How to Prepare a Old English Sheepdog for the Show Ring with Jeri Hoppi
How to Prepare Your Old English Sheepdog for a Show
The Old English Sheepdog is a wonderful, fun-loving pet. The AKC states " This breed is a strong, compact, square, balanced dog. Taking him all around, he is profusely, but not excessively coated, thickset, muscular and able-bodied. These qualities, combined with his agility, fit him for the demanding tasks required of a shepherd's or drover's dog. Therefore, soundness is of the greatest importance. His bark is loud with a distinctive "pot-casse" ring in it." So, you want to raise and show this lovable pooch? Read on.
Think about what you are getting into.Are you doing this on impulse? This is a very large commitment, and Old English Sheepdogs are not for first-time owners, let alone for first-time breeders. Hopefully, you've had lots of experience with other breeds and breeding dogs in the past, or this is going to be a fun, yet hard challenge for you.
Plan out your costs.Owning, breeding, showing, traveling, vet bills, etc costA LOTof money. Make a chart based on weekly, monthly, and yearly costs for owning one dog, and decide if you really can afford even more. Talk to breeders for information on costs, and travel to a dog show to see if you really want to make this commitment.
Decide and evaluate your reason for breeding.If you want to breed conformation show-line dogs, you should probably get your bitch/stud from a champion-line breeder, knowing the commitment it takes to grooming, showing, and traveling to shows. Not to mention a grooming workshop for your breed, or expenses for trips to the groomer before a show. If you want to breed for herding, you should purchase your bitch/stud from a working line breeding kennel, yet knowing the commitment it takes to training, traveling, grooming, etc. of having a working sheepdog. You would also need to travel to your nearest open sheepdog classes to keep your herding dog entertained.
Get serious.Nobody cares for you to be just a "pet" breeder. You can be a show breeder and have pet-quality puppies that aren't fit for the ring, but you should always try to have nice, sound, healthy puppies for working or show stock. Please, none of this "just pets" stuff. These are working animals that need a job to stay entertained and healthy.
Where to get your dog
ALWAYS find a reputable breeder.Look around to find a breeder. The best places to spot one are in Dog Fancy classifieds, Dog World classifieds, AKC Gazette, or www.akc.org where you can find the breeder classifieds. Also, a GREAT place to spot your breeder is at your local kennel club's dog show. Internet listings are not the best, as many of the dogs come from puppy mills. Also, NEVER buy your dog from a pet store, as they always come from puppy mills with multitudes of health problems. Find a breeder that specializes in the area you would like to specialize in, whether it is herding, agility, obedience, or conformation.
Make sure the breeder scans her sires and dams for health problems found in the breed!This is the MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF BREEDING- DO NOT BUY FROM ANYONE WHO DOES NOT PERFORM HEALTH SCANS ON THEIR DOGS! You should do this also when breeding your future dogs.
Prepare yourself for a new puppy, and possibly MANY more in the future.
Take a grooming course for your breed.If you are going to breed the Old English Sheepdog, you are going to need your dogs to be well groomed and presentable. You will usually be able to find courses from your local kennel club, or from the breeder you are choosing to get your dog from.
Puppy-proof the house.Make sure your house is safe for your puppy. Make sure electric cords are out of the "chewing zone", all plastic bits and paper are out of "choking zone", and that you have baby gates put up in places that are off limits to pooches.
Buy your supplies.There are many pages on wikiHow that will tell you what supplies that you need for your new puppy. Buy all your necessities for your new puppy that you will be bringing home.
Set up a vet appointment in advance.Set up a vet appointment BEFORE you get your puppy so that you do not have to wait over a month for Fido to get its last set of puppy booster shots. The date should be the day after you get your poochie. Your breeder (if local) will probably give you a preferred vet, but do your research and find the best veterinarian in your area.
