Old English Sheepdog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Info

Old English Sheepdog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Info

The Old English Sheepdog is a playful, lovable clown who is happy to spend time with his family. This giant, athletic dog breed has a unique shaggy coat, with fur covering their eyes, which apparently doesn’t disturb the animal. Their movement is unusual because they raise the legs on the same side at a time. They have tiny, so-called cat paws, covered in hair. The Old English Sheepdog is also called Sheepie, OES, and Bobtail.

The Bobtail is a calm and balanced dog with an easy-going character. It is an extremely intelligent, fast learner, always looking for something exciting and fun. Sheepies are friendly, calm, loyal, and excellent guard dogs with strange, trembling barking characteristics. The Old English Sheepdog is famous for its wonderfully sweet character, strength, and diligence.

Those who know and love Sheepies will also be aware of their sense of humor. They’re both playful and funny at once, yet faithful guardians and defenders of the family. Bobtails love being with their families, and they hate loneliness, so the breed tends to suffer from separation anxiety if they stay alone for too long. The Old English Sheepdog is highly adaptable. For some people, it may be surprising that the breed can live comfortably in an apartment if you are walking them regularly.

The OES is a large herding dog. The Old English Sheepdog originated in the South West of England, where its breeding began in the early 19th century. About two or three hundred years ago, western England sheep farmers created a tough, agile, intelligent shepherd breed. Their tails were docked to show they were working dogs, for tax benefits to the owner. 

Males stand about 23 inches high and females about 21 inches. The average weight of the males is 65 pounds and the females, 60 pounds. Their expected lifespan is 10 to 12 years, and the female Old English Sheepdogs have 5 to 8 puppies per litter.

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What are the Breed Traits and Characteristics of the Old English Sheepdog?

The Old English Sheepdogs are described as devoted clowns who love people, but they’re not for everyone. Grooming requirements and a sometimes stubborn temperament are just a couple of factors you should note. Old English Sheepdogs make charming companions. They are generally gentle and calm, but they have a clownish side during play and at home. 

The OES is protective of her family members and will look after the kids in her flock. They tend to bark to keep people in order and sometimes be obstinate. Sheepdogs take their job as professional herders very seriously and love keeping busy, so make sure you’re providing lots of opportunities for stimulation. They catch on quickly and can get bored with the same old commands, so mix it up a little during your training sessions.

However, Bobtails can take their herding tasks a bit too seriously when they escape from the backyard to herd children they spotted from behind the fence. The OES can get along with cats with early introductions and proper socialization. The same goes for other dogs; the more they’re around other friends, the better they do. Luckily, they can be pretty adaptable and easy-going, freely sharing their affection with their family. More characteristics of the Old English Sheepdog are listed below.

Old English Sheepdog Breed Traits

Old English Sheepdog Information


Males 22 to 24 inches

Females 20 to 22 inches


Males 70 to 90 pounds

Females 60 to 80 pounds

Relation with family

Intelligent, curious, alert, outgoing, loyal affectionate. entertaining

Relation with children

Playful and lovable

Relation with other dogs


Shedding level

High, especially when they blow their coats

Drooling level


Coat type 

Double coat

Coat length

The outer coat is coarse and long

The undercoat is short and dense 

Coat grooming frequency

Daily brushing

Reaction to strangers


Playfulness level


Adaptability level


Openness to strangers


Trainability level


Energy level


Barking level


Mental stimulation needs level



10 -12 years 

How Does the Old English Sheepdog Interact with Family?

The Old English Sheepdog is an adaptable, intelligent dog with an easygoing disposition. They’re affectionate with all members of their families, and despite the fact that they are large dogs, they can even fit in well with apartment life so long as they get enough exercise from walks and play sessions. Bobtails’ shaggy coats also don’t tend to shed as much as you might think. If you’re looking for a loyal, protective, and loving family companion, this may be the breed for you.

How Does the Old English Sheepdog Interact with Other Dogs?

The Old English Sheepdog does well with other dogs, as long as you socialize her early. They enjoy the company of other dogs, although there might be tension if the other dogs are of the same sex. However, your Old English might want to herd smaller pets of the family.

How are Old English Sheepdogs with Older People?

Old English Sheepdogs are excellent companions for older people; however, their energy level might be overwhelming. Old English Sheepdogs need a lot of exercise and grooming. Suppose the senior person lives in an apartment. In that case, space could be a problem because very active dogs could wreak havoc if cooped up with insufficient space.

However, Old English Sheepdogs form strong bonds with older people. Hiring a dog walker for those long daily walks can help them spend enough energy to ensure they are calm lapdog companions while in the apartment. Similarly, grooming the Old English Sheepdog might be too much for frail seniors, but arranging for the walker or another person to brush the dog frequently can allow older people to continue living with their beloved furry friends.

How are Old English Sheepdogs with Children?

Old English Sheepdogs tend to love children and are often an excellent match for a household with kids if both child and dog are taught how to interact with each other safely. The OES loves children and enjoys playing ball with them or using her pulling skills to pull them around in their wagon.

Older kids are recommended, as the Old English Sheepdog can be rambunctious. Parents should always supervise dogs when they’re around young kids. It also helps if you have kids when you get a young Old English Sheepdog to allow the pup to grow up around kids. That way, the dog and the children can learn to respect each other from an early age. 

How are Old English Sheepdogs with Neighbors or Guests?

Old English Sheepdogs, as a breed, are very affectionate, thinking everyone is their friend. They will snuggle up with anyone ready for cuddles. Of course, if you’re there, your Old English Sheepdog will accept anyone you introduce. Neighbors and familiar guests will be welcomed as part of the family, and only unfamiliar people that seem not to belong will make the OES wary.

What are the Physical Traits of the Old English Sheepdog?

Old Engish Sheepdogs are muscular and compact beneath their profuse coats. They are large but possess the agility and athleticism to meet the demands of herding. Bobtails have a loud bark with a distinctive sound resembling two pots clanging together, known as ‘pot-casse.’ Their intelligent eyes may be brown, blue, or one brown and one blue. They have a gentle, go-with-the-flow nature.


