The McNab Shepherd By David A. Procida
Alexander & Flora
So much and yet little is known about the McNab Shepherd. After countless hours of research on and about this breed, here is my version of what most likely happened.
In the early 1800’s Scotsman Bruce McKinsey movedhis 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 theywere responsible for)
These same Colleys were also referred to as “Fox Shepherds” the breed, relatively unknown was said to have survived in Scotland for centuries, however very few, if any kept records mention 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. (see picture above)
In 1868 Alexander McNab (at 48-years of age) his wife Suisan and their 3 sons: Charles, Gavin and Arthur left Glasgow Scotland, setting sail for the warmer climates of Northern California.
Once there he purchased a 10,000 acres parcel in the ranching community of Ukiah, in Mendocino County. It was here that he built a homestead for his family. He brought with him Flora, his Scottish Colley, unfortunately she died shortly after arriving at the ranch.
Alexander spent the next 16 years attempting to find a good stock-dog among the local dogs, frustrated with the lack of a dog who worked in a way he had been accustomed to, he made the long trip back to Scotland in 1885 to visit with his old friend Bruce McKinsey.
Once there he purchased two black and white dogs from Bruce. They were named Peter and Fred. He brought back Fred to America, but left Peter behind to finish up his training.
Peter & Fred
Fred, the dog Alexander brought back with him, was the shorter-haired version of the Collie, and a year later Alexander sent for Peter to join Fred. Soon after, Alexander crossed paths the Spanish Basque Shepherds, after watching their dogs working the livestock, he found himself quite impressed with their working abilities and stamina in the hot climates of the California summer and decided to breed his two Colley dogs to a few select female dogs belonging to Basque sheepherders.
Alexander was very pleased with the results of this breeding and they developed into dogs that would head or heel, so pleased in fact, that he called them “McNab Shepherds”
McNab’s dogs became very popular with the other California Ranchers, one of them being Ed G. Brown. He put in an order for a McNab pup with Alexander in 1895. 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. McNab. There isn’t any information as to the demise of Alexander, but he was well into his 80's at this time.
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 female who whelped three weeks before their arrival (only 3 pups survived Gyp, Tweed, and Jet) in America.
Clyde (red Scottish Colley)
John L. Brown sold Ed and Myrtle Brown one of the pups that were born on the Howth. This pup would come to be known as "Jet", a black pup with a faint line of white up his face, a white chest and socks. The Browns had waited since 1895 for this dog and never out-crossed Jet, instead breeding him to other Colleys brought over from Scotland.
Ed Brown's "Jet" with one of his children
John L. followed in his dad’s footsteps with this breed and continued importing more dogs (according to various stories and Myrtle Browns notes, John L. McNab however, never out-crossed these dogs) from Scotland.
He later imported a pair of red Scottish Colleys, Ready and Clyde who arrived in 1906. Over the years the McNab family had both females and male dogs brought over from Scotland and continued to breed their Scotch Collies.
So, we already have TWO distinct lines of dogs called McNabs, Alexander’s cross (Scottish Colley-Basque shepherd dogs) which has now developed into a lean, almost smooth-coated dog with tight feet and amber eyes, and John L. and Ed Brown’s dogs, which carried on the Scottish traditional Fox Shepherds aka Scottish Shepherds lines featuring a heavier bodied "medium" coated dogs. Both these strains 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. This is one only one of many reasons for the wide variance and different appearance(s) of McNab Shepherds.
This is just the beginning of this journey; I would like to invite any and everyone who has honest history to e-mail me their story as I plan on adding a chapter for every breeder. I would like to include not only their history with the McNab but also the lineage of their dogs.
The last of the McNab Clan and their sheep disappeared from the McNab Ranch in the early 1970’s. The original 10,000 acres has been split up into smaller parcels and there are now 3 Wineries located there.
McNab's Whelping House
So, when we look at what is common among the various accounts and descriptions from old history we see these common traits:
Height: 15 to 25 inches at the shoulder. Some males may mature taller.
Weight: 25 - 50 lbs. Some males may mature heavier.
Coat: Short to Medium -never long.
Coat color: Black with white markings, red with white markings, blonde with white markings, black and red tri colored. Speckling on the legs is at the breeder’s discretion. However they are never red or blue merles.
Ears: Pricked, also a variety of sets in between - tipped mid to top of the ear (usually outward, but forward is acceptable) some even flop over.
Tails: Long however some old lines throw a natural bob. (The docking of tails was NOT originally traditional)
Eyes: Almond in shape
Eye color: brown, hazel, or copper. Never blue or marbled.
Feet: tight - cat like on their feet. Not long toed as seen in Border Collies.
I've added a just a few of the articles I have found about the McNab, here they are with the oldest recollection first:
The Collie in Mendocino 1894
Posted in: Golden Age: 1861 - 1900
The Scotch Collie is practically unknown to the majority of Americans, although some Eastern farmers associate the name with the family dog that makes a safe playmate for the children and brings in the cows at milking time, while the fancier, in turn, recalls the pride of the show bench, and one of his most devoted pets. What is, then, the real Scotch Collie and what his mission? Briefly worded, he is the ideal shepherd. Among Scottish flocks he is the pride of Scottish owners, and is valued, both in the Old World and the New, as one of the best aids money can procure. 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. In appearance and color they vary ; the heads are sharp, almost pointed ; the eyes, bright and intelligent, fairly speaking to those they favor most; ears, carried sharply upright in many cases, and as a rule the better workers are those of light, lithe build ; as the sheep-man puts it, one that is springy on his feet.
On this Mendocino ranch, for twenty-five years and more, the trained collies have handled sheep, season after season, herding, driving, holding, gathering, with a trained intelligence that seems marvelous to the novice; and the very stones, if they could speak, would bear eloquent witness to their practical utility and value as viewed from a business standpoint. 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. From a quarter of a century ago, when the present owner came to California in pursuit of health lost in the mists of rainy Glasgow, and the beauty of the hills appealed to his city-starved heart, since then, when shepherd Dougal followed him across far seas, and collie Flora pattered down the gang-plank at his heels, there has never been a time that these wise dogs, the Scotch collies, have not been the help and pride of the place.
