sheep + biter (“one who bites”). Figurative term possibly influenced by the fable "De cane oves domini sui occidente, a quo suspensus est" in Hecatomythium by Laurentius Abstemius (later included with Aesop's Fables as "A Sheep-Biter Hang'd" — see quotations).
sheep-biter (plural sheep-biters)
- (obsolete) A sheepdog that worries (chases or attacks) sheep.
- (obsolete, figuratively, derogatory) A contemptible person, expecially one who practices petty thefts.
- 1573, Tusser, Thomas, Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie:
- His gait, like a sheep-biter, fleering aside