Traits information




Males 22 to 24 inches

Females 20 to 22 inches


Males 70 to 90 pounds

Females 60 to 80 pounds

Skull/ Head

Head: Stop well defined

Skull: Broad and capacious, rather square.


Dark or walleyes, set well apart. 

Two blue eyes are acceptable 


Medium-size ears, carried flat to the side of the head.


Fairly long and strong, square and truncated


Large and black, with wide opened nostrils.



Exercise Needs



10 to 12 years


Water-repellant double coat of dense and soft undercoat and long shaggy outer coat.

Coat color

Any shade of grey, grizzle or blue. The head, neck, forequarters and underbelly are white, with or without markings.


Natural bob, docked completely, or natural. If natural, the tail is low-set and never curled or carried over the back. It should be well-feathered with a hard textured coat. 


Long and well-developed with Small, round and tight, cat-like feet with thick pads and well-arched toes

How to Feed an Old English Sheepdog?

Your Old English Sheepdog’s adult size determines its dietary needs through all life stages. Thus, base your Old English Sheepdog’s diet on a large breed’s unique nutritional and digestive needs throughout its different life stages. Most dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large, giant, and even toy breeds. 

It is always a good idea to discuss your dog’s dietary needs with your vet to ensure you are prepared to deal with age-related issues as your Old English Sheepdog grows. A veterinarian can advise on diets, portion sizes, meal frequencies, and all nutrition matters to ensure your furry friend lives a long life with optimal health. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times, and some of the essential nutrients are listed below:

  • Protein
  • Fatty acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

Avoid feeding your Bobtail from the table; all it does is add weight; instead, follow the advice below to ensure your furry friend’s optimal health.

Despite the Old English Sheepdog’s large size, it is an agile, athletic breed that needs food containing animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy, vitamins, and minerals for digestive and immune health, and omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness. A dog of this size, activity level, and demeanor will thrive best on premium dry food because this food type contains balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients.

However, your Old English Sheepdog’s daily portion depends on life stage, health, metabolism, activity level, and the brand and formula of food it eats. Feed your Old English Sheepdog food formulated for a large breed with recipes specific for the different life stages like puppies, adults, and seniors, or look for a brand developed for all life stages.

The Old English Sheepdog’s daily cups of food should be spread over 2 to 3 meals per day. Feeding Sheepies several meals instead of one meal per day can prevent life-threatening bloat. However, fresh drinking water must always be available for your furry friend. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian. 

A premium food specially formulated for Old English Sheepdog and its benefits are listed below: 

The best dry dog food for Old English Sheepdog is Eukanuba Adult Large Breed Lamb 1st Ingredient Dry Dog Food

An active dog is a healthy dog. Eukanuba’s adult formulas are nutritionally optimized for active dogs to help fuel their daily activities. Eukanuba’s optimal combination of nutrients helps promote lean muscle development, healthy brain function, and joint health to keep your adult dog-powered from morning until night.

Below is a list of the benefits offered by the Eukanuba Adult Large Breed Lamb 1st Ingredient Dry Dog Food recipes in this range:

  • Adult large breed dry dog food formulated with lamb as the first ingredient for small and medium-breed dogs over 15 months old and weighing over 55 lb.
  • Promotes lean muscle development and joint health in active adult dogs with a combination of animal protein, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate.
  • Helps keep dogs sharp and supports healthy brain function with DHA and vitamin E.
  • Fuels an active lifestyle with optimal levels of fats and carbohydrates.
  • High-quality lamb is the first ingredient for the protein that powers his day.

When Old English Sheepdogs are healthy and active, every day is an adventure. That’s why Eukanuba Adult Large Breed Lamb 1st Ingredient Dry Dog Food is crafted with everything dogs need to thrive, starting with real protein as the first ingredient.

How Much Should an Old English Sheepdog Puppy Eat? 

Old English Sheepdog puppies need high-quality puppy food formulated for a large breed. It is essential not to feed puppies all their food at once, and they should have it spread over the day. When Bobtail puppies become three months old, owners can provide them with three meals per day until they reach six months, reducing the food intake to two meals per day. Only high-quality and branded puppy food is acceptable. Guidance for feeding puppies is listed below.

  • Old English Sheepdog puppies need slow, sustained growth to help prevent orthopedic problems, such as hip dysplasia. Raise them on a diet designed for large-breed puppies. Whatever diet you choose shouldn’t overemphasize protein, fat, and calorie levels.
  • Old English pups should be fed according to a schedule, spreading meal times two or three times per day. Getting the puppy accustomed to meals at specific times is better than leaving food out to allow feeding throughout the day.
  • The exceptions are Sheepies with medical conditions like hypoglycemia or low blood sugar because they need to nibble bits of food throughout the day.
  • Never feed your puppy from the table. It only encourages begging. Everyone in the family must follow this rule.

What are the Health Tests that Old English Sheepdogs Should Take?

The Old English Sheepdog is a happy, healthy and versatile breed, although no breed or dog is without the possibility of health issues. Responsible breeders consider many factors before pairing dogs, including those that would determine ultimate personality, physical, and social traits. 

However, various genetic and health tests distinguish the responsible, reputable breeders from puppy mills and others who breed random pairs of dogs for financial profits with no regard for their health and life quality.

Old English Sheepdog Club of America OESCA requires the following tests for registration with the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC):

  • Hip Dysplasia – OFA Evaluation or PennHIP Evaluation
  • Eye Examination by a boarded ACVO Ophthalmologist Recommend each year until 5, thereafter every 2 years Results registered with OFA
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis – OFA evaluation from an approved laboratory It is recommended that the test be repeated annually up to 5 years of age, and every 2 years thereafter
  • EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse) – DNA based test from an approved laboratory 

OESCA recommends the following optional CHIC health tests:

  • Cardiac Evaluation (Optional)
  • Congenital Cardiac Exam with an exam by a cardiologist
  • Advanced Cardiac Exam
  • Congenital Deafness (Optional) – OFA evaluation based on BAER test
  • Multiple Drug Sensitivity (Optional) – DNA-based MDR1 test results from an approved lab. First Generation Offspring of tested dogs eligible for Clear By Parentage
  • Cerebellar Degeneration (Optional) – NC State DNA test with the test results registered with the OFA. First Generation Offspring of tested dogs eligible for Clear By Parentage
  • Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD) (Optional)

Other tests and Xrays: Hip and Elbow Evaluation, Patella Check 

General Health Check, including Heart, Vaccines, Fleas, and Worms.

