- Size: Large; 27 to 45kg.
- Colours: Blue merle, blue, grey, and grizzle.
- Grooming frequency: High; brush far at least three times a week and bathe every six to eight weeks.
- Exercise: High energy level; needs daily walks or runs of 20 to 40 minutes.
- Temperament: Sociable, bubbly, playful, adaptable, intelligent, and loving.
- Lifespan: 10 to 12 years.
- Health issues: Immune haemolytic anaemia, hip dysplasia and cataracts.
- Suitable for first time owners: No.
- Suitable for families with children: Yes.
- Suitable alone: Yes
Fans of Disney’s The Little Mermaid will instantly recognise Prince Eric’s shaggy, large grey and white pup, Max, as on Old English Sheepdog. Goofy, fun and lovable, Max is so affectionate and friendly that he befriends Ariel the mermaid early in the film even though she’s just a stranger. The breed is exactly the same in real life.
Originating in the western counties of England, the Old English Sheepdog was initially used to cart cattle and sheep into markets. They were bred to be well-coordinated and quick, making them perfect for the role of drovers. To prove that they were working dogs and to get exempted from taxes, farmers docked their tails. This earned them the moniker ‘bobtail’. This shaggy breed often had their fur shaved along with sheep. The hair would then be turned into yarn and used to make clothes.
Personality & Temperament
Adaptable, bubble, playful and loving, this breed makes the perfect family dog. The Old English Sheepdog loves its home and will not roam or get into fights with other animals. It’s also highly adaptable making the breed suitable for apartment living. This pooch is also excellent with children because it’s friendly and gentle. A quintessential family dog, the Old English Sheepdog thrives in close company with its paw-rents.
Though goofy and happy-go-lucky, Old English Sheepdogs are strong-willed and need a firm owner to control them. They will listen to commands but will ignore them if they feel that their paw-rents is not firm enough. This makes them unsuitable for first-time owners. They are boisterous, mischievous and clumsy when young and will need consistent correction and training to develop into a well-mannered adult pooch.
Old English Sheepdogs also have a natural herding instinct and will herd children and small animal by bumping them. They don’t make good guard dogs because of how friendly and easygoing they are.
With a dog as large and furry as an Old English Sheepdog, grooming and care is definitely time-consuming. This breed has a dense, insulating, waterproof double coat that protects it from the cold and heat. It sheds frequently and its fur needs to be brushed at least three times a week. Overgrowth of fur can lead to matting and skin problems. Taking this pooch to the groomer is recommended because grooming them at home can be a herculean task. Then Old English Sheepdog should be bathed every six to eight weeks. This pup drools a lot and the fur around its mouth will often clump, hence, always keep wet wipes on hand to wipe away the collected drool.
These dogs need to be taken on daily walks or runs since they have a lot of energy to expend. If they cannot get rid of stored energy, they can become destructive and bark excessively.
Adapted from Pets Magazine