Northumbrian Collies

Northumbrian smooth collies

It is my belief, based on the research I’ve done, that much of the differences in modern collie breeds originated in the regional varieties of sheep-dogs found in Great Britain. That the Rough Collie resulted largely from the shepherd dogs of the Scottish Highlands, the English Shepherd resulted largely from the shepherd dogs of England and that the Border Collie represents the descendants of the original sheep-dogs of Lowland Scotland and Northumbria. [More about British regional sheep-dogs]

Almost two years ago my friend Christopher at BorderWars wrote a post showing that Queen Victoria’s famous collies were not of the Rough Collie type as is often claimed, but were actually more Border Collie in type. I followed that up exactly one year ago today with research linking the breeder of one of Queen Victoria’s favorite collies to the breeder of one of the founding dogs of the Border Collie breed in Australia.

Since that time I have found several references to a fine quality of shepherd’s dog that was widely known in the border region sometimes referred to as “Northumbrian Collies”. Northumbria refers specifically to the region of Northern England and Scotland where the Border Collie breed originated and Northumberland is a county in England that abuts the Scottish border. Although the term “Border Collie” was not coined until 1915, there are a number of references to the Northumbrian Collies as a distinct, highly respected type dating back many years before that. I first ran across the term when I posted the story of Wandering Willie who is described as a Northumbrian collie, now read some of the other references to these dogs listed here in chronological order.

A winter’s sketches in the south of France and the Pyrenees By Frederick H. Johnson – 1857

He holds in his hand a crutched staff, apparently for a rest when stationary; and with flapped hat and flowing garments, strides among the thick rank growth of shrub and grass with amazing velocity; watching, chasing, and keeping in bounds his woolly charge with all the swiftness and dexterity of a Northumbrian colly.

Transactions of the Tyneside Naturalists’ Field Club – 1864

One of the oldest and purest breeds of dog, the northern sheep dog or Colley approaches very nearly in general form and character to the wolf, and for this variety the county of Northumberland is famous.

A handbook for travellers in Durham and Northumberland – Augustus John Cuthbert Hare – 1873

Sheep And Sheep-dogs.—The Northumberland range of mountain and hill pasturage has long been celebrated for a breed of sheep wholly different from the wild heath breeds adjoining. They are known by the name of the Cheviot Sheep, and are now spread over all the grassy moors (formerly occupied by the Blackfaced Horned Sheep) on the Borders, and even as far as the northern counties of Scotland. They are polled sheep, with few exceptions have white faces and legs, and are covered with a coat of fine short wool. These sheep are adapted both for the hills and low grounds ; only the extremes of the very highest and richest situations are to be avoided.

The breed of Shepherds’ Dogs is preserved in the county with great care. They are known as Colley Dogs, and are the indispensable accompaniment of every shieling among the moorlands. Their prevailing colour is black, with tawny ears, flanks, and legs ; or a dingy brown sometimes spotted with white. Their docility is great, and this is increased, and their natural savageness much subdued, by their being reared in the house among children. Much pains is bestowed on their training. They are taught to run wide round the sheep, and to obey the most distant signals of the shepherd—to run, to advance, to walk, or sit down and guard any quarter, as may he required by the position of the sheep. Barking is not allowed, nor to seize or bite a sheep. Mountain shepherds have usually 2 or 3 dogs; in the enclosures one is sufficient. A well-bred and trained dog commands a high price, sometimes 51. or 61. Their attachment to their masters is very great. An instance occurred 8 years ago, in the pase of a shepherd of Eglingham, who had taken some sheep across the high hills, late in autumn, into Scotland, to a fair. Having sold the sheep, he started with some companions on his road home. As evening was closing in, he left the Scotch town without his dinner and somewhat faint, intending to sleep at a cottage halfway home among the hills. He parted from Us companions at a public-house, where, according to the testimony of all who saw him, he could scarcely be induced to taste whisky. He never was seen again alive, and his employer, knowing that ho had money upon him, thought that he might have been waylaid, or run off with the money. Snow fell heavily that night on the high ground, and the poor young man got blinded by the snow, and being faint with hunger, lost his way in the darkness, and wandered about till he died. His dog waited long near the corpse, but, finding all attempts to rouse his master fruitless, went off to the nearest shepherd’s hut. There the faithful creature howled and barked till it attracted attention, then ran a little way, and finding that it was not followed, came back and renewed its dismal wailing. At length the shepherds, suspecting some disaster, followed the dog for some distance, till they lost sight of it ; then traced its footsteps in the snow, till they found the faithful animal sitting on the knees of its master, who, wearied out with wandering, had sat down upon a stone, and stiffened in a sitting posture.

