So you're thinking about getting an Old English Sheepdog?

Though the OES initially may appear to be an ideal pet, there are considerations! Even drawbacks! This checklist is designed to help you think through your impending decision from an INTELLECTUAL point of view; the emotional part has probably already been considered! The following questions are intended as a point of departure. There are many related details which can be discussed at the interview, and we will be glad to answer all of your questions. Before you decide on an OES, ask yourself:

  1. Why do you want an OES? What will its primary function be?
  2. Do you want a puppy, or an older, already housebroken and potentially trained dog? Which fits your current lifestyle? (See Considering the Older Dog.)
  3. Do you have a FENCED area? (See Confinement Policy.)
  4. What are the schedules of the humans involved?
  5. What Size dog do you want? OES are large - 60 to 120 lbs. (and more). They can stand 24 to 26+ inches at the shoulder. They are active! Uncluttered houses and a safe place to exercise are a must!
  6. Do you want a long coat? If you require a fastidiously kept house, DON'T GET AN OES! There will always be some dog hair around, especially in rugs, on furniture, and even in your orange juice, and, oh yes, on your navy sport jacket as you rush out the door - late for work. Professional groomers are very costly. Home grooming - a weekly chore - is very time consuming.
  7. Male or female?
  8. Have you owned dogs before? When? What breeds? Did YOU train them or did someone else?
  9. Any other critters in your home presently? Types and ages? How will they react?
  10. Number and ages of kids in your house now? Any anticipated in the future? Note: Very young children and OES are often a DISASTER!! The biggest reason people give up OES is because of problems with kids.
  11. What about behavior? This breed is very stubborn and sensitive at the same time. They do not do well if subjugation is your goal, but a balance between being firm (setting limits) and respectful (they respond to praise and cookies!) is achievable with a lot of hard work and training. All OES of any age will benefit by a training class. Do you have time for this? Training will ensure that your dog will be a good canine citizen. Training is a time consuming commitment and a difficult choice for a family with very small children. (Not enough time.)
  12. Are you familiar with crates used in training?
  13. Are you familiar with OES health care? OES are known to have skin allergies, hip dysplasia, eye defects, and digestive troubles. Vets are expensive. The yearly heartworm test, medication and annual booster shots are costly.
  14. Have you investigated other costs? This includes feeding, collars, lead, dishes, license, toys, grooming, boarding when you go away, etc.
  15. Do you travel much? Have you considered arrangements for when you must be away?
  16. How will the dog be exercised and BY WHOM? OES need consistent exercise daily. Twenty to thirty minutes, twice a day is sufficient. Without exercise, OES may have trouble adjusting to the calm household role expected by most owners. Some older OES can do with less active time, but still need a good walk (on leash) or play in a fenced area.
  17. Are you prepared to work very hard to socialize this OES? This means taking it with you so that it can get used to many different situations. The OES must NOT stay home all the time.
  18. Have you had an "up front contract meeting" with everyone involved - especially the kids - to discuss this and make very clear just what WILL and what will NOT be allowed and done with this new addition? WHO will be responsible for WHAT, etc.?
  19. The OES is not a good surprise gift. Are you CERTAIN that the person wants a OES? The surprise can be your idea and you can make the donation, but there should be a visit with the prospective dog. It is STRONGLY recommended that the dog not enter the new home at an exciting time, such as Christmas morning, at a party, etc. This is not a good way for the relationship to start and is very stressful for the dog.
  20. Have you given serious thought to the fact that you are hopefully entering into a 10 to 15 year contract with this animal?
  21. Addictive? Very few people own only one OES. We simply find them habit forming!! Contrary to popular opinion, OES are not cheaper by the dozen, and 2 OES cannot live as cheaply as one. If you own 2 OES, it will cost you twice as much and so on and so on.... SO NOW WHAT TO DO???

If you still think you might want an OES after all of this, then you probably ARE the right person to get one! Please fill out and return the enclosed application ASAP.

And, if you have decided that this is not the right breed or the right time, we understand and support that decision also. If we can be of help putting you in contact with another breed, please let us know. We also will advise you where and who to buy a puppy from if you'd rather go that route. Please call us for the phone number of a reliable OES breeder. We will be glad to help you further with your decision, and want very much to discuss your responses to the above "questions for thought". We have some very definite ideas!

Annie Raker, Placement Coordinator
New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue, Inc.