What are the Common Health Problems of Old English Sheepdogs?

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. The Old English Sheepdogs are predisposed to certain health conditions that can be a concern. However, even healthy Bobtails should have regular veterinarian checkups. Owners should ensure the following list of health conditions are monitored throughout the dog’s life.

  • Hip Dysplasia is a common problem in large breeds and older dogs, hip dysplasia, happens in some Old English Sheepdogs. Hip dysplasia is when the hip joint isn’t formed correctly and rubs, causing the dog pain. Symptoms include lameness in the back legs, decreased activity, and “bunny hopping.” Veterinarians are well versed in treatments, such as physical therapy, medications, and potentially surgery.
  • Elbow dysplasia is a deformation that occurs and develops as Bobtail Dog puppies grow. It is caused by loose joints that prevent the ball part of one bone from sliding smoothly in the socket of the other joint bone. Instead, it grinds and rubs in the joint, causing painful wear and tear damage as the OES ages.
  • Cataracts cause the eye(s) of the Old Englis to have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur in old age and can be treated by surgically removing the cataract.
  • Deafness in dogs can either be a temporary, partial or total loss of hearing, due to a wax build-up in the ear canals, or permanent hearing loss due to a host of causes such as severe, untreated ear infections, congenital defects, old age, and injuries.
  • Retinal atrophy, also called PRA, is an inherited progressive disease of the retina that leads to blindness in affected dogs
  • Retinal detachment in dogs occurs most often from the accumulation of fluid under the retina, due to some pathologic process either in the eye or somewhere else in the body.
  • Hypothyroidism is the insufficient production of thyroid hormone, causing hair loss, dry skin and coat, and susceptibility to other skin diseases in Old English Sheepdogs.
  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) or Gastric Torsion is also known as ‘bloat’, A life-threatening disorder that happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas and becomes twisted. To protect your pup from GDV, feed your dog smaller meals throughout the day and wait an hour before and after mealtimes before exercising.

You can minimize the chances of serious health concerns in an Old English Sheepdog by purchasing your OES from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices and screening for common diseases and conditions.

What are the Exercise Needs of an Old English Sheepdog?

Because of his working origins, the OES likes activity. Today’s Old English Sheepdogs are capable participants in sheepherding and agility trials, both of which demand a healthy and physically fit dog. Figure on one to two hours of daily exercise as part of the OES routine.

Of course, your dog’s needs will vary according to age. Pups have a lot of energy, so much so that they will use it to destroy your home if they aren’t kept busy with approved activities. On the other hand, older dogs may prefer to lie on the couch, taking up all of it, and need encouragement to exercise. It’s important to note that while the OES can readily adjust to less exercise, it isn’t particularly healthy for him.

However, cut back on outdoor exercise when the weather is hot. The dense undercoat of the OES is extremely warm, and the dog can overheat quickly and easily.

What are the nutritional needs of Old English Sheepdogs?

The nutritional needs of Bobtails include high levels of specific nutrients. The essential nutrients for the Old English Sheepdog are listed below.

  • Protein: Old English Sheepdogs need natural animal protein, valuable for the amino acids essential for OES’s health. Equally important is the fact that protein builds lean muscles and provides energy.
  • Fat: Animal protein provides adequate fat, an additional energy source that boosts Old English Sheepdog’s metabolism. However, there is a fine line between enough and too much. Excessive fat levels in the dog’s daily diet could result in weight gain and, ultimately, obesity. Most importantly, adults and senior Sheepies need lower fat levels than puppies.
  • Carbohydrates: Although carbs are not essential nutrients, they are crucial energy sources. Giving the Old English Sheepdog sufficient carbs will provide energy, encouraging the body’s protein absorption to build lean muscle. Beware, though, that too many carbohydrates can lead to obesity.
  • DHA: DHA is one of the components of omega-3 fatty acids. It promotes proper eye and brain development in Old English Sheepdog puppies, and DHA develops cognitive development in puppies and slows cognitive decline in older dogs. Furthermore, omega fatty acids benefit aging Bobtails by treating chronic kidney disease and canine arthritis. Omega-3 oils improve the coat health of the Old English.
  • Micronutrient: Taurine is one micronutrient that aids heart health, and other valuable micronutrients for promoting strong joints in Old English Sheepdogs are chondroitin and glucosamine.
  • Minerals: Beneficial minerals for an Old English Sheepdog’s growth include a healthy balance of phosphorus and calcium. Pre- and probiotics and chelated minerals provide additional health to the diets of Bobtails.

What is the Shedding Level of the Old English Sheepdog?

Old English Sheepdogs go through two complete coat cycles each year. They have a summer coat and a winter coat. Old English Sheepdogs are double-coated, and these pups shed year-round and “blow” their coats twice yearly in the spring and fall. That means shedding is a significant issue in homes that own this breed. You can temper this issue a little with daily grooming, especially when the new coat grows. 

How do You Groom a Sheepdog at Home?

Get a puppy used to grooming from day one. Comb and brush him gently but thoroughly so that he learns to welcome the attention. If you neglect the coat, it will get so tangled, dirty, and smelly that it will have to be shaved. Consider keeping the coat trimmed because if you leave the coat long, the Sheepie manifests “shaggy dog syndrome.” This is where leaves, mud, snow, fecal matter, and other debris cling to the coat and ends up all over your house.

Coat grooming is essential for various reasons, as listed below.