Animals and Their Interpreters by Rev. W. Harris, M.A., The Quiver – 1880

What description will explain or fully give an account of the mutual understanding between various kinds of dogs and their owners! The dog who is as eyes to the blind; the dog who shares the labours and the exciting pleasures of the sportsman; the shepherd’s dog, in which class the Northumbrian Collie deserves particular honourable mention; the dogs of so many different breeds that share and appreciate human luxury—pet dogs; the costermonger’s dog; the dog whose only title is the “poor man’s friend;” all are witnesses to the understanding that may exist between dog and man. It may almost be said that every mood and character amongst men may find а kind of shadow or parallel in the dog.

A history and description of the collie or sheep dog in his British varieties, Rawdon Briggs Lee – 1890

The lowlands of Scotland produce some few smooth-coated collies, which no doubt originally came from this side of the border; their type and character are the same, and they are mostly similar in colour. The difficulty in obtaining perfectly smooth-coats in certain strains is great, especially in many of the black and white dogs, which appear to me to approach a variety of their own. The black is almost inclined to be blue, the coat is longer and more open than usual, and there is never the slightest touch of tan or brown appearing—a blue black dog, with more or less white on the neck, chest, and feet. Of such Mr. Alexander Hastie, of Newcastle [Northumbria], has at times shown many splendid representatives, Herdwick Herdsman, Herdwick King, and others to wit. They are all bred in his neighbourhood; for collie character I know nothing to exceed them, and their reputation for work is spoken of equally highly. This ardent admirer of the variety does not, however, stick to colour alone, and awaiting us at the Collie Club’s show in London in 1890 was perhaps the very best smooth bitch we ever saw—Herdwick Eva. In type she is perfect; a model collie in size, expression, character, and in all that distinguishes one variety of dog from another. Her ears, too, are small, beautifully carried, and so is her stern; with legs and feet of the best; in colour a dull sable or fawn; and then we come to her defects, one of which was the cause of the judge placing her below, what I considered, comparatively inferior bitches. Her coat is rather too profuse and soft, still a minute examination did not lead one to suspect that her pedigree might include a rough-coated strain. Then she was very much “pig jawed” or “over-shot,” a fault or deformity already alluded to, Still, I considered her type so far in advance of that of any other smooth-coated collie I have perhaps ever seen, that I give her a place here, and her portrait faces this page.

Some twenty years or so ago, at the Kendal shows (Westmoreland) [same county as the Troutbeck Trials, English side of the border], some unusually good specimens of the smooth were to be found, one black, tan, and white bitch, the late Mr. Henry Dodd’s Fleet, winning time after time, under Mr. W. Lort, who considered her the very best of her variety he ever saw, and all know he is no mean judge. But the best, to my fancy, although some of the judges did not agree with me, was a natural bob-tailed, or tailless bitch, a peculiar brown in colour, shown by Mr. George Fee, and called, I believe, Fan. The expression, character, and form of this bitch were very fine indeed, but being without a tail no doubt handicapped her considerably when in strong competition. Barring in stern, this bitch was an excellent counterpart of Herdwick Eva, alluded to just previously. Both Fleet and Fan belonged to butchers, were used in their trade, and, I believe, Fan was about as good with either cattle or sheep as they can be made. She was something of the form of that good bitch Melody, Mr. W. Arkwright purchased for a good round sum from Mr. T. Marples, but the Kendal bitch was brighter and lighter in colour, had the smaller ears, and was the more sensible in expression.

Of the black, white, and tans, an early and good representative was Mr. W. W. Thomson’s (Mitcham) Yarrow, a lowland bitch, I believe, but I never considered her equal to either of the two I have named, and the three were about contemporary. Another excellent specimen of the same colour was Mr. T. B. Swinburne’s (Darlington) [Northumbria] Lassie, a bitch, I fancy, that won more prizes than any of her variety either before or since, but then she was taken round to all the little shows.

About the same time the brothers, Messrs. J. and T. Ridley, of Wolsingham [Northumbria], were exhibiting some good dogs at the many shows held in the district, and one of them, a big, strong, sensible-looking bitch, to which I had awarded prizes, became a celebrity in her way and the heroine of a sensational and interesting case in the County Court.

