Old English Sheepdog Breed Guide

Breed Group:
Herding Dogs

Middle Age: 5 years

Geriatric Age: 10 years

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Old English Sheepdog Background

Although the origins of the Old English Sheepdog remain unclear, many believe these dogs originated in Great Britain sometime during the early 19th century. A part of the herding category, this breed was known for herding sheep and cattle for local farmers during the day and was an excellent family pet at night.

Finally, in the late 1800’s, the Old English Sheepdog made its way to the United States where they became a popular breed among American elitists. While this breed remained a “rich man’s dog” for almost 50 years, they eventually transitioned to be an ordinary household pet that was loved by all.

Old English Sheepdog Personality

There is nothing more the Old English Sheepdog wants than to be with their family. Even though they are herders, they serve as loyal companions as well. They are good-natured and playful, making them an amazing partner for children.

Since this breed thrives on human interaction, they don’t like to be alone for long periods of time. In fact, if they do not get their daily exercise or attention they crave, they may develop canine separation anxiety or depression.

Old English Sheepdog Training

Old English Sheepdogs are known to be people pleasers, which means they will take your dog training efforts quite well. They are also an intelligent breed and will be able to learn simple tricks and commands in no time at all.

However, it’s also important to note that these dogs are always looking for some type of entertainment and can easily become bored. Once they have mastered the basics in training, start to get them involved with lure coursing, agility training, obedience, or herding.

Old English Sheepdog Exercise

Since these dogs are so large, they need a lot of exercise to stay both happy and healthy. Plan to give your Old English Sheepdog at least one to two hours of physical activity on a daily basis. Make sure to switch up his workout routine with different activities to keep him entertained and engaged. Whether it’s a walk to the park or herding cattle, this breed thrives when they are given regular exercise on a day to day basis.

As a general rule of thumb, do not exercise your Old English Sheepdog on a hot day. His thick coat can be too much for warm temperatures and can cause heat stroke if overworked.

Old English Sheepdog Lifespan

The Old English Sheepdog has a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years.

Old English Sheepdog Breed Popularity

These dogs are fairly popular within the United States today. As of recently, the AKC has ranked the Old English Sheepdog as the 75th most popular dog out of 202 registered breeds.

Old English Sheepdog Feeding

On average, an Old English Sheepdog should consume between 2 ½ to 4 ½ cups of high-quality food a day, split into two equal meals. This is dependent on a number of different factors including their age, weight, metabolism, and activity level. Keep in mind that all dogs are different from one another and should have a feeding regimen that’s specifically catered towards them.

Old English Sheepdog Grooming

This breed’s signature trademark is their big and fluffy coat. Although their fur makes them look both majestic and cuddly, it can be quite the challenge when it’s time for grooming. Inexperienced owners will need to learn how to properly care for this coat, and they should expect it to take 3 to 4 hours a week to groom it correctly.

Along with their intensive coat grooming, be sure to trim their nails every couple of weeks and brush their teeth regularly. Brushing their teeth is especially important because most dogs will develop dental disease at some point in their lives.

Are Old English Sheepdogs Good with Kids?

The Old English Sheepdog wasn’t nicknamed “the nanny” for nothing. These dogs are absolutely great with children, making them the perfect addition to any active home. However, keep in mind these dogs can be close to 100 pounds so infants and toddlers may not be a good idea.

Old English Sheepdog Health Problems

Although the Old English Sheepdog is a fairly healthy breed, they are still prone to several health complications. This may include:

Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism occurs when the body does not produce a sufficient amount of hormones from the thyroid gland. Symptoms often include weight gain, lethargy, or mental dullness. Once properly diagnosed, this condition can be cured by taking a synthetic hormone pill.

Cataracts: Cataracts in dogs occur when the lens of the eye becomes opaque or foggy, which restricts the vision and can lead to blindness. In severe cases, corrective surgery may be recommended to replace the damaged lens.

Deafness: Canine deafness is a common health condition that may affect the Old English Sheepdog breed. Unfortunately, most cases of deafness are incurable. If you think your dog is becoming deaf, take him to a vet as soon as possible for further testing.

Other Resources

National Breed Website: Old English Sheepdog Club of America 

Rescue: New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue, Inc.