Fur care

Haircuts for Old English Sheepdogs

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. December 1, 2020
Haircuts for Old English Sheepdogs

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All dogs are unique individuals. They have multifaceted personalities which are our privilege to get to know. However, some breeds have a signature which makes them stand out compared to others and the Old English Sheepdog is one of them. The first thing most people notice with the Old English Sheepdog is their beautiful grey and white hair which hangs down over their face in shaggy locks.

Every dog will need some sort of grooming to maintain well-being, but some need specific care. At AnimalWised, we look at different haircuts for Old English Sheepdogs and provide some important tips for their grooming.

You may also be interested in: English Cocker Spaniel Grooming Tips
  1. Old English Sheepdog coat characteristics
  2. Can you shave an Old English Sheepdog?
  3. What do you need to groom an Old English Sheepdog?
  4. How to brush an Old English Sheepdog
  5. Haircuts for Old English Sheepdogs
  6. Tips for grooming an Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog coat characteristics

The Old English Sheepdog is nicknamed a bobtail, something you might find surprising if you have every seen one. The name derives from the once standard practice of docking the dog's tail to make it short and stumpy, but this practice is fortunately becoming less common. Whether you know them as an English Sheepdog or Bobtail, to best know how to groom them, we should know about the characteristics of their coat.

Old English Sheepdog's typically have a bicolor coat of white and gray. This gray can be of varying shades, from bluish gray to dark charcoal. When they are a puppy, they are white and black. The grey color only develops as they age. The gray markings may have white or merle patterns within it, but this marking is usually in a saddle shape along their back. Often their entire head is white, but they may have some markings on the face.

This breed has a shaggy and dishevelled appearance. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, the coat being too soft or flat is considered a fault. However, it shouldn't be so wavy that it curls over on itself. The texture of their fur is, therefore, naturally rough and wavy.

Grooming the Old English Sheepdog is necessary. Their coat is double layered, a shorter and more dense undercoat and a long and shaggy overcoat. Some dogs will shed naturally, but the Old English Sheepdog needs help. If they are not properly groomed, the hair will tangle which can cause pain. It also promotes dirt which can cause serious hygiene issues.

Can you shave an Old English Sheepdog?

Before we look at the types of Old English Sheepdog haircuts, we need to discuss the trend for clipping them. Since the long shaggy hair can cover the dog's eyes, it is common for groomers to trim it. They can also provide distinctive shape and body to the overall coat with various styles to choose from.

Some people wonder whether they can shave an Old English Sheepdog. Since their hair is long, it sounds like it might be helpful on paper. In reality, it can be very dangerous. The dog's undercoat is vital for the dog's health and well-being. Not only does it keep them warm in winter, but it keeps them cool in summer thanks to their own form of thermoregulation.

If you have a shaved Old English Sheepdog, you will also promote parasites and skin problems in the dog. While trimming a Bobtail's coat can help them manage their daily life, shaving it will be harmful.

Haircuts for Old English Sheepdogs - Can you shave an Old English Sheepdog?

What do you need to groom an Old English Sheepdog?

Since an Old English Sheepdog has such a specific coat, you should go to a professional groomer if you want them to have a haircut. However, since they need groomed regularly, having the groomer brush them will become very expensive. Brushing your Old English Sheepdog yourself doesn't just save money, however. It also helps you to bond with your dog and check them for any potential health problems.

Before you groom an Old English Sheepdog, you will need to have the right brushes for them. These include:

  • Pin brush: these are designed for dogs with coarse coats, meaning this is ideal for the Old English Sheepdog. It will penetrate to the dog's skin, removing dirt and dead hair. The hair can be collected on the brush and pulled off easily.
  • Grooming comb: this is a stainless steel comb which can be used to finish off the coat and make it soft, yet shaggy. It will also help to prevent knots and tangles. This type of grooming comb will also help around the genitals and anus areas.
  • De-tangle comb: if the dog's coat does develop knots and tangles, this specialized comb will be able to remove them with ease and be relatively painless for the animal.

