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~14,700 Years Ago


Estimated age for recent radiocarbon carried out on human bones from Gough's Cave. This time period, sometimes referred to as the Old Stone Age, dates back prior to the end of the Last Ice Age which occurred ~10,000 years ago.


7538 BC ±350 BC


Approximately 9,500 years ago, archaeologists discovered at the Star Carr excavation site in Yorkshire, England, what has been described as an almost complete skeleton of a mature dog. The Star Carr canine skeletal remains have been suggested to be representative of "dog" being disassociated from, but related to, the wolf. Authorities studying early domestic dogs and/or domesticated mammals caution against identifying remains from archaeological sites as being representative of modern breed names.


~2000 BC


During the Bronze Age, Britain's population became an agricultural civilization. Raising livestock became an important part of that agricultural environment. Likely dogs became important to farmers needing protection from wolves for their sheep and cattle. This era may mark the beginning of some form of breeding to produce the guarding and working abilities of dogs.


800 BC to 43 AD

600 BC to ~50 AD


The Iron Age.

Celtic Britain existed over this period of time. When the Celts were not fighting, they engaged in farming. The Celts brought the innovation of the iron plough to Britain. Because the plough was difficult to turn and required a large team of eight oxen defined as a member of the bovine family); this resulted in fields being long and narrow (this pattern still can be seen in some parts of Britain in modern times).


116 BC – 27 BC


Varro's Writings and the Connection with Drovers' Dogs


Marcus Terentius Varro, also known as Varro Reatinus, wrote about sheepdogs traveling on their own over great distances to return to their masters. Similar behavior was described by writers about drovers' dogs in Britain during the era of cattle being moved to market.

~63 BC to ~23 AD       The time frame listed for this entry was when Strabo, the Greek geographer, lived; he visited the British Isles among other places. His Geographica consisted of many volumes most of which was destroyed. The Geography of Strabo published in Volume II of the Loeb Classical Library Edition, 1923, appears on the internet. It was from the English translation that his words appear: "Most of the island is flat and overgrown with forests, although many of its districts are hilly. It bears grain, cattle, gold, silver and iron. These things, accordingly are exported from the island, as also hides and slaves and dogs that are by nature suited to the purposes of the chase; the Celti, however, use both these and the native dogs for the purposes of war too."

Mention of cattle makes one wonder whether some of the Celts' dogs were used for managing the stock in addition to the purposes of war. Centuries later, as images on this website will demonstrate, herding dogs, which included Beardie-like dogs, were used by the British for the war effort during both World Wars I and II.




Roman Britain was the part of Great Britain that was controlled by the Roman Empire. The Romans introduced new agriculture developments to already established farming practices on the British Isles.


410 to


The Fall of the Roman Empire in Britain in the 5th Century is considered by many scholars to be the beginning of the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages left future generations with precious little documentation to call upon to understand the daily lives of the people residing on the British Isles.




The period of time was known as the Vikings Age in Britain. More information about this subject can be obtained on the BBC website.

The Ancient Welsh Laws codified by Hywel Dda talked about how the Herdman's Dog, and the "Bugeulgy" (Sheepdog) was given the value of one ox in its prime (c.920).




In 1066 the Normans invaded England. William I, the Conqueror, a Norman, became King of England.


1100 to


Many scholars refer to this period of time as the Middle Ages.


Based upon the agricultural society present in Britain (described above), how plausible would it have been that no dogs were utilized for stock management (to include shaggy coated dogs) during the hundreds of years prior to the early 1500s considering that livestock management was part of the agricultural society that existed there?

From writings, and from stories handed down generation to generation, it was known that various types of dogs (to include those with beards beneath their chins) engaged in the driving of cattle in Scotland. Those dogs with beards had many names; on this website they will often be referred to as "Beardie-like dogs" or "Beardie-like canines." Cattle was the predominant kind of stock (as opposed to sheep) residing in northern Scotland (until large scale sheep operations began). Several early dog writers mentioned how dogs with double coats and heavier padded feet were the type that could withstand the terrain and the weather associated with the Highlands. One breed of cattle also possessed shaggy coats; they were, and still are, called "Highland Cattle."

