Old English Sheepdogs are large, gentle bear-like dogs that originates from England, where they were mostly used to drove cattle over long, dusty country roads in the late 18th century.
Do they shed much? Old English Sheepdogs shed a moderate to heavy amount of hair year round, and they have a thick double coat that requires above average maintenance. However, they don’t shed seasonally. Regular brushing with a slicker brush and undercoat rake will help you maintain his coat and reduce shedding.
Let’s dig a little deeper into how much the OES sheds, some of the ways you can reduce this and what makes this such a unique breed.
Old English Sheepdog Shedding
The Old English Sheepdog (commonly referred to as the OES or Bobtail) is an above average shedding breed.
They’re actually right up there with heavy shedding breeds like the Akita and Leonberger for example. But there is one thing the OES has going for it that most heavy shedders don’t.
And that is that, because they have such long, shaggy coats, most of the hair they lose gets trapped in their coat. So a good portion of the hair they do shed stays on their body and doesn’t come off until after you brush them.
Which is definitely a plus. This means you’ll notice less hair falling out around your home, even though he is shedding. But this has led some to mistakenly believe that Bobtails are low shedding, when the reality is, they probably just aren’t brushing regularly enough.
In any case, the other good thing about the OES with respect to shedding is that, even though they have a double coat, they don’t shed seasonally. Most double coated breeds (those with an outer coat and an undercoat) shed more profusely during spring and fall.
But this isn’t the case with the OES, so you can count yourself lucky here. They shed though, there’s no getting around it. And as I’ll now explain, they’re not the easiest dog to groom, so you’ll have your work cut out for you.
What Are Bobtails Like to Groom?
Old English Sheepdogs are a fairly high maintenance breed to groom. Which is mostly because of how profuse and shaggy their coat is. Put simply, it’s a mess!
General maintenance involves brushing a couple of times per week to keep their coat in order. This is needed because Bobtails are prone to mats, knots and tangles in their coat.
They’re basically a walking debris magnet.
Anything from sticks and dirt, to who knows what else gets caught up in their coat. If he can roll in it, it’ll get stuck in his coat at some point. You can count on it.
So if you want to keep his coat in good shape, and your furniture and clothes as fur free as possible, brushing every day or every other day is a good idea. This can make a big difference.
The best brush to use for an Old English Sheepdog is probably a slicker brush (or greyhound comb) for the topcoat, followed by an undercoat rake for the undercoat. That’s what we use.
Related: See our top rated dog shedding brushes (and buyer’s guide)
Start with the slicker to remove the bulk of dead hair, gently brushing their coat and removing any mats and debris they’ve accumulated, along the way.
Then, once you’re happy with the results of the outer coat, go over your Bobtail again with an undercoat rake. This will help remove the loose fur from his undercoat, which is a lot softer and equally as important to brush.
Can You Stop an OES From Shedding?
You can’t stop your OES from shedding. And if you were wondering this, you wouldn’t be the first person. But trying to completely stop shedding is a frivolous and unfruitful endeavor.
Dogs shed, it’s normal.
And the first step to overcoming this is acceptance (lol).
The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to significantly reduce how much they shed. And it mostly comes down to brushing. A simple routine of brushing your OES each day can make a huge difference.
Not only will this remove the fur from his coat, long before it has a chance to enter your vacuum cleaner, but brushing is actually good for his coat.
How? Well, when you brush, you spread the oil on his coat evenly over his skin, which naturally enriches the coat. This matters because dry skin and hair can actually lead to excess shedding.
So brushing just makes sense.
But it’s not the only thing you can do. There are some other great ways to reduce shedding beyond brushing, such as ensuring his diet is sound and that you are bathing him properly.
I’m not going to recommend some amazing shedding dog food (scam) or some super duper dog shampoo that cures shedding (also scam).
What I can say is that a good quality dog food, enriched with Omega 3 and 6, can help promote a healthy coat. And bathing with a quality dog shampoo (not too often or this can cause dryness) can loosen the dead fur prior to brushing.
Pretty simple stuff, right? Yup. It’s not rocket science, but it works. And if you follow these simple tips you can avoid hours (upon hours) of vacuuming up loose dog fur each month.
What Makes Old English Sheepdogs Unique?
There’s a lot to love about the OES. They’re large, athletic and built to work, but at the same time they are gentle, amazingly cute and super easy going.
They’re also one of the smartest dogs on the planet, which could have something to do with their relation to the Bearded Collie.
Oh, and despite their name.. they’re actually not sheepdogs!
They were primarily used to drove cattle in western England in the late 1700’s. The process of driving cattle is different to herding, which breeds like the Border Collie excel at, it involves carefully leading herds of cattle over long distances, like dirt country roads.
This is why their patient, easy going nature was so appealing to livestock farmers back in the day. They needed a smart dog with a level head to lead their cattle safely from the farm to the town markets.
In any case, these days they are best known for being an adorable family companion. So if you don’t mind an above average shedder, and regular brushing, then you’ll love having the OES as part of your family.
Are Old English Sheepdogs Hypoallergenic?
No, the Old English Sheepdog is not hypoallergenic because they produce dander and shed lots of hair, which is less than ideal for people who suffer from allergies.
Can You Shave Your OES?
Shaving your OES can save you some time when it comes to brushing, but you shouldn’t shave him to the point of removing his undercoat. Because this is what keeps him cooler in summer and warmer in winter. So a light shave, or better yet trim, is more suitable.
What Sort of Brush Should You Use for an OES?
The best brush to use for an Old English Sheepdog is a slicker brush (or greyhound comb) for the topcoat, followed by an undercoat rake for the undercoat.
Lower Maintenance, Lower Shedding Alternative?
Probably the most similar, lowest maintenance, and lowest shedding alternative to the Old English Sheepdog is the Bergamasco Sheepdog. Or if you prefer a smaller low shedding dog that is easy to groom, and you don’t care how similar it is, the Italian Greyhound is a good option.