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Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog

This lovely breed is most distinctive for its long, shaggy coat and appealing appearance, so much so that the Old English Sheepdog has often been used in advertising. Despite their rather glamorous appearance when groomed, however, these are agile, enduring, and powerful working dogs that were favored by shepherds for their herding, droving, and protective instincts. Their tremendous coat insulates them against the worst weather and provides protection against predators. Old English Sheepdogs are affectionate, intelligent, and lively dogs that make wonderful family companions.


This breed traces back to Russian Ovcharka and Bearded Collie ancestry, with the possible addition of Briard, although no early records exist. In the eighteenth century, a dog tax was introduced on pet dogs, but working dogs, differentiated by having “bobbed” tails, were exempt. So Old English Sheepdogs had their tails docked and were often known as Bobtails. By the nineteenth century, they had developed a specific type and were common in the South Downs region of Sussex, where they were used for driving cattle, sheep, and sometimes ponies to market. The first UK standard was written in 1888 and the first American one in 1904. In the United States, the breed became fashionable among the wealthiest families including the Guggenheims and Vanderbilts who did much to promote the dogs. They are now popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

Old English Sheepdogs are particularly cute as puppies, but as they come into their full coat, it will take a serious time commitment to keep them properly groomed. Puppies’ coats will invariably darken with age.

Old English Sheepdog Old English Sheepdog Old English Sheepdog Old English Sheepdog Old English Sheepdog Old English Sheepdog
From Dogs Unleashed, Copyright by Tamsin Pickeral, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with Thunder Bay Press

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