The short-haired collies are usually chosen in preference to their longer haired brethren, owing to the warm summers of the Mendocino interior; and though the change from Scottish mist to California sun is a little trying to any, all bring their natural sagacity and trained work to bear as faithfully on the mountains of the new world as upon the heathered hills of Scotland.
Many puppies here have grown to active usefulness with wise care, though not every sheep-man can train a young dog successfully, but few possessing the requisite knowledge and tact. No one but a real Scotch shepherd can train these dogs to the perfection they attain among Scottish flocks under constant supervision. Descended from long generations of workers the puppies take actively to business, and practice amusing tactics of herding on the farm poultry while still too young to be initiated into the graver cares of life; and at first sight of a band of sheep will usually make some move that denotes the shepherd strain. They are trained to work from motions of the masters hand. quick whistles that sound shrilly above the bleating flock, and brief, sharp words of command ; and to be successfully handled must be kept solely by one person, and be fed, worked, praised, or punished, by one alone. Literally is it true of the collie, Ye cannot serve two masters ; his allegiance must be given to but one, or the valuable animal becomes worthless for the work that nature and training have given him to do. A well-trained collie does the work of several men on rough and brush-grown hills, and does it with infinitely more ease and less hard running of the flock, after the sheep are once accustomed to him, saving the hire of man and horse, and furnishing his owner with faithful help for years if wisely handled.
Come with me in spirit to the Mendocino hills, and follow the master and his collies through the pleasantcst gathering of the year, at rodeo, or marking time, in early April, while the hills are still knee-deep with waving grass, bright with the beautiful flowers of the Mendocino region, while the air is one caress of springtime, and burning summer still is but a memory or prophecy. The breeze is sweet with bloom, and the sunlight falls, a flood of golden glory, over the lavish green of April meadow, as we take the upward trail, a woodland path that rises steeply under the shadow of the Peak, giving but glimpses of the valley home below, and winding through still shadows in the absolute silence of Natures own domains. Higher we go, and onward, past an old stone cabin, a picturesque bit of ruin in the lap of spring. sheltered by whispering madrones, and nestled in great banks of yellow violets, erythroniums, and maiden-hair fern that peeps shyly between the crevices of its grey walls. As we come out from the woods with the Peak still above us, send a swift glance northward, where Sanhedrim and the northern mountains still are capped in glittering snow, rising sharply from green valleys to the sunny sky, their sparkling peaks the only hint of winter in all this summerland. Southward lies the rival of Kashmir,-Sanel Valley in April, flower-lit, green-held, the jewel of the hills.
Below us, in the hollow, is a little bunch of lambs; here is where the collies work begins; and in response to a word and gesture, the two race gayly down the ridge through buttercups and poppies, and running beyond the startled ewes gently turn and drive them in the direction pointed by the master.
"Fred! Here, sir! Off he dashes up the hill, makes a wide circle past a dozen ewes, and as they bolt up hill heads them, turns, and deftly drives them down. Over the ridge a number are feeding in the hollow. Their lambs lie asleep in the warm sun or frolic together on the hillside, bright bits of movement white against the green. 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. Bolt!off they go at a tangent. 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. A wave of the hand sends him in a wider circle up the hill. Nothing yet. Another, wider sweep of the masters hand sends him flying in a great circle through the trees, barking as though his doggish life depended on it.
A bunch of sheep now run from the brush, and Fred, barking always, follows and drives them down, to meet the main band with a nicety as to crossing lines.
The whole flock is startled now, and dashes away down hill, but a shrill whistle sends Fred to the front. He runs back and forth before the leaders and checks their clumsy lope to a slow run. Off he dashes, perhaps fifty feet or so ahead, and dropping to the ground with nose between his paws, he waits till the flock is close upon him ; then he springs up and trots ahead again, and once more quietly waits their coming.
Fred! Lie down, sir! The master walks away, and Fred, understanding perfectly that he must keep the flock, swiftly circles round them and brings them to a halt. Here, alone, he holds them, keeping them closely together while Peter and the master gather the other side of the hill, and return two hours later to find the sheep quietly grazing and Fred lying as quietly watching them.
Two ewes wander a little too far. 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. Occasionally shy deer peer through the brush, the warm air is sweet with the breath of bloom, and a distant eagle screams as he sweeps in stately circles over the Peak. The flocks number in the hundreds as we finally reach the summit, where we are met by the shepherd and Tweed, with another band. 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. Watch them, untold, slip quietly ahead and stand alert, watchful, and ready. Boltgo two old ewes dov/n a sudden turn, swiftly followed by a hundred more. With a fierce challenge the collies vigorously meet the flying band, and force them back to the trail more roughly than we have seen them do yet, in punishment, perhaps, for their presumption and past sins. As we go, watch that old ewe. She has bolted away several times, and given Peter much trouble to bring her in ; but his Scotch is up, as she dashes away again. He springs in before her, and with a dexterous hoist of his body sends her tumbling end over end, which is his own cure for these troublesome bolters, and was never known to fail. Tweed observes this, and being a most imitative collie, forthwith essays the same thing. Away goes his sheep. Away goes Tweed, and heads it. 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. Though all are trained alike in a general way, two collies differ as widely in characteristic methods of work as two men,each possessing a distinct individuality of his own.
Ah! there is a break the collies did not check, and running at headlong speed down the mountain the men risk life and limb to save the days work. After much hard running the flock is finally under control, but a bunch of lambs has become separated in the confusion, and after circling helplessly, stampedes in wild disorder. Peter tries his wise best to work the foolish little things back, vainly attempting to head them off.but they jump over him, halfa-dozen in succession, ears and tails flapping wildly as they clear his broad back. Others run under him, pass between his legs, and take other juvenile liberties ; so off he trots with them, in their own direction, with a glance at his master that plainly says, These children must be humored.
As it is a large bunch, after Fred has helped the master safely corral the flock at the foot of the mountain, he too is sent off,one motion telling him to go help Pete. While the master separates the sheep, let us sit on this sunny hillside and watch the collies as they circle round the running lambs. They never bark at them as they would at old sheep, but merely follow and slowly check them by degrees. The little things are both obstinate and foolish, and at first pay no attention to the quiet collies that trot patiently round and round, quietly gather them together, and at last stop their wilr1 run. 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. In such a case, many of the lambs would have been hopelessly lost, had it not been for the dogs, men could have done nothing with them.