  • Grooming gives your dog a healthy look and promotes hygiene. 
  • Proper grooming lowers the risks of skin infections.
  • Grooming promotes the growth and development of a lustrous and shiny coat.
  • Grooming allows you to check for fleas and take early preventive and treatment measures.
  • Proper grooming lowers the risks of ear infections since you can check the ears and wipe them dry after grooming regularly.
  • While grooming, you can check the skin folds for any skin problems and alert the vet before they worsen.
  • Grooming boosts the bond between you and your Old English Sheepdog Dog.

Your dog should be calm during grooming. Creating regular grooming routines from puppyhood and taking your Bobtail for short walks before the grooming session could calm your Old English Sheepdog enough to make the grooming process the ideal time for bonding with your furry friend. You can also give your Sheepies their favorite treats to munch on while you groom them. Grooming must be an enjoyable and stress-free process for your Bobtail and you. 

What is the Coat Grooming Frequency of Old English Sheepdogs?

The glory of the Old English Sheepdog is his coat. The most challenging part of caring for an Old English is his coat. Expect to spend at least a half-hour to an hour a week keeping it groomed. Along with time devoted to coat care, be prepared for dog hair around the house and on your clothes, as well as dirt, mud, and debris tracked in on the dog’s furry feet.

You must brush your Sheepy every day to prevent loose hairs from tangling and causing matting. One of the advantages of buying an Old English from a breeder is the opportunity to learn how to groom him from a master. Even if your dog’s breeder does not live nearby, she is only as far away as an email or phone call if you need advice on how to groom the dog.

What is the Drooling Level of Old English Sheepdogs?

The Old English Sheepdog is a big drooler, so if you’re disgusted by slobber spots on your clothes, you should choose a dog from another breed. Drooling is the unintentional saliva flowing outside of the mouth. It can be completely normal or a sign of a health problem. Like the Old English Sheepdog, certain dog breeds drool much more than others. If you notice any change in your dog’s drooling habit, you should contact a vet as soon as possible. The primary triggers of drooling are listed below. 

  • The thought of delicious meals like a favorite treat or meat
  • Mouth and throat problems like fractures in the mouth, throat, or esophagus.
  • Plaque build-up can also irritate the mouth and cause excessive saliva.
  • A foreign object stuck in the throat prevents swallowing, thus causing drooling. 
  • Growth in the mouth also stimulates drooling.
  • Stomach upsets.
  • Excessive heat, especially during summer
  • The main symptom of diseases like kidney disease, liver problems, seizures, botulism, and rabies is drooling.
  • Motion sickness and anxiety. Dogs who do not like traveling will get anxious whenever they board a car. A stressed dog pants and breathes with an open mouth, causing it to drool. 
  • Excitement and agitation make dogs drool.
  • Sexual excitement, like when male Old English Sheepdog spot female OESs in heat, causes drooling. Likewise, a female in her heat cycle might drool if she picks up the scent of a male.

What is the Coat Type of the Old English Sheepdog?

The Old English Sheepdog has a thick double coat to keep him warm in the coldest temperatures. The outer coat is thick with a hard texture, not absolutely straight, but shaggy and free from curl. The undercoat is a waterproof pile.

What is the Coat Lenght of the Old English Sheepdog?

The Old English has a short soft, dense, and woolly undercoat with a long shaggy top coat that is water and dirt repellent. Sheepie puppies are little balls of fluff when they are born with white and black fur coats, and their telltale gray coats will begin developing after their first shedding. The coats of adult Bobtails can be any shades of gray, blue, or grizzle. 

What are the Social Traits of the Old English Sheepdog Breed?

Old English Sheepdogs are good-natured and sociable, enthusiastic and pushy, and they do best in the suburbs or country, with at least an hour of daily exercise and space to romp. The Sheepie loves people, can be quite the clown, and demands consistent attention. If left without the companionship of humans or other pets, your Bobtail will become unhappy, destructive, and noisy.

Most Old English Sheepdogs are polite but wary of strangers. They make sensible watchdogs with a deep, ringing bark, but they’re not good guard dogs because they lack aggressiveness. Some may be timid and skittish, while others could show sharpness. Extensive socialization of your Bobtail from an early age is essential to developing a confident, stable temperament.

Like other herding breeds, a few Old English Sheepdogs may try to “herd” children and other pets by circling, poking, or nipping at them. However, since most Old English Sheepdogs are bred to be show dogs or pets rather than working sheepdogs, their herding instincts are typically diminished or absent.

The rustic Old English Sheepdog is not for meticulous households. He tracks in the mud, splashes in his water bowl, and affectionately thrusts his wet and dirty beard into your lap. Some Sheepies drool excessively, and most of them are gassy. 

Other social traits of Old English Sheepdogs are listed below.

  • Elderly-friendly: Old English Sheepdogs love interacting with their family, from children to grandparents. However, they are highly energetic and need between 60 and 90 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. In a multi-generational home, the older family members can share the quiet head-in-the-lap times with the Sheepies while the younger generation deals with playtime and walking or jogging.
  • Children-friendly: Bobtails enjoy running around or chasing after children, and playing catch is one of their favorite games. Old English Sheepdogs are sensible enough to care when young children are part of the play. However, Sheepies are massive compared to very young children, and unintentional injuries can occur in the blink of an eye. Supervision is essential in such circumstances, and socialization is vital for kids and dogs.
  • Family-friendly: Old English Sheepdogs are the perfect canine companions for active families. They are not couch potatoes and prefer to spend most of their time outside. Old English Sheepdog will always be ready to join a family member jogging, skateboarding, cycling or hiking.
  • Pet-friendly: Old English Sheepdogs can get along great with cats and other animals, especially if they’re raised with them. However, the innate herding instincts of the Old English Sheepdog might trigger a chase of trespassing neighborhood cats, and efforts to herd family pets and small children are par for the course.

How Do Old English Sheepdogs Interact with Strangers?

