The Old English sheepdog – better known to many of us as “the Dulux dog” – is a large dog breed from The Kennel Club’s pastoral grouping. As their name implies, they are one of the oldest recorded dog breeds in the UK, with a known history of dogs of the type we see within the modern breed going back for several centuries.
These large, very cuddly and highly affectionate dogs appeal to people of all types and from many walks of life – but not everyone who aspires to owning a dog like this has the space, budget or time commitment to do so.
Whilst owning an Old English sheepdog can be very rewarding, they are also quite high maintenance dogs, in a variety of different ways. This means that anyone who has their heart set on owning a dog of this type should consider their choice carefully, and do plenty of research into the breed’s core traits and care requirements.
In this article, we will look at some of the main factors pertaining to the Old English sheepdog’s care and management that can prove challenging for first-time owners, to help you to make a decision. Read on to learn more.
The average advertised price on Pets4Homes for an Old English sheepdog is around £959 for a Kennel Club registered pedigree, and £896 for a non-pedigree dog. Whilst this is of course a significant sum of money, this type of figure isn’t overly high for a large dog breed, although individual Old English sheepdogs that are of a particularly fine pedigree may cost a lot more.
In terms of the cost of caring for an Old English sheepdog after purchase, they can be quite expensive to keep – as a large dog breed, everything the dog needs will cost more than for smaller dogs, from accessories to veterinary care and of course, food.
Owning a large dog breed requires a fairly large home, which provides enough room for the dog to move around comfortably and also, that has enough space for their beds, accessories and everything else.
You will also need a reasonably sized yard or garden for the dog to go out into in between walks, and this will need to be securely fenced with a high enough wall or boundary that the dog can’t climb or jump out over.
One thing about the Old English sheepdog that all prospective owners need to understand is that this dog breed has a long working history and as such, they are a highly active breed that needs an awful lot of exercise. At least two hours a day on average is required to spend walking and exercising the dog – and many Old English sheepdog owners spend a lot longer each day exercising their dogs too. Planned walks on and off the lead can be interspersed with periods of play and activity in the garden, although this does not take the place of proper walks.
Old English sheepdogs like lots of mental and physical stimulation, and enjoy having a job to do or a role to perform, and so exercise should be varied, playful and interesting.
If dogs of the breed don’t get enough exercise, they are apt to become bored and restless, which may manifest in the form of destructive behaviours. They also have a very high prey drive, and so care should be taken in terms of when and where the dog is allowed off the lead.
Old English sheepdogs are very high maintenance on the grooming front, and owning one means committing time each day to brushing and combing the dog’s coat to keep it in good condition.
This can potentially be quite time consuming, given the sheer size of the dog and the amount of fur they have. Their coats are shaggy and quite harsh in texture, which can make them prone to knotting, tangling, and picking up burs and debris when out on walks. Keeping on top of brushing and grooming is vital, and just neglecting this for a few days can result in lots of tangles that will take a long time to work out of the coat.
However, if you spent around 20 minutes grooming the dog each day, this shouldn’t be a problem. When grooming your dog, you have to part the coat and work right down to the skin, combing from root to tip. Simply combing out the top of the coat can cause large mats to develop, which can be hard to sort out without clipping or cutting them. The dog’s very long fringe also needs to be kept out of their eyes, which may mean trimming it or using a hair tie to hold it back so that the dog can see properly!
Some Old English sheepdog owners prefer to have the dog’s coat clipped down to a more manageable length to reduce the amount of time it takes to groom them, but as this is a large dog with a complex coat texture, it can be challenging and time consuming – or expensive to have taken care of by a professional dog groomer.