Old English Sheepdog
The Old English Sheepdog (OES), commonly known among its fans as the Bobtail, is a large, shaggy-coated dog. Males can weigh between 65-100lbs fully-grown while females will be 60-85lbs. Strong, with a deep, broad chest, he is double-coated with a waterproof undercoat. The colours are grey, grey and white or blue merle. Many people will be familiar with the grey and white colouring of the ‘Dulux’ dog from the well-known advertising campaign which featured the OES a few years ago. It is common for the eyes to be different colours; one blue and brown. The tail is commonly docked, hence the affectionate nickname of Bobtail.
Origin and Temperament
The OES is believed to have been developed in the 18th century by English farmers who needed a strong dog to herd, protect and drive the sheep to market. As a working dog, the OES needs plenty of daily exercises. He loves to run and will often try to ‘herd’ family members by bumping into them. He needs strong, consistent leadership and firm training. Puppies are boisterous and active, reaching maturity at around three years old. The OES is good-natured, loyal and intelligent. A gentle giant around children, he’s protective of his family. The OES is not known for nervousness or aggression.
Health and well-being
If you don’t have time for grooming, this is probably not the dog for you! His long coat needs constant care. He needs to be brushed every day, and at least two or three times a week, you need to brush right down to the undercoat to prevent the coat from becoming matted and skin conditions developing. Owners who do not show their dogs keep them clipped, a job best done by professional groomers. Trim around the eyes and rear end regularly.
Old English Sheepdogs, like many pedigree breeds, can suffer from a number of hereditary conditions, the most common of which are hip dysplasia, common in all large breeds, and eye entropion, where the eyelid turns inwards, and the lashes irritate the eyeball. All OES dogs are now monitored under the KC BVA Eye scheme, best done before a dog has reached one year old. Hip-scoring is generally done in the dog’s first year, and conscientious breeders ensure their breeding animals are clear of hip dysplasia. If a dog is unfortunate enough to be affected by either of these problems, then surgery will be required.
The lifespan of an OES is around 10-12 years. Expect to pay an average of £1200 for a puppy from a reputable breeder.