≡ Menu

Old English Sheepdog Temperament and What You Need to Know Before You Bring One Home

Unmistakable with their shaggy coat, the Old English Sheepdog temperament is as good-natured as they come. Originally bred as a drover, they helped drive cattle and sheep to the market for farmers.

Photo of Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog Temperament and Personality

Primarily known for their gentle, you may be surprised to know that the Old English Sheepdog has quite a sense of humor. In fact, the Old English Sheepdog is playful, comical, and full of life.

They're protective

Thanks to the herding ancestry, the Old English Sheepdog is a homebody and protector of the house. They take it upon themselves to guard their home.

But guarding the home also means guarding the humans.

For example, if the children go off to school, don’t be surprised if your Old English Sheepdog runs after them to ensure they arrive safe and sound. And, be ready for them to even escort them home come afternoon.

They’re herders

Like other herding breeds, OESs can practice herding instincts even while not in the field. So, if you have small children, prepare them for the idea that the Bobtail may nip their heels or circle around them in an attempt to “herd” them.

They hate to be alone

Old English Sheepdogs do not make good backyard dogs. In fact, this breed can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.

They can even become unhappy or aggressive when left alone for too long.

Watchdogs, they are not

Though Old English Sheepdogs take it upon themselves to guard the house, they are not great watchdogs. They might bark when a stranger approaches the home, or they might not – it all depends on their mood!

However, this trait largely differs depending on the personality of the individual dog. So, while one OES may be hesitant about barking at strangers, another may not think twice about it.

They are forever young

The Old English Sheepdog tends to remain puppy-like until around three years old and often keeps their playful attitude well into their old age.

They love to play – especially with their family and neighborhood kids – and make excellent family companions. Some call the Old English Sheepdog a “nanny dog,” since they are so good-natured and kind.

They’re clownish

The OES loves to both have and create a good time. They love clowning around with the neighborhood kids, both entertaining them and enjoying their enjoyment of him.

They're amiable

In addition to getting along great with children, Old English Sheepdogs get along great with other dogs.

They can be shy

While OESs tend to be polite around strangers, some dogs in this breed can feel timid around them. Some may even feel skittish. The best way to prevent this from happening is to socialize the OES as early as possible and as often as possible.

They can be gassy

With this breed, you can definitely “blame it on the dog.” The OES tends to be a rather gassy dog.

Other Names for the Old English Sheepdog

Other names for this breed include the abbreviation “OES” (for Old English Sheepdog), as well as the Shepherd’s Dog, the Bobtailed Sheepdog, or, more simply, the Bobtail.

A Brief History of the Old English Sheepdog

Traditionally nicknamed “Bobtail” due to their docked tail, the Old English Sheepdog – or OES – is not fully English. In fact, they have Scottish, European, and Russian ancestry.

Most Old English Sheepdog, or “Shepherd’s Dog”, experts agree that the Bearded Collie was one of the first dog breeds used to develop what we now know as the OES. Some believe the Russian Owtchar also had a hand in it.

The shape and overall appearance of today’s OES remain largely unchanged from that of his ancestors, with detailed grooming records going back as far as the early 1900s.

How Do You Train an Old English Sheepdog?

As a longtime Old English Sheepdog breeder once said: “Never allow your puppy to do something that you would want a large, shaggy, wet, possibly muddy dog doing in your house.”

Though Old English Sheepdogs are highly intelligent, they still require training.

Start training as soon as possible. Old English Sheepdogs puppies are large, enthusiastic, and rowdy.

Patience and consistent training are a must when it comes to the Old English Sheepdog. However, once an Old English Sheepdog learns something, they don’t forget it.

This breed does get bored with repetitive training sessions so make training sessions quick, fun, and full of positive reinforcement.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Havanese dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

Above all, be sure to train your OES to respect you as his “pack leader.” Once he understands that you are the boss around here, he’ll be less likely to try and bend the rules to his advantage.

Treats are always a great way to get him to listen, but just don’t overdo it. The last thing you need is an obese dog and the health issues that come along with it.

The Old English Sheepdog Appearance

When it comes to size, a healthy weight for the Old English Sheepdog is between 60 to 80 lbs. for a female, and between 70 and 100 lbs. for a male.

As for height, female OESs average between 20 and 22 inches tall, and males between 22 and 24 inches.

Calm Old English Sheepdog  Sitting Gently Outdoor in Field

Finding the Perfect Old English Sheepdog Puppy

Are you ready to find your perfect Old English Sheepdog puppy? First, you’ll have to decide whether you want to adopt an Old English Sheepdog or purchase one from a breeder.

An Old English Sheepdog for sale is often purebred while OES’s in shelters or rescue organizations can be mixed or partly purebred.