The English Renaissance started later (15th Century) as compared to Italy (14th Century). Renaissance artists re-explored works produced during the Roman Empire, as well as classical Grecian works, in order to depict the human form in a realistic manner. It was during the English Renaissance that the first printed book in English featuring dogs was written; it is further discussed under the year "1486" below.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was beheaded in 1566. Her infant son became King James VI, but due to his being an infant, he did not take control of Scotland until 1581. Thereafter, King Queen Elizabeth I of England named her second cousin, King James VI, to succeed her. At the beginning of the 17th Century, the Renaissance in England came to an end./

After Queen Elizabeth I passed in 1603, King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. Scotland and England were now united, and by 1607, free trade was opened up between the two countries. This meant cattle rustlers beware; cattle drovers drove their herds across the border. Beardie-like dogs were known to have been on those cattle drives taking cattle south beyond the borderlands. That might explain why some authors concluded (in the late 19th and early 20th centuries) that the Bearded Collie played heavily in the development of the Old English Sheepdog.

An almost identical type of Beardie-like canine became known as the "Smithfield." That is because they were used on routes heading to the Smithfield markets. Some of the Smithfield dogs were exported to Australia. The weather there was much too hot for the heavy coated dogs. Therefore, some Smithfields ended up going to Tasmania where several descendent canines reside today. Some look very similar to present-day Beardies, but they are still called a "Smithfield."

As previously stated, large scale sheep farming was not introduced to the Highlands of Scotland until after 1745. That is perhaps why some authors did not believe the Beardie-like dog began in the northern areas of Scotland as opposed to the southern areas and/or the borderlands. The Highland Clearances began around 1785, and, thereafter, life changed greatly for the people residing in the northern areas of Scotland. People were displaced from their lands often fleeing to other countries. Landlords received considerable sums of money from those large scale sheep farming operations; the sheep farmers of the large scale sheep operations could afford to pay the high rent to the landlords due to the amount of income received from wool production.

During the first half of the 1800s, open grazing lands turned into the beginning of an enclosed system of fields. By the 1830s, steamships were used to move cattle from some areas to the southern markets. Finally, railways were established by the late 1800s, and the droving days, particularly of cattle, would soon end.

Many, if not most, authors agree that the Beardie-like dogs started in Britain. Some of the early authors on the subject of dogs wrote that the words "colley" or "collie" was associated with dogs of Scotland. Dogs of the south (England and Wales) were mostly referred to as "sheepdogs" or "sheep dogs." It would be a mistake to assume a "Highland Collie" meant a Bearded Collie. The term "Highland Collie" was often used by authors to describe dogs from the northern parts of Scotland (i.e., a rough coated collie, a bearded collie, and other collie types as well).

It was not until the modern era that dogs were further subdivided into "breed" names. A "breed" name relied upon characteristics associated with color, coat, and ear and tail carriage, etc. This era began around 1859.




The Boke of St. Albans was the first incunabula (early printed book; prior to 1501) in English to feature dogs. Clifford "Doggy" Hubbard in The Literature of British Dogs (1949) indicated the incunabula was likely authored prior to 1481.

For those interested in English history, much turmoil occurred during the time frame from 1400-1500. King Edward IV ruled from 1401 to 1470 and again from 1471-1483. A young son, King Edward V, succeeded King Edward IV in 1483, but the young prince did not last as King beyond a few days. Edward IV's brother, King Richard III, ruled from 1483 to 1485. In 1485, King Henry VII (Henry Tudor, another son of King Edward IV, ruled from 1485-1509. It was the end of the Plantagenet rule and the beginning of the Tudors.

The first printing in 1486, titled "The Boke of Haukyng and Huntyng," had a section on hunting and it ended with the words "Explicit Dam Julyans Barnes." Hubbard believed the section on hunting was likely Barnes'/Berners' own original compilation (based upon her signature at the end).

She has been associated with the name Juliana Berners, a prioress of Sopwell Nunnery at St. Albans. Edward Ash, a cynologist, wrote in one of his books that it was established that there was no such prioress at this Nunnery during this period of time, nor was such a lady established as Lord Berners' sister. Hubbard, in The Literature of British Dogs, wrote that she was generally claimed to be the daughter of Sir James Berners (who was beheaded in 1388).