The illustration at the top of this page is of Herdwick Herdsman and Herdwick Eva mentioned in the above quotation and is taken from this book. You can see that this author’s idea of a “smooth collie” is not the same as today’s Smooth Collie, the dogs illustrated are short coated like some Border Collies and English Shepherds today but not exactly smooth.

Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland: its history, traditions, folk-lore and scenery, David Dippie Dixon – 1903

The enormous flocks of sheep committed to the care of the shepherd by the flock-master or hill-farmer are termed “hirsels.” The shepherd, however, owns a certain number of sheep, which constitutes the principal part of his wage, known as “packs.” As the whole of the sheep on a “herdin’ “& have to be gone through at least twice a day, which necessitates a walk of several miles over the hills and glens, the shepherds keep a large number of dogs to assist in “looking the sheep.” It is quite a common sight for some ten or a dozen barking collies to rush out on the appearance of a stranger near the dwelling. Collie dogs are usually good tempered, and, being well trained by their masters, are seldom known to bite unless it be at night, when it would be very unsafe for a stranger to venture too near. “The shepherds in Kidland,” says an old writer, “are peculiarly attached to their dogs; and not without reason, for the sagacity, activity, and discrimination of these animals are truly surprising, and would scarcely be credited by those who have not had an opportunity of observing their actions. On setting out in a morning the dog, without receiving any instructions, takes a round to scour the skirts of his limits, in doing which he is careful to detect and drive any stranger that may attempt to intrude within his liberties, and to reclaim such stragglers as have wandered from his own flock.” The following doggrel rhyme, written in their praise, is amusing and worthy of record:-

” Five eights are forty Colley dogs,
Sagacious and true,
Safe guardians of the fleecy flocks
On Cheviot’s lofty brow. (Chevoit is the highest summit of the Chevoit Hills on the Scottish/English border)
At Milkhope, Dryhope, Kidland-lee,
Their value is well known;
At Rookland, too, and Punkerton,
Their fame will ne’er go down.”

A good dog and a good stick are two important items in the outfit of a hill shepherd, about which he is very particular. Each man generally has a favourite collie, probably one that he has trained himself: to this dog he shows great partiality. In such repute are these sagacious border sheep dogs held, that carefully selected young dogs are trained by the Cheviot shepherds and sent out to the colonies. Two fine specimens of the Scotch collie have recently been trained by Mr. James Brown, the shepherd at the Heigh, in Kidland, and shipped for New Zealand to work on the extensive sheep runs in that colony. So perfectly trained were these dogs, since their arrival in the colony, they have gained prizes amounting to over £60, besides two silver cups. The passage money of a dog to New Zealand is £10, whilst after arriving in port, dogs are kept six weeks in quarantine—a precautionary measure against an outbreak of rabies.

The names given by the shepherds to their dogs is an interesting study, in some instances denoting the characteristic leaning of the master—names of rivers, colours of the dogs, or their habits, family names, and even political names are given, so at the risk of being thought trivial, we here append a list of the names of these canine assistants placed in the order of preference, kindly forwarded to the writer by the shepherds of Upper Coquet:—

Tip, Don, Shag, Tyne, Frank, Glen, Sam, Ned, Moss, Spot, Laddie, Cheeve (Chevit), Clyde, Jed, Dick, Pop, Cap, Buff, Guess, Pate, Hemp, Flint, Coquet, Gled (Gladstone), Tom, Sweep, Jock, Cheekie, Trim, Roy.

Fan, Wylie, Nell, Maudie, Midge, Beat, Gyp, Fly, Violet, Lizzie, Phem (Euphemia), Kit (Kitty), Meg, Flora, Lock.

Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England – 1907

Sheep Dog Trials.— Scotland sent only five dogs, and three of these were in the short-leet, one of which eventually got second place in the prize list. Northumberland, however, gave by far the best display, both as to numbers and style of work. Of the thirteen dogs that were selected for a second trial, eleven of them were of the same strain, several being closely related. The first and second prize winners, though not from Northumberland, were of the same lineage, the “Old Hemp” and “Kep” progeny. This strain excel in attention to work, eye, and action, and their cowering style is most fascinating and cannot be surpassed anywhere. The English dogs from further south than Northumberland made rather a poor display as compared with the Northumbrians. They have neither the size, action, nor attention to work of the Border dogs, and are far behind them in practical work, but for doing puzzles and trick work, the guiding of sheep through a labyrinth of flags and poles and other intricacies, they are ‘certainly well qualified.