The lambs safely in, the master sends Peter to keep two bunches of sheep separate until he can attend to them ; and though the bands are but a dozen feet apart, and try their best to join, Peter keeps each bunch strictly by itself; and his master says, in response to our surprise, that not even on the range cantwo bands join if Peter is told to keep them apart.
The corral work over, we walk away, listening to the masters many anecdotes of his pets. Peter is a favorite, bright even beyond the ordinary collie, his first appearance in the field showing a canine reason. The wooded pasture bewildered the new comer ; plainly he was at a loss. Then he suddenly spied a huge rock; straight for it he went, and springing into sight upon its top, he stood a moment, one paw uplifted, ears up and nose a-quiver, a pretty picture, gave two quick glances, and was down and with the sheep again, and quietly drove them straight across the field to the hidden gate. Often, till he learned the hills, did he leave the sheep,, and on some high point literally take his bearings, to return to his charge and take them down the better way, justifying his masters assertion that surely the line between reason and instinct is closely drawn in the Scotch collie. 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 had the collie trick of carrying a stock or stone in his mouth, dropping it on barking, only to seize another; and often carried light poles longer than himself, flirting his black body and lifting his dainty feet with all the airs of a danseuse; and proportionately, the longer the stick, the prouder the dog.
One summer, when shepherding was a weary task on glowing hills, the collies suffered much with sore and swollen feet, caused by creeping seeds that burrowed far between the toes, and caused most painful swellings. Pitifully their eyes met their beloved masters as he probed to remove the cause. The young man pondered a little, then to the country saddler he went and ordered made from his description little leather shoes. A stout leather sole was cut the shape of the foot, two curving pieces sewed to it, joined in front and lapping at the back, with strings to tie securely around the leg; then he came triumphantly home to try the new invention on his pets.
Peter the Wise walked off daintily upon them; held up each foot by turns to look, sniff, and ponder what this new-country idea might be. 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. But Fred, the rascal! 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. But the master knew him! And behind the bush or rock he always found the four little cast-off shoes, tucked carefully out of sight, while their owner scampered gayly in the distance.
New-comers from auld Scotia are faithful Clyde, willing Help, and pretty Gyp, who first opened her blinking eyes upon the stormy seas around the Horn, and entered the Golden Gate a feeble specimen of her race.at once the pity and the jest of the good ship Howth, but one feeble sister left to her out of a large and once promising young family. Clyde closely resembles Fred, whose days are past; and till the present puppy, tiny Tweed, grows to working age, Clyde is the mainstay of the gathering. Help fulfills his name on other portions of the large range ; but either are true types of the working collie, willing and faithful helpers till years disable them. Either one is sent for sheep entirely out of sight in a large field, and patiently hunts till he finds them, then brings them in alone ; and Gyps mother, Bessie, brings in the entire flock from her owners small range just as readily as from the field. Indeed, it is easier for a collie to drive five hundred sheep than five.
Volumes might be written descriptive of these collies, but suffice it that this is a truthful sketch of the practical work they have done and are doing today on the mountain ranges of Mendocino.
by Lulu McNab
From Overland Monthly, May 1894
MERTLE BROWNS McNAB HISTORY
In the early 1800s, the Bruce McKinsey family left Northern Scotland and settled in the Grampian Hills of central Scotland. They brought with them their stock dogs, the Fox Shepard, the origin not known, but have survived in Scotland for centuries. Alexander McNab was a neighbor of the McKinseys who raised the Fox Shepherds and started the breed in the Grampian Hills.
Alexander McNab and his family left Glasgow Scotland in 1868, came to the United States of America and settled in California on a ranch known as the McNab Ranch in Mendocino County south of Ukiah. They brought with them one dog, but it died soon after they arrived.
In 1885, Mr. McNab returned to the Grampian Hills in Scotland for the sole purpose of getting some of the dogs he was used to working. He purchased two dogs, Peter and Fred. He brought Peter back with him, leaving Fred to have his training completed, and he was later sent to America.
Fred was strictly a lead dog; Peter worked both lead and drive. 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. McNab perfected this breed of Stock Dog, which will head or heel. The McNab is NOT a Border collie.
John L McNab was the son of Alexander McNab and latter became sole owner of the McNab Ranch; John was not only a stockman but also a noted San Francisco Attorney.
John L. made several importations in the 1900s from the Grampian Hills, one importation made about 1906 was red Fox Shepard named Clyde later another red dog called Ready was imported and that was the reason there will be an occasional red pup in a litter.
Ed G. Brown put in an order for a McNab pup in 1895. These dogs were in such great demand that he didnt receive his pup until 1915 when Mr. McNab imported a female with pup. She whelped three weeks after arrival and Mr. Brown got pick of the litter.
He named this pup Jet he was black with a faint white line up his face, a white chest and a small amount of white on his feet. 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. They are never longhaired, nor will they have looped ears or speckled legs. Their ears are mostly prick; some will tip at the top.
The strain Ed Brown raised from Jet were true McNabs, as he never outcrosses with other breeds.
This is not a pedigree, but just a bit of History of the McNab Dog we have raised and known.
Mertle G. Brown
Melanie Leigh-Deux's McNab History
Several times throughout the year, I receive phone calls from people who are inquiring about the McNab. Many times these people have heard of the name, but know little about this unique canine, and thus ask the age old question, "What is a McNab?"
I am thrilled to share with you my knowledge and personal experiences with the McNabs in my life, as well as a short version of the McNab origin.
First travel with me in spirit, back in time to the Gampian Hills of Scotland, year 1866.
Allow me to introduce you to a man by the name of Alexander McNab. Alexander McNab and his family raised sheep in Scotland, but longed for a warmer climate and enticed by the news of the West, set out across the Atlantic to America. They ended up settling in Northern California, Mendocino County to be exact, and built their new ranch upon 10,000 lush acres, and gave their new homestead the name of the McNab Ranch.
Alexander McNab originally imported one Scotch Collie from Scotland, however it died a few years after arrival. Apparently, Mr. 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. Mr. McNab purchased two Scotch collies, Peter and Fred. While Fred stayed in Scotland to complete his training, Peter joined Mr. McNab back to California, and Fred joined them later.
Fred was a natural head dog, and Peter was a natural head & drive dog. 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.
