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Old English Sheepdog - Temperament & Personality

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Old English Sheepdog


Old English Sheepdogs are a favorite image in Hollywood. Movies and cartoons portray this breed as everything from intelligent and hardworking, to silly and dim-witted. Their individual personalities can vary as much as their Hollywood portrayals: some sheepdogs are outgoing, others are reserved, some are silly while others are are serious. But all Old English Sheepdogs are loyal family dogs who adore their people and wand to be with them as much as possible. They make excellent watch dogs as they are quick to sound the alarm that someone is approaching. Sheepdogs are great with kids, patient and kind, and always open for romping and playing in the yard. They make an excellent companion for experienced dog owners with active lifestyles.

Activity Requirements

Apartment dwellers may be drawn to this breed because they have a reputation for being well-behaved indoors but Old English Sheepdogs are not city dwellers and should not be kept in apartments or condos. They are country dogs, who do best in the suburbs or on a farm where they can herd livestock. At least one hour of vigorous activity per day is required for Sheepdogs to maintain health, happiness and an even temperament.

Sheepdogs make excellent walking, jogging, biking and hiking companions and should be included in these activities. Their heavy coats can make them prone to overheating, so most owners keep their long coats cropped short.


Sheepdogs can be a challenge to train. While herding livestock, they were expected to make their own decisions, and the modern breed still maintains this independence. You may teach them how to do something, and they may have it mastered, but they decide they have a better way to do it, you can be sure that's the way they will choose. Firm leadership is a must, and Sheepdogs respond best to motivational training, when food is the motivational tool. Consistency is also very important. If you give your Sheepdog even a little leeway, he will see that as a ticket to make his own rules. The softie of the house should never be left in charge of an Old English Sheepdog.

Behavioral Traits

Sheepdogs are great with kids, but when outdoors, play should be supervised. These are big dogs who romp, and can accidentally knock over a small child. They have also been known to herd groups of children, and their method of herding is to nip at heels.

Old English Sheepdogs consider themselves to be full-participating members of the family, and when left alone for long periods of time, they can become anxious. This is one reason that farms are an ideal living situation for this breed, as they can spend their days working alongside people. Sheepdog owners who do not live on farms should not have hectic work schedules.

The individual personalities of Sheepdogs can vary, so it is important to know you are getting your dog from a reputable breeder. Indiscriminate breeding has led to unstable temperaments which can mean shyness, fearfulness, neurotic behavior and even aggression. Well-bred Sheepdogs should never exhibit unstable behavioral.

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