Excerpted from Chambers’s Encyclopædia: a dictionary of universal knowledge for the people – 1878
The most useful and valuable of all kinds of dog, and universally employed by shepherds throughout Europe, and in the countries colonised from Europe, and also in some parts of Asia, to assist them in the tending of their flocks. Without it, the shepherd would be utterly incapable of taking care of the great number of sheep often under his charge ; and the expense of keeping the requisite number of shepherds would far more than take away the profits of sheep-farming. That the dog was employed in the tending of sheep in very ancient times, we learn from the allusion to the dogs of of the flock in Job XXX. 1. Buffon imagined the shepherd’s dog to be the original of all the domesticated dogs; but was unable to assign any good reason for such an opinion. The shepherd’s dog exhibits nearly the same characters in all parts of Europe, although there are slight diversities in different countries, as between that of England and that of Scotland, there known as the Соlliе. It is of middling size— differences of size, however, being amongst the characteristics of different races; of rather slender form, with a pretty sharp muzzle; the ears erect, or, in some races, drooping at the tip ; the hair soft, long, shaggy, and somewhat waved; the tail slightly pendulous, more or less recurved, and very bushy ; the feet well protected by hair, so as to be adapted for rough ground. The eye is very bright and intelligent, although the ordinary demeanour of the animal is remarkably calm and quiet. No kind of dog is more intelligent, and perhaps none во docile. Its ready comprehension of the meaning of its master, its prompt obedience to his word or gesture, its evident knowledge of what is requisite to be done, and the services which it performs, can never be observed without admiration. A shepherd’s dog exhibits the utmost care to prevent sheep from straying off the road along which they are being driven, and sets itself, often of its own accord, to watch any gate or gap in the fence, or goes immediately to bring back stragglers. It is equally useful on the bleak moor or wild mountain, readily going for sheep, and bringing them from a distance. The sheep become perfectly acquainted with it, and evidently regard it as a friend, and not as an enemy, although the appearance of any other dog would alarm them at once. It knows the sheep of the flock it is required to attend, and even in a crowded market adroitly separates them from others with which they have become mingled. Its remembrance of places is obviously very accurate; and a dog which has found great difficulty in conducting sheep through crowded thoroughfares, does the same work much better on subsequent occasions. The intelligence of the shepherd’s dog has sometimes been proved in a very remarkable way by dishonest masters employing them to steal sheep; the master merely indicating by some sign the sheep which he wished to add to his own flock, and leaving the dog to do it in his absence. For stealing sheep in this way, a farmer in the south of Scotland was hanged about the end of last century. More frequent instances are on record of the shepherd’s dog conducting a flock of sheep safely home for maпу miles, unaccompanied by the shepherd. The shepherd’s dog is affectionate, and becomes strongly attached to its master, but is generally shy to strangers. It is generally treated with great gentleness by the shepherd; no severity is used in it’s training, nor could be used with advantage. It is very muscular and active, and capable, perhaps beyond any other kind of dog, of continuing its exertions during a long time.
The shepherd’s dog is often crossed with other kinds of dog, and particularly with the pointer and setter. Dogs are thus obtained, which, whilst capable of all the services required by the shepherd, are equally capable of being employed in the pursuit of game, and are most successful in night- poaching.
The Drover’s Dog is very often a cross between the shepherd’s dog and the mastiff, the foxhound, the pointer, or the grayhound. It displays many of the best qualities of the shepherd’s dog, and if too frequently very different from it in its cruel treatment of sheep, the fault is originally that of the brutal master.