Old English Sheepdogs are typically wary of strangers, and they will treat unfamiliar people with suspicion until they are satisfied that their owners are not threatened. Once their owners invite strangers into the home, the OES will relax. 

However, Bobtails are alert even when they don’t seem so. They are always aware of anything that happens around them, and any strangers and potential intruders will be warned to back off. Typically, it will go no further than barking, and the Old English Sheepdog will retreat instead of showing aggression or attack.

Ignoring a dog’s aloofness with strangers can cause them to expound on it as they get older. They may become timid or outright fearful of strangers or perhaps even develop aggression as an overreactive defense mechanism.

Is the Old English Sheepdog Playful?

Old English Sheepdogs are playful with children, adults, and senior citizens and make excellent family dogs. Unlike most large dogs, the OES instinctively knows to be careful when young children are part of the play. The Old English Sheepdog remains puppy-like until around three years old and often keeps its playful attitude well into their old age.

They love to play, especially with their family and neighborhood kids, and make excellent family companions. Some call the Old English Sheepdog a “nanny dog” since they are so good-natured and kind to kids.

However, even though this is a character trait of the Old English Sheepdog breed, there are no guarantees that your small child will be safe if left unsupervised to play with the furry family Old English Sheepdog. Having your dog and your children socialized will give peace of mind.

Are Old English Sheepdogs Protective?

Old English Sheepdogs are loyal and naturally protective. However, they are not defensive enough to attack intruders. Sheepies are not good guard dogs but alert enough to be excellent watchdogs. The Ols English have unique barks and sounds that quickly warn their owners of any threats, and alerting their owners of potential threats is the Old English Sheepdogs’ way of being protective.

What is the Adaptability Level of the Old English Sheepdog?

The OES is an adaptable, intelligent dog with an easygoing disposition. They’re affectionate with all members of their families, and even though they are large dogs, they can fit in well with apartment life, provided they get enough exercise from walks and play sessions.

The Old English sheepdog can adapt to various lifestyles, as long as his doggy dad understands that only providing a fast walk or quick trick training session isn’t enough to keep an active dog happy.

What are the Personality Traits of Old English Sheepdogs?

The Old English Sheepdog is a playful, affectionate clown who delights in frolicking with his family and neighborhood children. In fact, adolescence in the OES often extends to about age three, and an adult English Shepherd will retain his playful demeanor well into his golden years.

The OES is an intelligent breed, a quick learner who always looks for something exciting and fun. He can perform numerous tasks, including herding, agility, obedience, and search and rescue. This breed requires significant physical and mental exercise. Bobtails don’t enjoy being left alone for long periods and need to be in the company of their families.

A correctly bred Sheepie is good-natured and kind, making him an excellent children’s companion and a super family dog. He’s sometimes called a nanny, a term of endearment that arises from stories surrounding the role he sometimes takes on within his family.

How is the Temperament of Old English Sheepdogs?

The Old English Sheepdog is a gentle giant but still has that herding tendency, so do not be surprised to find your dog trying to herd your other pets or even small children. They are cheerful and fun with an easy disposition, although they make good watchdogs and bark thunderously. 

They like to play and sometimes do not know when to quit, so you will have to train your Old English Sheepdog to control the rowdiness sometimes. Bobtails can be a bit of a handful when training because they are so intelligent and headstrong. You will have to use constant reminders and positive reinforcement to keep the peace.

They need frequent attention and do not like to be alone. If they get bored, you may find them digging a hole in the yard or tearing up your sofa. Be sure to keep plenty of mental activities inside and out to keep your Old English Sheepdog stimulated.

Can Old English Sheepdogs be Aggressive?

The Old English Sheepdog is loyal and affectionate, and he does very well with children and is generally friendly with strangers. Sheepies are intelligent and caring with little or no inclination to aggressiveness. However, there is no guarantee, and provocation, neglect and abuse can lead to aggression. It is important to properly socialize your Old English Sheepdog from puppyhood to various new experiences and dogs.

Can Old English Sheepdogs be Dangerous?

Like any other animal, an Old English Sheepdog will become aggressive if they are scared or have to defend themselves. Old English Sheepdogs’ aggression may manifest as growling or snarling, especially at strangers near their homes. Putting themselves between you and a stranger could lead to dangerous situations.

Do Old English Sheepdogs Ever Attack?

No, there are no reports of Old English Sheepdogs attacking people. However, like people, any dog can show unexpected character traits. Owners of Old English Sheepdogs are advised to have their pups socialized despite the breed information showing them not to be aggressive or inclined to attack.

Can Old English Sheepdogs Kill Humans?

Yes, Old English Sheepdog can kill humans, but it is highly improbable. Old English Sheepdogs are protective of their human families, and specific circumstances could drive any dog to react aggressively. Events that could cause a violent attack by any breed are listed below.

  • Protecting their human families from attacks on them.
  • Protecting their own safety
  • Mistreatment by their owners like chaining their dogs to poles outside.
  • Owners dishing out physical punishment or other forms of abuse.

Whatever the circumstances, serious provocation must be present to trigger a violent attack by an Old English Sheepdog.

Do Old English Sheepdogs Cope with being Left Alone?

The Old English Sheepdog is a breed needing regular human companionship. When left alone for too long, he can get a bit destructive. The best way to protect your possessions is to exercise them frequently. The Old English Sheepdog is a clever dog and will learn quickly, but you’ll definitely need to show him you’re the boss. Old English Sheepdogs can live alone for a few hours without any problems, but they are not the kind of canines that you could leave alone for a long time. If left outdoors alone, they may bark excessively or disappear in search of something interesting to do.

Can I leave my Old English Sheepdog at home?

Old English Sheepdogs are fiercely loyal, protective, and devoted to their families, preferring companionship over alone time. When they are left in isolation, they typically display signs of separation anxiety. Many Old English Sheepdogs tend to form strong bonds with all their family members. Therefore, even if one family member stays behind when the rest go to school, work, etc., it will likely prevent the OES from developing separation anxiety. 

Can Old English Sheepdogs be left alone for 8 hours?