Old English Sheepdog Puppies for Sale

You can expect to pay a pretty penny for this breed. Old English Sheepdog puppies for sale costs an average of $1200 to $1500 and the typical litter size is between 5-8 puppies.

The Old English Sheepdog price depends on where you live, the breeder’s reputation, the lineage, and litter size.

The more reputable the breeder, the more the Old English Sheepdog is going to cost. And, if they come from a well-respected lineage, expect to pay more than the average!

Old English Sheepdog Rescue and Adoption

Not every dog owner can handle an Old English Sheepdog. Unfortunately, finding an Old English Sheepdog for adoption is more common than you think.

Between their grooming needs and rowdy adolescence, an OES may be too much for some families and hence they give it up for adoption.

If you are interested in adopting one of these gentle giants, research some local Old English Sheepdog rescue groups in your area.

You may find organizations like the Old English Sheepdog Club of America particularly helpful.

While there may not be a dedicated Old English Sheepdog rescue close to you, you can always check your local or nearby animal shelter.

Local animal shelters may have either purebred Old English Sheepdogs or mixes.

Old English Sheepdog Breeders

Reputable Old English Sheepdog breeders will be knowledgeable about the breed and be able to answer any question you have regarding the OES.

Additionally, a good dog breeder will also ask you questions to determine in the Old English Sheepdog is the right fit for you.

For example, they should ask you if you are away from home for long periods of time, how you plan on training your Old English Sheepdog, and more.

Do your research when choosing a breeder. Make sure they are reputable, have clean indoor kennels, and that their dogs are happy and healthy!

Old English Sheepdog Mixed Breeds

If you’re looking for a mixed-breed dog, you can easily find an Old English Sheepdog mix. Here are some of the available mixes out there:

Something to remember about mixes is that you should always go for a First-Generation mix. What this means is that two breeds came together to make a new, mixed breed. When breeders start breeding mixed breeds, that’s when you run into a whole slew of problems. The best way to ensure you get a healthy mixed breed dog is to stick to First-Generation mixed breeds only.

How Do You Groom an Old English Sheepdog?

You can’t talk about an Old English Sheepdog without talking about grooming. When it comes to Old English Sheepdog grooming, patience – and brushing – is your best friend.

They have an unmistakable shaggy coat that’s not quite straight, not quite curly. They have a double coat – a textured outer coat and a soft undercoat.

Old English Sheepdogs can be gray, blue or blue merle, brown, or fawn, often with white markings.

Watchful Old English Sheepdog  in Field


You may be asking, “Do Old English Sheepdogs shed?” and the answer is an unmistakable yes. They are heavy shedders and need daily brushing. For this reason, these dogs are not hypoallergenic, so if you tend to have allergic reactions around dogs, this is not the breed for you.

Of course, no breed is truly hypoallergenic. However, there are other breeds out there that you can bring home with little to no fear of an allergic reaction. The OES is not one of those dogs.

Daily brushing helps keep their coat free of tangles and removes dead hair. It also prevents dry skin by stimulating the oils in the dog’s hair follicles.


The Old English Sheepdog’s shedding is just one grooming challenge. Some drool so much that the area around their mouth turns yellow. Regular washing post-meal will definitely help.

Make grooming a positive, rewarding experience for an Old English Sheepdog puppy so daily grooming won’t be a chore come adulthood.

If you’re looking for a grooming challenge, then the Old English Sheepdog is definitely for you. And if you’re meticulous about keeping a clean household, then this is one breed you should stay away from.

In addition to drool and all the mess that comes with it, this breed is classic for tracking in mud and taking a dip in his water bowl – only to come and lay his wet beard smack in the middle of your lap!

Old English Sheepdog Health

In terms of health, the Old English Sheepdog is fairly healthy. However, this is only an average. You still need to be aware of the conditions that affect this breed so you can take him to the vet at the first sign of any concerns.

Like other large breeds, OESs are prone to Hip Dysplasia. They can also develop certain health conditions, such as:

Helpful Dog Health Resource:

Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely dog from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expectancy.

Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of the Old English Sheepdog is 10-12 years.

Old English Sheepdog Exercise

Though large in stature, the Old English Sheepdog only requires moderate exercise. Unlike some other large breed dogs, they are able to turn off when they come inside, but while they’re outside, they love to bound around like puppies.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t require physical activity. At least one hour of daily activity is perfect for the OES.

Old English Sheepdog puppies need plenty of daily exercises but older OESs tend to prefer the couch to the yard – so much so that they often need encouragement to exercise!

A Final Word About The Old English Sheepdog Temperament

Despite their large stature, the Old English Sheepdog temperament is good-natured, adaptable, and sociable.

This is a breed that loves their humans – especially children – and is extremely intelligent.

If you’re ready to take on the grooming challenge that is the Old English Sheepdog, you’ll share your home with a bubbly, playful, and loving pup.