Old English Sheepdogs are amongst a group of breeds classed as ‘Category Two’ by The Kennel Club. These are breeds of dog that have been highlighted as having ‘points of concern’ – visible features which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future and cause health and welfare concerns.
Old English Sheepdogs are a member of the ‘Pastoral’ breed group. Dogs in the Pastoral group are made up of breeds of herding dogs used with working cattle, sheep, reindeer and other cloven footed animals.
Old English Sheepdogs are easy-going, amiable dogs. They are devoted to their owners and make excellent family pets. They can be quite stubborn however, so training can sometimes be a challenge. To find out more about socialisation and training using reward-based techniques, take a look at our dog behaviour page.
Grooming is a daily task to ensure the coat doesn’t get matted.
Breed-related health problems:
Owners are, understandably, upset when their dog develops a health problem linked to its breed. Often they wish they’d known what problems the breed was prone to have. The potential health problems that Old English Sheepdogs are prone to include:
- Hip dysplasia – hip joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) – often known as ‘bloat’, this is a condition where the stomach twists, trapping the contents and gases. This is an emergency and requires urgent veterinary attention. It’s often seen in large, deep-chested breeds.
- Retinal detachment – detachment of the retina from the back of the eye. Can cause partial loss of vision
- Progressive retinal atrophy – gradual deterioration of the retina of the eye. Symptoms can start with night blindness and progress to total blindness.
- Cataracts – opacity of the lens of the eye – giving a ‘cloudy’ appearance.
- Portosystemic shunt – abnormal blood circulation, with the blood effectively bypassing the liver and entering general circulation.
- Entropion – inward turning eyelids.
- Distichiasis – a condition in which small eyelashes grow on the inner surface or the very edge of the eye, which can then rub on the surface of the eye, causing irritation.
- Urolithiasis – stone formation in urine.
For some conditions, there are screening programmes available through the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club. The Canine Health Schemes allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, so it’s a good idea to check the parents of any puppy you’re looking to rehome have been screened under these schemes. We’d also recommend discussing the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.
You can find out more about the Canine Health Schemes on the BVA's website.
Old English Sheepdogs are highly energetic dogs that require over 2 hours of exercise per day. They’ll need an owner who can devote this time to their dog and is happy to do plenty of walking.
Estimated lifetime cost:
The likely lifetime costs for an Old English Sheepdog are based on estimates calculated using current market prices and include:
- Initial costs of the purchase of the pet
- First vaccinations and booster vaccinations
- Pet insurance
- Flea Treatments
The list above does not include veterinary costs if your pet becomes sick or injured, so these average lifetime costs could be even higher.
Insure your Old English Sheepdog with PDSA:
1 in 3 pets need vet treatment each year and vet bills can come to hundreds of pounds. PDSA Pet Insurance can give you peace of mind when your pet is poorly, especially for breeds like Old English Sheepdogs that are prone to certain conditions. PDSA Pet Insurance offers:
- 5 Star Pet Insurance* - from the vet experts
- 4 levels of cover to suit you
- Monthly payment at no extra cost
*Defaqto 5 Star rating applies to our Plus and Premier policies only. Defaqto’s Star Ratings provide an independent assessment of the quality of financial products.
By insuring your Old English Sheepdog with PDSA you’ll also be helping to provide vet care to some of the UK’s neediest pets.