Old English Sheepdog History And Origin
The Old English sheepdog originated in England where it was historically used as a working dog to herd livestock and guard the flock (especially at night). It is an English breed that has been around for many centuries.
The origins of this breed are not known, but it was at some point during the 1800s when working dogs were crossed with sheepdogs to create the Old English sheepdog.
The American Kennel Club describes the Old English sheepdog as having “sheep’s ears and tail, but no throat or dewlap. The coat is short, dense and weather-resistant. Acceptable colors are blue merle and black.”
On a side note: Deceased Chinese dog breeder Dr Feng Shui was jailed for more than nine months after being found guilty of cruelty charges linked to his breeding dogs without spaying them.
The Old English sheepdog is still a very popular breed and has a number of devoted fans, but it is not without its share of difficulties.
Some health issues that this breed suffers from include hip dysplasia, cataracts, glaucoma, and entropion, thyroid problems, deafness, diabetes, HD (exercise-induced collapse), PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), allergies and skin problems.
Farmers used Old English Sheepdogs as “drover dogs”, driving livestock to market and pulling carts and wagons. In the 1800s, they were used by the Royal Army as guard dogs and reconnaissance hunters.
The breed was exported to the United States in the 1880s and by the turn of the 20th century, five of the ten wealthiest American families bred and showed them. Nowadays, they are most commonly kept as pets.
Currently, Old English Sheepdogs are second only to Labrador Retrievers as America’s favorite dog. They earn that title for their positive nature, friendliness toward children and strangers, playfulness and intelligence.
Old English Sheepdog Characteristics And Appearance
The Old English sheepdog’s body is deep and strong with a broad chest and shoulders. Its strong neck leads to a wedge-shaped head with the nose being short, straight and black.
The ears are folded over, long, wide at the base and sit near the cheeks. The eyes are oval in shape, set slightly obliquely and are dark brown or hazel in color.
The coat is double layered; an outer layer of shaggy hair lies over a shorter dense undercoat. Most commonly, the coat color is black and white or red and white. There are many different coat combinations possible.
The Old English sheepdog stands slightly taller than it is tall. It has a deep chest, is well-muscled and its legs are straight with good joints and feet that can be of any shape. The tail is typically docked between two and four inches in length (depending on the country of origin).
Old English Sheepdogs are natural athletes, capable of running for miles with great stamina and endurance. They are energetic, intelligent and very playful. They require a lot of exercise, whether it be through vigorous playing or long walks that help wear them out.
Old English Sheepdog Health Issues
Old English Sheepdogs are typically healthy dogs with few health problems. The most common issues that they face include:
Bloat (Gastric Dilation) – Gastric dilation can occur in any dog and is caused by a number of things. It can be brought on by exercise, eating or sometimes an episode of vomiting. It is possible as a result of one or more of these factors to become fatal.
If the dog is bloated, you will see a distended abdomen that looks hard and thunderous. The dog may be restless, panting and drooling. There are a number of things that can help prevent bloat. Most importantly it is important to feed your dog in smaller meals over the course of the day. An exercise routine also helps, as does keeping an eye on water intake.
Hip Dysplasia – This condition is hereditary and causes arthritis in joints as dog’s age. It is caused by malformation in the hip socket, resulting in degenerative joint disease. Symptoms can be pain, lameness and stiffness.
Osteochondrosis – This condition is a non-hereditary failure of one or more of the ossification centers to form correctly. Diagnosis can vary in difficulty depending on where the failure in ossification occurs. There are different types of this condition and it can present itself as:
Diffuse – The most common type, presents as a soft tissue swelling over the back of the stifle joint. Scapular – Where the shoulder blade fails to form from the scapula joint, resulting in a ball-shaped swelling where the shoulder blade meets the breastbone.
Hock – It’s a condition that involves excessive wear and tear on one or more of the hock joints. This results in arthritis and lameness.
Some Old English Sheepdogs suffer from an Arthritis neuropathy (nerve damage) at some point in their lives and this is not uncommon. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from any of these conditions or others, it is important to consult with a vet.
Old English Sheepdog Temperament
Old English Sheepdogs make wonderful pets because of their sweet nature, friendly demeanor, intelligence and keen sense of smell. They are gentle and loyal animals that bond closely with the family members they live with.
They are also very alert and have a good sense of directional hearing. When you introduce them to new people or places, it is important to discuss the “sit” command before you leave the house. If a dog is initially unsure about its surroundings, this can cause problems later on as it may feel threatened by strangers.
This breed is not recommended for homes with small children. Old English sheepdog puppies are usually very rambunctious and can be difficult to control. They need a lot of attention while they are young and will benefit from obedience training by the age of four months to help curb their natural exuberance.
For this reason, it is important that children be monitored when they are around them. Old English sheepdog puppies are popular as pets because of their gentle, loving nature, but they can also be very challenging to live with if they become bored. They require a great deal of attention and must always be kept busy.
Old English Sheepdogs do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. They should not be left alone overnight or when you are away on vacation. They can suffer from separation anxiety and will need some sort of dog activity to keep them company when you are not at home.
