The name Old English Sheepdog is something of a misnomer since the breed has only been known in Britain for a little over 200 years. The ‘bobtail’ is believed to have descended from a variety of European herding breeds and was developed by English sheep farmers to herd and drive sheep to market. The practice of docking the tail began as a way of identifying the Old English as a working dog, thus exempting its owner from taxes. One of the questions frequently asked about the breed is, “How can he see to work with all that hair?” First, it should be noted that working dogs didn’t carry the abundant coat seen on show specimens and secondly, the bobtails were shorn at the same time as the sheep.
This is a playful, agile breed that sometimes plays the clown. They are extremely fond of children and are regarded as dependable family protectors.
The Old English Sheepdog is an animal that enjoys fun and games. The breed should have plenty of outdoor running.
Adult dogs measure 22 in (56 cm) and upward.
The squarely built, robust dog is covered from head to bobtail with a profuse coat of a fairly hard texture. It is not straight but shaggy and free of any tendency to curl. The undercoat should be a waterproof pile.
The Old English may be any shade of grey, grizzle, blue or blue merle, with or without white markings.
The coat needs frequent, right-down-to-the-skin brushing and combing to keep it free of mats. On a large dog, this can be very time-consuming. Pet coats are often scissored down for convenience.