Caring for Sheepdogs
The Old English Sheepdog is generally a lovable breed and, when properly groomed looks truly wonderful. However, to achieve a perfectly groomed Old English Sheepdog takes a great deal of work. You can expect to spend about ½ hour twice a week lightly brushing your puppy, so he gets used to the idea. A light bristle brush is probably best and, once the lighter coat starts coming through, you can use a wide toothed comb to comb out the darker coat, but do it gently and your puppy will enjoy the attention he is getting.
During these grooming sessions check that the eyes are clean and also check the ears and feet. Fine hairs growing inside the ears need to be gently teased out. Gently clip fur between the pads of the feet and remove mud etc. which may become stuck between the pads. In summer check regularly for grass seeds, particularly between the toes and pad areas. Keep the anal area clipped clear and clean.
Check the nails and trim every 2 - 4 weeks, but be careful not to cut into the ’quick’.
As your puppy grows, so will his coat! Obviously you will need to spend more time on grooming him. On average you will be likely to spend about 2 - 3 hours a week on grooming, once your puppy has developed an adult coat. In addition, you will need to spend a little time about once every 3 - 4 weeks trimming the coat between the pads, and cleaning the ears and checking that the teeth are clean. A finger toothbrush with canine toothpaste, should be used to keep the teeth free from tarter build up.
Of course, these are only guidelines, and if you intend showing your puppy, then you will obviously spend a great deal more time on grooming. Your breeder should be able to give you specific information on this.
An excellent video on grooming is available from Mrs Jan Betts telephone 01604 862856.
One of the brands of complete dog food should keep an Old English Sheepdog in good condition. A 20kg bag of this food, as well as the occasional treat and a supply of fresh drinking water, should feed an average adult Old English Sheepdog for about one month. Of course, individual dogs will have different needs.
A rapidly growing puppy will not need a great deal of exercise. The puppy will need short walks so that it becomes used to a collar and lead and also becomes familiar with sights, sounds and smells outside the home and garden. Once the dog reaches about 12 months of age, more exercise will be required, approximately 2 or 3 miles a day is ideal. Although the average Old English Sheepdog will survive on much less than this, exercise will help keep them happy and healthy.
Once you bring your puppy home, the first place to visit will be your local veterinary practice to have the necessary health checks and injections. Whilst there, you should make enquiries as to where obedience or ringcraft classes are held in your area. Being a large breed, some basic obedience is necessary so that your puppy will not grow up to be a nuisance in the house, nor pull you along when out walking. Training classes will also give the puppy the opportunity to socialise with other dogs.
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Janet & Tony Steele of Arthrug Old English Sheepdogs