English Sheepdogs are probably the most recognized dogs of any breed and are wildly popular at dog shows. They originated in England back in the 1700s. At that time, they were called “drover dogs” because their primary purpose was to drive sheep and cattle to market. Legend has it that they were even used as a secret weapon during World War II, as their fluffy coats were ideal for hiding secret messages!
|Dog Breed Group
We rate 19 characteristics for each breed, divided into three categories:
Highest Rated – Characteristics for which this breed is rated 4 or 5 stars (on a 5 star scale).
Neutral Rated – Characteristics that rated 3 stars.
Lowest Rated – Characteristics that rated only 1 or 2 stars.
- Good Family Dog
- Kid Friendly
- Likes to Play
- Protective Nature
- Handles Change Easily
- Easy to Train
- Suitable for Small Yards/Apartments
- Good for Novice Owners
- Tolerates Cold Climate
- Good General Health
- High Intelligence
- Good With Other Dogs
- Low Shedding
- Low Drooling
- Friendly to Strangers
- High Energy Level
- Low Amount of Barking
- Tolerates Being Left Alone
- Tolerates Hot Climate
These are wonderful family dogs and are known for having a gentle nature and a love of human companionship. Their goofy and playful natures make them perfect family members and a big hit with children.
As with all large breeds, they should be supervised around small children despite their patient and playful nature. Dogs this big can easily accidentally knock down their much smaller human playmates.
Also, as is true with all large breeds, it’s important to teach children how to properly react to and play with their big buddy!
While their gentle and sweet personalities make them great family dogs, they are also loyal and very protective over their families, making them excellent watchdogs. They won’t hesitate to defend their family and home if they feel they are in danger.
This is a trait inherited from their history as a herding breed responsible for guarding and protecting flocks of sheep and cattle.
There are generally friendly to strangers, but can often be cautious and reserved due to their protective instincts. This can even result in overprotective behavior, which fortunately can be prevented or corrected with socialization and training.
With other dogs, Old English Sheepdogs are generally friendly and enjoy meeting and playing with them. Once again though, their naturally protective nature can make them a bit stand-offish until they are confident no threat exists.
From a maintenance standpoint, we rate Old English Sheepdogs as a medium. Their thick, double coat sheds a bit all of the time and quite heavily twice a year. This results in a lot of fur to clean up during shedding seasons.
Fortunately, they only occasionally drool, mostly when excited or anticipating food. Overall, they are not heavy droolers.
Since these are highly social dogs who love their families and crave their companionship, they do suffer from separation anxiety. They can become destructive or anxious when left alone for a long period. This means you’ll need to slowly get them used to being left alone by starting with short periods and gradually increasing as they become comfortable. Giving them enough exercise and providing toys can help this process along.
The good news is that this large and lovable breed can be a good choice for novice dog owners. They are generally easy to train and their gentle and friendly nature means they won’t challenge you to be the alpha. With early socialization and training, Old English Sheepdogs can be managed easily by first-time down-owners.
Another plus is that they are a moderate-energy breed. While they do require regular exercise such as walks and playtime, they are not a high-energy breed. If you’re active, they will enjoy that, but they can also adapt to a more relaxed and laid-back lifestyle if that’s your preference.
When it comes to training, English Sheepdogs are very intelligent and eager to please. As a result, they are easy to train. As with many breeds, they respond best to positive reinforcement training, treats, and praise. They can easily learn many commands and tricks and will enjoy doing so.
That said, they can also be somewhat stubborn at times. Because of their strong herding instinct, they may try to herd other pets in the home or even family members! However, with their eagerness to please and intelligence, socialization, and training can easily overcome these tendencies.
Old English Sheepdogs are one of the healthier breeds but are subject to some of the ailments common to large-breed dogs. These include hip dysplasia, skin allergies, and some eye problems. But with regular care and a healthy diet and lifestyle, their life expectancy can be as long as 12 years, which is better than many of the big breeds.