/Breed Introduction: Old English Sheepdog

Breed Introduction: Old English Sheepdog

The Old English sheepdog is a large breed of dog which was developed in England from early herding types of dog. The Old English sheepdog can grow a very long coat, with fur covering the face and eyes. The Old English sheepdog is a large, athletic dog breed with an unmistakable shaggy coat. The Old English sheepdog was historically a drover, helping farmers drive cattle and sheep to the market.

The wonderfully shaggy Old English sheepdog is a favorite in children’s television shows and movies, where he is usually an affable, if sometimes bumbling, character.

The good-natured Old English sheepdog enjoys the comfort of home life and still competes in conformation, obedience, agility, and herding trials. They are an adaptable and intelligent dog breed with an easygoing disposition.

Breed Origin


There is evidence that the breed originated in the southwestern counties of England somewhere in the early 19th century, though it may owe its origins to the Scottish Bearded Collie or the Russian Owtchar, or some other dog altogether.

By the 1900s, the breed was owned, exhibited, and bred by just five wealthy U.S. families. This prompted one show superintendent to advise the judges at the 1904 Westminster Show in New York to “take plenty of time; the dogs in the ring are the property of some of our leading Americans.”

In 1904, Henry Arthur Tilley founded the Old English Sheepdog Club of America. Tilley and his brother, William Steeds Tilley, were pioneers in creating the OES breed standard. Many of the dogs that they bred can be found in the pedigrees of OES lines today.

Breed Characteristics


Males stand 22 inches tall and weigh 80 to 100 pounds. Females stand 21 inches tall and weigh 60 to 85 pounds.

An intelligent breed, the OES is a quick learner, always looking for something interesting and fun to do. He’s capable of performing numerous tasks, including herding, agility, obedience, and search and rescue.

A properly bred OES is good-natured and kind, and this is what makes him an excellent children’s companion and a super family dog. He’s sometimes called a nanny, a term of endearment that arises from stories surrounding the role he sometimes takes on within his family.

This breed has a profuse and shaggy coat that is neither straight nor curly. The breed has a double coat, with a textured outer coat and soft undercoat.

The well-bred and well-socialized Old English Sheepdog is a trustworthy children’s companion. Some say he will supervise and herd young children, keeping them in a particular area.