San Diego Scottish Highland Games

Brief History on the Origin of Scottish sheepdogs

The history of Scottish Sheepdogs involves the foundation for the history of Scottish Collie. The old English sheepdog breed descended from Europe. There is a handful of dogs such as Scotch bearded collie and French Brainard, that play a role in the sheepdog’s ancestry. This modern sheepdog breed first emerged in England in the 1800s, used as “drover dogs”, driving livestock, pulling carts and wagons. Drover dogs are known for their stamina, steadiness, and courage. Dogs owners gave them the nickname “bob or bobtail”. The old English Sheepdog can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, Rally obedience, Schutzhund, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events.

The Scottish Sheepdog is a large dog that can be recognizable by its long, thick, shaggy grey and white coat with fur covering its face and eyes. The ears lie flat to the head. Historically, the breed’s tail was commonly docked but tailed old English sheepdogs are now common. The old English sheepdog comes from the pastoral type dogs of England. A small drop-eared dog is seen in a 1771 painting by Gainsborough. In the early 19th century, a bobtailed drover’s dog called the Smithfield or Cotswold Cor was noticed in the southwestern counties of England. Some speculate that the Russian Owtchar was among the breed’s ancestors.

The old English sheepdog was known as Shepherd’s dog and was exhibited in the show for the first time in Birmingham, England in 1873. There were only three entries and the judge felt that the quality of the dogs was very poor that he offered the second place. From the beginning, this breed became popular for the dog shows and although the shape of the dog changed over the years, elaborate grooming, backcombing, and powdering of the fur were recorded early in 1907. In the 1880s, the breed was exported to the United States and by the turn of the 20th century, five of the ten wealthiest American families bred and showed Old English Sheepdog.

In the American Kennel Club, this breed was recognized as a member of the herding group in 1888 and then it became a successful show dog and beloved pet. There are also some other common Scottish breeds including Collie, Golden Retrievers, Gordon Setter, Scottish Terrier, Scottish Deerhound and Sleuthhound. Some of them went to the New World and others to Lowland Scotland and England, some of these displaced Highland Shepherds. This was the biggest wave of collies to arrive in England and America.

According to the surveys in the US and UK, put the average lifespan for an old English Sheepdog at 12-15 years. The old English Sheepdog Club of America investigated the disease encountered in this breed to assist breeders of Old English Sheepdogs. Some diseases being investigated include cataracts, glaucoma, entropion, thyroid problems, deafness, HD, PRA, allergies, and skin problems. Heatstroke is also a serious concern in full coated dogs. The breed standards describe the ideal Old English Sheepdogs as never being nervous or aggressive. The American Kennel Club adds that the breed has “a clownish energy” and “may try to herd people”. Wide-open space is the ideal setting for an Old English Sheepdog, the breed is a natural fit in a rural setting such as: working on a farm, proper exercise and training.

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