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7 Crazy Things That Are Perfectly Normal For Old English Sheepdogs

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on June 8, 2024

Old English Sheepdogs (OES) are iconic for their shaggy coats and friendly dispositions. Originally bred for herding livestock, these dogs have a rich history and have evolved into beloved family pets known for their distinctive appearance and endearing personalities. Despite their sometimes goofy looks, Old English Sheepdogs are intelligent, loyal, and full of unique behaviours that might seem odd to those unfamiliar with the breed but are perfectly normal for these delightful dogs. From their signature “butt wiggle” to their gentle herding instincts, let’s explore seven crazy things that are perfectly normal for Old English Sheepdogs, shedding light on what makes this breed so special.

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1. The Famous “Butt Wiggle”

One of the most charming and unique behaviours of Old English Sheepdogs is their signature “butt wiggle.” Due to their docked or naturally bobbed tails, OES dogs often compensate by wiggling their entire rear end when they are happy or excited. This full-body wiggle is a joyous display of their affection and excitement, making it one of the most endearing traits of the breed. The butt wiggle is a normal and healthy way for Old English Sheepdogs to express their emotions, and it often brings a smile to the faces of anyone who witnesses it. This behaviour highlights their exuberant and friendly nature, showcasing their happiness in a truly unique manner.

2. Herding Instincts and Gentle Nudging

Old English Sheepdogs retain their strong herding instincts, a trait deeply ingrained in their history as herding dogs. This instinct often manifests in gentle nudging or corralling behaviour towards their human family members or pets. They may try to “herd” children or adults by gently nudging them with their noses or positioning themselves to guide movement. This behaviour is not aggressive but reflects their natural inclination to keep their flock (or family) together and safe. Understanding and appreciating this behaviour can help owners manage it effectively while enjoying the playful and protective aspects of their Old English Sheepdog’s personality.

3. Voracious Appetite and Food Obsession

Old English Sheepdogs are known for their hearty appetites and sometimes obsessive behaviour towards food. These dogs love to eat and can be resourceful in finding extra treats or food. Their food obsession can lead to begging or even stealing food if left unchecked. Owners must carefully manage their OES’s diet to prevent overeating and obesity. Providing regular meals, avoiding table scraps, and using food puzzles can help manage their food obsession while keeping them mentally stimulated. This behaviour is perfectly normal and reflects their strong drive for food, which can be traced back to their working dog roots requiring high energy levels.

4. Shaggy Coats and Grooming Challenges

The iconic shaggy coat of the Old English Sheepdog is both a defining characteristic and a significant responsibility. Their thick, double-layered coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and maintain health. OES dogs often develop unique grooming habits, such as pawing at their faces or rubbing against furniture to manage their coat. Regular brushing and professional grooming are essential to keep their coat in top condition. Despite the grooming challenges, their shaggy appearance adds to their charm and makes them instantly recognizable. Understanding the grooming needs and habits of an OES is crucial for maintaining their health and appearance.

5. Playful and Clownish Behavior

Old English Sheepdogs are often described as playful and clownish, displaying a sense of humour that can be entertaining and endearing. They enjoy engaging in silly antics, such as running around the house with toys, play-bowing, or performing exaggerated movements to get attention. This playful behaviour is a normal expression of their joyful and social nature. OES dogs thrive on interaction and enjoy making their owners laugh. Embracing their clownish behaviour and providing plenty of playtimes and mental stimulation can help keep them happy and engaged. Their playful antics are a reminder of their fun-loving spirit and deep bond with their human families.

6. Protective and Watchful Nature

Despite their friendly and playful demeanour, Old English Sheepdogs have a strong protective instinct. They are naturally watchful and can protect their home and family. This behaviour is a remnant of their herding days when they were responsible for guarding livestock. OES dogs often position themselves between their family and perceived threats, barking to warn their owners of anything unusual. This protective nature makes them excellent watchdogs. Proper training and socialization are essential to ensure their protective behaviour is appropriate and manageable. Understanding their watchful nature can help owners appreciate their role as guardians and companions.

7. Velcro Dog Syndrome

Old English Sheepdogs are known for their deep attachment to their owners, often referred to as “Velcro dogs” due to their tendency to stick close to their human family members. They thrive on companionship and can become anxious or distressed when left alone for extended periods. This strong bond means they often follow their owners from room to room and seek constant physical closeness. While this behaviour can sometimes be overwhelming, it is a testament to their loyalty and affectionate nature. Owners should be prepared to provide plenty of attention and interaction to keep their OES feeling secure and loved.

Old English Sheepdogs exhibit various unique behaviours that might seem crazy to those unfamiliar with the breed but are perfectly normal for these charming and endearing dogs. From their signature butt wiggle and gentle herding instincts to their voracious appetites and playful antics, OES dogs bring joy and laughter to their families. Understanding and embracing these traits can help owners build a stronger bond with their Old English Sheepdog, ensuring a happy and fulfilling relationship. Their distinctive behaviours and lovable personalities make Old English Sheepdogs a truly special breed, offering companionship and loyalty that is both unique and rewarding.

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