Old English Sheepdog needs company, and they do not enjoy spending time alone for many hours and may develop separation anxiety. Don’t get an Old English Sheepdog if you must leave him on his own for hours on end. You can, however, leave him alone for short periods.

Leaving your Old English Sheepdog alone for more than four hours at a time is not recommended. If there is no other way, getting a dog walker or a sitter for a part of the day could prevent separation anxiety, boredom and subsequent mischief and destruction. Separation anxiety is common in Old English Sheepdogs. They live for their families, and they can become destructive if they’re left alone too much. 

How to Train an Old English Sheepdog?

When training an Old English Sheepdog puppy, it’s essential to keep in mind they have a natural herding instinct. Otherwise, games such as hide-and-seek or Triebball can fulfill that characteristic herding instinct and may even prevent your dog from trying to herd around family members.

Old English sheepdogs are extremely intelligent, but they’re also independent. This combination can make it a little harder to train, depending on your own experience levels and your Old English Sheepdog’s temperament. It doesn’t take them long to learn commands like sit, stay and come and then they’re on to the next one, so the time spent on training is destined to be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you.

The Old English Sheepdog can be nervous around groups of strangers, so it’s a great idea to include some socialization training. Including meeting and greeting people both in and out of the home, from a young age, so they learn there’s nothing to fear, and only admiring glances and belly rubs to gain.

How Frequently does an Old English Sheepdog Bark?

Old English Sheepdogs are large but possess the agility and athleticism to meet the demands of herding. Old English Sheepdogs have a loud bark with a distinctive sound resembling two pots clanging together, known as ‘pot-casse.’ 

Old English Sheepdogs are watchful and will bark their distinctive clanging bark when someone approaches the house. However, they are reasonably friendly with strangers and can’t be expected to guard the homestead.

The frequency of your Old English Sheepdog’s bark will not likely be enough to upset your neighbors. Most dogs have different-sounding barks for different purposes, and after all, that is the only way canines can have their say. Like most breeds, Old English Sheepdogs do not bark without reason, and observant family members may quickly learn to recognize the different bark types their OES use for communication.

Below is a list of bark types that owners will learn to recognize. 

  • Old English Sheepdogs hate being left alone, and one way of coping with loneliness is barking. 
  • A lack of exercise and anxiety can also trigger barking.
  • Alarm barking is when your Old English Sheepdog is barking as a way of alerting you of approaching danger. Alarm barking can save you from danger; however, OES may bark before ascertaining that there is a real danger.
  • Another type of barking is demand barking, where an Old English Sheepdog feels entitled to something or your attention and would bark as a way of demanding their rights. This type can be lowered through proper training and ignoring the barking.
  • The Old English Sheepdog uses arousal barking to show their frustrations.
  • Boredom barking signals that your Sheepie is tired or bored due to being left alone or infrequent exercises. 
  • Frequent barking can be a nuisance to both the owner and neighbors. Some types of barking tend to be monotonous and continuous. 

Even though Old English Sheepdog are not typically nuisance barkers, knowing their language might come in handy. However, if your Old English Sheepdog is the exception to the rule, below are some positive and negative motivators that might help to change your canine companion’s barking habits.

  • Whenever your OES starts barking, command him to be quiet and if your Old English Sheepdog obeys, reward him with his favorite treat or toy. If he disobeys your command, withdraw some benefits like not giving him his favorite toy.
  • Engage Old English Sheepdog in her favorite activity or exercise before you have to run an errand. Tired Bobtails might fall asleep while you are out.
  • Look for attractive toys that would keep your Old English Sheepdog busy while you are away.
  • Continuous barking without reason might call for a visit to the vet.

What is the need for Mental Stimulation of an Old English Sheepdog?

Constant stimulation throughout the day is required to keep your Old English Sheepdog happy. Brain games are a great and easy way to stimulate his mind, so be sure to rotate a few of these games throughout the week to keep him occupied.

Old English Sheepdogs are smart and learn fast, so they need regular mental stimulation, and their playful and intelligent nature further calls for frequent mental activity. There are different ways of mentally stimulating your Old English Sheepdog, and some of them are listed below.

  • Play with interactive games or toys, including dog puzzles and canine board games.
  • Encourage sniffing during regular evening walks.
  • Provide healthy chews like dehydrated sweet potato strips. Chewing for more extended periods calms the brain, thus lowering stress levels.
  • Hide and seek games
  • Drop and fetch games
  • Regular walks

These mental stimulation techniques should start at an early stage. Old English Sheepdog who are six years and older tend to have problems with their thinking ability. The primary signs of mental disorientation are listed below.

  • Excessive anxiety
  • Frequent accidents
  • Failure to recall previously learned commands
  • Changes in sleep and wake patterns
  • Low interest in physical activities
  • Poor social skills

What are the Breed Standards of Old English Sheepdogs?

The Old English Sheepdog is a strong, compact, square, balanced dog. Taking him all around, he is profusely but not excessively coated, thickset, muscular and able-bodied. These qualities, combined with his agility, fit him for the demanding tasks required of a shepherd’s or drover’s dog. Therefore, soundness is of the most significant importance. His bark is loud with a distinctive “pot-casse” ring in it. 

The Old English Sheepdog stands lower at the withers than at the loin and has a pear-shaped body when viewed from above. He is absolutely free from legginess, and his gait has a typical roll at the amble and the walk.

Some of the Old English Sheepdog’s breed standards are listed below.

Breed Standards 

Old English Sheepdog Breed Information 


Any shade of grey, grizzle or blue. The body and hindquarters are a solid color, with or without white stockings. The head, neck, forequarters and underbelly are white, with or without markings.


Old English Sheepdogs are classified as a large-sized breed

Eye Color 

Two blue eyes are acceptable. Complete pigmentation on the eye rims is preferred. 

Average Weight 

About 65 pounds for males; about 60 pounds for females.

Average Height

Males minimum 24 inches, females minimum 22 inches

Average lifespan 

Old English Sheepdog Dogs have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years

What is the General Information about Old English Sheepdogs?

