Old English Sheepdog (Bob-tail or Bobtail)

The Bobtail is a breed of dog originating from Great Britain. He is assigned to FCI group 1, the group of herding and herding dogs, and section 1, the section of shepherd dogs. It is recognized by the FCI as a herding dog without a working test and is listed in its register under the standard number 16. The friendly Bobtail is ideal for sporty nature lovers, whether as a companion or family dog.

Bobtail Dog Breed Information

Size: 55-61cm
Weight: Males: 32-45 kg, females: 27-36 kg
FCI group: 1: herding dogs and cattle dogs
Section: 1: German Shepherds
Country of origin: Great Britain
Colors: blue merle, grizzle, blue, grey
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Suitable as: Shepherd, herding, family, and show dog
Sports: agility, dog dancing
Personality: Intelligent, adaptable, affectionate, playful, outgoing
Exercise requirements: rather high
Drooling potential rather high
The thickness of hair high
Maintenance effort: high
Coat Structure: Waterproof undercoat and a shaggy topcoat of good, hard texture
Child-friendly: rather yes
Family dog: yes
Social: rather yes

Origin and Breed History

The exact breed history of the bobtail is largely unknown. It is believed that the dog breed came about as a result of crossing Ovcharkas, also known as Caucasian Shepherd Dogs, and Bergamasque Shepherd Dogs. In addition, dog experts claim that the British Shepherd was also crossed. In any case, the focus on the character suitability as a herding and cattle dog was decisive in the breeding and development of the breed. The appearance of the dogs was relatively unimportant, which is the reason for their wild and robust appearance.

The Bobtail is also known as the Old English Sheepdog (OES). This is due to its decades-long use to herd and herd sheep in Britain. Even the ancestors of the bobtail were used as herding dogs. The appearance of British herding dogs at dog breed exhibitions cannot be precisely dated, but the first precursors of the breed took part in exhibitions from 1873.

In 1885 the first official standard for the bobtail was established, which was officially recognized by the Kennel Club in 1890. Since then, the Bobtail has been listed in the KC’s register as a breed of dog originating in Great Britain. The FCI recognized the Bobtail as early as 1963 and classified the British as a group 1 herding dog. The final breed standard was established and published in October 2010.

The Old English Sheepdog was once thought of as a working dog only. Robust health and strong herding and herding skills were essential. In the meantime, the handsome Briton is increasingly becoming a fashion dog, which has a significant influence on breeding and thus health and character development.

What is a Bobtail?

The Bobtail is an English breed of dog that was formerly used primarily for herding and driving herds of animals. The name “Bobtail” comes from the congenital stubby tail that many animals of this breed possess.

Nature and Temperament of the Bobtail

Similar to other herding dogs, the Bobtail has a friendly and charming disposition. The English dogs conjure up a smile on the face of every dog ​​lover with their sunny nature and their openness. They are always anxious to stay close to their pack, and thus also their family, and face the world attentively and vigilantly.

Although aggression is an absolute foreign word for the pretty Brits, they are quite capable of protecting their pack. The intelligent Britons are considered watchful herding dogs whose need for protection and herding is very pronounced. In addition, the Old English Sheepdogs have above-average territorial dispositions, which makes them very suitable as guard dogs.

Farmers and shepherds in the English and Scottish highlands already appreciated these qualities of the bobtail’s ancestors and let the shepherd dogs guard their herds and property. This sense of duty has survived to this day. Another characteristic of the bobtail is its social streak. The herding dog likes to spend time in the company and usually gets along very well with other dogs as well. They are very attached to their humans and dislike spending long periods without company. Still, with a little training, the Bobtail can easily be left on its own for a few hours.

The Appearance of the Bobtail

The long, shaggy fur of the bobtail immediately catches the eye at first sight. The German Shepherd’s appearance reflects the breeding goals of recent decades. Breeders were careful to create a robust and strong dog with a strong character. The appearance was not the focus when breeding the Englishman. The Old English Sheepdog’s luxuriant coat of hair covers the dog all over, giving it a broad and bulky appearance. But this appearance is deceptive because, without his fur, his slim and athletic physique would come to light. Although bobtails are well muscled and their legs are strong and robust, the overall physique of the Englishman is designed for endurance and agility. Dogs have been required to have these characteristics for herding throughout their breed’s history, which is reflected in breeding and thus in genetics.

