Old English Sheepdog – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Before you welcome the Old English Sheepdog into your home make sure that you know everything there is on this breed first. Read on.
Dog Breed Group:
Herding Dogs
From 21 inches tall at the shoulder
Life Span:
10 to 12 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Old English Sheepdog is one of a kind dog. They have an unusual appearance due to their shaggy coat that many adore.

If there is one thing that makes this breed so recognizable, it’s his coat. This shaggy dog stands up to 22 inches and can weigh up to 100 pounds.

When well cared for, they tend to live up to 12 years. They have bear-like forms, although they are extremely gentle and calm.

Old English Sheepdogs enjoy spending time working or playing with humans.

When there is no job to be done, the Old English Sheepdog will love to explore. For them, every corner is a new space to explore, and a new adventure.

They come with a double profuse coat, that will demand weekly brushing and regular grooming.

To make the process easy and stress-free make sure that you have the right grooming tools on hand. They have dark brown eyes, although it’s not always easy to see them.

Their skull is slightly squarely formed, and their movement is bear-like. Old English Sheepdogs are hard workers, and as such, they need regular exercise to keep them strong and physically satisfied.

The Old English Sheepdog is a great watchdog who likes to keep his area safe. To strangers, they are best known for their loud and ringing bark.

Quick Facts

Real name: Old English Sheepdog
Origin: England
Breed type: Herding Dogs
Weight: 9–101 lb
Height: From 21 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Litter Size: 5 – 8 puppies
Color: Any shade of grey, grizzle, black, blue, or blue merle, with optional white markings
Coat: Double coat harsh on touch

Old English Sheepdog History

Old English Sheepdogs are one of the kind within the canine world. It’s not possible for this dog to appear anywhere without people recognizing them or describing them as ‘those dogs that look built like a mop’.

After all, you cannot blame them, because they do have that distinctive look. However, only true dog lovers, canine fanciers, and breeders know how rare this breed is and how turbulent its history has been.

Sadly, the year 2018 was named as the year with the lowest number of registrations of this breed, according to The Kennel Club.

In fact, that year only 3874 were registered. It may not sound like a low number, but when compared with the famous dog breeds worldwide, it’s only fair to say that the Old English Sheepdogs got the ‘rare breed’ label.

It is known that this breed holds its roots in Europe. In fact, this breed emerged from early types of herding dogs in England. Old English Sheepdogs are the original “shaggy dog.”

To create this shaggy dog, breeders mixed various breeds, including the Scotch Bearded Collie and French Briard. The Old English Sheepdog as we know it today is considered to be a modern breed developed in the 1800s.

They were used as drover dogs – their job was to drive livestock to market and pull carts (this is similar to duties of Bernese Mountain Dog). Drover dogs were known for their intelligence, independence, courage and stamina. This breed usually comes with bobtail.

Owners often choose to dock dogs’ tails to show that they were working dogs. Are they born with a tail? Yes, they are.

Old English Sheepdog Physical Appearance

The Old English Sheepdog has that famous shaggy look that makes them just too adorable. Next to that cuteness, these dogs are large, powerful, and compact.

This is a strong breed fit for experienced dog owners, who have experience handling physically strong dogs. This isn’t a breed that should be walked by a child.

These muscular and coated dogs are usually around 22 inches, with females being slightly shorter.

Overall, females are smaller and slimmer. The Old English Sheepdog is a dog of great muscles, well balanced, and with plenty of bone. Eyes are brown or blue.

In some representatives of the breed, you may notice two different eye colors with one eye being brown, and the other one is blue. Ears are of medium size, while the neck is fairly long.

Feet are small and round, although may seem bigger due to extra hair. The coat is heavily profuse, but not so excessive. The coat is always shaggy and free from curl.

It should be obvious that brushing this breed will require some time investment from your side. A short 10-minutes brushing session won’t be enough for this breed.

If this seems like too much work for you, think about getting another breed. The coat should be too soft, and the entire body should be well covered in hair. As for the color, any shade of brown or fawn won’t be encouraged in dog shows.

Old English Sheepdog Personality

The Old English Sheepdog is an alert and playful dog. They are often described as dog clowns, due to their constant need to be active and please their people.

They are affectionate about their people and love being surrounded by people, especially children.

They are so big children lovers, that seeing them entertaining neighbor children shoulder much of a surprise. Even as senior dogs, the Old English Sheepdogs will retain their playfulness.