The Old English Sheepdog was first called the “Shepherd’s Dog” and was exhibited for the first time at a show in Birmingham, England, in 1873. There were only three entries, and the judge felt the quality of the dogs was so poor that he offered only a second placing. From that beginning, the breed became a popular show dog. 

Although the shape of the dog itself has changed very little over the years, elaborate grooming, including backcombing and powdering the fur, was recorded as early as 1907. The breed was exported to the United States in the 1880s, and by the turn of the 20th century, five of the ten wealthiest American families bred and showed the Old English Sheepdog. 

The breed continues to be a famous show dog today. However, in 2013, there were less than 1,000 in both the U.S. and England, and only 98 puppy registrations for the breed were made in the first quarter of 2019. The OES is now an endangered breed that faces extinction and breed advocates are working to rekindle the love affair for the amiable, kind and intelligent puff of a dog.

Why do They Dock Old English Sheepdog Tails?

Undocked Old English Sheepdogs are becoming a more common sight as many countries have now banned docking. The Kennel Club (UK) and The Australian National Kennel Council breed standards do not express a preference for (legally) docked or un-docked animals, and either can be shown.

The American Kennel Club breed standard states that the tail should be “docked close to the body, when not naturally bob tailed,” even though the American Veterinary Medical Association currently opposes the practice of cosmetic docking.

The Old English Sheepdog is a relatively young breed, not more than 200 years old. The required bobbed tail of the breed has its roots in the British tradition of docking the tails of working dogs for identification, as there was a tax exemption for all dogs that worked for a living.

Where to Buy or Adopt an Old English Sheepdog?

A purebred Old English Sheepdog’s price can range between $1,000 and $2,000. Lower prices are generally available within shelters and rescues, but it is a rare breed and puppies can cost as much as $5,000 from top breeders. 

If you want to bring an Old English Sheepdog home, you should not rush. The only “purebreds” available upon request are not the real thing and are likely bred on puppy farms. The more realistic way is to put your name on a waiting list, and while you’re waiting, learn as much as you can about this very special canine companion. 

Finding a reputable breeder or rescue facility is crucial. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. They are more interested in placing pups in suitable homes than making big bucks. 

Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or make irrational promises to promote the dogs. Be especially suspicious when you are offered a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. 

Old English Sheepdog puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, making the Old English Sheepdog a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. Do your homework before buying one of these little dogs, and you’ll be well rewarded with a beautiful companion dog.

The best way to ensure you get a healthy Old English Sheepdog puppy from a breeder or a rescue organization is to reach out to the registered organizations for the specific breed, if available. The Old English Sheepdog is recognized by the AKC, UKC and FIC, listed below, along with other registered kennel clubs that might put potential Old English Sheepdog owners in touch with reputable breeders. 

  • Fédération Cynologique Internationale (International)
  • United Kennel Club (International)
  • The Kennel Club (United Kingdom)
  • Old English Sheepdog Club of Victoria Inc AU
  • Old English Sheepdog Club of America
  • The Old English Sheepdog Club UK
  • Old English Sheepdog Club of Canada
  • Lawpdoodle K9 Manor Clarksburg, West Virginia 
  • Cranberry Hill Kennels Hopkinton, Massachusetts
  • Wigglebottom Farm Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • The House of Rex Metamora, Michigan
  • Rhoad’s Old English Sheepdogs Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • Mt. Haggin OES Anaconda, Montana
  • Shaggeybark Old English Sheepdogs Richmond, Virginia

If you manage to track down Old English Sheepdog breeders, make sure you go to the facility and insist on meeting both the puppies’ parents so that you can get a feel for their temperament. Old English Sheepdog puppies are often peppy and playful, all should have cheery expressions and kind eyes. 

It might take some time to find a legitimate breeder, and travel may very well be in the cards. Steer clear of backyard breeding by avoiding sales sites and ad pages. When you select a breeder, make sure they have proof of successful, healthy litters with any documentation necessary.

You might find an Old English Sheepdog puppy or a rescued adult to adopt or buy from abroad, but not all countries allow importing adopted dogs. Those whose countries will enable the importation of Sheepies may find the logistics challenging. 

Procedures include obtaining certification from a vet to prove the Old English Sheepdog is fully vaccinated and providing all the additional required veterinary documents before the travel. Furthermore, your country must approve the veterinarian to authorize the importation, and it will be your responsibility to ensure you use the services of a certified vet.

What are the Rescue Clubs for Old English Sheepdog?

There are millions of homeless dogs worldwide; many are purebreds needing homes. Adopting an Old English Sheepdog can be life-changing, not only for the dog but also for the adopter. If you prefer adoption over purchasing a pup from a breeder, then your first stop should be the National Old English Sheepdog Rescue website. 

The adoption fee for an Old English Sheepdog from a rescue group or animal shelter will probably be between $150 and $200. Most dogs from rescue groups and shelters will be vaccinated, microchipped, spayed/neutered, and vetted before adoption

You can also reach out to your local rescue organization or animal shelter and ask if they have any Old English Sheepdog or related mixes available for adoption. If not, you can always put your name on a list so that when one comes in, you’re the first one they call.

Below is a list of registered rescue centers and kennel clubs to reach out to for guidance.

  • Rescue – Old English Sheepdog Club of America
  • Canada Old English Sheepdog Rescue Groups
  • Rescue – Old English Sheepdog Club of Scotland
  • United Kennel Club (International)
  • The Kennel Club (United Kingdom)
  • Old English Sheepdog Club of Victoria Inc AU
  • The Old English Sheepdog Club of Great Britain
  • New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue

Facebook is another resource for pet adoption. You can search for Old English Sheepdog rescue groups in your region.

You can also search for adoptable Old English Sheepdog online through reliable websites such as

  • Petfinder.com
  • Adoptapet.com
  • Getyourpet.com
  • AnimalShelter 

An Old English Sheepdog rescue group is an excellent idea if you want to adopt an older dog or even an Old English Sheepdog mix.