From this description the first thought which came to my mind was that of the Kelpie, however the Kelpie is very different than the McNab, and without going into great detail over the origin or characteristics of the Kelpie, we will move on and assume that whatever breed of dog the Basque shepherds were working with, they must of certainly been keen animals to of caught the eye of Alexander McNab! The story from Myrtle Brown states that both Peter & Fred were bred to these dogs which were used by the Basque shepherds, and over time and careful selection their offspring were given the name of the McNab shepherd. Written documents also read that some of the collies which were imported were not bred to these Basque dogs, but rather to other collies of the same origin (Scotch Collies). Both males and females were imported and on (at least) one account a bred female.
Mr. McNab perfected his breed of dog; one that could head or heal. Over time the McNab family brought over several collies from their homeland Scotland. Some of these collies were red and white (described as Fox Collies) while others were black and white. Their coats were of short to medium length in order to better suit the warmer California weather. The McNab is not a Border Collie, however they share the traditional collie markings, as well as the same original grand daddy - the Scotch Collie.
The McNab shepherd worked the sheep on the hillsides of Mendocino for generations. Little did the McNab family realize then that their dogs would still be working livestock in California today -- well over 100 years later.
So, what was it that has kept the McNab such a secret from so many for so long? Originally, the McNab Shepherd was strictly used on the McNab ranch, and were later sold to ranchers nearby. They were bred for function and not looks, so therefore they were not a fancy looking collie type and not a desirable looking show dog. The lack of attention given beyond the stock yard and ranches in Northern California, in part kept the McNab a bit isolated from the rest of the world.
The McNab to this date is not recognized by any kennel club, and this is a great blessing to the breed. The day breeders start breeding the McNab for a club standard is the day we will loose the true essence of the original McNab. The McNab is registered through the National Stock Dog Registry, where pedigrees can be recorded and preserved.
Today, the McNab is growing in popularity as more and more McNabs are popping up on the agility course, Fly-ball teams, and even on search and rescue teams.
There has never been a formal *standard* written for the McNab, however informally I give you a standard which is shared by myself as well as by other knowledgeable McNab breeders, historians and McNab aficionado in California.
Height: 15 to 25 inches at the shoulder. Some males may mature taller.
Weight: 25 - 50 lbs. Some males may mature heavier.
Coat: Short to Medium -never long.
Coat color: Black with white markings, or red with white markings or occassionally tri colored. Never meral.
Ears: Pricked, also a variety of sets in between - some even flop over.
Tails: Long however some old lines throw a natural bob. (Tail docking was NOT originally traditional, and is not encouraged by many breeders - especially myself).
Eyes: Almond in shape and loose.
Eye color: brown, hazel, or copper. Never blue or marbled.
Shape of head: Sharp
Feet: tight - cat like on their feet.
McNabs have always come in a variety of 'pajammas', meaning ear sets, coat length (however never long), and coat colors - except meral.
The McNab Dog by Donna Seigmund & Alvina Butti. I am eternally grateful to the work that both Alvina and Donna have accomplished in providing written documentation of their personal interview with the late Myrtle Brown, as well as other McNab research they have surfaced so diligently. It was their document that gave me my starting place towards further reseach regarding the McNab and the core to their origin by way of the Scotch Collie. Both of these two ladys, I tip my hat.
Collie in Mendocino by LuLu McNab - 1894 - Overland Monthly - page 481
Herding Dog: Their Origins and Development in Great Britian by Iris Combe -1987
The History & Description of the Collie or Sheep Dog in his British Varieties by Rawdon Lee - Published 1890
In depth conversations & interviews with Alvina Butti, Roy Ordway, Art and Jackie Goldsmith, Rocky Bounds, Billy Prewitt, Linda Rorem, Walt Freeman, Earl McKee, Ira Reed, Alan Cyde, and many, many other old (& some not so old) wise & wonderful ranchers of Northern & Central California. I thank you all for your time and for sharing with me your McNab knowledge and memories of the good ole days of ranching in California.
Recollections about McNab Dogs
Bud & Eunice Williams History
Melanie Leigh-Deux, who is working on a project towards "Preserving the Working History of the Original McNab Dogs in California" asked Bud and I to give her our recollections of the McNab dogs we have known. Following is the information we sent to her.
Probably the first McNab Shepherds Bud and I came in contact with were in 1957 when we went to work for the Lone Pine Ranch near Covelo, California. Stanford Short was the foreman at that time. He and Allan Jamison, who also worked there, had some excellent McNabs. These dogs were foolproof at going to the lead. They would not only bring the cattle they could see, but they would check scent to be sure there werent cattle ahead that they couldnt see. The cattle were horned Herefords and were not gentle. It took a dog with a lot of strength to handle them, and these dogs certainly had that. They could stop 200 head of cattle running at full speed down the mountain and bring them back. If a 300-400 pound calf broke back with three or four McNabs after it, the cowboys were in hot pursuit to keep the dogs from killing the calf.
Dean Witter, the owner of Lone Pine, imported several solid red Kelpies. These were crossed with the McNabs, and some very good dogs resulted. These cross-bred dogs were all black with very little white on them. However, little concern was given to breeding a McNab to a McNab. The only consideration was to breed a good working bitch to a good working dog, no matter what they looked like. At this time, in Northern California, a McNab was any short-haired stock dog that had a very strong go-to-the-lead instinct. They had no eye and were very tough and strong willed. They were not yappy dogs, but they did bark when they were working. This was often the only way the rancher could find the dogs when they had cattle held up in an area where the dogs couldnt bring them back. Most of the ranchers would let their dogs run when they were starting to gather an area. They were proud of their dogs that would hunt cattle. When the riders heard them barking, they would go to them and take charge of the cattle. Some of the ranchers who had a little more control of their dogs would keep them with them until they saw fresh tracks or saw the tail-end of a cow going over the ridge.
Few people raised dogs to sell. A rancher would breed a bitch because he wanted a pup or two for himself and would give the excess to people he knew. We paid $5 for a pup in about 1960. Buck turned out to be the best dog we have ever seen at gathering wild sheep in rough country. Around this time we bought several started dogs for around $50. When I say started, I mean they were old enough to start to work, and we were able to see that they had interest and instinct when they were around stock, not that they had any training. We knew of a few dogs that sold for as high as $200, but this was rare since the good dogs were not usually for sale.
