Old English Sheepdog | Information & Dog Breed Facts


The Old English Sheepdog (Bobtail) is recognized worldwide for its long woolly fur that covers its chubby body. Its eyes seem completely covered by hair, but its vision is perfect.

The main distinguishing feature and decoration of representatives of the Bobtail breed is considered lush wool. These dogs look like big soft toys. Many people who are not familiar with this breed believe that bobtail does not have great mental abilities.

Old English Sheepdog
Old English Sheepdog

In fact, the Old English Sheepdog is very smart, it cannot be otherwise. After all, she was originally used as a Sheepdog, a shepherd dog cannot be stupid. Now bobtails are very popular as companions and decorative pets.

Breed history

The homeland of Old English Sheepdog – Bobtail is the UK. These dogs were called so because from the very beginning of their appearance, their tail was shortened. The British for the most part call the Bobtail Old English Sheepdog.

Initially, the only purpose of the breed was to graze livestock of farmers. Presumably brought bobtail in the central part of the UK. In ancient times, there were many farmlands in England; in this regard, Sheepdog dogs were very popular and in demand. The clever dog, who followed the herd well, was worth its weight in gold.

Among all shepherd dogs, Old English Sheepdog dogs are considered a relatively young breed. The first information about them appeared in the eighteenth century. It was then that the famous artist Gainsborough in his painting portrayed a dog with fine hair, which was a copy of the bobtail.

You can trace how the history of the breed evolved over the years:

•             1885 – Old English Sheepdog was officially recognized. An important role in this recognition was played by the expert on cattle breeds – Lloyd Freeman. It was he who presented the world with a shepherd old English Sheepdog.

•             1888 – Bobtail is registered as an independent breed by the Kennel Club in America.

•             1904 – in the USA, admirers of Old English Sheepdog dogs open the first club of this breed.

•             The sixties – seventies of the twentieth century – the Old English Sheepdog has established itself as an excellent actor, films featuring representatives of the breed are screened, and shepherd dogs take part in many television programs and shows.

Modern bobtail dogs have not lost their shepherd’s talent, but for the most part now they are faithful companions, friendly pets.

Old English Sheepdog Bobtail
Old English Sheepdog – Bobtail

Physical characteristics of the Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog is a rather large, stocky dog with well-developed muscles. Power and strength are felt in all parts of the body. The growth of adults is 52-55 cm, weight is about 30-45 kg.

The scruff is well defined. A large head with a square skull is held on a high-set neck. Ears are hanging, not too big. The superciliary arches stand out strongly. Oval-shaped eyes set wide, not large. The look is expressive, friendly. Eye color is preferable to dark, it depends on the color. The face is dull, wide and long. The nose is black, big. The jaws are square, powerful. Fangs large, scissor bite.

The back is straight, there is a slight high back. The loin is wide, muscular, the ribs are convex. The chest is powerful. In most cases, representatives of the Old English breed are born with short tails. Docking of the tail is complete or it is below the level of the back without bending.

The legs are short compared to other cattle breeds. Strongly muscled, straight. Shoulders oblique, hock joints lowered, well developed. Profitable fingers must be removed. Not too big paws rounded, paw pads thick. During movement, rearranges hind legs, like a bear.

The Old English Sheepdog wool is shaggy, tough and long. Curls are unacceptable. There is a waterproof undercoat that reliably protects the animal from wind, cold and natural precipitation. Such a coat is on the body, head and legs. On the head, it is customary to comb the hair in front so that the eyes are covered with hair. The back of the body is noticeably more magnificent than the front. The tail is abundantly covered with hard, fluffy hair.

The color of the coat is quite diverse. The following shades are allowed:

•             Blue & White

•             Blue Gray & White

•             Blue Merle & White

•             Gray & White

•             Grizzle & White

White or brown marks on the body and on the hind limbs are not allowed.

Old English Sheepdog Bobtail
Old English Sheepdog – Bobtail

Character and temperament of the Old English Sheepdog

It is impossible to distinguish some common character traits of Old English Sheepdog dogs. They, as dogs, each has its own characteristics, habits, preferences. Some – serious and unsociable, others – funny and sociable, and others – all the time trying to be in the spotlight and do not like competition.

