The Old English Sheepdog is a large breed of dog, developed in England from early herding dog types. This breed comes from the very old pastoral type dogs of England. However, no records were kept of the dogs, and everything about the earliest types is guesswork. A bobtailed drover’s dog, called the Smithfield or Cotswold Cor, was seen in the southwestern counties of England in the early 19th century and may have been an ancestor. Obsolete names for the breed include Shepherd’s Dog, and bob-tailed sheep-dog. Because historically the tail of the dog was docked, it is still nicknamed Bob-tail,
The height at the withers for males is 24 inches and slightly smaller for females. His body is compact and short, and ideal weights are not specified, however some may weigh as much as 101 pounds for large males. The head or skull of the breed is rather squarely formed and capacious giving plenty of room for brain power. His eyes are either brown, blue or can be one of each. The ears are medium in size and are carried flat to the side of the head. The bite is either level or tight-scissor. His tail is docked close to the body if he is not naturally bob-tailed. The coat of the Old English Sheepdog is of a good hard texture, shaggy free from curl, and profuse, but not so much that it gives the impression that the dog is overly fat. Its undercoat is waterproof, as long as it is not removed during grooming or season. The colors of the dog are any shade of gray, grizzle, blue, or blue merle, with or without white markings or in reverse.
This dog has lots of energy and enthusiasm. His inherent herding instinct often times tells him to herd moving objects such as cars, bikes and other wheeled articles. One of the top killers of the breed is being struck by a car. As he is large, small children can easily be knocked over or nipped in the leg by the dog as he is displaying his love for life. His temperament can be described as social, adaptable, and intelligent, and has a ”clownish energy”. Wide open spaces is ideal for the Old English Sheepdog, however, with proper exercise and training, they are comfortable with an urban or suburban lifestyle. This breed is friendly and should not be deprived of the company and warmth of people.
The average lifespan of the Old English Sheepdog is between 10-11 years. Some diseases found common in the breed include hip dysplasia, cataracts, glaucoma, entropion, thyroid problems, deafness, diabetes, allergies and skin problems. In dogs sporting the full coat, heatstroke is a serious concern. Cancer is a major cause of death for the breed.