The Old English Sheepdog Breed Explained
The Old English Sheepdog is an interesting breed. With a strong background in farm work and a somewhat mysterious earlier history, this long-haired dog has found a home in households all over the world as a pet.
These shaggy animals can be outstanding pets if well-trained and groomed. Visually, they're unlike any other dog.
History of the Old English Sheepdog Breed
The Old English Sheepdog has an interesting, if confusing history. In fact, no one is really absolutely sure of where this now-popular breed came from in the first place!
While some believe that the Old English Sheepdog is a descendant of a long-haired Russian dog known as an Owtchar and made its ways to England's shores via Baltic trade ships, others maintain that the Old English Sheepdog can trace its lineage back to the Briard and Bergamasco breeds. Some believe that the dogs are a relative of the Deerhound and Barbone breeds.
Although the history of the Old English Sheepdog may come with a few mysteries, there is a great deal known about their more recent history. They were used in the western portion of England as herding dogs and experienced a great deal of popularity in that regard by the nineteenth century.
You'll often notice the breed's tail bobbed short. That has historical underpinnings. A shortened tail was a symbol of a working dog, marking it as tax exempt for its owner.
Today, you can still find Old English Sheepdogs working, but you'll also find them as pets and companions. Much of what has made the breed so great for working has also made it a wonderful pet. It's a quick-witted animal capable of great obedience and often demonstrative of impressive loyalty and responsibility.
Temperament of the Old English Sheepdog
The Old English Sheepdog is generally regarded as a friendly and lovable animal with an even temperament. That wasn't always the case, though. Many decades ago, the dogs were considered angry and hard to manage. Years of breeding, however, have eliminated those traits for the most part.
These Sheepdogs have long been herders, and that instinct remains obvious even with those who spend their lives predominantly indoors as pets. These dogs will attempt to herd other pets and people as they walk around! Fortunately, the Old English Sheepdog herds by bumping, not by biting! In a worst case scenario, a person will be on the receiving end of nothing worse than a wet-nosed bump from a furry friend.
The Old English Sheepdog has a great time with people and loves play. That being said, this breed does seem to have a desire for some time spent away from the rest of the family. Don't be surprised if your Old English Sheepdog occasionally "takes a break from the action" in another room.
Size and Appearance of the Old English Sheepdog
The stocky and shaggy Old English Sheepdog is a sight to behold! Adults generally reach a height of approximately twenty-two inches. They usually weight between sixty and sixty-five pounds, although some members of the breed may tip the scales at over one hundred pounds! Male examples of the Old English Sheepdog tend to be slightly larger than females.
As anyone who has met one of these dogs knows, the most distinctive feature of the animal is its incredibly long and shaggy coat. It's substantial enough that farmers used to actually shear their Sheepdogs. They used the fur to make blankets and other items!
Regular brushing and combing of the long coat is a necessity. Absent regular care, the dog will experience matting. That isn't merely an aesthetic issue, either. Matted hair can encourage parasite development and skin difficulties for the Old English Sheepdog.
Health Information Regarding the Old English Sheepdog Dog Breed
The Old English Sheepdog has its roots in the working farms of western England. It's not shocking to discover that its a very hardy animal.
Nonetheless, the breed is slightly more prone to an immune deficiency known as IMHA than some other breeds. Cataracts are an occasional health concern as is hip dysplasia. As previously mentioned, skin problems due to improper care of the dog's coat can be an issue.
Overall, however, the Old English Sheepdog generally experiences strong health and has an average lifespan of eleven years.
Training the Old English Sheepdog Breed
Although the Old English Sheepdog is a great pet choice, the breed is not the easiest to train. They respond well to positive motivation, but training needs to be a wholehearted effort, as the breed has a tendency to be somewhat strong willed.
Despite its rather substantial size, the Old English Sheepdog can live happily in an apartment environment. That does, of course, hinge upon the owner's ability to provide plenty of exercise opportunities. One should never forget that these dogs are natural workers and that they need to release that inbred energy. A long daily walk or run can go a long way in that regard.
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