As one of the oldest breeds, the Old English Sheepdog was accepted by the American Kennel Club only four years after they began, in 1888. In addition, it is currently the 75th most popular dog breed in the United States. This large and shaggy dog has been a popular breed for many television shows and movies and is a popular show dog as well. They are strong but gentle dogs who are also very intelligent and can learn how to do just about anything you want. Their thick double coat hangs over their eyes and comes in many different colors but the most common are grizzle and white; gray and white; blue merle and white; blue gray and white; and blue and white.
The history of the Old English Sheepdog is still a bit of a mystery as there are many theories and ideas. The name implies that it originated as a sheep herder in England so that is the most popular theory. A small version of the drop eared dogs in a 1771 Gainsborough painting is thought to be a version of the Old English Sheepdog. According to the Old English Sheepdog Club of America, the Old English Sheepdog is one of the most ancient breeds of working dogs and the most recognizable with its long fur covering its face. The Old English Sheepdog is also one of the most popular show dogs, known mostly for their beautiful long coat and excellent personality. The Old English Sheepdog used for working with sheep and cattle was bred to be more suitable for the terrain and weather conditions they frequently encounter. In fact, many sheep farmers would shear their Old English Sheepdogs right along with their sheep. It is also said that the Old English Sheepdog started with the drovers of the 1800s, bred for their courage, steadiness, and stamina. They were needed to help the drovers steer sheep and cattle over long distances and to protect both the herds and flocks from the wolves. These furry giants also protected the drovers from the bulls and oxen. Although the Old English Sheepdog is still used as a herding dog in some areas, they are mostly found as companion pets or show dogs. They became popular as pets in the 1960s when the Walt Disney movie “The Shaggy Dog” was famous. Since then, there have been numerous Old English Sheepdogs in the movies and television such as Barney in the television show “Barney”, Lat on “The Brady Bunch”, and Barkley on “Sesame Street.”
The Old English Sheepdog is a solid and strong dog, with a waterproof pile undercoat and a long, dense topcoat that is straight but not flat, and profuse but not excessive. The head is large and squared; eyes are either blue, brown, or both; ears are medium sized and flat; level bite with black lips and strong, even teeth; and an intelligent expression. The Old English Sheepdog has a long neck, large but compact body, well-sprung ribs, and a closely docked or bobtail. They have short, stout, but well-muscled legs, round feet with arched toes, and thick pads. The coat can come in many different colors but the five most common include grizzle and white; gray and white; blue merle and white; blue gray and white; and blue and white. Fur should be thick without giving the look of being fat, shaggy but not curly, hanging over eyes, and the texture should be hard and solid.
Due to their large amount of hair, the Old English Sheepdog needs to be thoroughly brushed on a daily basis, especially if used as a show dog. Although many owners have their dog clipped or shaved if not a show dog, there are some tips that can help prevent that. For example, if you use a comb to strip the undercoat, you can usually keep their fur at full length. Their fur is thick and they cannot tolerate much heat so stripping the undercoat helps with that problem as well. However, even if you strip the undercoat, you will need to brush your Old English Sheepdog daily to prevent mats and tangles. They shed a lot, especially in April and May, but brushing can help control it some. Your Old English Sheepdog is not a couch potato and must get vigorous exercise every day such as a brisk walk and game of catch or a trip to the dog park.