This breed is quick to learn, fast to master any trick, and always on the lookout for their next adventure. They are capable of performing various tasks, including agility, herding, and obedience.

They are also often seen as members of search and rescue teams. To keep the Old English Sheepdog happy, you will have to think about proper physical and mental exercise.

They hate being left alone. In fact, if they feel neglected they will show you how they feel. This usually means that they will show signs of destructive behavior or develop separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is common in dogs, especially rescues.

It occurs when dog goes through a trauma that he doesn’t know how to deal with. As result, they will become destructive.

Therefore, chewing furniture, urinating across the house, or just being silent and scared in the corner all the time is something that dogs with separation anxiety do. That being said, make sure that you do your best to organize your time around your Old English Sheepdog and not the other way around.

Good training and socialized Old English Sheepdog is always a good-natured and kind dog, an excellent children playmate, and overall a great family dog. If you are looking for a watchdog, skin ion this breed.

They aren’t fit to be watchdogs. They may bark when a stranger approached your home, or may not. Some Old English Sheepdogs are highly territorial and protective, while others aren’t.

Old English Sheepdog Training

As mentioned above, the Old English Sheepdogs are great with children. Not only that they enjoy being children’s playmates, but they love spending time with other animals as well.

However, for Old English Sheepdogs to be able to tolerate other animals and to care about the proper training and socialization are mandatory. This is why socialization during puppyhood is so important.

During this period dogs should learn:

  • Basic commands
  • House dog rules
  • How to behave around strangers
  • Where to pee
  • Where to sleep

Once your veterinarian gives you a green light (which is usually once vaccination is completed) you can let him meet other dogs. This breed is highly responsive to training.

This is a great trait that should make training sessions fun and easy.

Always use a positive training method. Did you know that dogs are capable of mastering basic commands as of eight weeks of age? Use this and start training your Old English Sheepdog from day one.

Old English Sheepdog Grooming

If you love dogs of unusual appearance and big hair, then the Old English Sheepdog might be the breed for you. They have a recognizable shaggy coat that is neither curly nor straight.

Still, their coat is double, with a textured outer coat and soft undercoat. In other words, you will have to brush this breed regularly to avoid mats.

As for the colors, they come in gray, blue, blue merle, brown, fawn, or grizzle and each coat color requires identical treatment. Their coat is usually mixed with white markings.

If you love challenges, especially in terms of grooming, then the shaggy Old English Sheepdog is a match for you. Keeping this coat healthy, clean, and shiny requires a lot of work.

Their coat is challenging to maintain. They need a minimum of three to four hours a week to brush him properly. If you have experience as a dog owner, but you don’t know how to brush this coat don’t feel discouraged.

Talk to a professional dog groomer or your veterinarian for straightforward tips on how to make brushing sessions more enjoyable.

Also, if you are dealing with responsible breeders they will give you direct instructions on how to brush this breed. Do Old English Sheepdogs shed? Yes, they do, and they are considered to be heavy shedders.

Expect extra hair during the shedding session in spring and autumn. Some Old English Sheepdogs may drool. To keep their mouth clean, clean them regularly.

Make grooming and brushing a positive experience from the day and don’t forget to reward your Old English Sheepdog after every grooming section.

Don’t forget to:

  • Trim or grind nails monthly
  • Clean ears when needed
  • Check eyes for any discharge
  • Bathe only when needed
  • Brush every week

Old English Sheepdog Health

If you are buying an Old English Sheepdog puppy, the first step is to deal with responsible breeders only. Responsible breeders will do their best to help you choose the puppy that fits your energy and your lifestyle.

Plus, they will present you medical documentation on the puppy, as proof that they are giving you a healthy puppy. Plus, if there are any health-related issues with puppies, they will inform you about them.

On top of that, they will inform you of possible health issues that may appear in the breed later on.

This doesn’t mean that your dog will get any of them, but just that you should be informed on specific conditions, such as:

  • Cataracts
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Deafness
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Canine hip and elbow dysplasia

The best way to keep your dog healthy is to think about prevention.

Regular veterinarian check-ups are what will keep your Old English Sheepdog healthy. Plus, this way you will keep expenses at a minimum. Larger size dogs, sadly, cost more when an illness occurs.

Other ways to keep your Old English Sheepdog long-living is to:

  • Provide high-quality food
  • Enable safe surrounding
  • Provide enough exercise
  • Stick to recommended vaccination
  • Think about parasite control
  • Provide some extra love

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