These McNabs came in all sizes and colors. though they were predominately black with white points. When you consider that before the days of horse trailers, the dogs had to follow a horse for two or three hours before you even got to the cattle, work all day, then have a two or three hour trip back home, and since all of this was in the mountains, natural selection resulted in a medium sized, fairly rangy dog with very good feet.
These dogs were worked by ranchers who needed this kind of dog to gather cattle in rough country. These men were not dog trainers. Their dogs had to have a lot of desire and instinct to go to the lead and either bring cattle back or hold them until the rider could get there. Some of the ranchers could call their dogs off so the men could drive the cattle, but it was more common for him to carry a pocket full of rocks to get the dogs off of the stock. Under no circumstances were the dogs encouraged to drive since they felt this would make them undependable to go to the lead.
Our first McNab was a black and white male named Ringo that was given to us by the owner of a little store near the Lone Pine Ranch. Ringo was about nine months old when we got him. He was a pretty good kind of dog, especially when you consider our inexperience and the help of a Border Collie that had been loaned to us. Blaze, the Border Collie, did not like to work with a pup, but he knew better than to fight him. It took us a couple of weeks to get wise to what was going on. When we sent them, Blaze would hang back and let Ringo go in the lead, then Blaze would run by and hit Ringo with his shoulder just right to send him rolling. Even though Blaze knew better than to chase deer, he would take out after one for just a few yards until Ringo started chasing it, then he would drop in behind the horses, all innocence. Of course the pup would either get a whippin or he would get lost from us and go back home. When we finally realized what Blaze was doing and had a firm talk with him they learned to work well together. When we left Lone Pine Ranch, we gave Ringo to Lawrence Hurt in Covelo, CA. As well as running cattle, Lawrence would turn out sows with little pigs on his ranch in the spring and gather them in the fall after they had fattened on acorns. He said Ringo turned out to be an excellent hog dog.
Bud loves to work a pup. As soon as a dog gets to the point to where he is a consistent worker, Bud is ready to trade him off. We had some pretty heated arguments about this early in our married life. The logic that made me finally agree was If we dont get rid of any, we cant get any new dogs or raise any more pups. At that time we would take any dog of stockdog breeding that was old enough to go to work. We knew a lot of ranchers around the country, and they would bring us their rejects instead of taking them to the pound. Many of our best dogs come to us this way. Bud especially liked a runnin dog and would trade a trained dog for two youngsters that were hard to catch.In 1959 we went to work for McBride Ranches headquartered near Eureka, California. We lambed out sheep for them at Southmaid, Spicy Breezes, and Dublin Heights. These ranches were within sight of the ocean near Cape Mendocino. Our number one sheep dog at the time was a McNab male we called Baldy. We paid $50 for him when he was about a year old. He was a picture perfect McNab except for his white head. We later bought his mother, Bootie, who was black with a small blaze and limited white points. No matter what she was bred to, she always threw pups with a lot of white on their heads. Baldy and Bootie came from George Gravier who owned a couple of stores and a ranch in Covelo, CA. Baldy was a very fast, wide going dog. He was wonderful in big country on large bunches of sheep. We always had a Border Collie for close work and small groups of wild sheep.
When we came home from working, Bud would tell Baldy to Go to the barn. We left the sliding door open wide enough for him to go in and out. There was a water trough just outside the door. In the morning from the house, we could see him looking out the door. Bud would holler OK. and Baldy would come out and drink and drink. We didnt imagine that he wouldnt come out in the night to drink. We had to put a bucket of water in the barn for him.
When it was time to mark the lambs on Southmaid, Charlie Larsen, one of the McBride Ranch foremen, and several others came to help us gather. Charlie always had good dogs, but he had just lost his trained dogs to a Lepto (I think) outbreak. We had a very difficult place to put the sheep into the corral. Of course we know better now, but back then we ended up with 800 ewes in the lead and at least 200 lambs on the back end. We had dismounted and tied our horses along the fence and were attempting to get the sheep into the corral. Charlie just had a couple of pups with him that werent much help. Often a bunch of lambs would break and Baldy would bring them back. Jimmy Collins, manager of another of McBrides ranches said, Can you make Baldy Bark? Bud would clap his hands and Baldy would bark, and we were making good progress at getting the sheep in. Charlie was pretty frustrated with his pups and made the comment that That damned barking dog is getting my pups all excited and causing them to run wild. Bud quietly told Baldy to Go to the horse. It took us another couple of hours to get the sheep into the corral. A bunch of lambs would break back and run right by Baldy and the horses but he wouldnt even look up. Bud was young and he has always been a great walker, so he didnt mind having to run back on foot to bring the lambs back. Charlie and Jimmy were older and were pretty pooped by the time we had the sheep in the corral. Later a friend told us that Charlie had said Bud is a pretty good hand, but youd better not say anything bad about his dog!
Another McNab we had at McBride Ranch was a black and white male we called Tippy. Tippy was given to us by Lawrence Hurt (who got him from John Rohrbough, Covelo, CA) when he was about a year old, probably because he didnt have enough force to work cattle. Tippy was a natural lead-dog. The sheep loved to follow him, and he could take them just where you wanted.
In 1962 we went to work for the Wiggins Ranch near Korbel, CA. As we were moving in, I noticed a yellow McNab bitch with a litter of 14 pups in a pen. The pups were 5 or 6 weeks old and pestering her something fierce. Before I unloaded our car I went over and set a little table into her pen. She gratefully hopped up on it. This bitch was named Dinah and was from a line of dogs bred by Doug Lane. Dinah had a reputation for throwing good working dogs. We worked several pups from this litter and liked them a lot.
You asked if we knew anything about crossing McNabs with coyotes? No, I havent heard of that. We have known coyotes luring dogs away from the ranch buildings, but they always killed them. Personally, I have my doubts they would breed. I can understand where people might get the idea, though. In Dinahs litter of 14, most of them were black and white, but there were a couple of brindles and a couple of yellow pups. The black/white pups and the brindle pups were normal acting, while the yellow pups were more wild and sneaky acting. Not that they didnt make good cowdogs, but they definitely had a different mentality. We later found that same disposition in the other yellow McNabs that we came in contact with.
