It's hard not to fall in love with an Old English sheepdog. He's a big, hairy, goofy clown with the gait of a bear. If you or household members are allergic to dogs, the Old English sheepdog isn't the best choice. Other large breed dogs might better suit you.
Old English Sheepdog
Old English sheepdogs were bred to herd cattle and sheep to market. According to the American Kennel Club, the tails of these dogs were docked to prove their working status, making them tax-exempt. Modern dogs still possess that herding instinct, so they might attempt to herd kids and household pets. Old English sheepdogs need a fair amount of exercise. Too energetic for apartment life, this breed does best with regular access to a fenced yard. Leaving the dog outside in good weather, as long as someone is home, also cuts down on allergens in the house.
The Old English Sheepdog Club of America makes it clear: The breed requires a minimum of three to four hours of grooming per week. That's a lot of work for the average dog owner. For the person with allergies, it might be impossible without taking medication beforehand. Even with meticulous, professional grooming, you will find dog hair on your clothes, furniture, maybe your food, if you share your home with an Old English sheepdog.
If you already have an Old English sheepdog in your life, you can lower but not eliminate the allergy risk. As much as you love your dog, don't let him sleep in the bedroom. Purchase a high-quality vacuum cleaner designed to suck up pet dander, and use it frequently. If possible, keep your dog out of carpeted rooms in your home; or replace carpeting with hardwood flooring or tile. Bathe your Old English sheepdog regularly to reduce dander. Ask your doctor whether allergen immunotherapy, a series of desensitization shots, might help you.
If you're looking for a large-breed like the OES that might be more compatible with allergy sufferers, several alternatives exist. The standard poodle matures at approximately 21 inches at the withers and weighs between 45 and 65 pounds. Poodles don't shed like most dogs do, and their tightly curled hair doesn't bother some individuals with sensitivities. They will require regular trips to the groomer. Other possibilities recommended by the American Kennel Club include the Irish water spaniel, who's just slightly larger than the standard poodle; the Portuguese water dog, about the same size as the standard poodle, and the slightly smaller Kerry blue terrier.
- Old English Sheepdog Club of America: Information Pamphlet Old English Sheepdog
- American Kennel Club: Dogs and Allergies
- Hill's Pet Nutrition: Dogs and People With Allergies Can Live Together
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Old English Sheepdog
- American Kennel Club: Old English Sheepdog Did You Know
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.