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Farm Dogs that Do It All

Remember the good farm dogs of yesteryear?  The one you had as a kid, or that appears in all your grandfather's old photos?  Here at Panther Ranch in the beautiful Arkansas Ozarks we are committed to the preservation and conservation of general use farm dogs. Throughout our site you will see paintings from the 19th century that portray these beautiful dogs.

Everyone remembers these old-fashioned farm collies, and most people think they have disappeared.  Would you be surprised that the good old fashioned farm dog is still around in pockets and corners of the US?

You won't find these dogs in a show ring and they aren't often in competitive herding trials.  These dogs, a big part of the farming tradition in the United States, have quietly been bred and used on farms and ranches for generations. 

From these original landrace dogs, many wonderful specialist breeds have developed.  The Border Collie began from the old Scotch Collie breed prior to mass emigrations to the US.  The Rough Collie (show type) also developed from the Scotch Collie in England with a large change in the breed occurring during the time of UK's Queen Victoria.  Australian Shepherds were developed into a newer landrace, with influence from breeds such as Pyrenean Shepherds from the Basque region of Spain.  Aussies in form and function were very similar to the old-fashioned, all-purpose dogs until very recently.

English Shepherds are nearly identical to the original Scotch Collies.  Over the years, the landrace had many additions of various types of blood, including German Shepherd, hound/cur, Border Collie, and Rough Collie.  Through the years, Scotch Collie type prevailed, both in looks, size and behavioral traits.

As specialist breeds developed, the original strain faded, somewhat, into the background.  Registries were started and competitive programs began.  Farmers and ranchers increasingly bred for specialty work--Border Collies for eye and crouch and a wide-running style, Australian Shepherds for close work with a lot of bite and push. Some strains of Border Collies and Australian Shepherds became show dogs, rarely worked and valued mostly for their looks and structure, and there are large splits in these breeds (show vs. working bred).  Rough Collies unfortunately became primarily a show dog and pet dog, and it is now quite difficult to find a good working Rough Collie.

Of these breeds, only the English Shepherd remained a landrace/general purpose dog.  Within the Australian Shepherd breed, many working-bred dogs can also fill the general-purpose role.  Some Border Collies can also be the family farm dog, but all too often these days Border Collies require penning when not working because their herding drive is so high that they want to incessantly work the stock.  This can also be a problem with the Australian Shepherd.

With more and more people operating small farms and homesteads, good general purpose farm dogs that can herd, guard, hunt and be great companions are the ideal choice.  They fill every role, protecting the stock from predators, providing herding assistance naturally and with little to no training, naturally falling into the treeing-baying hunting role, and are the living, breathing, Lassie-like stereotype with their intuitive intelligence and gentle nature.  These dogs tend to have a strong sense of home and boundaries and are easy to teach to stick around the home place.  They usually eliminate the need for Livestock Guardian Dogs, which are better suited to large areas rather than small homesteads.

In our breeding program, we produce one or two litters a year from carefully selected parents that are evaluated ruthlessly for the ideal farm dog behavior.  We have chosen registered English Shepherds as our primary focus.  We occasionally breed ASCA registered Australian Shepherds that have been selected for their ability to work cattle and also possess good general farm dog traits.  We want farmers to have a dog that DOES NOT NEED TO BE PENNED away from stock.

From the English Shepherds and Australian Shepherds, we sometimes breed a litter of curs, using outstanding hound/cur stock crossed with the Farm Collie types to produce a smooth-coated dog with a strong desire to hunt that will also function as a good herding and guardian dog.

 
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English Shepherds / Australian Shepherds / Cur Dogs / Training Tips / Litters & Available / Home

Lisa & Kerry Lafferty  /  ozarklisa@gmail.com  /    Mountain Home, Arkansas 

AMERICAN WORKING FARM COLLIE ASSOCIATION (AWFA)

The American Working Farmcollie Association, AWFA  will register any herding breed or mix thereof that has shown itself capable in two of three areas:  Herding, Guarding, Hunting. It is a performance registry, NOT a stud book.  AWFA has a large nationwide community on Facebook and email lists and is a wonderful support network for people with working farm dogs.