About Old English Sheepdogs

FAQ's

Breed Standard

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Old English Sheepdog FAQ's

This list of “frequently asked questions has been compiled by breeder Betty Fast of Blue Caleb Kennels. The opinions and answers provided here are based on her experience and knowledge. Individual breeders may have formed different opinions based on their personal experiences.

What was the breed originally developed to do?
I am interested in acquiring an OES. What type of temperament should I expect?
What type of exercise requirements does an OES need?
What training methods are the best for an OES?
I am attracted to the gorgeous coat of the OES- is it difficult to keep the dog looking so beautiful?
I'm interested in a companion dog, what type of grooming commitment do I need to consider?
Tell me more about this coat!
I've always heard that the OES needs the hair over the eyes for protection, is this true?
What size will my puppy be?  How much food will s/he eat?
What are the health problems in the breed?
Where should I buy my puppy?
But why should I buy a registered dog? I only want a pet.
 

What was the breed originally developed to do?
Historically all breeds were developed to do some job for man. This determines the qualities and characteristics of the dogs we still see today. The OES was a drover's dog- a dog that helped the shepherd take sheep to market. This herding instinct is still seen intact in our present day dogs. An OES will run along beside a person (or animal), bumping the legs, circling and then running along ahead, only to circle back and check on the person.  Some dogs with high herding drive/temperament will also grab clothing, bark, or nip at the person to hurry them along.

I am interested in acquiring an OES. What type of temperament should I expect?
The OES is typically a lively, boisterous, happy breed that enjoys being with people and other animals. They are eager to please, and seem to have a sense of humour!  They do not do well by themselves, but thrive with attention and companionship. They enjoy doing things with their “people” whether it be car rides, hikes, or hanging over the bathtub watching you bathe! (They follow you everywhere!)  Because of their size, energy and love of life, they are not suitable for everyone.

A buyer must remember that in every litter, of every breed, there are dominant and submissive members. An experienced breeder will be able to match you with the best temperament that is a fit for your family and lifestyle. There are temperament tests developed to assess puppies for this very reason. 

What type of exercise requirements does an OES need?
A healthy, adult requires a good run in an off leash area at least once a day.  Remember, this breed was developed to work outside with farm animals. Dogs that are not exercised often develop behavior problems due to boredom. Of course, young puppies and seniors do not require as much exercise.

What training methods are the best for an OES?
OES are quick to learn with motivational techniques. These methods use food, praise and toys, paired with attention training. Some OES are natural retrievers with gentle mouths. OES have successfully competed in obedience, agility, scent hurdle racing, and draft dog trials.  Their social nature also makes them good Therapy Dogs for visitation programs.

I am attracted to the gorgeous coat of the OES- is it difficult to keep the dog looking so beautiful?
Yes it is! The full coated OES is line brushed, bathed, conditioned, and blown dry on a regular schedule. A person maintaining a “show coat” devotes hours every week in keeping a dog clean and mat free.

I™m interested in a companion dog, what type of grooming commitment do I need to consider?
The OES coat grows approximately inch a month, therefore the easiest way to keep a cute “Teddy Bear” look (also known as a puppy clip) is to scissor back the hair to a couple of inches every 4-6 weeks. The coat still needs to be clean, and completely brushed free of mats. Rear ends and feet need to be scissored, hair removed from between the pads of the feet and plucked from the ear canals. Toenails need to be trimmed on a weekly basis.

Another option is to shave the dog down two or three times per year.  This needs to be scheduled so that the dog has grown enough hair to protect him from cold weather in the winter and insects and sun in the summer. Toenails and ear cleaning still need to be addressed on a weekly basis

Tell me more about this coat!
Puppies are born black and white, and maintain this soft coat until about six months of age. After that time, the coat starts changing to an adolescent coat- a soft usually light grey coat that mats easily with the existing puppy coat. As the dog matures, dark, strong guard hairs begin growing through the soft grey coat. The mature coat is a combination of guard hairs with a soft undercoat. This provides the dog with a waterproof, warm “jacket”.

I've always heard that the OES needs the hair over the eyes for protection, is this true?
False. Sheepdogs have eyes just the same as any other breed.  If the hair is thick and covering the eyes the dog cannot see.  It needs to be clipped back or tied up.

What size will my puppy be?  How much food will s/he eat?
The OES standard states that an OES male is to be 22 inches and upwards at the shoulder, females slightly smaller Therefore, our breed has great variations in height- all acceptable.  Most males are usually about 24 to 26 inches, weighing about eighty to ninety pounds.

An adult female will eat about 3 to 4 cups of quality food per day, while a larger male will eat 4 to 5 cups per day. A growing dog will require more calories and a senior less.

What are the health problems in the breed?
As in any large breed, hip dysplasia is always a concern. There is a genetic component to HD, so conscientious breeders x-ray all of their breeding stock and submit the x-rays to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), or have the dog™s x-rays certified by Veterinary Radiologists.

The new owner must realize that there are also environmental issues that affect HD. These include incorrect diet, under or over exercise, an overweight puppy/dog, supplementation, and unsuitable living quarters.

A responsible breeder will also have their breeding stock cleared for eye problems.  Again, eye clearances are done by a Board Certified Veterinary Eye Specialist. Eye reports are registered with an organization called CERF.

Other health problems, which do surface in the breed are: Hypo-Thyroidism, Cerebella Ataxia, deafness, allergies, and skin problems.

Where should I buy my puppy?
Always buy a puppy from a breeder who sells registered animals (Canadian Kennel Club) and belongs to a breed club such as the OES & Owners Club of Canada. To belong to a Breed club, members must abide by our Code of Ethics, which includes doing health checks, responsible breeding practices, continuing education, and promoting the breed through various activities.

You must also visit the breeder's home and see how puppies are raised and socialized. Are they happy, clean and loveable? Meet the dam of the litter. Is she a friendly social animal? How about the other dogs that might be there?  What are their conditions like?  If you are not happy- walk away. 

A conscientious breeder will also screen you!  So be expected to answer some questions! His or her main concern is for the welfare of the puppy  for the puppy's entire life!

Responsible breeders will also  have you sign guarantees and purchase agreements, such as non-breeding contracts.  



But why should I buy a registered dog? I only want a pet.
Under the Livestock Act of Canada, a dog sold as purebred must be registered. It is fraudulent to sell a purebred without papers.  Dogs not registered are considered crossbreds.

As previously mentioned, health checks and clearances on all breeding stock are essential.  A breeder that maintains these standards will also register the puppies.