We all know that dogs are a man’s best friend. Beyond providing companionship, dogs have worked side by side with humans for thousands of years. Working breeds such as Collies undertake important farm work, such as herding and mustering, and have proven to be indispensable assets for farmers across the globe. Collies and other working dogs have always been immensely popular in Australia.
One of the most impressive and sought after working breeds is the McNab Collie. The breed is an enthusiastic work companion of many farmers. Their agility and intelligence make them highly skilled farm dogs particularly in the herding of sheep, cattle and even horses and llamas. These loyal dogs are easily trained and thrive in environments where they have a job to do. Having been specifically bred for work, these dogs need plenty of exercise, companionship and activity.
Like most working dogs, the McNab has been bred to have the qualities necessary to undertake work on the farm. Alexander McNab is attributed with having developed the McNab Collie using dogs from the Grampians in Scotland and breeding them with Basque Shepherds to produce a dog that was more suited to the American climate. The Grampian Collies have a double haired coat providing them with good insulation from the cold Scottish winters. However, in California, where Alexander McNab had his ranch, he needed a dog that had all the inherent working skills of a Collie but which had a single haired coat better suited to the hotter and drier conditions.
The McNab family began breeding the McNab Collie in the late 1890’s and they quickly grew in popularity in America and the United Kingdom.
The McNab Collie is a tireless work dog that will give its full devotion to its owner. Despite its relatively small stature the McNab will forcefully execute its tasks with large animals. It is very easy to teach and appears to be more focused than other working dogs such as Kelpies. In the past it was popular for farmers to dock the pup’s tail as a safety precaution so the dog wouldn’t be trapped by cattle standing on it, however this practice has now become quite rare.
The McNab’s agility makes it the perfect hunting companion.
While the McNab has similar markings to a Border Collie it is generally smaller, its drop ears are more pointy than those of a traditional Collie and it doesn’t have a bushy tail.
The McNab is not a show breed and there is no standard for their characteristics in that sense. As a working dog, farmers have generally been less concerned with looks and more concerned with abilities. Nonetheless, the McNab is a fine looking dog that generally has a temperament well suited to family life.
However, before deciding to welcome a McNab Collie into your home, you need to assess whether you can realistically provide it with all the time, attention and exercise this breed will need. These dogs are bred to work closely with humans and they thrive on companionship and need exercise. If you are stuck in the office for eight hours every day then your dog will fret and you may be tempted to miss that daily walk. An unhappy and bored dog leads to bad behaviour such as barking, digging, pulling washing off the line and hyper activity.
These intelligent dogs do get bored very easily so if you do take one on as a pet it would be well worthwhile checking out the dog agility groups in your area -the chances are you and your dog will be high up in the rankings in a matter of months.
There is no substitute for exercise for this breed and you will need to commit to exercising it for at least an hour every day, rain, hail or shine. If you’re a person who dislikes exercise, or you often have to work late, the McNab Collie isn’t for you. And if you enjoy exercise but need a little prompting, then just think of your dog as your very own four legged personal trainer.
While you need to commit wholeheartedly to your McNab Collie you are likely to be rewarded with a loyal and loving companion.