Old English Sheepdog
Other names: Bobtail
A real sheepdog deep down, the Bobtail loves to have animals that they can “herd like sheep”: they always try to gather together groups of animals or people that they meet. Today, this dog is mainly kept as a pet; very sweet and friendly, but not docile. They therefore need an expert hand. A good guard dog but never aggressive, they are also a wonderful companion for children of all ages.
Key facts about the Old English Sheepdog
Life expectancy :
Origins and history
They are a breed with ancient origins: they most probably come from the same old Asian Sheepdog that gave birth to the Berger de la Brie (Briard) in France, the Shepherd of Bergamo in Italy and the Komondor in Hungary. The Bobtail was selected for the first time at the time of the Hundred Years War and the Briard is undoubtedly part of their genealogy.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 1 : Sheepdogs
Physical characteristics of the Old English Sheepdog
Female : Between 22 and 24 in
Male : Between 24 and 26 in
Female : Between 77 and 88 lb
Male : Between 77 and 88 lb
The head, neck, forelimbs and belly areas are white (with or without marks) and the rest is grey, ranging from all shades of grey or blue.
Type of coat
The coat is long.
Very thick, the hair isn’t straight but should in no case be curly; it must be shaggy (scruffy). They have a dense undercoat.
The eyes are usually dark brown or parti-coloured. Blue eyes are accepted but not sought after.
The Old English Sheepdog is a large, strong and compact breed, with a square-shaped torso and thick hair all over their stocky, muscular body. The head has a broad and rather square skull, bulging at the forehead. The stop is well-defined, and the muzzle is strong and square, the length being half of that of the whole head. Their small ears are set on either side of the head. Their limbs are straight and perpendicular to the body. Sometimes, the tail is amputated naturally; otherwise, it’s covered by thick, fringed hair.
Good to know
In English, “Bobtail” means shortened tail because of the English Shepherd’s choice to cut their tails during the puppy’s first few days. Some say that English shepherds practiced this to escape the “luxury tax” that concerned pet dog owners: the cut tail was therefore a sign that the dogs were not going on display and were not domestic. Others prefer the hygienic assumption that cutting the tail prevents it from becoming too dirty.
Of an independent nature, this dog still needs human interaction to feel good. They know how to be affectionate, especially with children, but without being too over the top.
This dog is very active, and their waking hours must be spent doing daily educational, fun exercises. They love to play and prove to be rather useful during training sessions.
Somewhat turbulent, when all their needs are met, the Bobtail is nevertheless a very pleasant companion.
An active and reliable dog, they are intelligent in their initiatives and their great ability to adapt. They are, however, quite difficult to train, which, in a sense, may further confirm their intelligence.
Thanks to their past being a sheepdog, the Old English Sheepdog is interested by animals only when grouping them together like sheep. In fact, when they see other animals, they don’t consider them as prey but rather as a group that they can herd.
Fearful / wary of strangers
This dog never shows fear or aggression for no reason. They need, like any dog, to be confident in order to fully flourish, but as soon as introductions are made, they gladly accept the presence of strangers in their familiar territory.
The Old English Sheepdog is an independent breed that do not need to be attached to their master at all times, although human presence is necessary for their psychological and social balance.
Behaviour of the Old English Sheepdog
Loneliness doesn’t bother this big dog. However, absences should not be prolonged, and they must especially be occupied with activities/toys to prevent this very active dog from becoming bored. In addition, they will only be able to tolerate being left alone for hours once they’ve had a long, game-filled walk with their owners.
Easy to train / obedience
Considered as not a very docile breed, the Old English Sheepdog’s training can be complicated if it hasn’t started as soon as the puppy arrived home and if the owner’s attitude isn’t firm and consistent. Walks on a lead and socialisation are the key points to work on with this sometimes overly enthusiastic dog.
They make very good alert dogs that will prevent any intruders coming in.