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7 Facts About Old English Sheepdogs You Probably Didn’t Know

Written by: Arlene D.
| Published on May 18, 2023

Old English Sheepdogs, with their striking appearance and lovable personalities, have left an indelible mark in pop culture and our hearts. But there’s more to this shaggy breed than meets the eye. Here are seven intriguing facts that might surprise even the biggest fans of Old English Sheepdogs.

  1. The Unknown Origins

One might expect the Old English Sheepdog (OES) to have a well-documented history due to its “Old English” moniker. However, the origins of this breed are quite a mystery. It is generally agreed that they emerged in the 19th century, but the specific breeds that contributed to their lineage remain a subject of debate.

  1. Not Necessarily English

Despite the breed’s name, their roots may not be entirely English. Theories suggest that the OES might have been influenced by the Russian Ovtcharka, a breed brought to Britain by sailors, as well as the Scottish Bearded Collie.

  1. Docked Tails for Tax Exemption

Historically, OES had their tails docked – a practice that led to the nickname “Bobtail”. In the 18th and 19th centuries, English law taxed dog owners unless the dogs were working breeds. Proof that a dog was a working breed? A docked tail.

  1. The Dulux Dog

The Old English Sheepdog became iconic as the mascot for Dulux paint in the UK in the 1960s. The “Dulux Dog” has appeared in numerous advertisements and marketing materials over the decades, significantly raising the breed’s profile.

  1. Disney Darling

If you thought the OES looked familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen the breed featured in Disney movies. The most notable is probably “The Shaggy Dog,” where a magical ring transforms a boy into an Old English Sheepdog.

  1. Hypoallergenic? Think Again

Though some people believe that Old English Sheepdogs are hypoallergenic because of their long, shaggy hair, this is a myth. Like all breeds, they do produce allergens, and their thick double coat can be a trap for dust, pollen, and other potential irritants.

  1. Panda-like Pups

Old English Sheepdog puppies aren’t born with their classic grey and white coat. Instead, they are born black and white. The grey or silver shades develop as they mature, typically around two years old.

The Old English Sheepdog, with its lovable demeanor, flowing coat, and iconic gait, is a breed that captivates many. From their mysterious origins, potential international influence, historical tail docking for tax purposes, their fame as the ‘Dulux Dog’ and Disney star, the myth about being hypoallergenic, to their fascinating color transformation from black to grey, these lesser-known facts add an extra layer of intrigue to this already endearing breed. Whether you’re an OES owner, an aspiring owner, or an admirer, these fun facts offer an enlightening peek into the breed’s interesting and often surprising background.

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