Lloyd Gillespie, the manager of the Wiggins Ranch, asked Bud to get rid of several dogs that were at the ranch. One of these was a black and white McNab named Top. He was about five years old and was seldom let off the chain because he was so hard to handle. Bud convinced Lloyd to let him work with Top, and they got along very well together. Top was one of Dinahs pups and would have to be classed as one of the five best cowdogs that we have ever worked.
We had both sheep and cattle on the Wiggins Ranch. The best dog we have ever had or seen on wild sheep was a black and tan McNab we called Buck. We had heard that a ranch near Garberville, CA had some dogs for sale. When we arrived there was only a young boy at home. He said he didnt know anything about the older dogs that were for sale, but they had some six-week old pups for $5. We looked them over and decided on a black and white pup. The boy said, I wouldnt take that one if I were you. Bud said, What pup would you choose? Id take that black and tan one. He looks just like his daddy, and his daddy is the best sheep dog in the country. If Bucks daddy was as good as his son, he probably was the best sheep dog in the country.
When we first went to work on the Wiggins Ranch, Bud and Buck brought in over 200 head of long-tailed woolies that were over two years old. We didnt count the yearlings. A long-tailed sheep was a sure sign that it had never been in the corral, and some of these were considerably older than two. When we would see a group of these sheep and tell Buck to go, he would look things all over, and maybe start out away from them. Perhaps he would use a draw or brush to hide himself until he could get into position. We would see him peek up over a hill, and if he didn't think he was in the right place, he would drop back, and the next time we saw him he was in the right place. Then he would ease out just until the sheep saw him. He would wait until they ran together and calmed a bit, then he would start working them. I never saw sheep split up on him after he grew up. If the sheep stopped, and he stopped, waiting for the right time to pressure, and you tried to encourage him to walk up, he would maybe stand up (he would often sit while working, but never lie down), or take a step towards them, if he didnt like the way they responded, and if you insisted that he "bring them on," he would back off, swing way around and come back to you as if to say, "I know they aren't ready to be pressured. If you want to split them up, you do it." He could be a nuisance when we had a big bunch ready to go into the corral. He hated to have his sheep run, and they will often speed up when they go through the gate. If you werent watching him, he would be up working the lead to slow them down.
One day we were gathering a large pasture with about 800 ewes and lambs in it. This was country that included a lot of timber and logged over ground. We could see from a long way back that the sheep had taken the wrong fork in the trail so Bud sent Buck. By the time we got to the fork, the sheep were going the right way, but we couldnt see the dog. This wasnt too unusual since our dogs are expected to stay on the stock and not necessarily come back after turning them. When we got into the open country, we could see that Buck wasnt with them. We called several times, but finally took the sheep on to the corral. We even went home to see if Buck was there. Bud finally went back to where he had last seen him and tracked him and about 50 sheep down into a rough canyon where there was a lot of down timber. Buck had them all under control, but he didnt know how to get them through the maze to bring them back to us. This was over two hours later. He wouldnt have had any trouble hearing us call him, but he wouldnt leave his sheep. He was sure happy to see Bud, though.
In 1977 we were working for John Ford on the Diamond H Ranch in Covelo, CA. We continued to take other peoples rejected cowdogs. Audrey Rohrbough gave us a two-year-old McNab bitch named Lady. She said Lady worked pretty well, but when it was time to load up and go home, no one could catch her. They usually wound up leaving the truck door open, and eventually, since she liked to ride, she would jump into the truck. Anyway, when they unloaded her at our house (on a leash, of course) they told us to keep her tied for at least a week so she would get to know us and give us a better chance of catching her when the time came, etc., etc.
As Audrey was driving off, I asked Bud, Are you going to let her get out of sight before you turn Lady loose? We had a bunch of about 100 yearlings within sight of the house. As soon as we were sure Audrey was gone, Bud turned Lady loose and started walking towards the cattle. Lady soon saw them, went around and started bringing them towards him on the run. When the cattle went past she went for the lead and brought them back again. After a time or two she and the cattle had the edge off, and Lady was content to work them towards Bud at a more sedate pace. She knew that if she pushed them past him she was going to have to go stop them again. After about a half hour of her bringing the cattle along behind, she came around the corner and gave every indication that she would come if Bud would just call her, but instead he told her to get back pretty gruffly. They worked for another 15 minutes or so with him telling her to get back every time she asked to come in. Finally, when she indicated that she really wanted to come Bud just said, Come here, Lady, and she ran right to him. He made over her and told her how wonderful she was. From that day, anyone could work her and call her in at any time.
In 1978 we took a job for Terry Miller on Umnak Island, Alaska. We took two McNabs with us, Strip and Pepper, as well as Amy, a Border Collie pup. Our job was to gather cattle and sheep that had been abandoned on Umnak about five years. Before the previous owners had left the island, they had butchered everything they could get into the corral. The only animals left were the outlaws and their descendents. Bud had been out with his dogs gathering stock when one of the other people who lived on the island drove up. They had been hunting reindeer and hadn't had any luck. Andy asked Bud if he thought he could get one since they really needed the meat. This country is very open, with just a bit of a gentle roll to it. They could see a herd of deer a long way off. Bud took Andy's gun, left his horse at the pickup and started off towards the reindeer. Strip and Pepper went with him. As he got closer to the reindeer Bud crouched down and was careful to use the little hill to hide him from the deer. He said he never gave a thought to the dogs until he got quite close, and was thinking that he should have tied them up at the pickup. He looked around to see them "crawling" along behind. When Bud got right down on his belly to work up to where he could get a shot, both dogs hugged the ground and stayed right where they were. Bud shot two deer. He said neither dog moved until he stood up and started walking normally toward the down animals. These were just two "pick up" dogs we had only had for about three months. They had never been taught to stay, and as far as we knew, they had never seen a gun before. They were taking their cue entirely from watching Bud and figuring things out for themselves.
Terry Miller bought some Hereford-Scottish Highlander cross cattle that had been abandoned about 20 years before on Simeonoff Island. Except for an occasional fisherman, most of these cattle had never seen a man. They were quite different from the Umnak cattle that were not only wild, but spoiled, too and only had one thing in mind and that was to get away. The Simeonoff cattle had never seen anything they were afraid of. The only predators on the island were eagles and a small gray fox. These cattle were . . . . . . . different, but with the help of Strip and Pepper and another McNab, Jack, that came from Richie Hunt in Arcata, CA, we were able to gather and ship three barge loads of bulls to the slaughter house.