  1. The Northumbrian distinction survived in the breed long enough for Shela Grew to write about it in the founding dogs in her book “Key Dogs from the Border Collie Family,” published in the early 1980s.

    I assume with an eye toward conformation, she classified four different types: The Northumbrian Type, The Wiston Cap Type, The Nap Type, and the Herdman’s Tommy Type.

    The four example photo pages from Grew’s book are presented here:

    Following the types through pedigrees might be a bit more difficult. For example, three of the four documented lines that lead back to Old Hemp (Northumbrian) lead through Herdman’s Tommy (nothing like Hemp in conformation).

    Worth noting is the efforts of John Herries McCulloch to document the origins of the breed. While he fixated on James Hogg (who is rather biased toward all things Scotland) as the main source of his information, he found an interesting take on the source of the “eye” and “creeping” in the breed.

  2. I would definitely drop James Hogg and his dogs into the Northumbrian group too, he was from Ettrick, 16 miles from where the Elliotts lived in Hindhope. The Nap type may also have the same geographic origin since I would say it’s looks are most like the Smooth Collies described by Rawdon Briggs Lee and in the illustration. The Herdman’s Tommy type looks to me the most like some of the old Scotch Collies found in this country 100 years ago.

  3. Oh, I should also mention that I found some more information on Queen Victoria and Thomas Elliott and added that to the Queen Victoria post, also I found a website with a photograph of Wandering Willie – stuffed and added the link to that post.

    Related to the four types of Border Collies and the most recent post on your blog, people always want to put things in neat, easily delineated categories, it’s human nature. Nature however often makes that difficult and isn’t always so easily pigeonholed. This is why certain physical characteristics are bred out of certain breeds (merle English Shepherds, sable Australian Shepherds, etc). If you look at the results of the agricultural shows from this area during the late 1800s you see categories were provided for rough and smooth dogs but I think that these were not treated as separate breeds by the farmers, merely as separate groups for showing. Obviously then the native sheep-dogs of Northumbria came in a range of coat types, and no doubt a range of other characteristics as well.

  4. On a side note, I see in that undated photo of “Shepherds’ Dogs” the name J. Turnbull, of our key local Hindhope. That’s a popular last name in Border Collie history, and that family (assuming relation) is still making contributions to the breed. In 1984, a P.J. Turnbull registered a working Beardie on Merit with the ISDS (# 130312). The name is “Turnbull’s Blue” (which is also a name given to a chemical dye) and the dog has sustained progeny in both the Beardie gene pool and the Border Collie gene pool.

  5. The date for the image is 1871. In some of the agriculture shows J. Turnbull is listed as winning with a dog named “Hemp”, long before “Old Hemp” was born. There is a family connection between the Elliotts and the Turnbulls.

    Taken from British Hunts and Huntsmen.
    “The name of Elliot is probably the most notable among Cheviot sheep breeders as it is certainly the oldest. The Elliots of Hindhope have for generations achieved fame by their sheep… His father took a leading part in coursing and it will be remembered won the Scottish National with his greyhound Meg Merrilees whilst his mother’s sister Miss Turnbull of Ridleys, brought up King Death the Waterloo Cup winner. Mr Elliot himself is well known for his breed of collies.”

  6. Golden retrievers also have roots in that region. The 1st Baron Tweedmouth, Dudley Marjoribanks, was from the Scottish side of the River Tweed. One of the breeds in the Guisachan was called Tweed water spaniel, although it was more like a gold or red curly-coated retriever. It was common the coasts of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Marjoribanks represented Berwick-Upon-Tweed in parliament. Berwick, the northermost town in England, and fought over many times by the kingdoms of Scotland and England.

  7. Searching online for Turnbull, Elliott and Hindhope tuns up all kinds of results, apparently these 2 families lived in that area and were involved in sheep farming for generations. maybe this sort of thing is not so unusual in the old-world, but my family and everybody I know doesn’t seem to stay in the same place for more than one generation, let alone in the same line of work.

    By the way, it is less than 10 miles over the hills from Hindhope to Redesdale where Adam Telfer, breeder of Old Hemp, came from.

