From Alvina Butti
President, McNab Shepherd Registry
The McNab is truly a unique breed in that it is a native stockdog of Northern California via the Grampian Hills of Scotland. In 1868 Alexander McNab sailed from Scotland with his family to California where they settled in the Mendocino county south of Ukiah to what became the McNab Ranch. The first mention of this breed is in 1885 when Alexander McNab returned from his homeland after purchasing two Fox Shepherds from his old neighbor Bruce McKinsey who raised them. Incidentally, the origin of the Fox Shepherd is unknown, although some feel that the Fox Shepherd was a short haired Border Collie The name Border Collie was not used until after 1900 and then mostly for the trial dogs on the border of Scotland and England. The McNab is not a Border Collie.
Alexander McNab brought back Peter who worked wither lead or drive, and Fred who was strictly a lead dog was left behind to finish his training. These two dogs were bred to select females of Spanish origin, brought to this country by the Basque sheep herders creating the cross called the McNab Shepherd. Over the next few years several more importations of the Fox Shepherd were made.
Typically, the McNab is a medium sized dog ranging from 35 to 55 pounds. The coat length is short, not more than one and a half inches, flat and straight with a clean, smooth leg and ear. Coat color varies from solid black, red, blond, tri-colored and grey, with the typical color being black and white. All colors come with varying degrees of white tri, including blazes on the face, white collars, white socks or stockings, and white chest and belly. The body is light, yet generally extremely muscular, especially the upper thigh. The flank is tucked up tight, chest is broad, heartgirth deep, while the back is especially strong and straight. The head rests beautifully upon a long graceful neck and is bold but never heavy. Muzzles are medium to slightly long in length, teeth meet in a scissors bite. Eyes are almond shaped, intelligent and expressive. The ears are usually erect, ranging from a quarter to full standing of medium size and keen appearing. The McNab is noted for his clean straight legs with small feet, tight toed and upright pastern, tails, if not natural bob, are docked, however a long tail is preferred by others believing it acts like a rudder to help in balance.
McNabs are used for all type of livestock work – cattle, sheep, and poultry. They have also been used for hunting deer, pig, varmits and birds. They take great pleasure in obedience and agility, always being willing to please and excel in whatever you ask them to do. They are known for being “cat footed” and can jump and climb gracefully being very agile in all they do. When it comes to their personality; they simply love people, especially their people. When you have a McNab, you don’t own it, you and all around you, spouse, children, truck, property it all belongs to your McNab.
They can be very protective of their people. Most McNabs I have had simply want to be with you no matter what you are doing, making them a wonderful and devoted companion. Their attachment to people cannot be stressed enough, they love to be going and doing, whether working livestock, hunting, feeding stock, going for a drive or playing with the children. These are active dogs needing room to run and a job to do.
To sum it up the McNab is a versatile dog, clean, pretty, athletic, a superb companion, an aggressive dominant worker, devoted and intelligent. The years I have spent with these wonderful dogs have been a learning experience with each of their individual personalities. They never cease to amaze me with their devotion and love for living in harmony with me. The McNab is truly an individual to love and respect.
Original article written by Alvina Butti from Ranch Dog Trainer (1999)