The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

The Purebred Old English Sheepdog

Information and Pictures

Side view of a shaved grey with white Old English Sheepdog standing on a sidewalk in front of a parking lot looking forward. Its mouth is open and it looks like it is smiling.

Summer the Old English Sheepdog with her coat groomed short

Other Names
  • Bobtail
  • Bob
  • OES
  • Altenglischer Schaeferhund
  • Altenglischer Schäferhund
  • Antiguo Perro pastor Inglés

ohld ING-glish SHEEP-dawg speaker


The Old English Sheepdog is a strong, compact, square dog. The topline is lower at the shoulders, sloping higher toward the back end. The chest is deep and broad. The head is large with a well-defined stop. The nose is black. The teeth meet in a level or tight scissors bite. Eyes come in brown, blue or one of each color. The medium sized ears are carried flat to the head. The front legs are very straight and the hind legs are round and muscular. The small feet point straight ahead and are round with well-arched toes. The Old English Sheepdog is either born tailless (as the name Bobtail implies) or is completely amputated. Note: it is illegal to dock tails in most parts of Europe. The shaggy, double coat is long and profuse with a good, hard, textured outer coat and a soft, waterproof undercoat. Coat colors include gray, grizzle, blue, blue gray, blue merle, gray with white markings or white with gray markings.


The Old English Sheepdog is stable and happy-go-lucky. It is able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions, is loving and friendly. Loyal, protective and intelligent, it makes a fine family companion. Friendly and gentle, this breed loves and is good with children and is very much part of the family. They have a strong herding instinct and may try to herd people by bumping, not nipping, and need to be taught not to herd humans. Meek or passive owners or those that do not make the rules of the home clear in a way the dog can understand will cause the dog to become strong-willed. This breed needs firm, but calm, confident and consistent leadership. The Old English Sheepdog is a very good worker and is able to follow commands, but will ignore the instruction if it thinks it is stronger minded than its human pack members. The bark of the Old English Sheepdog sounds like a cracked bell. This breed remains puppy-like for many years, and age tends to hit it suddenly.

Height, Weight

Height: Males 22 - 24 inches (56 - 61 cm) Females 20 - 22 inches (51 cm)
Weight: Males from 65 pounds (29 kg) Females from 60 pounds (27 kg)
Some can grow to over 100 pounds (45 kg)

Health Problems

Prone to IMHA (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia), hip dysplasia and cataracts. Some herding dogs carry a MDR1 gene which makes them sensitive to certain drugs that are otherwise okay to give another dog, but if tested positive for this gene can kill them.

Living Conditions

The Old English Sheepdog will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. These dogs are fairly active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard.


These dogs were developed for hard work and love a good run. They need to be taken on a daily walk, jog or run. While out on the walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog's mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human.

Life Expectancy

About 10-12 years

Litter Size

About 5 to 12 puppies


The coarse, longhaired coat needs constant care to keep it in top condition. Unless it is combed and brushed right through to the dense, waterproof undercoat at least three times per week, it will become matted and the dog may develop skin problems, making it prone to host parasites. Clip out any tangles carefully so as not to nick the skin. A grooming table will make the whole job easier. If the dog is not being shown, the coat can be professionally machine-clipped every two months or so, about one inch all the way around. In former times these dogs were shorn along with sheep. Trim around the eyes and rear-end with blunt-nosed scissors. This breed sheds like a human—not a lot, but in small amounts.


There are a few theories about the origin of the Old English Sheepdog. One is that it is related to the Poodle and the Deerhound. Other theories are it is related to the Briard and the Bergamasco, or from Scotch Bearded Collies and the Russian Owtchar, a hairy Russian breed brought to Great Britain on ships from the Baltic. The Old English Sheepdog was developed in the western counties of England by farmers who needed a quick, well-coordinated sheep herder and cattle driver to take their animals to market. The dogs became widely used in agricultural areas. Farmers began the practice of docking the tails in the 18th century as a way of identifying the dogs that were used for working so they could get a tax exemption. For this reason the dogs were given the nickname "Bobtail." Each spring, when the sheep were sheared, farmers would also shear the dogs’ coats to make warm clothing and blankets. The Old English Sheepdog has been used for reindeer herding because it tolerates cold weather so well. It was first shown in Britain in 1873 and by the AKC in 1888. Some of the Old English Sheepdog's talents include: retrieving, herding and watchdog.


Herding, AKC Herding

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
  • UKC = United Kennel Club
Front view - A shaggy grey with white Old English Sheepdog is sitting on a concrete surface and it is looking forward with its head tilted to the left.

"Toby is an Old English Sheepdog, shown here at about 9.5 years old. He is extremely intelligent, smart and obedient. He is the love of my life. In this picture Toby has full-length hair."

A shaved grey with white Old English Sheepdog is wearing a red collar standing on a sandy beach with the ocean behind it looking to the left.

"This is Toby with his hair cut short due to a vacation time in Union Pier, MI."

Front side view - A shaggy grey with white Old English Sheepdog is standing in snow looking forward.

This is Sir Winston Maxwell 7th. Born: May 1, 1997. See more photos of Max and his sister Abby!

Close up head shots - Two shaggy, grey with white Old English Sheepdogs are standing in snow looking forward with their mouths slightly open.

Photo courtesy of Caroline’s Old English Sheepdogs

Front side view - A shaggy grey with white Old English Sheepdog is sitting in front of a white house looking forward.

Photo courtesy of Caroline’s Old English Sheepdogs

Close up head shot - A grey with white Old English Sheepdog is sitting in a room with its head turned to the right but its eyes are looking forward. Its mouth is slightly open.

Photo courtesy of Caroline’s Old English Sheepdogs

A shaggy grey with white Old English Sheepdog is standing outside in a field with a herd of goats.

"This is my Old English Sheepdog Selina. The pictures were taken at a friend’s goat farm when she was 9 month sold, where Selina "attempted" to herd the goats. She is a silly girl, and has two speeds, sleeping and bouncing! She always has a smile on and is everyone’s friend. She absolutely loves the water, drinking it, sticking her paws in it, swimming in it and drinking while swimming. I do agility with her and it’s one of her favorite things to do. I have a Border Collie as well, and call her my dog, and Selina my big bear. I watch Cesar Millan; I have his first season on DVD and have read his first book. He taught me to be a pack leader. I have used his techniques to raise my first dog, and Selina as well. I am the pack leader, and know that this makes my dogs better k-9s."

View from above looking down at the dog - A shaggy grey with white Old English Sheepdog is sitting in grass and hay. It is looking forward and its mouth is open and tongue is out.

Selina the Old English Sheepdog as an older puppy at 9 months old

A grey with white Old English Sheepdog is sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle. It is looking towards the driver side.

"This is my Old English Sheepdog (Bobtail) named Barry at about 5 years old. He is the smartest and the most intelligent dog in the world. I spend as much time has I can with my buddy. He loves going for car rides and walks with me. Barry is very special in my life and I love him with all my heart."

A shaggy grey with white Old English Sheepdog is laying down in the passenger seat of a vehicle looking sleepy.

Old English Sheepdog (bobtail) named Barry at about 5 years old going for a car ride

See more examples of the Old English Sheepdog