The Bobtail or Old English Sheepdog is one of the best-known breeds in the world. Its characteristic appearance has made it an object of permanent interest on the part of cinema, television and advertising. And this, together with its jovial, playful and very funny character, has made them one of the classic family dogs. At Petlifey, we explain what the Bobtail breed is like.
Character of the Bobtail breed
The character of the Bobtail is that of a docile and good-natured Chancellor. Their behaviour is bold, faithful and worthy of trust for. It has a good temperament, it is not fearful, nor is it usually aggressive, unless provoked.
Playful and outgoing, the Old English Sheepdog is a true ‘canine clown’. Its fur, its color and its particular ambling movement are somewhat reminiscent of a blue panda bear.
- Energy: Medium / high level. It is an active, dynamic and sporty dog that needs to exercise its muscles through long walks and outdoor exercises.
- Temperament: Docile, affectionate and playful, it has a stable temperament, making them trustworthy.
- Adaptability: Medium / high. It can live in the city, but since it needs to feel continuously loved and supported by its family, it cannot bear to be left alone at home.
- Sociability: High. Good-natured and faithful to its master, it needs strict guidelines because he’s a bit stubborn. It interacts very well with people and with other animals.
- Health: Good. It does not usually suffer from serious inherited diseases. It tends to get fat.
- Longevity: Low. Live between 8 and 10 years.
- Utility: Versatile. It is basically a shepherd and companion dog, but it also stands out as a therapy dog.
Is it a good family dog?
In general, the old English shepherd dog is very sociable that relates well to all people and other animals.
In fact, in some sectors it is known by the nickname of nanny dog (babysitting dog), partly because of the great love it professes for its loved ones and because of its special care with the weakest of the family and partly also because of the image that of the race has occurred in such famous films as Peter Pant, for example.
But this assessment is only valid when talking about adult specimens, since youngsters, due to their large size, their strength and their explosive, playful and extraordinarily affectionate character, can end up causing situations as embarrassing as throwing someone to the ground.
Therefore, it is advisable to always keep the young bobtail under control, to avoid getting into trouble.
Can the Bobtail live in an apartment or in the city?
Despite its large size and the breed’s play and exercise needs, it adapts very well to city life.
In fact, if the animal is physically satisfied and enjoys the company of its own, the time it remains indoors looks almost like a large gray, blue and white carpet spread at the foot of an armchair or in front of the fireplace.
Do you like to exercise?
We must not forget that it is a working breed and that it has a cheerful, lively, agile and resistant character, so, to relieve tension and exercise its muscles, it needs to enjoy long walks and the occasional moment of freedom to run. through the field at ease.
Sometimes you even have to force them, because by nature it can be lazy, which is not good for its health. If that is coupled with its great fondness for food, the result can be an obese dog, with the complications that this entails.
However, if encouraged enough, it is able to shine with dignity in various dog sports, especially those that involve play, exercise and contact with their owners, since the animal interprets them as a reward and, therefore, makes them with pleasure.
But if there is a field in which stands out greatly is like therapy dog, especially with patients, autistic and so-CHANTABILITY problems children. They find in this great four-legged clown an excellent motivation to face their treatments or establish links with the outside world.
Is it a suitable dog for beginners?
Despite its high levels of fame and popularity, this is not a dog that anyone can have, and not because it is a difficult breed or with a low level of adaptation, but precisely because of the opposite.
Despite its joy, its kindness and its ability to play, it is an extraordinarily sensitive animal with very high attention needs.
On the one hand, it requires constant contact with its owners and, on the other, it needs continuous educational work to be done with it. Also, exercise if you want to maintain a balanced mental level.
Bobtail physical characteristics
The general appearance of the Old English Sheepdog is large, strong, and square-built and stocky , yet harmonious. It is quite muscular and solid , its expression denotes intelligence and vitality.
How is the Bobtail physically?
It is a strong, symmetrical dog, with a rather square body structure, a very harmonious figure and a robust complexion, without any trace of weakness in the limbs. It is muscular, solid and of great vitality. It is completely covered in hair with a strong and very abundant texture.
The rump is higher than the withers and seen from above it has a pear-shaped body. The height at the withers in males is about 62 cm, while in females it is about 57 cm.
The tail is set low , has a good fringe and abundant hard-textured hair. Some specimens are born without a tail, or they are amputated during their first weeks of life.
As for the movement , it has a typical sway when walking with an amble gait (like a bear) or with a normal gait.
When trotting, the extension is easy, as the hind legs give a very powerful impulse. The gallop is very elastic. In movement, the dog may adopt a lower head posture than normal.
The head is well proportioned to the size of the dog, it is square, voluminous and fully covered with fur. The forehead is arched over the eyes, and the stop is defined.
Their eyes are dark or gazeos (one, or both, blue), they are quite far apart. The rim of the eyes is usually pigmented. They are usually covered by hair.