Old English Sheepdog mixes for adoption may be less challenging to find in shelters and rescue facilities. If you want to adopt an AKC registered or a mixed breed Old English Sheepdog, the best first step is to contact shelters and breed-specific rescues to let them know you’re interested. 

The most common Old English Sheepdog dog mixes are listed below.

  • Old English Sheepdog-Poodle mix (Sheepadoodle)
  • Old English Sheepdog-Golden Retriever mix (Golden Sheepdog)
  • Old English Sheepdog-Labrador mix
  • Old English Sheepdog-Border Collie mix
  • Old English Sheepdog-Australian Shepherd mix

Old English Sheepdog mixes adopted from a shelter may share physical characteristics of the breed, but their temperament may not match the breed standard. Shelters and rescues attempt to determine each dog’s personality through a series of evaluations; even if the dog’s temperament does not follow the breed standard, you can get the dog that suits your home. 

What is the History of the Old English Sheepdog?

The early pioneers of the Old English Sheepdog were very wealthy Americans who traveled to England. They were very educated about Bobtail and his working abilities, along with the farming and climatic environment he worked in. They originated in the Southwestern Counties; hence, one of the first names were Sussex Sheepdogs and Smithfields because they helped take New Forest Ponies to the Smithfield Market.

The first English Standard was written in 1888, and the first US Standard in 1904. Two English dog men, Henry Arthur Tilley and Freeman Lloyd, wrote the first US Standard and helped to found the Old English Sheepdog Club of America in 1904, which was accepted in 1905 by the American Kennel Club.

What is the Average Maintenance Cost for Old English Sheepdogs?

The prices of Old English Sheepdog range between $1,000 and $2,000. The cost of a puppy from a registered breeder could vary, depending on the breeder you select, the location, the puppy’s bloodline, the sex of the puppy, and, of course, the demand for the breed at the time. 

The bloodline of the puppy and its parents could also affect the price. You will be hard-pressed to find this breed in a shelter, but if you do, the price could be $300 to $500, based on the cost of care provided while keeping the Old English Sheepdog and extras like vaccinations and sterilizations. 

It is always best to consider annual expenses related to maintaining your Old English Sheepdog and its wellbeing before making the purchase. The first year will be the most expensive, as puppies require extra vet care and more one-time purchases like microchips, sterilization, licensing, etc. You can expect to spend about $6,900 for your dog’s first year. After that, the price will go down to about $2,100 a year.

Food and medical only, excluding toys, food and water bowls, cages, doggy blankets, beds, etc., could cost an average of $850. The most regular annual expenses for dogs similar to the Old English Sheepdog are listed below.

  • Food items
  • Veterinary care
  • Vaccinations
  • Preventive medicine
  • Toys
  • Pet insurance
  • Pet Supplies

Other potential expenses include training, socializing, doggy daycare, dog sitters, dog walkers, etc. Grooming would likely add a significant amount to your Sheepie’s maintenance costs.

How to Name an Old English Sheepdog?

Choosing a name for your Old English Sheepdog involves essential building blocks, including the significance of the sound. The Old English Sheepdog’s name will mean something to the humans in the dog’s life, but for your canine companion, only the sound matters.

Old English Sheepdog responds best to two-syllable names that are not short enough to be confused with single-syllable command words like “sit,” stay,” “come,” and “down.” However, the names should not be long enough to become puzzling.

It is always a good idea not to rush into choosing a name. Spend a week or so with your new Old English Sheepdog pup, and its character traits might be all the inspiration you need. 

Call out any name-ideas, using different tones and sounds for the two syllables, and watch your puppy’s reaction to the sound. Remember, you must compose a sound that your Old English Sheepdog will recognize from a distance, among many other sounds. 

Choose a name that could sound different in regular interaction and yelling or calling your Old English Sheepdog. Below is a list of suggestions of names honoring the Old English Sheepdog’s fame. 

Old English Sheepdog Breed Names

Inspired by the Old English Sheepdog’s fame in movies and TV

Old English Sheepdog Boy Names

Old English Sheepdog Girl Names


TV advert for Dulux paint for decades, starting in 1961


TV advert for Dulux paint for decades, starting in 1961


Star in the Biggest Dog in the World – released in 1973


Star in 1937 movie, The Storm in a Teacup. 


Star in movies about animal transformations. The first movie was released in 1959


Star in movies about animal transformations. The first movie was released in 1959


Star in 1968 musical movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


To honor OES role in 1968 musical movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


animated OES star of children’s TV show, Dinky Dog


animated OES star of children’s TV show, Dinky Dog

What are the Different Types of Old English Sheepdogs?

There is only one Old English Sheepdog but below is a list of other sheepdog breeds.

What Dog Breeds are Similar to the Old English Sheepdog?

Old English Sheepdogs are rare and may be challenging to find, but even if you do, purebreds are expensive and involve long waiting lists. Finding an OES at a rescue center might be equally challenging because they are rare, and even there you might have to put your name on a waiting list. However, as wonderful of a dog as the Bobtail may be, they aren’t for everyone. Here are some dogs that are similar to Old English Sheepdogs.

Below is a list of similar breeds that might be a good match for your family.

  • Border Collie – Although sporting a shorter coat of fur, this highly intelligent and athletic breed was originally created in northern England for the purpose of herding livestock. It has a very alert and lively personality that requires lots of physical and mental stimulation.
  • Bearded Collie – This breed is very similar to the Border Collie, but it has a very similar appearance as the Old English Sheepdog with the long shaggy hair and white and gray coloration. It is an athletic and intelligent breed with a loyal bearing.
  • English Shepherd – With its intelligent and athletic disposition, this breed is similar to the Border Collie. In fact, both the English Shepherd and the Border Collie share a common ancestry around England.
  • German Shepherd – Although it has a more wolf-like appearance, the German Shepherd has the temperament and behavior of a traditional herding dog. It is very strong, trainable, and obedient. This makes it ideal for all sorts of tasks such as police duty, disability assistance, and search and rescue.

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.