Old English Sheepdog

Written by: Jamie
Updated: August 13, 2020

This big shaggy dog is known for its famous looks! You may even recognize it as the Dulux dog! Learn about their history, personality and more in the guide below!

Old English sheepdog standing on grass

Height: Male 22-24 inches, female 20-22 inches
Weight: Male 32-45 kilos, female 27-36 kilos
Old English Sheepdog Lifespan: 10-12 years
Pedigree (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club

Positives and Negatives

Find out the below pros and cons related to the Old English Sheepdog:


  • Excellent watch dog
  • Won’t try to escape or run away
  • Their intelligence makes them easy to train
  • Great with children and the elderly


  • Can nip and chew on things as a puppy
  • Could pick up a barking habit
  • Not a good breed choice for first time owners
  • High grooming needs


The Old English Sheepdog is one of England’s more famous dog breeds. Their unique look has seen them cast as the mascot for paint brand Dulux since 1961. Their loveable personality and sense of humor is what made the Dulux dog breed stand out from the rest.

Although popular this dog will need lots of attention. They don’t like to be left alone and hold a strong bond with their owner. Their lovely coat will need daily grooming maintenance, so if you don’t have the time to spend nurturing this pooch, it won’t be the dog for you.

Old English sheepdog sitting

Like other working dog breeds, you should be careful your dog doesn’t pack on the pounds. An Old English Sheepdog is prone to weight gain, so avoid giving out food treats regularly and replace this with affection.

This pooch is highly sociable and loves being the center of attention! Their playful nature makes them an excellent match for children.

Owning an OES is a commitment you shouldn’t take lightly. Throughout their life you will have to dedicate a lot of time to them. Yet in return, you will be graced with a well-natured, friendly and beautiful looking pooch. Hopefully you end up with a Dulux dog puppy lookalike!


The Old English Sheepdog was bred to herd animals such as cattle and sheep. They would even escort livestock from the pastures to the market, earning the name “drover dogs”. They appeared in the late 1700s so aren’t classed as an old breed, despite the name choice.

Their strength and stamina was used to pull wagons and carts. The breed was also expected to protect the herd from predators such as wolves, which explains why some dogs hold a protective trait. Most Old English Sheepdogs would have their tails docked to show they were working dogs.

Back in the day, shepherds would cut down their pooches fur and would use it as yarn for clothing. There  is uncertainty of how this breed originally came about. Some believe they may have descended from Scottish breeds whereas others believe there is a European link.

Their special coat is believed to have been developed in Devon and Somerset. This distinct look and unique personality has given this breed a rise to fame.

Although this breed is popular amongst Dog Shows and pet lovers alike, their numbers aren’t doing well. In 2019, only 98 puppies were registered with the Kennel Club. They are now officially at risk of extinction and have been marked as an endangered dog breed.

Up next: Ever heard of the Pomchi (Pomeranian and Chihuahua crossbreed)? Find out more here!


Old English Sheepdog Temperament:

The fun loving and quirky personality of the Old English Sheepdog is what makes them so loveable. Their kind and gentle nature, yet cheekiness will always have an owner on their toes!

This dog can pick up destructive habits such as chewing and digging if they haven’t been exercised enough. You must ensure they receive early socialization with other dogs and people, so you have a confident pooch. Some dogs can become timid or jumpy if they haven’t received the right training.

Old English sheepdog closeup

Are Old English Sheepdogs Good With Strangers?

Generally, this breed will be polite and friendly with strangers. They will act as a watchdog, alerting you to anything out of the ordinary. Although they aren’t classed as guard dogs, some pooches in this breed have shown a protective side.

When out and about an Old English Sheepdog will be friendly towards others, whilst relishing in the attention they receive!

Are Old English Sheepdogs Good With Children?

Yes, a pooch like this is great with children! They’re playful nature makes them the perfect playmate to bounce around the garden with. A large, excitable breed like this one will need to be supervised around smaller children, due to any accidents.