The coat of the bobtail has a hard structure and is shaggy. The Bobtail has a dense, water-repellent undercoat that protects it from the elements and keeps it warm. The long fur is always a single color down the rump and on the hind legs, apart from white markings on the paws, the so-called “socks”. Up the trunk, the fur can take on different colors: from gray to shades of blue, everything is allowed. According to the standard, white is also allowed. A bobtail often has the aforementioned “socks” and other white markings on the face, chest, or front legs.

The dogs grow up to 65 cm tall and can reach a weight of up to 30 kg when fully grown. The weight depends on the gender, females on the other hand are at least 56 cm tall. The characteristic of the bobtail is its square head with its small ears, which also appear very shaggy due to the long fur. The bobtail’s fur is so long that it almost completely obscures its vision. Many keepers trim the hair on their faces or tie the hair that sticks out over their eyes into a small braid. This makes it easier for your darling to see.

Another typical feature of the bobtail is its innate bobtail. The name “Bobtail” comes from the fact that most dogs have a short tail. This trait does not apply to every dog ​​of this breed. Unfortunately, many owners dock their bobtail’s tail if the dogs don’t naturally have a bobtail. Docking for the benefit of dogs is now prohibited in most German-speaking countries.

What Does a Bobtail Look Like?

Characteristic of the bobtail is its two- or multicolored, shaggy fur. It is medium to long in length and has a hard texture and dense undercoat.

Training and Keeping of the Bobtail – This is Important to Consider

Training the bobtail requires patience and consistency due to its idiosyncratic nature. Although the Old English Shepherd Dog is not considered to be stubborn like the Beagle, for example, it does bring a large portion of its own will with it. This trait is typical of many herding dogs, which is why they need experienced and consistent leadership. It is important to speak commands clearly and precisely and to give them at the right moment. Although the Bobtail requires a certain amount of rigor, the dog should never be handled harshly or insensitively. Bobtails are very sensitive and react immediately to a hard hand.

It is important to work patiently and calmly with the dog. It is best to attend a good dog school when you are a puppy. The Brit’s urge to hatch shouldn’t be underestimated either. Bobtails need sufficient exercise and mental activity. The medium-sized dogs love long walks and intelligence games, as well as various dog sports. The bobtail is less suitable for keeping in a small apartment or for someone who lives in a very urban area. The herding dogs feel most comfortable in a house or an apartment with a garden that offers enough exercise. In addition, it is all the better if Wals and Wiese are not far away. The clever dogs love to discover nature, preferably together with their people. Many bobtails are also great water lovers. Whether bathing in a pond, a stream, or a lake, the bobtail is happy to cool off.

If you would like to keep your dog outside in a kennel or something similar, a Bobtail is a good choice. If the hut or kennel is sufficiently heated, nothing stands in the way of keeping them in the garden. However, since the Bobtail has a very pronounced social streak, contact with the dog should by no means be neglected. The Englishman loves contact with his fellow human beings and also with other pets.

How Big Does a Bobtail Get?

A bobtail is between 56 and 65 cm tall and weighs around 30 kg. The size and weight depend on the gender of the dog.

Nutrition of the Bobtail

Feeding the bobtail is relatively uncomplicated. Since the Brit is at best physically active, a diet that contains enough protein should be chosen. Protein is important to ensure an ideal supply of the muscles and to strengthen the tissue structures. In addition, the bobtail should be fed a lot of meat at best. For this reason, the bobtail is an ideal candidate for barfing. BARF is a form of feeding in which the dog is fed mostly raw, organic meat, as well as vegetables, fruit, seeds, and high-quality oils. BARF supports the hair structure very well. Many owners have already experienced that the dog’s coat appears shinier and healthier after switching to BARF. Of course, if required, a mixture of wet and dry food can also be fed. In any case, care should be taken to ensure that the feed contains a high proportion of meat and protein.

The bobtail should not be challenged too much after eating. Bobtails have sensitive stomachs, so play and long walks after feeding should be avoided. Otherwise, the dog can become ill or, in the worst case, it can lead to a torsion of the stomach. If this is the case, a veterinarian or the animal emergency service must be contacted immediately.