  8. retrieverman – the diversity of regional dog types in the UK in the nineteenth century in mind-boggling. The same probably goes for everything else in those days, regional dialects, regional field crops, regional livestock breeds, regional cooking…

    My next research goal is the Cumberland Sheep-dog, another regional breed that was absorbed into the Border Collie.

  9. Was the short-haired Northumbrian collie descended from the North Country Kildonan clean bred Rutherford strain of sheepdogs made famous by the shepherd Gideon Rutherford from Kildonan Sutherland Scotland? His son John Rutherford imported 2 dogs from this strain in 1868 to Australia. Notice in the breeding of Turnbull’s Cap 3036 a dog named Laddie bred by a W Rutherford from Hexham. Was W Rutherford a descendant of Gideon Rutherford and Laddie a descendant of the original short-haired prick eared dogs imported to Australia up to World War 1? If this is the case then the Kelpie and the Border Collie must share a common heritage.

  10. I have never heard of the “Rutherford strain” but would be interested in learning more.

    It is my opinion that the Northumbrian type was the native herding type of the border region, most likely the same or similar to the type made famous by James Hogg (1770 – 1835) who hailed from Ettrick, Scotland in the border region. More about James Hogg

  11. In the mid 1800’s in Australia, when sheep, dogs and pioneers are discussed, there is one family that stands out above the rest and that is the Rutherford’s. The family can The Kildonan clean bred line of collies can be traced back to Gideon Rutherford a shepherd who was born in Sept 1778 in Showman, Roxburghshire, Scotland and died about 1869 in Kildonan, Sutherland Scotland. He was the fourth child of Andrew Rutherford and Christian Stevenson of Showman, Roxburghshire, Scotland. (From Parish records Roxburghshire: Brian & Dianne Dixon, J. Gregory Barron and Chris & Sheila Hale ) Gideon Rutherford’s outstanding line of Collies originally bought to Australia by his son John in 1864, were one of the most successful and influential line of sheepdogs ever introduced. His strain of collies had such a legendary reputation that they were still being imported to Australia over 40 years later. It is also certain that the early Kelpie sheepdog strains had Rutherford bloodlines in their breeding.

    It is believed that Gideon created his line of collies from a mixture of the best lines available from the shepherds of the Border regions of England and Scotland and the North West Highlands of Scotland. Whether Gideon’s father Andrew had started the line is unknown, but Gideon has been given the recognition by his family for their creation. (See “Highland Sheepdogs for South Australia”, The South Australian Register, Tuesday 6 September, 1910 p.5) Gideon was living and working in the Northumberland area in the early 1800’s, but moved back to Sutherland about 1806, just before the advent of the introduction of the Cheviot sheep breed to the region. The birth of his oldest child Elizabeth, born in 1805 at Bird hope, Craig, Northumberland in England, verifies that he had been working and living in Northumberland The Rutherford’s were one of a number of well known border shepherd families of the early 1800’s.

    Whilst working at ‘Wonwondah’ station in Victoria Australia in 1864 John Rutherford the third youngest son of Gideon, imported the first “Rutherford Kildonan” line of collies to Australia. John had asked his older brother Richard a shepherd who was running the family farm at Kildonan in Scotland, to send to him two dogs a boy and a girl. The dogs were named “Clyde and “Lassie.” Richard was John’s older brother born in 1811, who died in 1897 at age 87. (See Inverness Courier Tuesday, March 7, 1899 )

    “In 1864 the late Mr Rutherford, Kildonan, sent out to his brother Mr John Rutherford, Yarrawonga, Upper Murray, a pair of collies “Clyde” and “Lassie” which proved to be noted workers in the Colonies.” (See “Collie Dogs for Australia”, The Northern Times 26 Oct 1907)
    These two dogs from that line of collies were to become famous in rural Victoria and across other Australian states by farmers and stockmen for the next 50 years. They must have been quick moving workers as the merino sheep of those days were smaller, faster and flightier than the sheep of today. Here is an account of how great a dog “Clyde” was at working sheep: – “While riding cross country one morning from Yarrawonga, Mr Rutherford came across his friend Sir Samuel Wilson with a mob of 5000 newly weaned lambs, with his men and dogs absolutely failed to get the lambs through the gate of the paddock. After some consultation, Mr Rutherford agreed to give them a trial with “Clyde” on condition that all the other dogs should be called up. In less than half an hour the lambs were through the gate and safely mustered in another paddock. Sir Samuel Wilson rode up and offered £100 for “Clyde” which was declined. Later £500 was offered for him, but was not accepted.” (See “Collie Dogs for Australia”, The Northern Times 26 Oct 1907.)

