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
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
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.