Following the year 1486, other editions were also printed to include additional material. Ash, Hubbard, and others have indicated Berners' hunting treatise was mainly copied from another treatise by Edward, Second Duke of York. Edward's treatise, entitled Master of Game, was believed to have been authored between 1406 and 1413. It consisted of 36 chapters; five chapters were original work by Edward.

Edward, Second Duke of York, put forth his treatise borrowing heavily from Gaston de Foix's Livre de chasse (originally composed in 1387). Hubbard pointed out in the preface to The Literature of British Dogs, the English cannot take credit for writing the first treatise about dogs

". . . but with the specialist literature of dogs it is plain enough that our first writers from Edward, Second Duke of York, to Turberville exploited the existing French treatises to the full . . . hence my frontispiece portrait of Gaston de Foix, being the unwitting principal author of our first book describing breeds of dogs."




Titian-The Pastoral Concert


A painting entitled "Fête champêtre" (also known as The Pastoral Concert) was thought to have been painted by Giorgione, but according to the website for the Louvre Museum in France, it is now attributed to Tiziana Vecellio (known as Titian). The painting was to represent the confrontation of two worlds, one being the aristocracy; the other being nymphs and shepherds. This painted scene included a shepherd with his flock. A small image of the entire painting is presented in the upper left hand corner of this image.




What is the importance of woodcuts and etchings relating to this website? Both types of printing allow us to look at the early types of sheepdogs. Woodcuts began to appear in Europe by the 1400s.

Urs Graf produced two etchings, one of which dates from 1513 and this etching is still today considered to be the earliest known etching where a date has been established.




It has been written in many places that Pan K. Grabski sailed from Gdansk through the Baltic Sea to the North Sea where he landed his ship in Scotland with six Polish Lowland Sheepdogs aboard. It has also been written that a Scottish shepherd admired them and exchanged a ram and a ewe for three of the six dogs. There are individuals who believe that those three dogs became the origin for the Bearded Collie, the Old English Sheepdog and other breeds in Great Britain.

But were those three dogs really the origin for the shaggy coated  sheepdogs, or did they contribute to the existing gene pool of the sheepdogs already there?

Historian Col. David Hancock said in his article which appears on the "History:Hancock" section of this website:

The goat-haired sheepdogs have long existed as a distinct type all over Europe, but all lack coverage in canine literature. If you compare their distribution with that of the big flock-guardians of the high pastures like the Maremma, the Estrela Mountain dog, the Caucasian Owtcharkas, the Kuvasz, the Tibetan "Mastiff" and the Bergamasco then with the various types of Dutch and Belgian shepherd dogs, the Border Collie, the Beauceron, the Algerian Sheepdog, the Berger de Picardie, the rough and smooth Collies and the now extinct Welsh Hillman, you can soon see how climate, function and terrain determined type.

Against that background therefore, I don't believe there is really any need to seek an origin for, say, the Bearded Collie in dogs off a Polish ship in the l6th century or any other foreign ancestry."

Cynologist Edward Ash, in his book Dogs: Their History and Development (1927), in the chapter entitled "Sheep-dogs," wrote:/

"In the British Islands shepherd-dogs have from some years previous to 1800 been of two, three, or four types (1) The rough-coated collie, shown by Bewick. (2) The cur-dog, a smooth-coated bobtailed collie. (3) The bearded collie, shown by Taplin."

He then went on to state:

"To-day we have four more or less distinct varieties—collie (rough-coated); collie (smooth-coated); bearded collie and old English sheep-dog, which are practically the same; and the Shetland sheep-dog, a miniature collie about the same size and weight as the collie was in Edwards and Taplin's time. These breeds, except the bearded collie, are registered by the Kennel Club. It is interesting that sheep-dogs all over the world, with few exceptions, are somewhat of the collie or bearded collie type."






Accord to Ash, Dr. Conrad Gesner (1516-1565), a Swiss physician and naturalist, made the first serious attempt to write about dogs.




Caius Book in English


Dr. Johannes Caius (1533-1603), was the physician-in-chief to Edward VI, Mary, and Queen Elizabeth I. His surname is pronounced "Keys" like keys to a lock.