In 1979 we were hired by NANA, an Eskimo Corporation, to gather their reindeer and gentle them down so they could herd them year round. In the winter, when everything was frozen, they could use snow machines to more or less keep the deer where they wanted them. As soon as things thawed in the spring, they totally lost control. There were about 8,000 head of reindeer on five million unfenced acres. We bought two McNabs, Duke and Zap, from Doug Lane who was living near Orick, California at the time (Doug later shipped us another McNab, Rowdy).
Wolves are a constant threat to the reindeer, and as far as they were concerned, our dogs were wolves. The first day Bud took Rowdy with him to one of the reindeer herds, he rode on his lap on the snow machine. About 1,500 deer were quietly feeding on top of an open ridge. As soon as the dog jumped off the snow machine they were gone! Bud took out after them and finally got them stopped in about five miles, then went back for Rowdy, who was trying his best to keep up but was at least a mile behind. Bud loaded him back up on the snow machine and went through the exact same procedure several more times before the deer calmed down enough to even let the dog start to do anything with them.
Rowdy came from Northern California where, because of the many deer on the cattle ranges, the first thing a rancher will do is break their dogs from chasing deer. When Bud finally got the reindeer calmed down enough that he could attempt to put the dog around them, he discovered another problem! When he sent Rowdy the dog went just perfect, but he was looking for cattle. When he couldnt find any he looked back at Bud for directions. When Bud indicated the deer, Rowdy couldnt believe it. He finally tucked his tail and came back as much as to say You cant trick me into doing something I know Ill get in trouble for. Bud had to come back to camp and get Zap, a big, rambunctious pup that had never been to stock, and took him up with Rowdy. When Zap saw the reindeer he ran right through the middle of them, barking and having a lot of fun. Bud kept moving around the herd with Rowdy telling him good-dog until he finally got the idea that it was OK for him to go. We have often taken a trained dog with a pup to get the pup started working, but this was the first time Bud ever had to take a pup out to get the trained dog to work.
I doubt if there is a stock-dog alive that can outrun a reindeer. We've sent dogs to get ahead of what I thought were running reindeer. If the dogs do things right and swing out very wide they could stop them and bring them back with no trouble, but just let the dog start cutting in too soon and the reindeer will turn on the afterburners and leave them in the dust like the Roadrunner in the cartoons. As soon as the reindeer loose their initial fear of a dog, they work very well for them. The intention of NANA was to reintroduce their people to herding the reindeer year around, however they didnt take into account that people dont want to live in camps and follow the herd in this day and age.
In 1990 we went to work for Vee Tee Feeders near Lloydminster, Alberta. Among other things, Richie Davies wanted Bud to buy them some stockdogs and teach them how to use them. This is when we realized that the McNabs that we had used and loved were nowhere to be found. The ranchers that we knew in Northern California, that we had always been able to get good dogs from, have passed their places over to the next generation. The old folks told us There arent any good dogs left anymore. We have bought several pups from various advertisements for McNabs, but were very disappointed in them. Bud came in one day lamenting the fact that it had been 20 years since he had started a pup that could/would put cattle through the fence.
Times change . . .. Now days they run cattle in the open country that they can get to with a 4-wheeler and a feed sack, and dont even use the rough ranges any more. The people who use dogs do so because they want to, not because they have to. This kind of person is more interested in a dog that is easy to control, even if they sacrifice the strong desire that seems to go hand in hand with being hard-headed.
Bud & Eunice Williams
PO Box 1497
Bowie, TX 76230-1497
by Donna Seigmund and Alvina Butti
In the years we have worked with McNabs, I've often wondered if Alexander McNab truly realized what a helpful friend he imported from Scotland for work on his sheep ranch outside the town of Ukiah, California. We, the ranchers and farmers, up and down the coast and the great central valley of California, thank the McNab family over and over again. Because after over a century, the McNab shepherd is still working and is now even more popular with the cattlemen and sheepmen.
Many questions arise from all over the US of A about the origins of this dog. We have been fortunate in obtaining the following information, actually two histories. There has been little written about these dogs, but what there is available we are more than willing to share. Because we care, we try to keep the quoted word "as is". Please note our personal footnotes and take them only as our opinions; the reference footnotes, however, are from previously published articles, speeches, and letters.
The following are direct quotes from an article published by Al Testado, Times Sports Editor, entitled "A Dog Detective Does a Scotland Yard Job" . A letter was written in 1955 by Robert W. Scott, son-in-law to John McNab, to Cliff Waterman who was rewarded in his efforts to obtain a history of a really fine working dog.
"The McNab Dog is truly a unique breed in that it is a native stockdog of Northern California via the Grampian Hills of Scotland. The first mention of this breed is in 1885 during the ranch and farming days of the young state of California. Alexander McNab came to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland in 1868 and settled on a large spread, which is now known as the McNab Ranch. A year later he returned with his young family and a Border Collie 1. In 1885, sixteen years later, he returned to Scotland for the expressed purpose of obtaining new sheep dogs. He purchased two Border Collies from the Grampian Hills of central Scotland named Peter and Fred.
Peter worked either lead or drive, while Fred was strictly a lead dog. These two, breeding with selected females 2, originated in the United States, the line of McNab shepherds. The original stock was supported from time to time by importations from Scotland. Border Collies are of two varieties, long haired and short haired. The long haired type is particularly adapted to the severe weather of Scotland, but the dry, steep ranges of Mendocino County required a short-haired dog, both because of the summer heat but also on account of the burs, fox-tails, and stickers which are not picked up so easily by the short-haired dog. For these reasons, the importations by the McNab family have been mostly of the short-haired type....
A McNab differs markedly in appearance from the usual English Collie. The McNab is medium size, alert and cat-footed, has a black coat with white markings -- white muzzle with a white streak running up the head between the eyes, usually a white neck and chest, white tipped tail and one or more white feet. Its ears are medium sized and somewhat pointed; usually the upper half of the ear flops over. The tail is not bushy. These dogs have been bred primarily for performance in working stock--not for color conformation -- although experience has shown that the best performance usually is obtained from the original type." 3
I think we also should include Robert Scott's remarks on the Kelpie in this same letter as they do bring up a relationship to the McNab Dog's 2nd history.