Healthy – Life Expectancy & Common Diseases

A healthy bobtail can live up to 15 years. Unfortunately, the Old English Sheepdog is also affected by a hereditary disease. The shaggy shepherd dog is affected by the MDR1 defect. This defect leads to hypersensitivity to some drugs. The reason for the disease is the defective or missing synthesis of a protein (the G-glycoprotein), which is an essential component of the blood-brain barrier. The cause of this defect was a single collie, which was decisive for the development of herding dogs in the middle of the 19th century.

In addition, the bobtail is sensitive to heat due to its thick fur. If possible, the fur should be thinned out by a dog groomer in the summer months. It is also important that the dog always has enough shade and water. If possible, water should also be carried with you on walks so that the bobtail does not suffer from heatstroke.

Care of the Bobtail

Due to its long coat, the care of the bobtail is quite complex. The dog should be brushed at least once or twice a day. Regular grooming prevents the shepherd’s fur from becoming knotted and felting. Enough time should definitely be scheduled to brush the dog and bathe it if necessary. If you prefer a dog that is easy to care for, you are less well advised to go with a Bobtail.

It’s also a good idea to have your bobtail regularly checked out by a groomer. He has the necessary tools and knowledge to thin and trim the dog’s coat without destroying the hair structure. If you want to do something good for your dog, you should add fish oil to the food. Fish oil brings out the shine in the coat and is very healthy.

In addition, the everyday life of a bobtail owner includes regular visual checks, the occasional braiding or cutting of the bangs, and wiping away the tears.

Bobtail – Activities, and Training

Training with the bobtail can be insanely fun. Although the British, like all herding dogs, have a strong will of their own and a high degree of personal responsibility, they are not stubborn. In training, it is important to respond to the dog and give it enough time. The bobtail has a very sensitive nature and reacts with fright and fear if it is handled too harshly and briskly. It is important to approach the training with a steady hand, enough consistency, and a lot of love.

When it comes to activities, the Bobtail is a real all-rounder. He likes to accompany you, whether on a bike, on foot, or on horseback. He enjoys long walks, extensive ball games, and various dog sports. The Bobtail is very well suited for agility, popular sports, flyball, companion dog training, and obedience. He is also happy to be trained as a rescue, protection, or therapy dog.

Good to Know: Special Features of the Bobtail

Apart from the characteristic bobtail and his conspicuously shaggy appearance, the above-average herding instinct is another special feature of the Old English Sheepdog. Guarding moving objects is in the bobtail’s blood and can hardly hold back, especially when it’s underutilized.

It is important to offer the bobtail enough and varied activities. Otherwise, the dog often becomes frustrated and tends to herd different people or objects. It is not uncommon for cyclists, children, or cars to become popular targets for the bobtail. In many cases, the dog’s behavior is then misinterpreted as aggression or viciousness, although this is largely not the case.

Cons of the Bobtail

A disadvantage of the bobtail is the time-consuming grooming. A minimum of one to two hours a day should be allowed for brushing the dog, trimming or braiding the coat if necessary, and inspecting the coat for dirt and debris. It is quite possible that small branches, twigs, or the like get tangled in the herding dog’s fur, which should be removed immediately after a walk.

Due to the frequently occurring MDR1 defect, it can be difficult to find suitable medication for the dog if it is ill or injured. Fortunately, under normal circumstances, veterinarians are familiar with the treatment given the defect, so there should be no complications.

Another point that should be considered when keeping the bobtail is its high urge to move and be busy. As a herding dog, the Bobtail likes to be out and about and should be challenged. If there is little time available, keeping a dog should generally be reconsidered.

Is the Bobtail Right for Me?

Ultimately, everyone has to decide for themselves whether the bobtail suits them. Either way, the Old English Sheepdog requires an owner who enjoys walks and regular exercise. In addition, you should enjoy spending time with the dog.

The Bobtail is not necessarily intended for beginners, even if it has a very friendly and even-tempered disposition. It is recommended to keep a bobtail with enough previous experience or with a good dog trainer at your side.
It is also important that, ideally, there is a large plot of land with enough space and exercise available so that the dog can let off steam and feel comfortable. The Bobtail is suitable both as a companion and as a family dog.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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