Get your dog
So, you've decided whether you're getting a show/working (or both) dog, and you've found your breeder. Now it's time to choose if you get a male or female. There really isn't a difference in the temperament, but if you want to have litters of puppies in your home, you should probably get a bitch, but if you want to have a stud dog, go ahead. Or, if you want to have BOTH, make sure that the dogs aren't related... or you'll be inbreeding, which usually can cause horrible health problems.
Visit the breeder's litter.After you've found your breeder, schedule a time where you can see their newest or upcoming litter.
Ask the breeder's advice.Ask the breeder which puppy would be likely to do the best in herding, breeding, showing, etc. Breeders will always try to help you find the best puppy, as they are committed to making their breed the best as possible.
Choose your puppy.Make sure your puppy is healthy, strong, playful, and a little curious. Never get a sick puppy. Signs of a sick puppy are:
- Discharge coming out of the nose, or eyes.
- Stinky/Waxy/Red ears
- Signs of diarrhea
- Weak limbs
Bring your puppy home.Bring your puppy home. You should preferably pick the puppy up at the breeder's, even if it is a long drive. This will save the puppy the stress of shipping on a plane, which causes trauma, and sometimes even death.
Socialize Your Puppy
Socializing is the MAIN THING you need to do for your dog to excel in anything it does, whether it's conformation, herding, breeding, etc.
Enroll your puppy in a basic obedience course.Make sure it is a "puppy only" class, and that the instructor uses POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT only. This class should meet weekly. An easy obedience course like this will help your puppy learn how to react in a new environment, and how to react with other dogs and people. Eventually, you can enroll your puppy in higher obedience courses so that you can maybe even compete, although this is not necessary.
Schedule puppy play-dates!Call your friends up and schedule a puppy play date with their dog and your puppy. Make sure that their dog is current on all vaccinations. This will help your puppy learn to play and interact with other dogs in a non-threatening environment.
Bring your puppy with you to places.First, you need to make sure that it has all its shots, or it could pick up a disease. Bring your puppy with you to pick your kids up from school, when you go to work (if it is okay with your boss), and maybe even to a couple of dog shows. This will help your puppy feel easier in new environments, and to enjoy car rides.
Introduce your puppy to livestock (if it will be herding).You need to introduce your puppy to livestock at a young age so that it will not panic when you start training.
Introduce your puppy to cats and other small critters- you don't want any eaten ones showing up on your doorstep!(this is optional).
Start grooming early.I don't know any groomer/breeder/handler/trainer who wouldn't stress this! Introduce your puppy to all grooming tools at a young age so that it will enjoy it in the years to come. Groom it gently each day for 10 minute intervals.
Start Your Training Early
Starting training early will lead to success in the ring later on.
Enroll your puppy in a ringcraft class.Your local kennel club should have a weekly ringcraft class. Enroll your puppy asap.
Bring your puppy to herding class although his instincts may not have kicked in yet, bring your puppy to herding class so it can at least get used to the livestock.
As mentioned above, you NEED to enroll your puppy in a basic obedience course!
If you choose to do agility with your sheepdog, enroll it in a PUPPY class so that they will not have stress on their joints.
Enroll your puppy in any class that you would like that is not mentioned, whether it be animal acting, schutzhund (although sheepdogs don't excel in it particularly), freestyle disc, or fly ball.
Remember- whichever sport you choose to do, start early!
- The Old English Sheepdog is a breed that needs lots of space to stay happy, exercised, and content. This is not for a family with an average sized house and large yard. This dog needs ACREAGE to stay stimulated.
- If you do not have enough space, time for training, etc for this breed, consider finding another. There are hundreds of breeds to choose from.
- When choosing your breeding stock, be careful and wary of puppy mills and backyard breeders.
- Always make sure your foundation sires and dams have been tested for hip dysplasia, and other diseases.
- Showing, training, grooming, vet bills, food, etc cost thousands of dollars each year. Be careful with your money, and unless you are fairly well off, you shouldn't be getting into this, as the prices will run you down the drain.
Video: Grooming an Old English Sheepdog using a Wahl KM2 Deluxe with Sue Zecco
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