History of the American Working Farmcollie
The American Working Farmcollie, also known as the American Farm Shepherd, was once the most popular dog in the country. As descendants of the Old Scotch Collie, the farmcollies were versatile dogs, indispensable to farmers in the 19th and early twentieth centuries. During that period, it was this dog that most Americans thought of as a “collie”, although they were quite different from the AKC collies of today. The Farmcollie in this country quite likely also carried the blood of other types of herding and shepherd dogs that were brought here from Europe, but he remained a dog that clearly showed his Scotch Collie heritage.
Like the Scotch Collies, the American Farmcollies excelled at herding, guarding (both livestock and the family), hunting and predator control. Their duties varied from protecting the baby from snakes to moving the bull. Over the years, however, the focus of American life moved from the homestead to the urban areas, and as small farms became swallowed up in larger corporate farms or urban sprawl, The need for this type of all purpose farmdog had all but disappeared. In it’s place came myriads of specialized breeds—companion dogs, hunting dogs, guardian dogs and herding dogs.
Many descendants of the old Scotch Collies were registered with associations as English Shepherds, Border Collies, or Australian Shepherds. In Great Britain, the Border Collie, Collie, and Shetland Sheepdog continue to develop as other branches of this family. The Welsh Sheepdog or Welsh Collie, similar in some respects to the American Farmcollie, still exists in Great Britain. Many individuals of these different breeds today still retain the varied instincts and intelligence of their Scotch Collie forebears.
In the 1980s, a few people that remembered the versatile old dogs began a search to see if any of them still existed. The breed was on the verge of extinction, but a few individuals still remained. An effort was then launched to locate other descendants of the Scotch Collies that retained the varied instincts of the old dogs so that the genepool could be enlarged in an attempt to bring back the farmcollie. The purpose of the American Working Farmcollie Association is to assist in this effort.
Historical Articles from Country Life in America Thanks to Linda Rorem and Gina Bisco!
Stock dog Stories compiled by Linda Rorem
Historical photos from the Library of Congress Thanks to Pril Zahorsky for the research, and to Laura Lee for the additional information.