Old English Sheepdog

Lifestyle Needs

Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog is a large herding dog with a long, profuse, weather resistant coat and a loud bark.  He is typically intelligent and friendly – not aggressive but protective of his family.  Ideally he should live in a large house with a large garden, close to the open countryside.  He needs daily exercise with plenty of opportunity to run freely.  His coat requires frequent, skilled and dedicated grooming.

Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 9.7% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Effective Population Size - EPS


EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.

Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)

The Old English Sheepdog’s exceptionally profuse coat will soon cause him welfare problems if it is not given daily care and grooming.  Some trimming will be necessary around his face to enable him to see.  His coat could also cause problems in warm weather, unless care is taken to keep him cool.

BVA/KC Health Schemes: www.bva.co.uk/chs

  • Hip dysplasia (abnormality of the hip joints causing pain and disability): breed mean score 11.8 (parents should be lower)
  • Eye disease: Hereditary cataract; Multiocular defects (MOD) (litter screening); Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (gradual loss of sight) (annual testing)

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) : EBVs for Hip Dysplasia are available for this breed

DNA Tests Available

  • Multi drug resistance (MDR 1)
  • Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD)

Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes

None known

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

  • Portosystemic shunt (abnormality of the blood circulation resulting in blood from the heart bypassing the liver and entering the general circulation)
  • Cerebellar abiotrophy (progressive inco-ordination)
  • Immune mediated haemolytic anaemia (destruction of red blood cells)
  • Uveodermatological syndrome (auto immune disease) Itissues are progressively destroyed leading to blindness and death)
  • Shoulder osteochondrosis (males – abnormalities of bone and cartilege, causing inflammation, pain and lameness)
  • Entropion (inverting eyelid)
  • Distichiasis (abnormal hairs growing from eyelid margins)
  • Urinary incontinence (spayed females)
  • Urolithiasis (stone formation in bladder)
  • Cancer (various forms)
  • Deafness
  • Cataract
  • Primary ciliary dyskinesia (disease of the respiratory tract, causes respiratory problems and infections)

Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.

Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):  www.puppycontract.org.uk

You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding:

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

List of Dog Breeds