The Old English Sheepdog is covered in abundant hair from head to tip of the tail. They are large, muscular dogs, who, despite their heavy appearance and bear-like gait, are quite agile. The topline slopes upward and is one of the more important characteristics of the breed. The neck is long and arched, the chest is broad, the forelegs straight and small. The round feet point forward. The head is large and square and has a defined stop. The ears of the Sheepdog are small and lie flat against the head. The eyes may be blue, brown, or one of each color. Sheepdogs may be gray, grizzle, blue, blue merle, brown or fawn, and usually sport white markings.
Size and Weight
Adult males typically stand 22 inches and up at the shoulder while females are a bit smaller, standing 21 inches or taller. Males weigh 70 to 100 pounds while females weigh 60 to 80. They should be squarely proportioned and the overall balance of the dog is of more importance than the actual measurements.
Coat and Color
The Old English Sheepdog wears a thick, abundant coat of hair that is described as neither straight, nor curly. The undercoat is soft while the top coat is hard-textured. The entire body, from head to hock is thickly covered in hair. Sheepdogs may be gray, grizzle, blue, blue merle, brown or fawn, and usually sport white markings.
The Old English Sheepdog is a challenge to groom, as the coat is very high-maintenance, even for experienced dog owners. Three to four hours per week is the minimum requirement for keeping the coat healthy and free of tangles and mats. They shed heavily and need to be brushed every day in order to remove dead hair and keep the coat tangle-free. Sheepdogs drool heavily and the hair around the mouth can become discolored, so the face must be washed several times a day, and always after meals. His rear end will also need to be cleaned after he relieves himself. Cornstarch can be applied to the beard and the rear end, allowed to dry and then brushed out, in order to help maintain these sensitive areas of the body. If mats form, they usually need to be cut out, and in severe cases, the dog will need to be shaved. Many owners solicit the services of a professional groomer when it comes to bathing an Old English Sheepdog, as bathing and drying this breed can be a daunting task. In summer months, it is a good idea to trim the hair short to prevent the dog from potentially dangerous overheating.
The ears should be checked on a regular basis for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection. Clean them with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser; never use a cotton swab in a dog's ear canal. Teeth should be brushed on a weekly basis to prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health and keep bad breath at bay. Trim nails monthly if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally outdoors.