    Four years later John was competing at the first sheepdog trial in Australia at the Wangaratta Cattle Show on 5 September 1868 with “Clyde” and was made an offer of £300, for which he refused. (The Register, Tuesday 6 Sept, 1910.) These offers would have been world record prices at the time for a sheepdog.

    Imports of Kildonan Rutherford Collies to Australia in the early 20 Century

    *Gerald S Kempe the renowned Australian Kelpie breeder started importing dogs from the Rutherford’s around 1890, 22 years after the original importation by John Rutherford in 1868. There is evidence to suggest that his earliest importation could have been made around 1890. The dog Saxon II after being trained by Kempe eventually went to Mr Frank C Bishop of “Apalkaldree”, Normanville, South Australia. A 1907 “Northern Times” article cites Bishop as having a dog called Saxon II, which had been bred or obtained from Kempe from the Kildonan Rutherford strain. Saxon II was bred from Saxon I, who was either a direct descendant of the original 1868 importation or was from a later importation by Kempe.
    “Mr F C Bishop of Apalkaldree, Normanville, writes: – Here is an account of a fine bit of work by a sheep dog: – Saxon II had 24 hours with sheep ‘on his own’. We went to Buluturudda, which is a paddock about six miles from the station, to tail lambs, and I sent him after some rough sheep in the scrub, and lost the run of him, as I picked up seven scrubbers and had to stick to them. He stuck to his. Next day he had a mob of about 100 sheep down below the station house at the gate, lying quite contented with them! They had the ground all trodden down, and black looking, so he must have had them there early in the evening. This collie distinguished himself last summer by keeping eight wild sheep during a heat wave for 24 hours 20 minutes, and although nearly famished by thirst refused to leave them until his master found them. Saxon II was bred and broken by Mr Gerald Kempe, at Kildonan, Morgan, and is of the Rutherford Strain of Scotch Gatherers from Sutherlandshire.” (See “Collie Dogs for Australia”, The Northern Times 26 Oct 1907.)
    The second record that I can clearly verify of importations of Rutherford dogs after 1868 is the 1894 importation by Gerald S Kempe for his employer Stephen S Ralli who had a Shropshire sheep stud near Balaklava South Australia called “Werocota”. The two dogs were “Glen” and “Bess” and “Glen” was a direct descendant of the original “Clyde”. Richard Rutherford was a shepherd in Kildonan Scotland, and the older brother of John who came to Australia in the 1850’s. It was Richard who sent dogs over to Australia on the request of Kempe until he died in 1899. You get the distinct impression form reading old records, that the old original Gideon and his two sons Richard and John were the ones who had the most talent in breeding sheep and dogs and were experts at handling them.
    “In 1894 the late Mr Rutherford, Kildonan, again sent out to Mr S S Ralli, “Werocata”, two dogs “Glen” and “Bess”. The former, a descendant of “Clyde”, proved a very fine worker in Australia. On one occasion at a field trial he was put in a wheat sack to prevent him seeing the way the sheep would go. When they were out of sight he was let loose, and yarded three wild sheep within twenty minutes. The two dogs now going out are still strains of “Clyde” and “Lassie”.” (See “Collie Dogs for Australia”, The Northern Times 26 Oct 1907.)
    The third importation by Kempe was in 1907:-“Mr Rutherford, Kildonan House, is sending to Mr Gerald S Kempe, Morgan, South Australia, a pair of collie dogs. Mr Kempe has one of the oldest kennels of pedigree workers in the Colonies which he names “The Kildonan Clean Bred Collies”. (See “Collie Dogs for Australia”, The Northern Times 26 Oct 1907.) Gerard S Kempe again imported two dogs in 1910 on behalf of John Collins and Son in Lucernedale, Mt. Bryan South Australia. This was either Kempe’s third or fourth set of imports in 20 years.
    “The collies under notice are described by Mr John Rutherford of Kildonan House Sutherlandshire (their breeder), as the best pair he has put together for export. This is the third pair from this celebrated kennel of working sheep dogs Mr Kempe has secured for this state during the past 20 years. The Rutherford sheepdogs have a remarkable history. The great grandfather of the present owner (Mr Gideon Rutherford) first put them together from the Sutherlandshire shepherds 150 years ago, and have been line bred by the family ever since. ” (The Register, South Australia, Tuesday 6 Sept 1910, p.5)
    The John Rutherford of Kildonan House, Scotland in 1910 mentioned by Gerard S Kempe, was the son of Richard Rutherford and a nephew of the John Rutherford who was famous in Victoria, Australia. He wasn’t a great grandson of the original Gideon, but his grandson.
    This is verified by an article on Richard Brown Rutherford, the son of John Rutherford. Richard Brown Rutherford immigrated to Perth Australia on 8 April 1909. He in fact was one of the great grandsons of Gideon the original founder of the “Kildonan Rutherford” line of collies.
    “After finishing his education, Mr Rutherford entered the law offices of Mr Macaulay, Golspie. His experience there will stand him in good stead in after life. Later, he went to London to the office of Messers John Taylor & Sons, but the change from country to city life proved injurious to his health. He returned home, and since then he has been assisting his father, Mr John Rutherford (in the management of Kildonan Farm), whose Cheviot sheep are so widely known.” (The Northern Times April 8 909)
    If there were further imports of Rutherford collies after 1910, then there are few records to verify this activity. As World War I approached it’s quite possible imports were curtailed or stopped completely. It is fairly certain that the Rutherford line of collie imports up to 1910 were bred back into Kelpie bloodlines by Gerald S Kempe and other kelpie breeders. Also it would be foolish to assume that as modern Border collie lines came into Australia and New Zealand, that they also were not crossed with mixtures of the Rutherford line of collies by practical Australian farmers and stockmen.
    The next most interesting question is, did this fantastic working strain of collies just die out, or did they continue to flourish back in Scotland? Also did any of this line of collies filter into the breeding of the modern Border Collie in the UK? It seems only further careful historical research will tell us the answer.
    *(Gerald S Kempe was an Englishman born in 1850 in the Rectory of Wexham, Bucks, England and arrived in Australia in July 1870 and worked on or managed many properties from 1881 onwards in the Darling to Lower Murray and the Coorong regions in Victoria, NSW and South Australia. He eventually settled in South Australia in 1903 and bought ‘Kapinka’ station near Port Lincoln and then moved to ‘Kildonan’, Morgan South Australia. He was an avid breeder and fan of the Kelpie. He died on 8 January 1917.)

