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Old English Sheepdog Facts

Origin: United Kingdom (UK)
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Breed Group: Herding
Coat Type: Thick double coat
Coat Colours: Gray and white
Temperament: Gentle, Intelligent, Social
Height: Male: 61-66 cm (24-26 inches), Female: 56-61 cm (22-24 inches)
Weight: Male: 29-45 kg (65-100 lbs), Female: 27-36 kg (60-80 lbs)


Old English Sheepdog for Sale Ireland

The Old English Sheepdog, a beloved member of the Herding Dog category, is known for its intelligence, gentle nature, and playful disposition. With its distinctive shaggy coat and endearing appearance, it has earned a special place in the hearts of dog lovers across Ireland.

This large-sized purebred shepherd’s dog has evolved from its original role as a farmer’s and shepherd’s versatile companion to a cherished show dog and companion. With its strong herding instincts dating back to the 19th century, the Old English Sheepdog is a sociable and demanding breed that thrives on human attention. However, its size and profuse coat make it prone to bringing the outdoors inside.

A Brief History


The Old English Sheepdog, affectionately known as the “Bobtail,” traces its lineage back to England, emerging about two centuries ago. In contrast to many ancient breeds, this one is relatively young in terms of recorded history. Initially, it was referred to simply as the “Shepherd’s” or “Drover’s Dog.” Its early presence can be linked to the regions of Devon and Somerset in England. Shepherds in these areas required a versatile canine companion capable of herding sheep and cattle across long distances to markets. Additionally, this dog needed the strength to pull carts, wagons, and the courage to fend off predators like wolves.

The Birth of the “Bobtail”

The moniker “Bobtail” emerged from a unique tax-exemption practice. To distinguish these dogs as working animals and thus exempt from taxation, their tails were docked or “bobbed” to a short length. These dogs also played a role in the textile industry as their long, shaggy coats were sheared during spring alongside the sheep, and the wool was spun into warm clothing.

Speculation on Ancestry

The exact ancestry of the Old English Sheepdog remains shrouded in speculation and debate. Some believe that it shares genetic roots with breeds like the Scottish Bearded Collie or the Russian Owtchar. Others contend that the breed’s lineage includes contributions from the French Briard, Scottish Deerhound, and Italian Bergamasco. It’s also suggested that a bobtailed drover’s dog, known as the “Cotswold Cor” or “Smithfield,” from the southwestern English counties may have influenced the breed’s DNA.


The Old English Sheepdog gained recognition as a herding breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the late 1800s. This recognition was significantly boosted by the efforts of wealthy Pittsburgh industrialist William Wade. Soon after, the breed found itself in the hands of some of America’s most affluent families, including the Goulds, Guggenheims, Morgans, and Vanderbilts. These families not only owned but also bred and dominated the show ring with their Bobtails. They even employed staff dedicated to grooming and caring for these remarkable dogs.

Old English Sheepdog: Did you Know?

  • Name Origins: Known as the “Old English Sheepdog” or “Shepherd’s Dog.”
  • Dulux Mascot: Became the Dulux paint brand mascot in the 1960s, earning the nickname “Dulux Dog.”
  • Bobtail Tradition: Called “Bobtail” due to the historical practice of docking their tails to identify them as working dogs and avoid taxation.
  • Hollywood Star: Featured in numerous movies, including “The Shaggy Dog,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” and “101 Dalmatians.”
  • TV Fame: Famously known as “Barkley” on Sesame Street.
  • Presidential Companion: Shared the White House with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, alongside an Old English Sheepdog named “Tiny.”
  • Musical Inspiration: Inspired Paul McCartney to write the song “Martha My Dear” in honour of his Old English Sheepdog named “Martha.”

Old English Sheepdog Puppies

If you’re considering adding an Old English Sheepdog to your family, you’ll want to know about their puppies. These adorable bundles of fur are born with a fluffy coat that only gets more impressive as they grow. Old English Sheepdog puppies are known for their playful nature and intelligence. In Irish counties like Kerry and Cork, where rural life still thrives, these puppies are cherished additions to farming families.

Size and Weight

Understanding the size and weight of the Old English Sheepdog is crucial for prospective owners. These dogs are known for their sturdy build and substantial size:


  • Centimeters (cm): Males: 61-71 cm (24-28 inches), Females: 56-66 cm (22-26 inches)


  • Kilograms (kg): Males: 32-45 kg (70-100 lbs), Females: 27-36 kg (60-80 lbs)

This robust physique makes them well-suited for the demanding work of herding, and their agility and strength are equally valued on the rolling hills of County Wicklow as they are in the bustling streets of Dublin.

Coat & Colours

One of the most iconic features of the Old English Sheepdog is its luxuriously thick double coat. The coat is designed to protect them from the elements while herding sheep in England’s sometimes harsh weather. Here’s what you need to know about their coat and colours:

  • Coat: The Old English Sheepdog’s coat is comprised of a soft, insulating undercoat and a thick, shaggy outer layer. Regular grooming is essential to prevent matting and to keep their coat in prime condition.
  • Colours: Traditionally, they are seen in a striking combination of white and grey, but they can also appear in various shades of grey, and blue, or even have blue merle markings. Here are some common colour patterns:


Grey stands out as a prominent and well-liked colour variation among Old English Sheepdogs. The coat can encompass a spectrum from a light grey hue to a deeper shade, contributing to a distinguished and attractive appearance.


The grizzle coat variation presents a delightful blend of grey and white hairs, resulting in a salt-and-pepper-like appearance. This unique combination adds character to the breed’s overall look.


The blue colour variation is another striking option seen in Old English Sheepdogs. The shade can span from a gentle blue-grey to a richer and deeper blue tone, bestowing upon the dog an elegant and captivating presence.