The ears are small and fall close to the sides of the skull. It is difficult to distinguish them because, being as covered with hair as the rest of the head, the arched fingers are confused with it. The pads are solid and thick.
The coat is abundant and rough in texture, the hair is not totally straight, but it is shaggy and free of curls, with a waterproof undercoat. On the head and skull it is very abundant, but on the ears the coverage is moderate. In general, the hair is more abundant on the hindquarters than on the rest of the body.
The Old English Sheepdog is covered in a rich and characteristic shaggy coat that prevents even the eyes from being seen. And it is that the hair is one of the distinctive signs of the breed.
It is very abundant, although not excessive (it should not give the impression of being fat), and has a hard and rough texture, which fully protects it against the adverse atmospheric conditions so common in its area of origin.
In fact, under this peculiar covering mantle there is also a dense layer of undercoat which in turn acts as impervious to any external agent.
As for the color of the bobtail, this is another of the fundamental characteristics of this breed of dog. Its color, which covers a wide range of shades ranging from light grey to blue.
And it is always adorned by the immaculate white color in much of the head, neck, front extremities and lower part of the belly, with or without spots.
In short, its typical coat forms an image that makes it recognizable by any fan and that has provided it with a large number of followers among purebred dog breeders.
The bobtail walks with the amble gait, which is characteristic of some species, such as bears, and also occurs in some gait horses, but the bobtail is one of the few within the canine species.
It consists of moving the hand and foot on the same side at the same time, giving the general movement a characteristic sway that, although in other races it would be considered a defect, in this one it is a characteristic sign.
These physical peculiarities, together with its natural joy of life, have made them the center of attention of many, many dog fans around the world.
Bobtail breed standard
- Origin: United Kingdom.
- Other names: Bobtail / Old English Sheepdog / Berger anglais ancestral / Altenglischer Scháferhund.
- Size: Large.
- Height at the withers: between 61 and 63 cm for males and between 56 and 58 cm for females.
- Weight: between 28 and 32 kg for males and between 25 and 28 kg for females.
- Head: In proportion to the size of the body, being covered with abundant hair appears larger than it really is.
- Skull: Voluminous and square in shape, the forehead is well arched. Naso-frontal depression (stop): Well defined.
- Muzzle: It is strong, square and truncated.
- Nose: Large and black in color, it has wide nostrils.
- Jaws: They are powerful and with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, that is, the upper incisors closely overlap the lower ones. The teeth are strong, large and well set.
- Eyes: Widely set, dark or gazy in color, usually with pigmented rim of the eyes.
- Ears: They are small, well covered with hair, and well attached to the sides of the head.
- Neck: Of good length, strong and somewhat arched.
- Body: Rather short and compact, the withers are lower than the loin. Back: It is very robust, broad and slightly arched.
- Chest: Well lowered and broad, with very arched ribs.
- Tail: Usually they are born without a tail, or they are amputated, but in the specimens with a tail, it is set low and quite straight, with good fringes and covered with abundant hard hair.
- Forelimbs: Completely straight, they are endowed with a very strong skeleton.
- Shoulders: The shoulder blades are oblique and are narrower at the withers than at the shoulders.
- Forearms and arms: The elbows are close to the chest.
- Hindquarters: The hindquarters are covered with hair much more than the rest of the body; they are rounded, muscular and with good angulation.
- Legs: They are long and well developed.
- Knees: They have good angulation.
- Hocks: They are set low and are completely straight.
- Feet: They are small, with very arched toes and thick, solid pads. They are not turned either inward or outward. The dewclaws are often amputated.
- Coat: Double-layered, the outer coat is abundant, rough in texture, matted, without streaks, waterproof and not entirely smooth. A dense undercoat protects the entire body.
- FCI Classification: FCI No. 16. Group 1- Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs). Section 1 – Sheepdogs.
Education and training of the Bobtail breed
Its physical beauty should not be misleading, as the Old English Sheepdog is essentially a working animal.
Although its original function as a shepherd dog has fallen into disuse, it still retains a hard-working spirit that makes it an active, dynamic and sporty dog. Regarding the education of a bobtail, first you should know that it considers themselves one of the family, it wants to always be in the company of its family, because only with them it feels loved, clothed and safe.
If left alone for many hours a day, it is very likely that it will end up suffering from separation anxiety syndrome and that it will end up developing a sullen and distrustful behaviour, which can sometimes border on shyness, or, even worse, in possible aggressive reactions before people or situations that are strange to you.
It should not be forgotten that it is a herding breed and, although it may be the friendliest of them all, it can develop territorial behaviours that, although they are not completely alien to it, should not be as marked as in other races.
Sometimes some specimens, especially if they are bored, turn to their most primal instincts and take a sudden fondness for herding everything that moves in their immediate environment, not caring too much if they are people, animals or things (bicycles , motorcycles and cars), sometimes with dire consequences, such as accidents.
