Old English Sheepdog (Bobtail) general features, temperament, health

Old English Sheepdog dog breed photo

FCI # 16, Origin: Great Britain, Group 1.1 Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs.

Height: 20-24 in, Weight: 60-100 pounds

Grooming: High, Shedding: High, Coat: Long and hard with weather resistant undercoat.

Color: gray, blue, grizzle with white markings.

Ease of training: High, Energy level: Medium, Span of life: 10-12 years.

Breed: History of the Old English Sheepdog has at least 200 years. Many authors have tried to trace the origin of this breed. According to one theory, the breed emerged by crossing Bearded and Border Collies. But this version is questionable. Firstly, the breeds named above are much lighter than the Old English Sheepdog.
Secondly, the farmers had no desire for a new breed of dogs, they were not interested much in the dog exterior, but only in working qualities.

Others suggest that the breed originated from crossings of the above-mentioned types with some Russian Sheepdogs, which were imported by Russian sailors. There are also doubts about the correctness of this version. It is unlikely that sailors visiting the west coast of England, carried with them so many dogs that they could sell them, and they could become the progenitors of the breed.

There is a theory that the breed was formed by mating dogs that were brought by the Crusaders from Europe, with local breeds.

One of the oldest breed connoisseurs - Mr. G. Phillips of Glenvilet - believed that the birthplace of the breed could be a plateau of Scotland, as in the old chronicles there is described the breed of long-haired dogs with short stout legs, which are very well tolerating  cold and thrive in the snow. Dogs of this breed deserved praise because they knew every sheep of their flocks and for their ability to scare out the "intruders", especially noticeable on the hills. Later this breed moved to the west coast of England, where it continued to develop.

Unfortunately, all these versions do not have scientific or historical evidences.

The first mention of sheepdogs with bobtails, which had a gray-blue with white coats, belongs to 1810. It was then, that Richard Parkinson described the sheepdog with color and the constitution, similar to a typical Old English Sheepdog.

Old English Sheepdog dog breeds

This Sheepdog lived in the western and southwestern parts of England in the counties of Devon, Somerset, Sussex, Cornwall. And at that time it was called Cornwall or Sussex dog.

How did appear the second name of the breed - Bobtail? Around the common docking of the tail winds a lot of stories and legends. Henry Arthur Tilley, a true pioneer in breeding of the Old English Sheepdogs and the owner of the world-famous kennel SHEPTON, wrote in his book "The Old English Sheep Dog" about the two versions of Bobtail's emergence. The first version says that farmers needed working dogs, which would not be distracted while driving the cattle to the persecution of a small game. And as for hunting small animals or birds dogs need a kind of rudder to perform a good speed and sharp movements, farmers were forced to dock the tails of their Sheepdogs.

The second version is associated with then existing law in England, according to which the owner of the working dog was free from paying taxes, and a short docked tail served as a marking indicating working dogs.

Also there are preserved some evidences from the breeders who were working in the beginning of XX century, about the litters with extremely short tails. So Ms. E. Flint, the owner of the famous kennel NEWCOTE, registered the highest number of pups, marked - "short-tailed". What is even more confusing for the researchers of the breed.

In 1873 the first three Old English Sheepdogs were exhibited in the dog show in Birmingham. And the judge, Mr. M.B. Wynn has provided only a second prize, because he found that the quality of those dogs was "weak". In 1875, two years after the founding of the English Kennel Club, there were registered two dogs named "Short-Tailed English Sheepdog". At this year beings the studbook of the breed. Mr. Freeman-Loyd publishes a book, that described the Old English Sheepdog. And this book helped to increase the interest in this breed in England. Around this time Mr. Andrew Carnegie and his friend, Mr. William Wade brought the first representatives of this breed to the U.S., thus ensuring the future of the Old English Sheepdog abroad. And in 1904 the first four Old English Sheepdogs were shown on the famous Westminster Dog Show. In the same year Mr. H. Tilley founded the Old English Sheepdog Club in the U.S.

The breed is gradually becoming popular, it produces a sensation not only in exhibitions. From 1876 in England were held the competitions of herding dogs that have not once proven the outstanding abilities of the Old English Sheepdog. In 1888 a group of enthusiasts created in England the Old English Sheepdog Club. The first president from the beginning until 1911 was Sir H. Trafford. The first woman - president of the Club was Mrs. Helen Fare-Fosse (kennel WEATHER), which went down in history as the owner of the most famous dog Ch. FAIRWETHER (10.05.1898 -?). Ch. FAIRWETHER won 19 of the CC (the highest title of the UK), which is a record for that time. After her death she had been mummificated and exhibited at the Museum of Natural History in Trieng (county of Hertfordshire).

Old English Sheepdog breed photo

General Features: Bobtail is a large dog. The head is proportional to the body. The skull is wide, almost square. Eyebrows are well pronounced. The transition from forehead to the muzzle is clear. Muzzle is powerful, square shaped. Nose is large and black with wide nostrils. Teeth must meet the scissor bite. Eyes set wide apart, dark or different (one brown and one blue). Allowed two blue eyes. Light eyes undesirable.

Pigmentation of the eyelids is regarded as an advantage. Ears are small, set, fitting closely to the skull. The neck is fairly long, strong, with a nice bend. Dewclaws on hind legs should be removed. The chest is deep and wide. The tail is usually fully docked. Coat is hard, shaggy, without curles. Undercoat with waterproof properties. Quality, texture and an abundance of hair is more important than length. Head and neck must be well covered with hair.

The back of the body is covered with thicker fur than the rest of the body. Color: any shades of gray or blue. Head, neck, front legs and lower abdomen - white with dark markings, or without them. Body and the back of a solid color. White markings on the body and back are not allowed.

Temperament: Even at the age of 8-10 years the Old English Sheepdog exhibits the same lively and playful nature. On the walk Bobtail is always running slightly ahead of the owner, constantly keeping an eye on him, and you do not have time to turn in another direction, he immediately turns ahead of you. If Bobtail comes in the company of dogs playing, he will take part in this mess or will keep running circles around them, as if playing the role of judge or an observer.

There should be noted an interesting feature of this breed - Bobtail in any situation will protect children, even if it's someone else's child and the Bobtail has to protect this child from his own master - he will. Bobtail will never start any fights first, but he would defend himself and protect anyone in case it is absolutely necessary, while in the other cases he is intelligent, gentle and friendly, handsome man. In addition, many owners observe in the behavior of their pets some resemblance to the English temperament, possessed by the inhabitants of Britain.

Any owner of the Old English Sheepdog need to remember - for Bobtail to be a sweet and docile Teddy-bear, it is necessary that the owner will be watching him and rather strictly training him up to the first eight months of life. And first of all it is very important not to succumb to the incredible grimaces of this big plush toy, which is certainly aware of his charm and will try at every opportunity, to take an advantage of this, using the weakness of his master. Bobtail needs a fairly firm owner's hand, always, nevertheless, ready to cuddle.

This unpretentious dog appreciates above all the family life. Bobtail can be happily frolic and funny, but they are generally very docile and calm dogs, if properly educated. His only drawback - is endless grooming, the coat of the Old English Sheepdog requires constant care. But properly groomed Bobtail looks great! The perfect companion for children, absolutely free from the needless aggression, Bobtail, is  remarkable not only with his original "Teddy-bear" appearance, but also with his smartness and gentle attitude.

Health problems: In some lines the Old English Sheepdogs are prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts and anemia.

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