  12. To Cindy D.

    I have grown tired of your confrontational, know-it-all attitude. I don’t have a problem with anyone disagreeing with me here as long as it is approached with an open mind and a respectful attitude. You comments often seem to come off as though you have all the answers and are coming here to straighten me out. If you want to fight on this subject, might I suggest BorderWars, Christopher there seems to thrive on this sort of confrontation, my site on the other hand, is more of a place for polite conversation and respectful disagreement.

  13. Hello Shep,having read your article and the responses – I am feeling confused (and disappointed). I follow your site regularly as you know, and am aware of the research that is behind what you write. I have the two Herdwick dogs down as early smooth collies in my photo album in Smooth Collies EU. If these two are Border Collies, where do you situate the origin of the Smooth Collie which is often thought to come from the North of England border counties? Though this provenance is expanded by Packwood’s saying that they were picked up for the show ring in England and Ireland. One very famous smooth collie (Heatherfield Dot) was found on a farm near my birthplace in the Midlands of England. (Packwood page 59). Roy Baker, collie judge and breeder, is writing about the smooth collie, variety or breed. I am waiting impatiently to see which side he comes down on.

  14. I found this in Stella Clark’s book, Smooth Collies, Rough and Smooth

    One of the earliest Smooth Collie fanciers was a Mr Hastie of the Herdwick prefix. He lived in Newcastle and did much to support the breed in it’s early days. The first male Champion was Ch. Guelt. He was born in 1873. To us he would have been a tricolour but was described as Black, Tan and White, sired by Captain ex Nora. Collienet Stella Clark

  15. Hi Dianne

    I think if we go all the way back to the roots of the various collie breeds there was a great deal of crossover. In my own study of the early descriptions of these dogs, the smooth coat gene seems to have originated in the same geographic area as the border collie, while I have never heard of a highland collie with a smooth coat. That being said there must be a great deal of crossover in the roots of both of these breeds, and that isn’t a bad thing.

  16. Just been looking at one of Ansdell’s paintings, A View of the Grampians, which is on your site. The two collies there don’t look any rougher than the two above. I am continuing my research and have found a reference to smooth collies breeding true to smooth in Durham county

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