At the request of his friend, Conrad Gesner, Caius wrote a letter describing various types of dogs in Britain, but that letter went unpublished at Caius' request.

Five years after the first letter was sent, Dr. Caius again wrote to Dr. Gesner.  Caius categorized dogs into classifications, one of which was the "shepherd's dogge." Caius' treatise, incorporated into Gesner's updated writings, was also published separately in Latin, in 1570, under the name De Canibus Britannicis (shortened titled). This became the first English book devoted entirely to the subject of dogs./

Dr. Caius' assistant, Abraham Fleming, translated  the Latin to English; this English translation was published in 1576 under the name Of Englishe Dogges.




Barnabe Googe (1540-1594) translated Conrad Heresbach's Foure Bookes of Husbandrie which was published in 1586. Heresbach lived from 1496-1576; his book was first published in 1577. From the translated text:

"The shepherd's masty, that is for the folde, must neither be so gaunt nor so swifte as the greyhound, nor so fatte nor so heavy as the masty of the house; but verie strong, and able to fights and follow the chase, that he may beat away the woolfe or other beasts, and to follow the theefe, and to recover the prey. And therefore his body should be rather long than short and thick; in all other points he must agree with the ban-dog. His head must be great and smooth and full of veins; his ears great and hanging; his joints long; his fore legs shorter than his hinder; but verie straight and great. His claws wide, his nails hard, his heel neither flesy nor too hard; the ridge of his back not too much appearing, not crooked; his ribs round and well-knitte; his shoulder points well distant; his buttocks fatte and broad."



The English and Scottish Crowns were no longer separate.  James I (previously King James VI of Scotland) became the first King to rule Britain.






Edward Topsell wrote his book The Historie of Foure-footed Beasts which was published in 1607.  It was mainly copied from Drs. Gesner and Caius' writings. It is interesting to read that Edward C. Ash, a cynologist, later questioned the possibility of a bearded collie being crossed with a poodle to produce a water-dog or Spagnell. Was Ash on the right track? Or was he completely off base? Did he misunderstand what Topsell wrote?




Dr. Carson I. A. Ritchie, previously mentioned as the author of The British Dog (1981) put forth a chronology of the British Dog, and he indicated that 1617 was the first use of the word "collie" in reference to a Scottish bishop.




Rembrandt Painting


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (July 15, 1606 - October 4, 1669) painted himself with a dog in 1631. It was written in Gardner's Art Through the Ages: "If Rembrandt had never painted, he still would be renowned, as he principally was in his lifetime, for his prints."

There is similarity between the shape of the head of the dog in the Rembrandt painting (minus the spaniel type of ears) with the head of a modern Beardie-like dog. But surely the curly coat makes one think it may be a water dog of some type.


1649 - 1660


Note: This was the only period of time when there was not a monarch for Britain. During this period of time, the country was a republic.






Jan Jonston's book in Latin (1650) was later translated to English in 1657. Engravings of a few canis or canes (dogs) were included. Among them appeared a shaggy coated dog with a beard. This publication is approximately 75 years after Caius' writings and sketches.

Were it not for printmaking, we could only rely upon written descriptions of what early canines looked like; thankfully printed images started emerging in the late 1500s. Many prints were not of the quality of the Rembrandt etchings (considered by many scholars to be the finest ever made), but we should remain indebted to those early printmakers for allowing us to see the past.






What is interesting about Andreas Cirino's book, De Natura et Solertia Canum (shortened title) is the inclusion of one woodcut shown in both Edward Ash's book, Dogs: Their History and Development (1927), and in Hutchinson's Popular & Illustrated Dog Encyclopedia (1935), page 356, under the heading of Collie. In Hutchinson's, the woodcut illustration was acknowledged as being furnished by Ash, but below the image are these words: "In 1653, a book on dogs gave some crude woodcut illustrations, including this dog, which the owner believes is intended to be a Collie dog.

This woodcut may have been done before the drawings that appeared in Jonston's 1650 book. Clearly, it does not compare (regarding detail) to the engraving in Jonston's book. Perhaps that is why the Cirino woodcut was described as being "crude."

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