"McNabs should not be confused with the Australian Kelpie, which is a reddish-brown, short-haired dog of about the same size, but with fully erect ears and often with a bushy tail. The origins of the Kelpie seem to be in dispute -- once school of thought contends it is a cross between the Border Collie, imported into Australia from Scotland, and the Dingo, or Australian wild dog; a second contention is that the Kelpie is a development, in Australia of the Scotch Border Collie, without the infusion of dingo blood; while still others state the Kelpie originated in the "Fox Collie" 4, which was different in every way from the Border Collie. At any rate, if you see a Kelpie you will see immediately, primarily from its color, that it is not a McNab."
The second history of the McNab was given to me a few years ago. However, many of our older ranchers here in Northern Sacramento Valley of California have known this for decades. This history is called the Ed and Myrtle Brown McNab Shepherd History and was verified by a personal interview with Myrtle Brown.
"In the early 1800's, the Bruce McKinsey family left northern Scotland and settled in the Grampian Hills of central Scotland. They brought with them their stock dogs, the Fox Shepherds, the origin is not known, but have survived in Scotland for centuries. Alexander McNab was a neighbor of the McKinseys who raised the Fox Shepherds, and started the breed in the Grampian Hills.
Alexander McNab and his family left Glasgow, Scotland in 1868, came to the United States of America, and settled in California on the ranch known as the McNab ranch in Mendocino, California south of Ukiah. They brought one dog with them, but it died soon after they arrived. In 1885, Mr. McNab returned to the Grampian Hills in Scotland for the sole purpose of getting some of the dogs he was used to working (with). He purchased two dogs, Peter and Fred. He brought Peter back with him. Fred was left in Scotland to have his training completed, and was sent to America later. Fred was strictly a lead dog; Peter worked both lead and drive. These two dogs were bred to select shepherd females of Spanish origin which were brought to this country by the Basque sheep herders, and that cross was called McNab shepherds because Mr. McNab perfected this breed of stock dogs which would head or heel. The McNab is not a Border Collie.
John L. McNab was the son of Alexander McNab and became the sole owner if the McNab ranch south of Ukiah in Mendocino County. He made several importations in the early 1900's from the Grampian Hills in Scotland. One importation in about 1906 was a Red Fox Shepherd called "Clyde" -- later another red dog called "Ready" was imported, and that is the reason why occasionally there will be a red pup in the litter.
Ed G. Brown put in an order for a McNab pup in 1895 These dogs were so much in demand he didn't get one until 1915 when Mr. McNab imported a female with pup. She whelped three weeks after arrival, and Ed Brown got the pick of the litter. He named the pup "Jet". This pup was black with faint line of white up his face, white chest, and a small amount of white on his feet. Some of these dogs have a wide strip up the face and a ring of white on the neck. Also, some will have brown on the legs and face, but they are mostly black.
They are never long haired, nor do they have loop ears or speckled legs 5. Their ears are mostly pricked, some will tip at the top. The strain Ed Brown raised from "Jet" are the true McNabs as he never outcrossed on other breeds. This is not a pedigree but just a history of the McNab dog we raised and knew" --- Myrtle Brown.
As you read both of these histories you will see, as I did, several agreements in the "tellings" and also the interesting comments regarding the very near "probable" relationship of Border Collie, Kelpie, and McNabs via the "Fox Shepherds and/or Fox Collies".for working ability, the McNab is very cat-footed, very fast and agile.
He generally is a more direct and forceful stockdog than his "cousin" the Border Collie, not as excitable as the Kelpie, and not as strong minded as an Australian Cattledog. He is very easy to teach, giving you his alert attention and complete loyalty. He is usually a one-man (or woman), one-family dog, does not tolerate stray dogs, strange people or animals.
He is known throughout northern California as an avid hunting companion, deer, wild pig, squirrels, and rabbits. The dog is also known as a protector, what's his is his, and if you are his companion, everything you own is his to protect, your spouse, children, livestock, truck, ranch, boots and saddle.
The McNabs are recognized as working stockdogs and are registered through the National Stockdog Registry of Butler, Indiana. I hope this will help your in your questions regarding the versatile McNab dog. The Breeding and working of these fine dogs have been one of the pleasures of our lives here at our place, they are truly unique in their devotion and loyal companionship to our families.
In regards to the development of Stodghills famous Black-Tan English Shepherds: In the 1940s, Tom D. Stodghills longtime friend, Mr. Frederick Preston Search, of Carmel Valley, California, Co-Founder of the ESCOA, researched the history of the John McNabb Shepherd of 1885, and the now-almost-extinct English Smithfield [a black, collie-type dog with white trim, having a natural bob-tail]. They learned that the McNabb and the Smithfield had been crossed with other shepherd-type stockdogs, e.g., the Border Collie, the Australian Shepherd, as well as many other breeds. As Mr. Search continued his research of the McNabb Shepherd, he found that the true McNabb was the same dog as the true Black-Tan English Shepherd found in Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia. From the very beginning, Mr. Stodghill and Mr. Search worked hard in making the ESCOA a success. Mr. Stodghill, and his second wife, Eunice, handled all the members paperwork. He wrote the "ESCOAs Whos Who", organized the first training school in Murfreesboro, Tennessee [the first "Cowdog Rodeo" ever held in America], and additional training and cowdog trials at his ranch in Quinlan, Texas.
Unfortunately, in less than five years, the ESCOA was in turmoil, as there was a division in ideas on how the "Club" would operate. There were those who thought they knew more about running a club/business than Mr. Search or Mr. Stodghill. Therefore, individuals influenced
by Mr. E. G. Emanuel [the first English Shepherd Club judge licensed by Mr. Search and Mr. Stodghill, on July 23, 1952] distanced themselves from the ESCOA by creating their own organization, the International English Shepherd Registry [IESR]. Mr. Search and Mr. Stodghill soon learned who their true friends were, and, with their help, they saved a good portion of their members. However, Mr. Emanuel was so bent on taking over the English Shepherd Registry from Mr. Stodghill that he sent individuals to Mr. Stodghills yearly dog trials in Quinlan, Texas, for the purpose of collecting names and addresses for a fee.
Mr. Stodghill presenting the 1st place check to Fred Preston with his
1st Place Check.