Health Problems in Old English Sheepdogs

The old English sheepdog is not without inherited health problems.
i Dog, bearded collie, and girl having a great fight over stick image by Pontus Edenberg from

Old English sheepdogs typically enjoy a healthy lifespan of 10 to 12 years but are not without inherited health concerns. Like many large breeds, they can be prone to hearing, sight, thyroid and joint health problems.These problems can be successfully treated if identified early.


Old English sheepdogs are among over 30 large breeds of dogs with a susceptibility for deafness. The deafness can be complete or partial, and can occur in one or both ears. Your vet will perform a computerized test to determine the extent of your dog's hearing loss. This test can be performed after six weeks of age, is not painful, and will determine if your dog has normal hearing.


Old English sheepdogs are also at risk to develop hereditary eye conditions such as cataracts. Cataracts, the deformation of the lens of the eye, will adversely affect your dog’s vision and can lead to blindness. With symptoms like cloudy, grey or white pupils, cataracts are more common in older dogs, but can be present at birth or develop early in your dog’s life.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Another eye disease common in old English sheepdogs is progressive retinal atrophy, an inherited disorder of the retina. PRA occurs in both eyes, is non-painful and has clinical signs that include dilated and glassy pupils. Dogs diagnosed with PRA prior to complete vision loss may be helped by treatment including antioxidants and other nutritional supplements.


Old English sheepdogs, like many other medium to large breeds, are sometimes predisposed to a congenital condition called hypothyroidism, resulting from a lowered production of thyroid gland hormones.
Symptoms include lethargy, unexplained weight gain, excessive shedding and recurring sk in infections Treatment utilizing synthetic hormone medication, diet modification and herbal remedies will resolve most of the symptoms in a few months.

Hip Dysplasia

Resulting from the abnormal development of a young dog’s hip joint, hip dysplasia is a hereditary disease of large breeds like the old English sheepdog. The condition causes a looseness and eventual erosion of the hip joint resulting in painful arthritis. Common symptoms displayed by dogs suffering from dysplasia include walking or running with an altered gait and resistance to movement that involves full extension of the rear legs. Early detection and a veterinarian-guided regimen of anti-inflammatory drugs, herbal supplements, pain medications, diet modification and physical therapy will significantly decrease the severity of this disease.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

the nest