A little Affinpinscher named Banana Joe took best in show at the recent Westminster competition, but there were plenty of other good-looking canines participating, one of which was an Old English Sheepdog named Swagger.
The Old English Sheepdog was developed as a herding dog – specifically a “drover” who took sheep and cattle to the market. Not only did these dogs move the livestock, they also protected them from poachers along the way.
The Old English Sheepdog is a large breed, ranging from 60 to 100 pounds. Combine their size with their active and lively personalities, and you’ve got a lot of dog to deal with. English Sheepdogs need plenty of exercise daily and require a firm, but patient hand with training. They are clever, but a touch stubborn at times.
Many people are attracted to the beautiful, fluffy, teddy bear appearance of an Old English Sheepdog in show coat. However, it’s important to be aware that it takes hours per week to maintain that type of coat. Most families cave in and go for a professional groomer’s care and a shave down a couple of times a year, which can be costly.
Due to their size, owning an Old English Sheepdog will be more expensive than taking on a smaller dog. Large dogs require more food, and preventative medications like heartworm protection and flea control are more expensive for bigger dogs. The cost of these supplies can add up, which should be considered if you are looking at adding a new four-legged family member.
Be prepared to undergo a thorough set of questions when you approach a breeder about a puppy. Due to their size and coat care requirements, Old English Sheepdogs are not favorites of puppy mills. Reputable breeders want to keep it that way and will verify your information. You need to be prepared with questions for the breeder too. Old English Sheepdogs used for breeding should have health clearances for hip dysplasia, eye diseases and thyroid problems at a minimum. Many breeders also evaluate their dogs for heart problems, deafness, drug sensitivities and neurologic problems.