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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Old English Sheepdog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Traits & More

Old English Sheepdog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Traits & More

old english sheepdog sitting

If you’re thinking of getting a big and beautiful dog with long hair you can shower with love and affection, an Old English Sheepdog is a breed to consider.  This large breed with its unmistakable shaggy coat is a good-natured dog that loves spending time with its family. The Old English Sheepdog or OES as it’s sometimes called is a purebred that was originally used to herd cattle and sheep.

The OES is a smart dog with an easy-going temperament that’s very affectionate and fun-loving. Even though an Old English Sheepdog is large, it’s a dog that can happily live in an apartment, if it’s allowed to get outside now and then for a rousing play session or a good long walk. Continue reading this guide to learn more about the OES and what it’s like to own one.

Breed Overview


21-24 inches


50-100 pounds


10 to 12 years


Blue merle, gray, blue, black and white, gray and white, gray with white or black markings

Suitable for:

Those looking for a large dog with lots of personality


Intelligent, playful, loyal, strong-willed, adaptable, sociable, loving

The Old English Sheepdog is easily recognized with its beautiful thick coat of fur. This dog was bred to be a sheep and cattle herder in extreme conditions, making it a hearty dog that doesn’t shy away from work. The OES is a large and strong dog that thrives on lots of exercise and one that needs a whole lot of grooming to keep its long coat in check.

The OES is a funny and friendly dog that makes a great family pet. It’s also a strong-willed dog that won’t take kindly to being bossed around by anyone other than its owner. If this dog isn’t provided with ample opportunities to socialize and play it can become shy and reserved with new people and new environments.

This isn’t a dog to take jogging because of its long, shaggy, coat of fur that heats the dog up fast. However, an OES won’t turn down the chance to play outside in the cold, fetch a ball, or take a long stroll around town. In fact, the Old English Sheepdog needs these types of exercise sessions to ensure it’s happy and well-adjusted.

Old English Sheepdog Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

divider-pawOld English Sheepdog Puppies

Old english sheepdog puppy
Image By: Kate Grishakova, Shutterstock

Even though the Old English Sheepdog is a dog with lots of personality that’s as loveable as can be, there are some challenges associated with owning an OES. This dog’s size requires that you have the room available to accommodate such a pet. And because of its signature thick and heavy coat, you must provide the grooming it will need for the rest of its life.

The Old English Sheepdog makes a gentle and easy-going companion, but this big sweetheart does need lots of exercise. The ideal home for an OES is one with a big, fenced yard and a human family that’s willing to spend lots of time with their four-legged pet. This is a smart dog that learns quickly. However, an Old English Sheepdog can be headstrong at times so patience and perseverance are required when training and owning one.

old english sheepdog bobtail
Image Credit: Svetlana Valoueva, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Old English Sheepdog

Fun-loving, goofy, charming, and loyal are some of the words used to describe the Old English Sheepdog. This dog seems to have a sense of humor and takes joy in watching its owner dismay over some of its clown-like antics.

Because this dog was developed to be a hard worker, it doesn’t shy away from taking a nice long run or romping endlessly in the yard with anyone willing to play. This is a moderately active dog that also loves to cuddle up with its owner if there’s enough room available on the couch to accommodate its large build.

The OES is intelligent and can learn new commands and tricks with ease. This breed can be stubborn at times which can prove challenging during training. However, this dog will cooperate eventually as it’s eager to please, as long as you use a firm yet gentle approach during training.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

An Old English Sheepdog makes a wonderful family pet because it’s a dog that gets along well with people of all ages. However, with its strong herding tendency, this dog isn’t the best match for a family with small children as it may try to herd the little ones by nudging them.

If this dog gets the attention and exercise it needs, it will quickly become the apple of everyone’s eye including friends and relatives that stop by. Many people who own Old English Sheepdogs swear they’ll never get another breed due to this dog’s fun-loving nature and charming personality!

