One only has to watch an Old English sheep dog at play to feel a smile tugging at the corners of their mouth. Watching these large shaggy doubled coated dogs at play is a sight to behold. Their square shaped body and lolling tongue make an amusing picture, but there is much more to these happy go lucky dogs than their happy go lucky personality.

Old English Sheep Dogs stand close to two feet tall and weigh 60 to 65 pounds. Though a fairly large dog they have small feet that look almost dainty compare to their bulky kind of square body. Their shaggy double coat has a bit of a wave to it and they come in a variety of gray and blue colors.

Although these dogs were originally bred as a herding dog, their personality makes them ideal family dogs. They are extremely loving and friendly and are particularly good with children, tending to be very protective of the smallest members of the family. They are loyal to a fault and while they will alert you to strangers with a deep low pitched bark, they are much more likely to greet a stranger by lapping their face on drooling on their shirt than by attacking them.

However, they are not the neatest dogs in the world and will happily roll around in the mud, streak up your floors and play in their water dish. They will also tend to herd family members by nudging and bumping them unless a firm hand is taken with them right from the start.

They are also a dog that needs extensive grooming. They need to be brushed all the way down through their under coat at least three times a week and they need a regular trim around the eyes and rear end on a regular basis.

While Old English Sheep dogs have been known to live happily in apartments with only a daily walk and can entertain themselves inside as well as out, they much prefer to live in a place with at least a medium size yard where they can run and jump about at will. Left alone inside for long periods on a regular basis they can become destructive so it is best to either have someone at home to give them attention or hire a dog sitter to keep them entertained.

This is a dog that can benefit greatly from obedience training and you may want to include some alpha dog training as well, as this dog is strong minded and may try to over-power any owner who does not maintain a firm hand. They are not a good dog for first time dog owners or for those who do not want to exercise control over their pet.

While an Old English sheep dog is not a dog for every family, they may well be the perfect dog for the family who doesn’t mind a bit of a mess and enjoys the happy go lucky, playful personality of these comic dogs who enjoy bonding with the people they love.

Adaptable, Gentle, Smart

AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 72 of 193
Height: 22 inches & up (male), 21 inches & up (female)
Weight: 60-100 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
Group: Herding Group

Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog of America


The origin of the Old English Sheepdog remains a question of keen interest to Bobtail fanciers, and is still open to new theories and discoveries. However, there are traces of evidence which place its origin in the early nineteenth century, centered in the Southwestern Counties of England. Some maintain that the Scottish Bearded Collie had a large part in its making; others claim the Russian Owtchar as one of the progenitors of the Old English Sheepdog.

OESWritings of that time refer to a “drovers dog” which was used primarily for driving sheep and cattle to market, and it is speculated that these drover’s dogs were exempt from taxes due to their working status. To prove their occupation, their tails were docked…leading to the custom of calling the sheepdog by the nickname “Bob” or “Bobtail”. Since this dog has been used more for driving than for herding, the lack of a tail to serve as a rudder, so to speak, has in no way affected its ability to work with heavier kinds of sheep or cattle.

The Old English Sheepdog was first promoted in the U.S. by Pittsburgh industrialist Wm. Wade in the late 1880’s, and by the turn of the century, five of the ten wealthiest American families–the Morgans, Vanderbilts, Goulds, Harrisons and Guggenheims–all owned, bred and exhibited the Old English Sheepdog. In fact, the social prominence and importance of the owners and spectators at the Old English ring in the 1904 Westminster Show in New York prompted the show superintendent to discreetly advise the judge to “take plenty of time; the dogs in the ring are the property of some of our leading Americans”. It should be noted here, that these prominent families also had kennel managers and staff to care for and groom their OES!!!!!