Old English Sheep Dog – Intelligent, Kind and Brave
Originally bred to drive sheep and cattle to market, the Old English Sheep Dog is intelligent and kind, with a sense of humor. Widely known in the U.K. as ‘the Dulux Dog’ owing to an Old English Sheepdog featuring in the Dulux paint company’s television advertisements.
Old English Sheep Dog – Temperament
The O.E.S. (for short) is a fun-loving and cheerful breed that can act the clown. Credited with actually having a sense of humor, they are intelligent, like most dog breeds that were bred for herding livestock.
This not a rare nor unique breed, but the Old English is rather uncommon. You simply don’t see many of this breed around! They are easy-going and even-tempered by nature, but need human company to remain happy. They demand attention, and do not do well if left alone for long, or confined in an enclosed space.
The Old English Sheepdog is gentle with children, and makes the perfect family pet. They love the attention that children give them, and enjoy playing with them. This breed does well in an apartment setting as well as in the city or out in the countryside.
Due to their long-haired coat, this breed does not do well in hot climates.
There is some uncertainty with regard to the exact history of the Old English Sheep Dog. There is evidence that the breed originated in the early 19th century in the South-western counties of England. Some authorities believe that the Scottish Bearded Collie was involved in the original development, while others point to the Russian Ovcharka.
Writings from that time refer to a ‘drover’s dog’ that was used to help herd cattle and sheep to market from the farmer’s property. As working dogs, they were exempt from taxation. As a sign of their exemption, their tails were docked, like many working breeds, which was done at that time to help prevent injuries to the tail during the working day.
By the year 1900, 5 of the wealthiest families in the USA owned, bred and showed Old English Sheepdogs. The breed popularity has only increased since then!
Height; 21 inches + at the withers for males.
Weight; 80 – 100lbs for males; minimum 60 – 85lbs for females.
White face and mane with black or grey body.
Ease of Training
As a breed developed for driving livestock, rather than herding or protecting, the Old English Sheep Dog has an independent nature, some would say slightly stubborn. This means that they are NOT easy to train. BUT training is essential if a dog of this size is to become house-friendly.
While the breed is easy-going and loves attention, they will tend to resist formal training unless done in a consistent and rewarding manner. It’s well worth getting a professional dog trainer to help you out, at least with the basics. It’s also worth getting a good book on dog training – check out my page on the best dog training books by clicking on this link.
The O.E.S. makes a good watchdog, barking to alert their owners about anything unusual in the vicinity. They will also act as a deterrent to intruders, with their size and their determination to protect their family. But not much more than that.
This breed lacks the innate aggressiveness to actually attack an intruder in a meaningful way. They may attempt to drive the stranger off, but do not have the ‘guts’ to take a man down with intent to keep him down, like a Bullmastiff or a Doberman Pinscher, for example.
The Old English needs a LOT of grooming, unless you have him (or her) trimmed. This is a long-haired breed that sheds hairs everywhere, including your clothes, the car, and even in the butter.
You need to allow around 4 to 5 hours a week for full grooming if you want to keep the dog’s coat at its natural length. Otherwise be prepared to pay a professional dog groomer!
While the Old English Sheepdog is a healthy breed, it is not without
health concerns. Preventative health care, such as vaccinations,
worming, heart worm prevention, diet, weight control and exercise, helps
ensure a healthy OES with an average life span of 10 to 12 years.
As is true for all dogs, the most frequent cause of death is cancer. The
second most frequent cause of death for an O.E.S. is old age.
This is a generally healthy breed, with few problems. However, they may suffer from the following conditions;
- Hip dysplasia
- Eye conditions
Famous Old English Sheep Dogs
Of course, the ‘Dulux Dog’, which has been the mascot of the Dulux Paint company since the 1960’s. The part has been played by several dogs over the years, the most well-known being Digby.
Sir Paul McCartney had an O.E.S. called Martha, which featured in the 11th Beatles album.
Franklin D. Rooseveldt owned an Old English called ‘Tiny’.
Here is a link to the Old English Sheepdog Club of America.