Old English Sheepdog puppies are known to nip and chew. Keep an eye on this around your children. Especially if your puppy hasn’t mastered their training yet.

Old english sheep dog young adult sitting and facing the camera

Are Old English Sheepdogs Ok With Other Dogs?

Overall yes, this breed is good with other dogs. They can also live with other household pets too but preferably not smaller ones. They do have a strong hunting instinct however they can still live with cats.

Do be careful of some male Old English Sheepdogs. They could become aggressive with other dogs, especially those that haven’t been neutered.

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This pooch has bounds of energy! Although they are large, their stamina is high. They weren’t used to pull wagons and carts for no reason! A well exercised dog will provide you with peace and quiet in the home.

If this breed hasn’t been exercised enough they will pick up destructive habits. In total they should receive 2 hours of exercise each day. This can be split into different walks. Puppies may require half an hour longer.

Old English sheepdog outdoor

A working dog like this will also require mental stimulation. Get their brain to work, make them find food, teach them new tricks or even take them on an obstacle course. You should also differ their walking routes and take them out to explore new areas.


Below you will see the breed related health conditions seen amongst the Old English Sheepdog:

  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus- When the stomach twists, food and gases become trapped. It is painful and is also life threatening. Symptoms include retching with no vomit, enlargement of the abdomen and/or drooling.
  • Hip Dysplasia- Like many other large breeds, this dog could become affected by Hip Dysplasia. The hip joints don’t fit together correctly causing pain and swelling thus leading onto arthritis.
  • Primary Cyillary Dyskinesia This rare disorder affects the function and structure of motile cilia. It can cause fertility problems, upper and lower respiratory infections and organ laterality.
  • Cataracts- A change of lens could cause an abnormal cloud of the eye. This will prevent light from entering the back of the eye, reducing vision and causing eventual blindness.
  • Deafness- The OES is one of 30 plus large breeds affected by deafness. Some are born fully or partially deaf in  one or both ears. You can test your pooches hearing after the age of 6 weeks.

Intelligence & Training

Lets face it, puppies are super cute and sometimes saying no can be hard, but don’t let this dog fool you! Once they get to the adult stage it stops being sweet and the bad habits start to become a real issue. Be firm and consistent from an early age.

This breed is super intelligent and like many other smart dogs, independence often follows. This can hinder training at times and could lead an owner to feeling frustrated. Patience and consistency is key with this breed. You must ensure they have wasted their energy before trying to gain their attention.

Remember to replace food treats with affection where possible. This pooch is prone to putting on weight and obesity could lead to health problems.

You need to focus on respect training over obedience first. This is more home focused, a place where your dog may try and push you around. Correcting bad behaviors and recall is also included within this method.

Once you have gained your dogs respect, you then should focus on obedience. It will make this stage of learning much easier for both you and your pooch. Respect training will ensure your dog listens to you, without rudely diverting their attention.

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From the outset you can already tell this dog is going to need lots of grooming attention. You can choose to get professional help, however you may also do this on your own.

By grooming your dog each day, removing any matts and tangles, you will significantly reduce the Old English Sheepdog shedding. Their double coated fur will need to be brushed right down to the skin. A wide toothed comb and slicker brush are the best tools for this coat.

Old English sheepdog sitting on grass

This pooch generally stays clean, especially if you keep up with brushing. Allow their natural oils to soften the coat. You should wash your dog anywhere between 6-10 weeks but not before. Unless of course your dog has really picked up some dirt.

Ear infections are common amongst this breed so you must keep up with cleaning them. Pluck any hairs away from the ear canal to improve air flow. Use a cleaning solution weekly in order to remove any built up debris and wax. Trim the fur accordingly, dependent on how you like.

Trim the paws from excess fur and whilst doing this check the nails to see if they need a trim. Don’t forget daily dental hygiene! Old English Sheepdog grooming can be time consuming which is why many seek professional help every once in a while.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at Jamie@woofbarkgrowl.co.uk or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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