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Early OES's in Finland
Satu judging at dog shows
In my opinion
In my opinion

The breed:

Looking at the history of the Old English Sheepdog gives an impression that the breed was in a better shape many years ago that it is today. We ought to remember that first there was "the breed". That meant that there were enough dogs that looked alike to enable them to be called "A Breed", and the first breed standard was a description of those dogs. Every change to those original breed standards has been made because hardly anyone (or at best very few) could still breed the real Old English Sheepdogs. People gave up trying to follow the breed standard and instead chose an easier way; they changed the standard. The changes in the breed standard have been made neither for modernizing the language nor to make it easier to understand. They have been made mostly because the Old English Sheepdog did not fit it any longer.

The breed was then and still is a herder. The Old English Sheepdog was big enough to be a drover and a guard dog and small enough for herding. As in all other breeds for the same purpose the size was "medium". The coat for the Bobtail was a good, weather protective double coat; and the long rear legs made it possible for quick turns and high jumps over the flocks and hedges.


The breed is suffering from so many illnesses and inheritance faults:
EYES: cataract, CEA, PPM, PHTVL, entropium, ectropium, PRA.
EARS: deafness- full or one side.
BONES: hip dysplasia, loose joints, OCD, arthritis, spondylosis.
SKIN: SA, food, contact and dust allergies.
ENDOCRINOLOGY: cardiomyopathy, hypo- and hyper thyrosis, v. Willebrand plus many autoimmune diseases such as haemolytic anaemia to mention but some.
For the breed to advance I believe that we must first take some backward steps. It is sad that we place so much importance on all kinds of show, obedience and agility results. We ought to be much more concerned about the health of the breed.

Dog shows:

Showing dogs is a hobby that can swallow you completely and become an addiction if you are not careful. But when at it's best, showing is a really fascinating hobby. As a judge myself I don't want to judge too often, because I'm naive enough to think that people really want to show me their dogs to get an opinion. I don't want to give my opinion of the same dogs over and over again, and I dare to believe that this is how most judges think. That is why I do not show my dogs under the same judge over and over again in the short term . I do show a dog again to someone who liked the dog when they first judged it; but after a few years so they can see how the dog has developed. That in my opinion gives all of us the best value from showing.

Today we often see judges in the show ring measuring the pigmentation around the eyes. We'll see them "listening" to the sound of the coat, but hardly ask the dog to move. The massive, excessive coat is too often the one that counts. So many judges seldom ask people to show their dogs on the loose leash even though that is the only way to see how the dog is moving and at the same time see the faults and good points of a dog's anatomy. So few want to see them run around more than once and that is why the winner is so often the one who makes the nicest picture when standing.

I think that all kind of 'best-dog-here-and-there' point counting has taking the fun out of showing dogs. Dog shows have become much too serious. I remember the time about thirty years ago when there were less dog shows and they were much smaller. Most of the "regulars" from other breeds knew each other. We had time to watch the judging of their breeds and they watched ours. We discussed differences in the breeds and we learned so much about their breeds and that made us understand our own breed better. Today many people come to the dog shows to win, to collect points for some list and if they are not winning they often go home before the Best Of Breed has been chosen. They have no interest what so ever in other breeds.

In many countries it is too easy to get the champion title for your dog. In Finland there are too many dog shows with only few, unfortunately often the same, dogs competing against each other. If one really wants to have a title for a bobtail they only need money and time.

Exaggerated grooming has also become a normality for the show ring. When potential puppy buyers see all that fuss around dogs at the shows, no wonder they nowadays choose some other breed that is easier to take care of . The Old English Sheepdog is the only herding breed in which it is not necessary for the dog to really see to do it's job, and yet we groom the coat in front of the dog¹s face and eyes so that we are not able to see the expression that according to the standard is very important. I cannot understand why in our breed the brushing is not off face like on Bearded Collies, Briards, Owtcharkas, etc.

Daily care:

In my opinion far too many people don't realize that The Bobtail is a dog not a teddy bear or a living panda; and that means trouble. There is hardly ever perfect weather for OES owner in Scandinavia. The Summer can be too hot or too cold; or raining cats and dogs all day long. It is the same with Autumn, and often weeks of Spring are muddy. If you are lucky, maybe once every ten years you get a super Autumn with chilly but dry days, or Winter days of 5 C° and a few cm . of snow which are perfect for long walks with your OES. On those rare occasions he'll be clean and dry after your walk! The worst is wet snowat either plus or minus temperatures.. That is a guarantee for big snow balls all over the dog, and that means mat unless you dry him properly. Just when the snow in the Springtime has melted and it's mud all over, it will start to snow once again. This will go on for two months and you'll pray for the Summer to come with all the hay seeds and mites and everything nice. If you still choose to live with one or even worse, with several OES's in your house, there usually will be no return to a normal life! No matter how much you try to tell people that the dog's coat needs care, no matter how much you try to tell them that the dog has learned to be groomed , you'll so often see them a few month later all matted and smelly and the owners will tell you that the dog won't let them brush him. As a breeder, nothing makes me sadder than to see a promising puppy that can't ever be shown simply because of poor coat care. That is when it is best for the dog to be trimmed to a short coat. We wash the white parts and under the belly every second week and depending on the coat quality grooming is done at one or two weeks intervals.

- Satu Tanner