and make superb family companions. They have lovely natures but can be excitable and rough when playing, therefore care must be taken when young children are involved. They will join in every possible activity with enthusiasm. They are fearless and make excellent guard dogs, especially with their resonant bark which is sufficient to frighten off any intruder. They will however, get on well with other animals and dogs. Being as social as they are, visitors will be warmly welcomed.
|Intelligence||This is an intelligent breed who needs firm handling during training to overcome their strong wills. However, they do want to please their handler. Early training is imperative to control the breed's boisterous behaviour.|
|Suitability for Children||High
|Tendency to Bark||Medium|
|Overall Exercise Requirement||Bobtails need owners who are dedicated to giving them a lot of exercise although care must be taken when they are puppies to ensure no bone problems develop through over-exercise.|
|Suitability as a Guard Dog||High|
|Ease of Transportation||High|
|Level of Aggression||Low|
|Other Animal Compatibility||High|
Grooming needs are great and should be started from a very young age. When puppies shed their adolescent coats, it is imperative that you spend the necessary time to ensure the old coat does not become matted with the new one. If left for any length of time, the coat can become so matted that the only solution is to clip which defeats the purpose of owning a long-haired dog! Regularly check the inside of their ears and remove dirt and excess hair to prevent infections setting in. Ensure their claws are kept short and clip them as necessary. Any excessive hair between the pads on the feet should also be trimmed regularly. Owning an OES is extremely hard work and time-consuming, it is not always like the advert shows: they constantly shed their coats, their pads must be checked after every outing to ensure nothing is stuck to the hairs and they are prone to having dirty back-ends which will obviously need cleaning up. Should you decide to show your OES, be prepared for hours of work to maintain the coat to show-ring standard!
|Grooming Requirements||Every Day|
|Amount of Hair Shed||Heavy|
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