Should we get an Old English Sheepdog?

Okay our family is looking into getting another doggy next summer. We were think about an Old English Sheepdog…have you heard anything about them? Are they good family dogs? I heard they’re really stupid and stubborn, but with the right training, they are lovable and just like giant teddy bears! Any thoughts on this?

Answer #1

Yeah magic!! They are wonderful dogs…only you know how much time per week you want to devote to grooming…

Also, like magic said…you’ll want to find a good breeder who has dogs with good health and great temperments…

From the What’s Good and What’s Bad About Old Eng. SD’s

If you want a dog who…

Is large and shaggy Is enthusiastic, bouncy, and bumptious, and loves to romp and play Makes a sensible watchdog, but is usually not aggressive with strangers Is usually peaceful with other pets An Old English Sheepdog may be right for you.

If you don’t want to deal with…

An extremely careful search to avoid highstrung, neurotic, nasty Old English Sheepdogs Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young “Separation anxiety” (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much Suspiciousness, skittishness, or aggression in some lines, or when not socialized enough Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge Chasing and nipping at things that move: children, joggers, other animals, bikes, cars Slobbering and drooling Gassiness (flatulence) Lots of brushing and combing Heavy shedding “Shaggy dog syndrome,” I.e. debris clinging to the coat, water soaking into the beard and dripping on your floors Health problems An Old English Sheepdog may not be right for you.

Major concerns would be:

Unstable temperaments. Unless carefully bred by people who know how to produce good-tempered dogs, Old English Sheepdogs are quite susceptible to genetically bad temperaments. Obedience instructors and behavioral consultants see LOTS of Old English Sheepdogs with neurotic behaviors, including biting, sharpness, extreme fearfulness, hyperactivity, and general nastiness.

Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Old English Sheepdogs MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored – which they usually express by destructive chewing. Bored Old English Sheepdogs can make a shambles of your house and yard.

If you simply want a pet for your family, and don’t have the time or inclination to take your dog out for frequent long romps, or to get involved in some canine activity such as advanced obedience, or tracking, or agility, I do not recommend this breed.

Separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, Old English Sheepdogs need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking. If you work all day, this is not the breed for you.

If you have small children, or if you or anyone who lives with you is elderly or infirm, I do not recommend Old English Sheepdog puppies. Young Old English (up to about two years old) romp and jump with great vigor, and things can go flying, including people. The temptation to play roughly and nip at moving people is simply too strong in many young Old English Sheepdogs.

Stubbornness. Old English Sheepdogs are not Golden Retrievers. They can be very stubborn and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

To teach your Sheepdog to listen to you, “Respect Training” is mandatory. My Old English Sheepdog Training Page discusses the program you need.

Grooming. Without frequent brushing and combing, Old English Sheepdogs become a matted mess. If you can’t commit to the brushing, you have to commit to frequent trimming to keep the coat short, neat, and healthy.

Shedding. Old English Sheepdogs she a LOT. You’ll find hair and fur all over your clothing, upholstery, carpeting, under your furniture, on your countertops – even in your food. Frequent vacuuming will become a way of life.

“Shaggy dog syndrome.” Like all shaggy dogs, the Old English Sheepdog is a messy dog. Leaves, mud, snow, fecal matter, and other debris cling to his rough coat and ends up all over your house. When he drinks, his beard absorbs water, which drips on your floors when he walks away. When he eats, his beard absorbs food so that when he sniffs your face or presses his head against your leg, YOU end up dirty, too. Big shaggy dogs are not suited to fastidious housekeepers.

Slobbering. Some Old English Sheepdogs tend to slobber or drool, especially after eating and drinking.

Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Fortunately, Old English Sheepdogs who are fed a natural diet of real meat and other fresh foods have much less trouble with gassiness. See my Old English Sheepdog Health Page for more information.

Health problems. From joint problems to eye problems to skin problems to neurological disease, Old English Sheepdogs can be risky in the health department.

Answer #2

Great job Phrannie.

I guess this is why you don’t see too many of them around. Of course all dogs like people take a lot of love and work, but these more then others.

Answer #3

My only negitive on this dog is to consider, the grooming. It would be a high maintenance dog. Other then that a wonderful pet. Look to the breeder for the intelligence of the dog. Go with someone that knows what they are breeding for or what they are doing.

Answer #4

I think they are great dogs! when I was a kid a friend of mine had one and I absolutely loved it! they really are like teddy bears. this one, at least was really good with kids.

Answer #5

Thanks so much, Phrannie! You helped tons!! :)

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