Snap, a Michigan farm collie. Photo taken 1940.

What is an Old Farm Collie?

The old farm collie was not a breed in the modern sense of having an organized breed club and registry. It was a North American landrace descended primarily from the old working collie landrace of Great Britian. Photo evidence from the 1800s and early 1900s indicates that the North American old farm collie was quite variable in type, probably showing the whole phenotypic range from Roman cattle dog type to herding spitz type. Some individuals may have shown the influence of other types as well, such as setter, retriever or greyhound. Individual family lines may have been quite uniform in type, and perhaps in many geographical areas certain types became fixed due to popularity of certain family lines, or simply due to the population being somewhat isolated by distance or other geographical barriers.

The decline of the old farm collie landrace apparently began with the rise of formal kennel club registries and the subsequent creation of the modern idea of pure breeds. By the early 1900s, some people were worried about the future of the old farm collie. Other breeds such as the trial-bred Border Collie and show-bred Rough Collie were popular and seemed to be replacing the old farm collie. In addition, farmers may have used individuals from these and other registered breeds to grade-up existing old farm collie stock, as was commonly practiced in livestock breeding.

At least two pure breeds were developed from the old North American farm collie landrace during the early decades of the 20th century: the English Shepherd and the Australian Shepherd. After World War II agriculture in North America began changing rapidly. The old farm collie as the common stock dog across North America seems to have disappeared between the 1940s and 1960s.

For further information about the old farm collie

Friends of the Old Farm Collie.

Old Scotch Collie, by Erika du Bois, published in Small Farmer's Journal Vol 15, No. 2, 1991.

Whatever Happened to Old Shep, published in Ranch Dog Trainer June/July 1994.

Bob, an Illinois farm collie. Photo taken in the 1920s.

Four more Michigan farm collies from the '30s and '40s.


Friends of the Old Farm Collie.

What is a Farm Collie?

Farm Collie Restoration Efforts

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This file was last updated on 28 November 1997.