History of the Breed
The origin of the Old English Sheepdog remains a question of keen interest to Bobtail fanciers, and is still open to new theories and discoveries. However, there are traces of evidence which place its origin in the early nineteenth century, centered in the Southwestern Counties of England. Some maintain that the Scottish Bearded Collie had a large part in the making of the Old English Sheepdog. Others claim the Russian Owtchar as one of its progenitors.
Writings of that time refer to a "drover's dog" which was used primarily for driving sheep and cattle to market. It is speculated that these drover's dogs were exempt from taxes due to their working status. To prove their occupation, their tails were docked, leading to the custom of calling the sheepdog by the nickname "Bob" or "Bobtail." Although this dog has been used more for driving than for herding, the lack of a tail to serve as a rudder, so to speak, has in no way affected its ability to work with heavier kinds of sheep or cattle.
The Old English Sheepdog FAQ, Copyright 1996-1998