A friendly and trustworthy breed which is usually
good with children. An excellent guard dog with a resounding bark.
Description & History
The Old English Sheepdog is believed to
have developed in the south and west of England, and is thought to be
descended mainly from the Bearded Collie. It also seems likely that
the Russian Owtchar and the French Briard - both similar to the Old
English Sheepdog - may have played some part in its ancestry. For hundreds
of years, before the introduction of the quarantine regulations, dogs
from continental Europe and Russia were known to have been introduced
into the British Isles, so it is possible that these two breeds were
involved in the development of the Old English Sheepdog.
The breed as we know it today has existed
since the early part of the nineteenth century. For centuries they were
used as guard dogs on the farms and by drovers while driving both cattle
and sheep to market. In England in 1796 the taxation of dogs was imposed.
At that time the amount of tax paid varied according to the type of
dog. By 1878 the rate was fixed at seven shillings and sixpence and
applied to all dogs except sheepdogs - they were exempt provided they
had no tails. This probably led to the custom of docking, which over
the years has had far-reaching consequences. It is quite possible that
from this practice the name 'Bobtail', the other name for the breed,
An interesting characteristic of the breed
is its ambling gait. This free movement is brought about by both legs
on the same side moving concurrently.
Nowadays the breed is no longer a working
dog but is popular in the show ring. In 1873 the breed was shown for
the first time at the great Birmingham Show, and in 1888 the first breed
club was founded. Its popularity is no doubt also due to the fact that
it is used, like one or two other disctinctive breeds, for advertising
in the press and on British television.
The Old English Sheepdog was once and
still is an active breed, and therefore is best suited to a country
life where it has the opportunity to gallop freely on its daily walks.