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Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdogs are distinctive the world over thanks to their appearance in advertising campaigns, with their long, shaggy coats covering thickset bodies. Their eyes appear to be totally covered but their vision is never impaired.

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for experienced owners
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming daily
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10–12 years
Weight: 27–45kg
Height: 51–61cm
Colours: Any shade of grey, grizzle, or blue with or without white markings
Size: Large
Kennel Club group: Pastoral


Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 1/5


Old English Sheepdogs are cheerful extroverts and are popular family companions. They are known for being intelligent, loving, watchful, faithful and protective. They are fearless and make excellent watch dogs, especially with their resonant bark. They can be overly boisterous however and need plenty of exercise, training and grooming.

History and Origins

Country of Origin: England

Despite their name, the Old English Sheepdog isn’t that old and wasn’t historically a sheepdog! They were mostly used as drover’s dogs, employed to help move cattle and any work they did with the sheep was purely part time.

They were created in the late 18th century by crossing existing drover’s dogs with the Bearded Collie and possibly also some of the European breeds such as the Bergamasco. They were often known as Bobtails because they were traditionally docked as a tax avoidance scheme. Working drover’s dogs were exempt from taxes and so they were marked and ‘disabled’ in this way - whereas true sheepdogs needed their long tails to help with their complex and athletic sideways movements.

The Old English Sheepdog also helped with guarding duties and even sometimes worked as hunting retrievers. They would be shorn with the sheep every year and their ‘wool’ used in clothing. Today however they are almost exclusively companions and show dogs.

Health and Common Issues

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Old English Sheepdogs

Training Old English Sheepdogs

Best Family Dog Breeds

Did You Know?

  • Thanks to a long running advertising campaign, the Old English Sheepdog will probably forever be known as the Dulux Dog, (although having one around while you’re trying to paint your house is probably a recipe for disaster!).
  • At one time the Old English Sheepdog was a status symbol within the American Industrial period and the five richest families in the world (the Vanderbilts, the Guggenheims, the Morgans, the Goulds and the Harrisons) all owned Old English Sheepdogs as did many of the film stars of the day.
  • Paul McCartney owned an Old English Sheepdog called Martha who lived in the Mull of Kintyre and whose puppy appeared on one of his album covers.
  • Their coat is insulating and waterproof so it keeps them warm during cold, wet winters and warm summers.
  • Old English Sheepdogs have won Best in Show at Westminster twice, once in 1914 and then again 1975.

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