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Old English Sheepdog

Posted on Mar 24, 2013 by in Breeds by category, Breeds by name, M-O, Working dogs | 0 comments

What's my history?

Our origins are something of a mystery. However I think we can be fairly certain our heritage is English and we were bred as a sheepdog! It is often that the dog depicted in a painting by the artist Gainsborough of Third Duke of Buccleuch was an Old English. I’m not so sure – it looks more like a Dandie Dinmont terrier to me. This was around the 1770s and it is probable that we were around as a breed by then. We were exhibited for the first time in 1873. However only three of us turned up and the quality wasn’t great. So we pulled our socks up and the breed you know and love today was developed. So much so that the American fell in love with us. We were something of a hit with wealthy American families around the start of the 20th century. In Australia and Britain many people know us as the ‘Dulux dog’ after our fame promoting paint. Our advertising appearances were first aired in the 1960s.

What do I look like?

We’re a gorgeous, loveable ball of shaggy fur really. When groomed for the ring we look immaculate. However, our ‘just out of bed’ look is pretty amazing too. We’re quite large – bigger than the similar bearded collie. We also bear a striking resemblance to the South Russian Ovcharka (or South Russian Sheepdog). In the distant past we were often known as the “bob-tail” due to the fact our tail was docked. However, that practice has been banned in some countries now and the sight of a long tailed Old English sheepdog is becoming prevalent. Interestingly, the practice of tail docking begun in the 18th century when owners of working dogs could receive tax benefits if and the docked tail was evidence of a working dog! Our coat is typically white with blue-grey. However, our puppies are born white with black and only after shedding several a few times does the black typically become more grey. Our undercoat is water resistant so we’re great in water.

What do I need from you?

Although we were bred as a sheepdog, we don’t expect you to acquire some sheep specifically for us to organise. However, our herding instinct is strong so don’t we surprised if we try herding you and the family from time to time. Wide open spaces to explore would be a bonus but we are equally able to adapt to town life. Contrary to our media fame, neither do we expect you to be constantly re-decorating your house. What we really need is love, walks and regular grooming. In fact, the grooming is a big thing. We really need a good brush at least once a week and this can take an hour or more. We do need it as otherwise we become matted and this is can be painful and restrict our movement. The best way to groom us starts at the base of the hairs to keep the thick undercoat hair tangle-free. Many of our owners clip us to eliminate the problem. To some this is heresy as we are intended to be long and shaggy. It might be a good idea to send us to a groomer to achieve a professional look – you wouldn’t let your husband or wife loose with a pair of scissors on your own hair would you?!

What I will give in return

One of the many great things about us is our temperament. We are rarely aggressive and make a great family pet. We look like we are always smiling and that is often because we are. We are very loyal to our owners and generally trusting of visitors. We’re a big dog so our walks need to be regular but not necessarily that long. Be warned though, after our walks we might take a good rest. So we can make a good dog for just lounging around with you on lazy weekends. We love duvet days too! Be warned, we take a few years to mature and so display a lot of the fun and immaturity behaviours of a puppy in years when you may be thinking “shouldn’t he be behaving a bit more grown up?”

How big will I get?

Our typical height will be around 22in (56cm) and weigh in at about 65lbs (29kg).

How long should I be around for?

Our life expectancy is around 10-12 years.

How big is our litter?

Our average litter size is 8 pups.

Famous owners?

Franklin D Roosevelt – the longest serving American President.

Want us to live with you?

We’re currently recruiting breeders and adopters to go here. Could that be you?

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Disclaimer: the views expressed on this page and any comments below are only a guide to typical traits and views on the breed. Individual circumstance and traits will always vary so we can be in no way responsible for any of the information provided.


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