The Old English Sheepdog (OES) was developed in the 19th century in the western English counties of Devon and Somerset. The breeds that led to the OES are controversial – some people claim they descended from Scotch Bearded Collies, while others say it is the Russian Owtchar. Regardless of their ancestry, they were chiefly bred for herding sheep and cattle into city markets.
The OES makes a wonderful household pet. They love staying at home, and unlike other kinds of shepherding breeds, they do not tend to roam or fight. The OES has a calm demeanor and, despite his bulky appearance, is quite agile. Though originally the OES worked for drovers, they are easily trained as retrievers as well.
Their coats are shaggy and profuse, but are surprisingly easy to care for with weekly brushing. Old English Sheepdogs do well in most climates, as their coats provide insulation against both the cold and the heat. Like most other herding breeds, the OES needs some form of daily exercise. With their characteristic bear-like “shuffle” they are a joy to watch, whether they are chasing a toy or herding a flock of sheep.
However, these fluffy friends are prone to a number of hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect their health – not to mention your budget. Some of the conditions and illnesses they are prone to include eye conditions such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy; joint conditions such as hip dysplasia; skin conditions such as demodicosis; immune disorders such as immune-mediated hemolytic anemia; and metabolic conditions such as diabetes mellitus.
Thankfully, veterinary pet insurance from Petplan covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your OES inherits his mom’s bad skin or his dad’s bad eyes, you’re covered.