Old English Sheepdogs are distinctive the world over with their long, shaggy coats covering thickset bodies. Their eyes appear to be totally covered but their vision is never impaired. In colour, OES can be any shade of grey, grizzle, or blue with or without white markings. Adult males stand at 61cm and above and weigh from 36kg; adult females are 56cm and above and from 30kg.
The Old English Sheepdog breed emerged in England in the mid-1700s and is probably linked to ancient herders, including the Bergamasco, the Bearded Collie, the Briard and the Armant. The nickname 'Bobtail' is significant in its history. In England in the 18th century, tax exemption was granted to drover dogs, which helped drive the herds to market. To mark these dogs, their tails were docked. Old English Sheepdogs were excellent at this job because of their eagerness and weather-resistant coats. The coats were sheared annually along with the sheep and the farmers' wives spun the dog shearings as well as the sheep's wool into warm clothing.
Old English Sheepdogs are cheerful extroverts and are popular family companions. They usually have lovely natures but can be excitable when playing, and so care must be taken when young children are involved. They will join in every possible activity with enthusiasm. They are fearless and make excellent watch dogs, especially with their resonant bark. Early training is imperative to control the breed's boisterous behaviour.
As with many breeds, the Old English Sheepdog Labrador can suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
Old English Sheepdogs need owners who are dedicated to giving them a lot of exercise, although care must be taken when they are puppies to ensure no bone problems develop through over-exercise.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The Old English Sheepdog breed is prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
When Old English Sheepdog puppies shed their adolescent coats, it is imperative that you spend the necessary time to ensure the old coat does not become matted with the new one. If left for any length of time, the coat can become so matted that the only solution is to clip. Owning one is extremely hard work and time-consuming: they constantly shed their coats, their pads must be checked after every outing to ensure nothing is stuck to the hairs and due to all that hair, they can also be prone to dirty back-ends which may need routine cleaning.