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What was the connection between the Beardie, the
South Russian Owtchar, and the Old English Sheepdog?

Several authors have written that the Old English Sheepdog and the Beardies once shared the same, or similar, ancestors. In olden days many breeds were similar in appearance. That was particularly true relating to the Beardie-like dogs and a variety of the Russian Owtchars (known as the South Russian Owtchar).

Russian Owtchars were brought to England, according to some historians, on Baltic trading ships, and they were thought to have been bred with the Beardie-like dogs to produce the early ancestors to the Old English Sheepdog (OES). Both were used by drovers in the movement of cattle along the drove trails. In the late 19th Century, both Beardies and OES canines were no longer doing much droving work. Like many other breeds during the latter half of the 1800s, they began to be seen at dogs shows.

Henry Panmure Gordon (Harry) [1837-1902] attended the University of Oxford and founded a stockbrokerage firm that still bears his name. In the dog world, he was a founder and first president of the Scottish Kennel Club, which drew up its constitution in 1881. He was also Honorary President of the Scottish Collie Club for 1890-1891. He owned both Collies and Bearded Collies.

A few herding dogs (collies and sheepdogs) were known to have been shown at fairs in the late 1800s upon completion of the herding trials. This was discussed in many early books such as Rawdon Lee's A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland (Non-Sporting Division) (1894)

The first Old English Sheepdog Club was founded in 1888—the same year that a representative of the OES breed was imported into America. A retyped document from The American Kennel Club indicated a Highland Collie had been shown in America in 1902. This document can be found on the "Other" page. In Britain, a page from a show catalog indicated a few Beardies were entered in a 1908 show. A copy of that document appears in the "Timeline" subsection entitled "1900-1919."

Mr. R. S. Piggin, who judged the Wiltshire-Gloucestershire trial of July 28, 1910, may have been one of the first people to recommend the Beardie-like be given a class when he wrote, in part: "to those in authority that this deserving and useful type be given a class amongst Sheepdogs on the show bench."

Bearded Collies were first registered by the Scottish Kennel Club in 1912, but registrations stopped after April of 1914 until June of 1923 (WWI started in July 1914 and ended in 1918). Dogs began to be registered again by 1923, but again the registration stopped from December 1939 through July 1948 (WWII began in 1939 and ended in 1945). The dogs registered  by the Scottish Kennel Club are listed on a page entitled "Kennel Club" located in the "Other" section of this website.

As it turned out, it was a very long time before the Beardies would have a breed club recognized by the Kennel Club. After WWII ended, a Bearded Collie named Jeannie of Bothkennar was registered by Mrs. Olive Willison in July of 1948. However, it was not until 1959 that the Kennel Club formally recognized a Bearded Collie Club (71 years after the first OES Club was recognized). The Bearded Collie Club of America was not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1979.

A history relating to the Beardies, the South Russian Owtchars and the Old English Sheepdogs can be found on the link in the box to the right.

The Smithfield, residing in Tasmania, can likely trace its roots back to the Beardie-like collies. Click on the "Smithfield" link above to learn more.

As the "Confusion" page illustrates, if a dog was once called a "Border Collie," it might have actually been some other breed of dog. The Border Collie did exist as a working collie herding dog long before it received its official breed name in 1910. Dogs of many types within the borderlands often were referred to as "border collies." Also, there were, and are, red merle Beardies, as well as Beardies with different coloured eyes. Images of both also appear on the "Confusion" page.









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