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Whistle & Crook Stock Dog Services LLC

Wilamette Valley Oregon

503-394-2021

 

STOCK DOGS: AN INTRODUCTION

STOCK DOGS

     Dogs have been used for work with livestock for centuries. Dogs have been used to guard the stock and to help people with moving stock from place to place. Over time a number of breeds have been developed to help with the stock management practices of various cultures. There are primarily two categories of stock working dogs, guard dogs and herding dogs. Unfortunately the majority of these breeds have now been bred for things other than stock work for so long that little of the old ability remains.

       Livestock guarding dogs originated in Europe and Asia, they are usually quite large (80-130 pounds) and are generally light in color. The use of livestock guardian dogs is again on the increase and many can now be found in particular guarding sheep. The breeds primarily used today include the Great Pyrenees, Akbash, Maremma, Komondor and Anatolian Shepherd. The Pyrenees is by far the most common but the Akbash is often preferred in hotter climates.

      There are many breeds that have been used for herding in various parts of the world but very few are still breed solely or primarily for their working ability, those that are include the Border Collie from England and Scotland and the Kelpie from Australia. The recent growth of interest in herding trial competitions, particularly in the U.S., has resulted in an increased interest in these dogs and in the herding potential of those breeds that were once primarily herding dogs. Today in North America there is hardly a weekend where there is not a stockdog competition of some kind somewhere.

STOCKDOG TRIALS

     Due to the tremendous growth in the interest in herding dog trials there are now a number of programs for people interested in herding trials, there are programs in Europe, Australia, North America and of course Great Britain, where stockdog competitions originated. The oldest is what is often called "Border Collie Trials" or just "sheep dog trials" that run under the rules of the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) in Great Britain. Trials run under these rules can be found all over the world and are considered by many the ultimate test of a herding dog.

       The North American equivalent of the ISDS is the USBCHA but there are now a number of other Herding trial programs that have somewhat different courses and rules. The organizations offering these programs are; The American Herding Breeds Association (AHBA), The Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) and more recently The American Kennel Club (AKC). All are generally open to any breed of herding dog except the AKC events which are only open to AKC dogs. Each herding program has its own set of rules (but they are all similar) and its own guidelines for judging and course design.