Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog picture


The Old English Sheepdog is a large breed of dog belonging to the Pastoral Group. It is believed that the breed was developed originally for their herding instincts and were often used as working dogs by drovers and shepherds.

There is some speculation that the O.E.S may have been developed from the South Russian Ovcharka and the Bearded Collie, both of whom bear a striking resemblance to the breed as we know it today.

The O.E.S are traditionally known as ‘Bobtails’ due to the tails being docked shortly after birth, possibly for tax purposes, as this identified them as working dogs. Since April 2007 the practice of tail docking in the United Kingdom has been banned by law.

The O.E.S was first recorded as having been ‘shown’ in 1873 and the breed has been the brand mascot for ‘Dulux’ paint since the 1960’s.


Although a large breed of dog the O.E.S is well known for its gentle, affectionate disposition who loves human company and is always eager to please. Firm training is required from an early age and they can have a tendency to stubbornness. The O.E.S is an intelligent and adaptable breed, being equally at home in rural or suburban surroundings (providing they have adequate exercise).

The O.E.S is a distinctive breed with their thickset bodies and shaggy coats which consists of two layers, a harsh outer coat and a softer waterproof undercoat. They have a distinctive ‘bear-like’ roll when walking and viewed from behind due to the dog standing lower at the shoulders than at the loin. When trotting they should stride effortlessly with the extension and drive coming from the hindquarters.


The O.E.S is generally a healthy breed although, as with most other breeds, there are some recognised problems such as Hip Dysplasia and Hereditary Cataracts. All breeding stock should be tested prior to matings.

Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD) – this is a rare respiratory disease which has recently been identified as having affected some Old English Sheepdogs. D.N.A testing and research into this is currently being conducted in Liege, Belgium.

Other known problems within the breed are Thyroid problems and Cancer.

Life expectancy is generally 9 – 14 years.