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

As a tolerable dog breed, an Old English Sheepdog can live in harmony with dogs and other pets like cats. If you have a cat, don’t be surprised to find it curled up with your Old English Sheepdog when napping. An OES is a gentle giant that will look at other pets in the household as simply extended members of the family so don’t think twice about welcoming another pet into your life if you have this breed of dog.

divider-multiprintThings to Know When Owning an Old English Sheepdog:

It takes both time and money to own and raise an Old English Sheepdog and it’s something you shouldn’t take lightly. Before you buy one of these dogs, there are a few important things you should know about owning an Old English Sheepdog.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

High-quality dog food will provide an Old English Sheepdog with all the nutritional value it needs to live a long and healthy life. An OES puppy should be fed puppy food three times a day while an adult can get by eating two bowls of adult kibble each day. You can mix kibble with canned food or add some water or broth if you’d like. You can also give this dog a nutritional treat now and then like cottage cheese, cooked eggs, or vegetables to switch up its diet.

Exercise 🐕

An Old English Sheepdog needs plenty of exercise to keep it healthy and to stimulate its mind. When you spend time playing with your OES, it will help prevent the dog from getting bored which can lead to some unwanted behaviors like chewing household objects.

Plan on taking your Old English Sheepdog on regular daily walks through the neighborhood. If possible, fence in your yard so your dog can be let outside regularly to explore, romp, and play.

Training 🎾

As an intelligent breed, the Old English Sheepdog is a relatively easy dog to train if you do things properly. Even though an Old English Sheepdog can be headstrong at times, it generally enjoys learning new things, making your training efforts pay off. As a dog originally bred for herding, an OES can excel in agility training, flyball, obedience, or just about any dog sport activity you’d like to try.

Grooming ✂️

The Old English Sheepdog is a high-maintenance breed that requires regular grooming. If you decide to get an OES, you must get started with a grooming routine from day one. This dog’s long shaggy coat needs to be brushed and detangled at least once a week. Your Old English Sheepdog must learn to be calm while you’re busy brushing, combing, and de-tangling its fluffy coat.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Overall, the Old English Sheepdog is a healthy breed that enjoys a relatively long lifespan. However, like with most breeds, this dog can develop some health issues, with some being more serious than others.

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Skin issues
  • Allergies
  • Hearing loss
Serious Conditions
  • Epilepsy
  • Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Hip dysplasia

Male vs Female

If you can’t decide if you should get a male or a female Old English Sheepdog, here is some helpful information! Both male and female Old English Sheepdogs are known to be loving and affectionate pets to own.

If size matters to you, male Old English Sheepdogs tend to be bigger and heavier than their female counterparts. While the typical female stands around 21 inches tall and weighs in at about 55 pounds, the male of this breed can be a couple of inches taller and weigh twice as much. Males also tend to be goofier than females that tend to be more laid back in nature.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Old English Sheepdog

1. They’re Known for Their Bear-Like Gait

When an Old English Sheepdog is running, it has a bear-like gait that’s very endearing. But don’t let that deceive you about this gentle, fun-loving giant as an OES can run fast and cover a lot of ground in a short period of time.

2. It’s Full of Clownish Energy

Many people love Old English Sheepdogs because of their silly and clownish behavior. This breed is often described as goofy, fun-loving, and even a dog with a sense of humor. Expect to be entertained daily if you decide to welcome an Old English Sheepdog into your life.

3. The Bloodline is Unclear

The origins of the Old English Sheepdog breed are unclear, and experts have been arguing over this dog’s pedigree for a long time. Some people think the OES was developed from the Bearded Collie and French Briard while others believe it is a crossbreed of the Standard Poodle, Deerhound, Briard, and Bergamasco. What is agreed upon is that this dog originates in England and was originally used as a sheep and cattle herder.

Old English Sheepdog hiking on rocks
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

divider-pawFinal Thoughts

If you’re willing and able to vacuum up dog hair and do some regular grooming, an Old English Sheepdog may be a good fit for you. Just be sure you have plenty of space at home for this dog that can tip the scales at nearly 100 pounds!

Known for being full of goofy antics, an Old English Sheepdog will provide you with much entertainment! This is a smart, loyal, and affectionate dog that will turn heads everywhere it goes with its charming personality and beautiful and fluffy coat of fur!

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Featured Image Credit: benwongp, Shutterstock

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