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Old English Sheepdog
Characteristics, History, and Health

Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog (OES), also known as the Bobtail due to its docked tail, is a large breed of dog that originated in England from early herding types of dogs. The breed has a distinctively shaggy, grey and white coat, with fur covering their face and eyes. The OES was developed in the 19th century primarily in the West Country of England. The breed was primarily used for driving cattle and sheep to market. Their strong herding instinct, intelligence, and endurance made them a popular choice among farmers and shepherds. Their exact ancestry is unknown, but they likely descend from the Continental European sheepdogs brought to the UK by the Romans, combined with native British breeds.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Life Expectancy
10-12 years
Average Male Height
22+ inches
Average Female Height
21+ inches
Average Male Weight
60-100 pounds
Average Female Weight
60-100 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Black & White, Blue, Blue & White, Blue Gray & White, Blue Merle, Blue Merle & White, Brown & White, Fawn & White, Gray, Gray & White, Grizzle, Grizzle & White, White, Blue Gray
Coat Pattern

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Old English Sheepdogs can suffer from autoimmune thyroiditis, cardiac anomalies, hip dysplasia, deafness, cerebellar ataxia, and primary ciliary dyskinesia. They are to eye disorders including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and retinal detachment. The breed can also be affected by gastric torsion, otitis externa, hypothyroidism, cerebellar degeneration, degenerative myelopathy, exercise-induced collapse, multidrug resistance 1, primary ciliary dyskinesia, and acral mutilation syndrome.

Personality and Behavior

Old English Sheepdogs are known for their adaptable, intelligent, and loving nature. They can be a little clownish and enjoy being the center of attention. Despite their size, they are generally good with children, other dogs, and animals, due to their herding heritage. However, they can also be somewhat stubborn and headstrong, so early socialization and training are important. Being a working breed, they have a lot of energy and require regular mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom.

Fun Facts

The Old English Sheepdog's "bobtail" comes from the historical practice of docking their tails to prove their working status, thus exempting owners from taxes in England.

Despite their "shaggy dog" appearance, the Old English Shepherd (OES) doesn't shed as much as some breeds. However, their coat needs extensive grooming to prevent matting.

The breed has been popular in media and advertising. The most famous OES is probably the Dulux dog, which has been used in advertising for the Dulux brand of paint in the UK since the 1960s.

This Old English Shepherd (OES) is featured in Disney's The Little Mermaid as Prince Eric's companion.