This particular section of these notes will enter into areas of controversy and debate. Currently there is tremendous effort to achieve a high level of finish to the ring presentation of the Old English Sheepdog. However, it should be remembered that in previous years this was not the case and many people hold differing views regarding the style of presentation and it is up to each person to develop their own style and to suit the particular judge under whom they are showing. Personally, I feel very strongly that it is up to the judge to examine the dog for its qualities and not necessarily its presentation, only perhaps using this factor in the unlikely situation that they cannot differentiate between the qualities of two dogs. The presentation aspect to me reflects the fact that dog shows are also spectator/public events and for that purpose are in effect almost beauty competitions. There may be many people who disagree with these particular views, but they are personal and reflect my own views and beliefs.
Overall in presenting the dog for the show ring, the intent is to create a pear shape appearance to the body when viewed from above, and to emphasise the size of the head, retaining slim shoulders and good length of neck with the front legs fluffed out, whilst the rear legs, hocks and feet are also groomed to advantage.
Referring to the "Ring Presentation" diagrams above, with the dog stood, commence by shaping the rear body of the dog, brushing the coat upwards and outwards to increase the base of the pear shape, this extending down the rear legs to just above the hocks. The shoulders, chest and neck should be brushed as close as possible to the body, perhaps using a find water spray to stop the coat "flying". The front legs should be brushed upwards and outwards, whilst the hocks should be groomed to emphasise their shape and size as indicated. Finally, the head, ears and muzzle should also be brushed upwards and outwards to emphasise the overall size of the head. Clearly notes are no substitute for actual practice and it may take a considerable time before you are satisfied with your efforts.
Having described the basic idea, this can be supplemented, if desired, by a degree of "back brushing". This technique is no substitute for quality of coat, but I feel it does allow for an enhancement of the final finish in relation to the appearance of the dog perhaps in the "beauty competition" element, and a judge should never be deceived by an exhibitor's clever brushwork. By using light back brushing around the rear quarters of the dog along with its head, a more professional finish can be achieved. I am sure that many of us have stood at the ring-side before and admired dogs in the ring, occasionally being deceived by good presentation rather than a quality dog. I am sure this is often the reason why we see a well presented dog which does not win and who is beaten by one who is not so well presented , a totally correct decision.
It should also be noted that there are some judges who do not allow brushes to be used within the ring and this in itself may be a statement that they will not be deceived by presentation and care more about the quality of the dog itself. Often in these situations, backbrushing is inappropriate, but your hands can be used to good effect, again achieving the basic desired shape as described earlier in this section.
There are many techniques that can be used in ring presentation and only a few examples have been indicated here. You should be prepared to look and listen in order to learn and extend your knowledge, you will never know it all, so always be prepared to learn more, consider other methods and last but not least, respect other people's views and opinions - it takes all sorts and styles in showing.