Old English Sheepdog Breed Uses
The Old English sheepdog is primarily kept as a family pet, but they also excel at dog sports and are popular working dogs. This includes:
Herding – Because of their natural herding instincts, the Old English sheepdog can be trained to herd animals. They have a strong relationship to livestock and will often guard it from predators. They can also keep track of a large group of animals and drive them in one direction by nipping and biting.
Work – For centuries, the Old English sheepdog has been used as a farm dog. They can be trained to perform a number of tasks including: driving sheep and cattle in order to protect them from predators.
Christmas Duties – It is traditional for Old English Sheepdogs in Britain for owners to leave a bowl of mutton bones by the fireplace on Christmas Eve. The dogs can smell the mutton and will guard the house from burglars all night.
The practice is thought to have started during the reign of King Henry VIII, when it was believed that a man who broke into a house on Christmas Eve, would be killed by the dog guarding it.
Old English Sheepdog Activities And Exercise
An Old English sheepdog will benefit from a number of activities and exercise as it can become very energetic. It is recommended that they take part in sports with their owners. Activities such as:
Agility – This helps to keep your dog active, while at the same time building stronger social bonds with you. By working on courses together, it can also improve your confidence and timing when handling commands together.
It can also help if you have problems with joint pain because this activity does not put the same pressure on your joints as regular walking might.
Old English Sheepdogs also love to swim, so you should try to get them involved in water sports. If you simply want to provide your Old English sheepdog with some exercise and quality time together, you can always try:
Walking – Most Old English Sheepdogs would prefer walking on the beach or countryside when they are offered a choice. They are not suited to jogging or running and will become easily exhausted if they do these kind of activities. You should choose a route with very little traffic and that has been properly maintained.
Old English Sheepdogs need regular exercise to stay healthy and maintain a good weight. They have a high energy level and if they are not given enough exercise they can become obese.
Like many breeds, they can have problems with hip dysplasia, bone and joint problems, as well as bloat. Owners should take care to monitor the amount of food and water consumed in order to prevent these conditions from developing.
Old English Sheepdog Care And Grooming
The Old English sheepdog is a low maintenance breed. It sheds very little and is naturally clean, meaning that it will not require frequent bathing. Regular brushing with a coarse-haired comb or stiff brush will be enough to keep its grooming routine easy. The coat should be brushed at least once a week to remove debris and tangles, if left untended it can become matted.
The Old English sheepdog does not require regular bathing. It should be brushed only once or twice a week to remove debris, dead hair and tangles. The Old English sheepdog should also be bathed, using a shampoo that contains organic ingredients such as jojoba or olive oil. It would be best to bathe them after they have been outside for the day, as this can help to prevent fleas and ticks from attaching themselves to their coat.
By using a shampoo that is designed for dogs, these chores will be much easier and more enjoyable for your dog. It is not necessary or usual to condition or comb the dog’s hair. In fact, the Old English sheepdog can have a very coarse coat and it should be brushed out once or twice weekly with a stiff-bristled brush.
Old English Sheepdog Nutrition And Diet
An Old English sheepdog will benefit from a high-quality dog food. They are very active dogs and therefore need a diet that is high in protein, but also contain all of the other vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy.
Old English Sheepdogs do not have any digestive problems and are generally good at controlling their weight. This means that they should not need a specially formulated diet for weight control, but an average dry dog food should be enough to keep them healthy if you pay attention to their portion sizes.
As a rule of thumb, you should feed your Old English sheepdog around 30% of their bodyweight each day. However, they may require more food if they are very active or exercising. Some dog foods also contain specific components for dogs with particular health problems, so you can buy one that is suitable for your dog’s needs.
Old English Sheepdog Training And Socialization?
The Old English sheepdog is a fairly intelligent breed and can be trained fairly easily. They are known to be extremely good with children and therefore, they are the perfect family pet. What’s more is that they are very tolerant towards strangers, making them a good dog for families with visitors or friends who have pets of their own.
Training should start early and should be done daily in short bursts of 10 minutes at a time over several weeks. Older puppies that have been properly socialized will be able to start training when they are about six months old.
You should also provide plenty of exercise and socialization from a young age to help your dog become calm and confident around other dogs and people.
Old English Sheepdogs are loyal, easy to obedience train and have an excellent response rate. Being large dogs, they can have a bit of a barky nature but this can be easily tamed by socializing them at an early age. If you have a problem with barking, a shock collar or citronella spray collar will help to start the training process.
It is important that Old English Sheepdogs are properly socialized, as they can be very timid around other dogs. It is best if they are exposed to other large dogs such as:
Great Dane – This is a large and powerful breed that loves to play, so it makes for an entertaining and fun playtime activity.
Old English Sheepdog Lifespan
Old English Sheepdogs have a lifespan of around 10-12 years. They are a medium to large sized breed and are known for their shaggy coat. They are gentle, loving, and loyal dogs that make great family pets. They are also known for being good with children.