While there are conflicting suggestions about the use of a slicker brush for Old English Sheepdogs, we think they are unhelpful. Some groomers may be able to use them efficiently on their coarse fur, but many will find the slicker can catch and be painful for the dog.

How to brush an Old English Sheepdog

It is best to place the Old English Sheepdog on a table to comb to brush them. By doing so, it will be easier to reach all parts of their body without having to go underneath them. We can see where there may be any tangles and comb the shaggy hair underneath. It is more comfortable for the dog also.

Before grooming, you should ideally spray the coat with water or special detangle conditioner. This will make the process easier and quicker. To groom an Old English Sheepdog follow these steps:

  1. Use the metal pin brush to comb in the opposite direction of hair growth. This will remove all dead hair and help detect knots. When you find one, try to separate it first with your fingers before working out the tangle with the comb. If you need to pull at the hair, hold the tangle in your hand so it doesn't pull against the dog's skin and cause unnecessary pain.
  2. When you've finished combing the entire body and legs, use the smaller grooming comb to remove knots and smooth the hair across the face, ears and muzzle. Use a finer comb if you need for the anus and genital regions.
  3. To finish, take the soft bristle brush to reposition the hair in the right direction. The hair on the legs, body and face should be long, but the chest should be fluffy.

After the final brushing, it is recommended to trim the hair that accumulates between the digits of the dog's paws. This will help to facilitate mobility and prevent dirt from accumulating. It won't happen to all dogs, but the Bobtail's fur can tangle in this area which can be painful.

Haircuts for Old English Sheepdogs - How to brush an Old English Sheepdog

Haircuts for Old English Sheepdogs

There are different styles for Old English Sheepdog haircuts, but they generally fall into two categories: long or short. The way a cut turns out will depend on the way the hair falls. Some breeds have more possibilities, such as the different types of Poodle haircuts which use their very curly hair to stand on end. The Old English Sheepdog has hair which falls down in a shaggy way, so the haircuts reflect that.

  • Shaggy cut: many people will simply want their Old English Sheepdog to have a trim. In these cases, the hair is cut evenly over the body and will hang over their face. The hair can become problematic if it is too long on the legs or undercarriage, so this area is usually trimmed also.
  • Lion cut: this is a style which cuts the hair short over most of the body, but leaves the hair long on the face and head. It is called a lion cut because it can look a little like a mane.
  • Top knot: regardless if the hair on the rest of the body is longer or shorter, some people like to keep the hair on the top of the Old English Sheepdog's head long. This gives them a look as if they had a head of hair. However, the problem of hair getting in the face still occurs, so a hair bobble can be used to create a top knot.
  • Puppy cut: also known as the sport cut, the puppy cut is a type of hair style common in many different dog breeds, including the Shih Tzu. It is a clipped style which creates a rounded appearance. It is clipped around the legs and body as well. While shorter than other Old English Sheepdog haircuts, it is not shaved close to the skin.

If you do not know how to cut a dog's hair, we recommend you go to a professional groomer. However, if you want to know some tips, you can look at our video on how to trim a dog's hair at home:

Tips for grooming an Old English Sheepdog

With the Bobtail breed, we need to do everything we can to avoid knots and tangles. To do this, we recommend giving them a quick comb every day and a full brushing once a week. It is important to do this to remove all their dead hair. Once you are experienced, you will know how to do it quickly, but it will take over an hour even with experience.

Old English Sheepdog puppies will have hair that grows quickly. We will need to start combing and brushing them from the age of 6 months at least. We need to be very patient and introduce grooming to them slowly. If we don't, they can become wary and will struggle when it comes time to brush them. Fortunately, Old English Sheepdogs as a breed will generally well tolerate grooming.

Bathing every 1 to 2 months is recommended. However, if you leave it for a while and notice tangles, you should take them to a groomer and have them bathed professionally. Also, don't forget that diet and general care is vital for your dog's coat. Feed them regularly with quality feed and exercise them well.

If you want to read similar articles to Haircuts for Old English Sheepdogs, we recommend you visit our Fur care category.

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Haircuts for Old English Sheepdogs