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20.06.2013

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After countless hours of research on and about this breed, here is my version of how this wonderful breed came to be.In the early 1800’s Scotsman Bruce McKinsey moved his family moved from the cold damp climates of Northern Scotland to the Grampian Hills of Central Scotland. With him and his family came his stock dogs, those dogs became known as “Colleys” (named after the Colley sheep they were responsible for)     These same Colleys, that were also referred to as “Fox Shepherds” a breed that to this day is relatively unknown, was said to have survived in Scotland for centuries, however very few, if any kept records mentioning them as Fox Shepherds.     The McKinsey family moved nearby Alexander McNab and as they shared the same livelihood, the two became friends.
After spending time together working the sheep in the fields and watching how McKinsey’s dogs worked the livestock, Alexander eventually acquired a female Scottish Colley from Bruce and named her Flora. The dogs were extremely rare and in such demand he didn't get one until 1915.     In the early 1900's Alexander handed off the ranch to his youngest son, California born, John L. Unfortunately, his son elected not to follow Alexander's Scottish Colley-Basque shepherder's dog cross and the Original McNab line died out with him.     John L. Over the years the McNab family had both females and male dogs brought over from Scotland and continued to breed their Scotch Collies.     In 1915 more dogs were transported to America aboard the cargo ship Howth. The dogs were a red male named Clyde and Bessie, a pregnant black and white female who whelped three weeks before their arrival (only 3 pups survived Gyp, Tweed, and Jet) in America. Clyde (red Scottish Colley)      John L.
The Browns had waited since 1895 for this dog and never out-crossed Jet, instead breeding him to other Colleys brought over from Scotland.     John L. Both these lines worked from the head and didn't have the “loose eyed” working style of the traditional Collies.If you look at the picture of the Basque Sheepherder, taken at the turn of the century, you can see the resemblance of our modern day McNab in the Black and white dog in the back on the right side. This picture also shows the different ear sets that the Basque dogs handed down to McNabs dogs.There was no official registry or bookkeeping of any kind that can trace these lines back to Peter and Fred and to the local ranchers a “McNab” became known as any good working dog with a short black and white coat and tight feet.
Here even, in far California, there is one ranch, lying high on the breezy mountains and low in the grassy dells, that for years has relied upon the help given by imported collies and their offspring, and it is of the work these bright dogs do that this article is written.For the history of the collie one must look elsewhere than in a brief magazine sketch. Many wise dogs have journeyed far by land and sea to race over the rugged hills after the nimble sheep, which in these mountain wilds give fleet defiance to the would-be-gatherer.
No one but a real Scotch shepherd can train these dogs to the perfection they attain among Scottish flocks under constant supervision.


A motion of the hand directs the alert dogs, and they join the two bands and send them steadily along the trail. Two ewes and a lamb go running to the side.Here, Pete!The dog dashes quickly across a little hill, the bright drops sparkling on his black coat as he passes the sheep and turns them.
Circling in front again, the dog overtakes, turns them, follows, and turns again, and patiently works them along till his troublesome charges are safely among their fellows.
If sent to hurry the little flock, he dashes at the hindmost, barking his orders.Here the master whistles Fred to the right.
Nothing is visible to him, but off scurries the obedient dog, barking frantically, circles, and stops. Scarcely rising to his feet, the dog slips quietly through the grass beside them, and they turn and slowly rejoin the band, cropping as they go. Fred trots quietly around his charges, sees that all are safe, then drops down again, watching them ceaselessly with shining eyes, and not a ewe or lamb is missing when the returning master adds his flock.Steadily we climb, through the golden afternoon.
In go the dogs, and send the sheep briskly down the trail, while Peter, circling far behind of his own accord, often brings in a stray ewe that has slyly dropped out.Yonder is a place where the whole band broke away years ago, and never have forgotten it, but neither have the dogs. As if shot from a cannon, the ewe bangs against him, and over goes Tweed, howling rolling over and over, down the steep hillside, all four feet kicking at once, in angry protest as they come uppermost ; and his chap-fallen expression, as he struggles to his feet and slinks away, shows that Tweed is both a sadder and a wiser dog. They never bark at them as they would at old sheep, but merely follow and slowly check them by degrees. Slowly, and with marvelous patience they are turned, jumping over each other, then over the dogs, and it seems a hopeless task even to attempt to take them the half-mile to the corral, but in a couple of hours time Fred and Peter come slowly up to the gate with them, not a lamb hurt or missing, and their first acquaintance made with these gentle protectors and friends. He was a ready match for a certain obstinate old ram, that always fought the dogs and delayed their work ; till at last when sent for the flock Peter went first for this old enemy, and there, nose to nose, both heads bobbing excitedly, he would angrily bark and growl, till the conquered ram at last would make a sudden bolt, and the victorious Peter calmly gather in the flock.
A most conscientious dog, his work was done faithfully and well till years disabled him; but Fred, more alert to praise, did best were strangers present, when he abounded in bright ways and brilliant work, done with a comically conscious air of superior excellence.


He took to them kindly, like the wise dog he was, wore them gratefully, and after a long days run through flying seed, off would come the shoes, leaving his feet sound and well. Meekly he would let his shoes be donned, regarding his master quizzically the while, and wear them complacently enough in view, but let him be sent for sheep a little out of sight, a little delay would be noticed, then out from behind some bushy clump or sheltering rock Fred would gayly emerge, with many gambols to divert the eye.
They brought with them their stock dogs, the Fox Shepard, the origin not known, but have survived in Scotland for centuries.
McNab returned to the Grampian Hills in Scotland for the sole purpose of getting some of the dogs he was used to working. These two dogs were bred to select Shepard females of the Spanish origin, which were brought to this country by the Basque sheepherders, and that cross was called the McNab Shepherds because Mr. Some of these dogs will have a wider strip up the face (Bentley Stripe) and a ring around the neck, there are also instances of pups with brown on their face and legs but will still be mostly black. McNab was not satisfied with the type of working dogs he found locally, and in 1885 he returned to Scotland for the sole purpose of importing the type of dog(s) he had been accustomed to working with. It was said that these two male dogs were bred to female dogs of Spanish origin, which were brought to this country by the Basque sheep herders.
I have searched (and continue to search) to find out the type of dog the Basque may have brought with them to California, and my findings were contradicting. A Basque researcher informed me that most Basques did not come to this country with native dogs, but used working dogs that were available to them in their area. However, another individual who grew up near a Basque community told me that some Basques did bring dogs over to America from their native land, and the type of dog in question was described to me as a medium sized, tight coated, brown dog with pricked ears.



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