If you try to highlight the general in the nature of the bobtail, then this will be their devotion to the owner and all households. Also, these dogs love children, they are always ready to play with them, and in any situation, they will defend the child.

The blood of a shepherd dog flows in the veins of an Old English Sheepdog. That is why it is an excellent watch dog, quickly responding to the invasion of strangers on its territory, timely warning the owners about guests invited or uninvited. Bobtail treats other pets well, but all the time it tries to bring everyone together. Due to the shepherd’s instinct, such an habit, the Old Englishman even strives to gather households in one place so that everyone is in his field of vision.

This dog will join any activity full of enthusiasm. It is not afraid and therefore becomes an excellent guard dog, thanks to its resonant bark. Early training is essential to control the lively behavior of this breed.

Old English Sheepdog Bobtail
Old English Sheepdog – Bobtail


With proper care and maintenance, the Old English Sheepdog can live, pleasing the owner with a healthy look, for about 11-12 years. To do this, it is necessary to vaccinate and treat on time from external, internal parasites.

Also, a caring owner takes his pet 2 times a year to a veterinary clinic for a routine examination, during which specialists take x-rays and tests. Such examinations make it possible to detect the disease on time and start treatment on time.

The owner of the Old English Sheepdog must know that his dog is predisposed to the following diseases:

  • Nasopharyngeal cancer – symptoms of the disease are unilateral outflows from the nose or eyes, nosebleeds, a decrease or complete loss of scent, loosening of the teeth, combing of the muzzle with paws.
  • Bloating – in case of untimely response as a result of bloating, the dog may die within a few hours.
  • Epilepsy – accompanied by seizures, convulsions, involuntary bowel movements.
  • Dysplasia – leads to lameness, severe pain, immobility can occur at the last stage.
  • Congenital dislocation of the elbow is an abnormality of development that is removed surgically.
  • Cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye.
  • Ataxia is a violation of the functionality of a special part of the brain. This is one of the most dangerous diseases, which in many cases is fatal.
  • Congenital deafness.
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia – autoimmune mechanisms are launched to destroy body cells, in particular, normal red blood cells.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy – in many cases, the dog completely loses sight.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy – manifested by congestive heart failure, thromboembolic syndrome, rhythm disturbances.
  • Cryptorchidism is the undescended gonads in the scrotum.

Regarding the health of Old English Sheepdog, it should be noted that representatives of the breed are very sensitive to drugs such as ivermectin. As a result of its use, ataxia, chills and even death can occur.

Old English Sheepdog Bobtail
Old English Sheepdog – Bobtail puppies

Basic care

The Old English Sheepdog is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Even in cold climates, dogs can live in a cage with a warm booth. Their long wool with undercoat reliably protects the bobtail from the cold. But in hot summer, representatives of the breed can easily receive heat stroke, so it is not recommended to leave them in direct sunlight for a long time. Moreover, you cannot install an aviary in the open sun without a shadow or install a stove bench in the house next to heating appliances.

If your Old English Sheepdog lives in the house, he should have a place to sleep and rest, as well as a place for feeding with bowls for food, water. Care must be taken to ensure that there is always fresh, cool water in the bowl, as the dog is often thirsty due to lush coat. It is also necessary to buy toys for the pet so that he can grind his teeth with them and can occupy himself while alone. Thus, the things of the owners will not be affected.

The Old English Sheepdog is a very active dog, she is ready to work without rest for many hours in a row, if there is such a need. From this it follows that with apartment maintenance such a pet needs daily long walks. During your walks, provide the Bobtail with jogging and sufficient physical activity in the form of various exercises. Even with open-air cages, take care of active walking for the dog outside the fence.

Old English Sheepdog Bobtail
Old English Sheepdog – Bobtail

In caring for the Old English Sheepdog, the greatest attention and amount of effort is given to the luxurious coat. The following rules must be observed so that the dog looks well-groomed and beautiful:

  • We comb out the hair 3-4 times a week, a caring owner spends 30-60 minutes on this procedure. Show dogs are combed every day.
  • In the summertime, it is recommended to make a bobtail short haircut to prevent overheating. Especially if the dog lives in a warm climate.
  • Often the Old English Sheepdog around the mouth discolors the coat. This is due to improper care. The fact is that representatives of the breed are prone to excessive salivation. To prevent such an unpleasant result, you need to wash the dog’s face several times a day, especially after he eats.
  • Particular attention during combing and bathing is given to the back of the body and tail. It is in these places that dirt accumulates and spikes form.
  • We bathe the bobtail once every two weeks, or even more often if the dog is too dirty during active walks. Owners of exhibition Old English Sheepdog usually turn to experienced groomers who professionally clean the hair of the animal.