The specimens of this breed are extremely stubborn, so they need to be educated by a very confident owner who is very clear about how things should be done and who sets the behavior guidelines. Also, bobtail training should begin as soon as possible.
How to train a Bobtail?
Something common to all dogs is that it is always much easier to teach them certain behaviours when they are puppies, since they end up integrating them into their daily routines, than trying to correct their acquired vices afterwards, but this is much more advisable when working with a dog as stubborn as this.
The working method that works best with them is that of positive reinforcement, that is, encouraging and rewarding the animal when it does things well, and repeating them calmly and patiently when they do not just turn out as would be desirable.
In contrast, coercive techniques do not work at all with this breed. The sensitivity of the bobtail together with the respect it feels for its master would make an action imposed by force or violent behavior on the part of someone whom it loves so much, completely inconceivable and incomprehensible.
However, if properly trained, the Old English Sheepdog is a wonderful, lively and passionate animal with whom having a dog becomes a splendid experience.
If its spectacular appearance already arouses admiration, it turns into devotion when it is also an educated dog, sociable and able to function with ease in modern society.
Bobtail diet, diseases and health
The specimens of the bobtail breed need a balanced and quality diet to maintain the necessary health and vigor in bones, muscles and tissues. Also, to keep your privileged mind alert, and avoid one of your great problems: the tendency to gain weight .
It is especially important to avoid excess weight during the puppy and developmental stages, as obesity is a safe bet for you to end up developing joint problems.
As it is generally a voracious eater, it is highly recommended to divide the daily ration into several servings until the animal is eating at an adequate rate, since, in the long run, these habits influence its health.
A good, healthy and balanced diet, with the adequate contribution in quantity and quality of fatty acids, is also vital to keep the bobtail’s coat in good condition.
Otherwise, it is a basically healthy dog. Yes, you must carefully monitor the condition of their eyes and ears , which, being almost always covered by dense fur, have poor ventilation and are more prone to infection.
The practice of shearing the dog when the hot season arrives is widespread, but this is not recommended, since it serves as an insulator for both cold and heat.
For the rest, you should go to the vet regularly to comply with the vaccination and deworming schedule. In addition, the vet is the most appropriate professional to monitor the correct condition of your pet.
Thus, well cared for and in the right conditions , the Old English Sheepdog is a magnificent playful and funny animal that attracts attention on the street. It awakens the admiration of others thanks to its unique gait, its unmistakable fur and its majestic bearing.
Care and hygiene of the Bobtail breed
The Bobtail is the sheepdog whose hair needs the most attention. It is not only an aesthetic necessity, since the constant care of its coat also contributes to its general state of health.
Due to its characteristics, the abundant and shaggy coat of the dog tends to knot and this can become a big problem.
The knots lead to large and tangled plates that lead, necessarily, to having to shear the animal, something that is not recommended.
Bobtail hair care
Many owners of this breed end up opting for the easy and drastic solution of shearing the animal because they think that they are not able to keep their coat in good condition.
But this happens due to ignorance, because when shearing it, the dog is left exposed to inclement weather. It is better to trim the hair with the help of flat scissors to the length that is considered convenient so that the dog is comfortable and beautiful.
Brushing the undercoat
The basic tool for grooming the old English Sheepdog is a good metal comb with which to work the undercoat, pulling out whatever is necessary to avoid the appearance of knots and to keep the hair at the length desired by the owner.
Brushing the outer mantle
Once the undercoat has been worked with the metal comb, it is best to lay the dog on its side on the table and, with the help of your hand, draw a line on the back and open the coat to brush it from the inside out.
Once the work is completed along that line, the work is repeated, going down about ten centimeters, and the operation continues to be repeated until reaching the lowest point of the body. The legs are worked separately but following the same technique.
Once one side is finished, the animal is turned over and the operation is repeated on the other side. Finished the basic brushing, with the dog already on its feet, it is given a final review by combing all the hair diagonally from front to back and from bottom to top to give it the required volume. Excess hairs are removed with the help of flat scissors.
Bathing is only necessary when the animal is really dirty, and it should be done with a shampoo that does not alter the natural texture of the hair.
Once all the soap has been thoroughly rinsed, the dog must be thoroughly dried using a high-powered ejector. Working the hair with the brush in the same way as during traditional brushing to avoid the formation of knots.
Caring for a bobtail puppy
During the puppy stage it is essential to keep the hair clean and free of knots. Above all, accustom the animal to being handled on a table, to be bathed and to have an air dryer applied as a normal part of the routine.
In principle, as a puppy, it does not need much more than a good brushing with a metal bristle brush to open its hair and undercoat. In this way the formation of such annoying knots is avoided.
With the passage of time, this brushing should be more and more extensive, because when it reaches an older age, the bobtail hair gains in length and density.
The first months of life are also the right time to introduce some necessary processes such as eye and ear examinations into hygiene and grooming routines.