Blue Merle

The blue merle coat variation combines shades of blue, grey, and black in patches or marbled patterns, creating a captivating and eye-catching effect. The interplay of these colours enhances the breed’s charm.

White Markings

Beyond the base coat colour, Old English Sheepdogs can feature white markings on their face, chest, legs, and tail. These markings can vary in size and placement, further enhancing the dog’s overall appearance.


Old English Sheepdogs are known for their friendly, good-natured temperament, which makes them excellent companions for Irish families and farmers alike. Their characteristics include:

  • Gentle: They are gentle giants who are exceptionally patient with children and other pets, embodying the warmth of an Irish pub’s hearth.
  • Intelligent: Their intelligence and willingness to please make them highly trainable, a trait appreciated in counties like Galway and Kildare, where obedience is valued.
  • Protective: While they are friendly, they are also protective, and their imposing size can deter potential intruders, making them ideal guardians for homes across County Dublin.

Old English Sheepdog for Sale Ireland

Now, if you’ve fallen in love with the Old English Sheepdog and want to bring one into your Irish home, you might be wondering where to find them. As a website dedicated to dogs in Ireland, we connect potential buyers with reputable breeders across the country. Keep in mind that responsible breeding practices are essential for the health and well-being of these lovely dogs. When searching for an Old English Sheepdog for sale in Ireland, consider the following:

  • Breeder Reputation: Look for breeders with a good reputation and a history of ethical breeding practices. Counties like Waterford and Limerick are home to many dedicated breeders.
  • Health Checks: Ensure that the puppies have received proper veterinary care, vaccinations, and health clearances. This is vital for the puppy’s health.
  • Meet the Parents: Whenever possible, meet the puppy’s parents to get a sense of their temperament and behaviour.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask the breeder questions about the breed and the specific puppy you’re interested in. A responsible breeder will be happy to provide information.

By taking these precautions, you can welcome an Old English Sheepdog into your Irish home with confidence, knowing that you’ve made a well-informed choice.

Living with an Old English Sheepdog in Ireland

Ideal Setting

While the Old English Sheepdog can adapt to suburban life and enjoys some indoor relaxation, it truly thrives in the open spaces of rural Ireland or on farms where its herding instincts can shine. In contrast, it’s not the best fit for smaller living conditions like apartments. The spacious landscapes of Irish counties such as Kerry, Cork, and Galway provide the perfect backdrop for this country-loving dog.

Space Requirements

Ideally, this large working breed calls for a generous home with a secure, expansive backyard or access to open property where they can roam freely. In Ireland, where green pastures stretch as far as the eye can see, this breed finds its natural habitat. The wide-open spaces in counties like Wicklow and Clare are precisely what the Old English Sheepdog craves.

Exercise Needs

Maintaining the health and happiness of your Old English Sheepdog in Ireland necessitates a minimum of one hour of vigorous activity each day. This includes long walks through the scenic countryside or runs across the rolling hills. Ireland’s stunning landscapes, from the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare to the Gap of Dunloe in County Kerry, provide endless opportunities for outdoor exercise.


This breed thrives on human companionship and won’t tolerate being left alone for extended periods. In Ireland, where community and camaraderie are cherished, the Old English Sheepdog’s desire to spend time with its human family aligns perfectly with the Irish way of life. Whether it’s joining in on a traditional Irish ceilidh dance or enjoying a pint at a local pub, this sociable dog wants to be a part of the action.

Preventing Boredom

To keep this intelligent and independent thinker content in the Irish countryside, mental and physical stimulation are essential. Engage them in activities like biking, hiking, or jogging along the scenic trails of County Donegal or the Ring of Kerry. Remember that in Ireland, dogs are often seen as part of the family, and leaving them alone for extended periods without stimulation or interaction would go against the country’s warm and communal spirit.

Pros of Old English Sheepdog Ownership

  • Loyal, Intelligent, and Loving: Known for their unwavering loyalty, intelligence, and affectionate nature.
  • Enthusiastic, Bouncy, and Playful: Their enthusiastic and playful demeanour brings joy to the household.
  • Excellent Watchdog: Natural protectors, they excel at watching over their home and family.
  • Peaceful with Other Pets and Dogs: Generally, they have a peaceful disposition and get along well with other pets and dogs.
  • Good with Children and All Flock Members: Gentle and friendly, they make great companions for children and all family members.
  • Considerations for Prospective Owners: While they offer many advantages, they may not be the best choice for first-time dog guardians.

Cons of Old English Sheepdog Ownership

  • Moderately Active, Powerful, and Large: Due to their size and energy levels, they require regular exercise and engagement.
  • Rowdy with Exuberant Jumping: Their exuberance can lead to rowdy jumping behaviour.
  • Independent Thinkers: They exhibit independent thinking, which may require patient training and consistency.
  • Tendency to Herd: Their herding instincts might lead them to herd children, animals, or vehicles.
  • Strong-Willed and Independent: Possessing a strong-willed nature, they benefit from confident owners who can provide guidance.
  • Not Suitable for Allergy Sufferers: Their profuse coat and shedding make them unsuitable for allergy sufferers.
  • Grooming Demands: Require regular grooming and brushing due to their shaggy coat.
  • Shaggy Dog Syndrome: Their coat tends to trap everything, necessitating frequent cleaning.
  • Drooling, Slobbering, and Gassiness: Some individuals may exhibit drooling, slobbering, and gassiness.
  • Potential for Aggression: In unfamiliar situations, they may display aggression towards other dogs and animals.
  • Escape Artists: They have a knack for escaping, requiring secure confinement.
  • Boredom and Destructive Behavior: Boredom can lead to destructive behaviour, excessive barking, or escape attempts.
  • Active, Confident Guardian Required: Thrive when given a purpose and need an active, confident guardian for proper training, socialization, and companionship.