Caring for a pet’s coat is not all procedures that contribute to beauty and health. Another bobtail owner should do the following:

  • Every seven days, brush your dog’s teeth or with special bones, gnawing which the dog itself cleans its fangs.
  • About once every 30-40 days, cut the claws. The frequency of this procedure depends on how quickly the bobtail grinds its claws on its own during walks.
  • Inspect and clean your dog’s ears once a week, using a solution from a veterinary pharmacy and cotton swabs. It is forbidden to use tampons when cleaning the ear canal.

Well-being, proper development, beautiful, healthy appearance largely depends on the dog’s nutrition. The Old English Sheepdog can be kept both on dry and natural feed. The main thing is that the nutrition is balanced, the feeds are of high quality, and the feeding itself is carried out at the same time. It is important not to forget about vitamin and mineral supplements and that in the diet of a large dog should be about 60-70% of protein food.


The Old English Sheepdog needs owners who can offer a lot of exercise time, although puppies are given special attention so as not to develop bone problems due to excessive physical activity.

Old English Sheepdog Bobtail
Old English Sheepdog – Bobtail

Training and education

The owner of an Old English Sheepdog dog should know that his pet needs training. This is not a difficult thing, if you follow some rules. The fact is that all shepherd dogs, including bobtail, are distinguished by their desire for freedom and independence. In order for such a dog to obediently obey and execute commands, the owner must show the pet who is the owner of the house from the first days.

Lessons should be held in a relaxed atmosphere. You can’t give the dog concessions, otherwise the dog will quickly understand that the trainer can be manipulated. Be persistent, but not in a rude manner, let the pet feel your willpower and confidence. If you do not have sufficient skills in handling shepherd dogs, seek help from a dog handler and take training courses under his guidance at a special site.

Old English Sheepdog Bobtail
Old English Sheepdog – Bobtail

Old English Sheepdog Fun Facts

  • In earlier times, there was a law in England that shepherd dog owners paid tax for their pets. The amount of tax was determined based on the length of the tail of the animal. The shepherds, trying to reduce this toll, stopped the tails of the puppies immediately after birth. So the name happened – bobtail (short tail).
  • Old English Sheepdog dogs are able to feel comfortable in any climate. Their coat protects against severe frosts.
  • The Old English Sheepdog Dog is characterized by a characteristic bark with hoarseness.
  • Bobtails have established themselves as talented actors. They can be seen in many films. They also became the heroes of many cartoons.
  • In the old days, Old English Sheepdog who grazed livestock, farmers sheared every two months with the sheep.
  • Escape from home is not in the nature of a bobtail. This dog always seeks to be on its territory or somewhere nearby, the shepherd does not like independent walks and travels.
Old English Sheepdog
Old English Sheepdog – Bobtail

Old English Sheepdog Dog Breed Highlights

The Old English Sheepdog is completely unsuitable for couch potatoes, inactive and weak-minded people. Such a dog requires an experienced leader who loves outdoor activities and knows how to handle guard dogs. If bobtail interests you, check out its pros and cons.

Positive points

  • The Old English Sheepdog is a dog very clever and easy to train in good hands.
  • This dog is affectionate and loving by nature.
  • It is very protective and loyal to the people he loves.
  • The Old English Sheepdog is known to be good around children of all ages.
  • It thrives in being in a family environment.
  • The Old English Sheepdog is a dog that likes to have fun and likes to play interactive games.
  • When you look after him every day, he does not lose a lot of hair.

Negative points

  • The Old English Sheepdog requires a lot of maintenance.
  • It is known to be a “barker” when the mood takes him.
  • It is a very energetic dog that requires a lot of daily exercises and mental stimulation.
  • The Old English Sheepdog suffers from separation anxiety when left alone.
  • Its beard is smelly if not cleaned often enough.
  • This dog loves his food a little too much.
  • The Old English Sheepdog is known to be a “thief” when it comes to food.