The McNab Dog | TheFencePost.com

The McNab Dog

Shirley Kelly
Glade Park, Colo.

Photo courtesy of Linsey Wilsey.

The McNab Shepherd – also called McNab Sheepdog, McNab Border Collie, or McNab herding dog – is a breed of dog whose focus is on herding. It originated from a smooth-coated dog reported to be a Scotch Collie or Fox Collie which was an ancestor of the Border Collie.

It was originally bred by Alexander McNab in the Gampian Hills of Scotland in the year 1865.

His family raised sheep in Scotland, but they longed for a warmer climate and were lured by the call of the American West. They ended up settling in Northern California Mendincino County and built their new ranch on 10,000 green acres and called it the McNab Ranch.

Alexander McNab originally imported one Scotch Collie from Scotland, but it died years after arrival. Mr. McNab was not satisfied with the type of work dogs found locally in California; he had been accustomed to working with in the hills of Scotland. Finally, 16 years later, he returned to Scotland and purchased two Border Collies from the Grampian Hills of Scotland named Peter and Fred.

Peter worked either lead or drive (in front or behind), while Fred was strictly a lead dog. These two were bred to select females of Spanish origin which were thought to have come over to America with the Basque sheepherders. The original stock was also supported from time to time by importations from Scotland. John McNab was the son of Alexander McNab and became the sole owner of the McNab ranch. He made several importations in the early 1900s from the Grampian Hills of Scotland. One importation around 1906 was a Red Fox Shepherd called “Clyde,” and later another red dog called “Ready” was imported, and that is the reason why occasionally there will be a red pup in the litter.

A McNab differs markedly in appearance from the usual English Collie although the markings and color are very similar to the Border Collie. The McNab is medium size, smooth coated, alert and cat-footed, has a black coat with white markings – white muzzle with a white streak running up between the eyes, usually a white neck and chest, white tipped tail and one or more white feet. Its ears are medium size 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. They are not acknowledged in the American Kennel Club, but are in the American Stock Dog Association.

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So what was it that kept the McNab such a secret for so long? Originally the McNab dog was strictly used on the McNab ranch and was later sold to ranchers nearby. They were bred for function. The lack of attention given beyond the yard and ranches in California in part kept the McNab isolated from the world. Today the McNab is growing in popularity as more McNabs are popping up in agility course, fly-ball teams and search and rescue.

My son Glenn, who works on the High Lonesome Ranch on Douglas Pass, acquired a young pup Remi last May. Remi has turned out to be chief cattle dog and is working with her partner Glenn, with 275 cow-calf pairs.

I would like to thank Gary Williams in Paso Robles, Calif., a McNab breeder and trainer for photos of the McNabs as well as Linsey Wilsey of McNab Stock Dog Ranch in Montana and my son Glenn Kelly for pictures of his young McNab, Remi.

The McNab Shepherd – also called McNab Sheepdog, McNab Border Collie, or McNab herding dog – is a breed of dog whose focus is on herding. It originated from a smooth-coated dog reported to be a Scotch Collie or Fox Collie which was an ancestor of the Border Collie.

It was originally bred by Alexander McNab in the Gampian Hills of Scotland in the year 1865.

His family raised sheep in Scotland, but they longed for a warmer climate and were lured by the call of the American West. They ended up settling in Northern California Mendincino County and built their new ranch on 10,000 green acres and called it the McNab Ranch.

Alexander McNab originally imported one Scotch Collie from Scotland, but it died years after arrival. Mr. McNab was not satisfied with the type of work dogs found locally in California; he had been accustomed to working with in the hills of Scotland. Finally, 16 years later, he returned to Scotland and purchased two Border Collies from the Grampian Hills of Scotland named Peter and Fred.

Peter worked either lead or drive (in front or behind), while Fred was strictly a lead dog. These two were bred to select females of Spanish origin which were thought to have come over to America with the Basque sheepherders. The original stock was also supported from time to time by importations from Scotland. John McNab was the son of Alexander McNab and became the sole owner of the McNab ranch. He made several importations in the early 1900s from the Grampian Hills of Scotland. One importation around 1906 was a Red Fox Shepherd called “Clyde,” and later another red dog called “Ready” was imported, and that is the reason why occasionally there will be a red pup in the litter.

A McNab differs markedly in appearance from the usual English Collie although the markings and color are very similar to the Border Collie. The McNab is medium size, smooth coated, alert and cat-footed, has a black coat with white markings – white muzzle with a white streak running up between the eyes, usually a white neck and chest, white tipped tail and one or more white feet. Its ears are medium size 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. They are not acknowledged in the American Kennel Club, but are in the American Stock Dog Association.

So what was it that kept the McNab such a secret for so long? Originally the McNab dog was strictly used on the McNab ranch and was later sold to ranchers nearby. They were bred for function. The lack of attention given beyond the yard and ranches in California in part kept the McNab isolated from the world. Today the McNab is growing in popularity as more McNabs are popping up in agility course, fly-ball teams and search and rescue.

My son Glenn, who works on the High Lonesome Ranch on Douglas Pass, acquired a young pup Remi last May. Remi has turned out to be chief cattle dog and is working with her partner Glenn, with 275 cow-calf pairs.

I would like to thank Gary Williams in Paso Robles, Calif., a McNab breeder and trainer for photos of the McNabs as well as Linsey Wilsey of McNab Stock Dog Ranch in Montana and my son Glenn Kelly for pictures of his young McNab, Remi.