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THE ORIGIN OF THE BEARDED COLLIE

Written by Mrs G O Willison

(reproduced from the Bearded Collie Club Golden Jubilee 2005 book)

'As I have been asked to give a talk on the origin of the Bearded Collie I feel I cannot do better than quote Professor von de Schulmack who was killed by the Nazis and had studied the development of the dog over four years and was working on a book when he was killed. The kind owner of this information knew the Professor very well and she wrote that he gave her much information during his life and also a map showing the likely lines on which the sheepdog and hounds spread out over Europe and Asia. This, with the following, is all that remains of his work as the Nazis destroyed all the rest.

Professor von de Schulmack had travelled all over the world to see and study dogs and spoke 17 different languages. He believed that the Maglomaisians had medium sized dogs of two types, one the spitz type and the other the long coated sheepdog type. The spitz type was used for hunting; the other was used as a guard dog for home and cattle. The date was about 4000BC, which is borne out by the discovery of the bones of dogs of this type in north western Europe.

The present day type of sheepdog and the longish coat common to several countries in Europe would seem to have come from the Kommondor of the Magyars. The Magyars travelled westward from Asia Minor and possibly their original home was further eastward still. Groups of the Magyar people travelled north-west following the village Slavonic tribes which later became the Western Slav, which in turn became the Polish nation. In the 19th Century the state of Morovia extended its power and influence over what is present day Poland and it is from the 9th Century that the Lowland Polish Sheepdog has been known as a pure-bred type.

Around 1514 the Poles were beginning to trade with other countries and there is a record of the trading of a ship whose owner, Kazimiez Grabski, sailed form Gdansk to Scotland with grain in exchange for Scottish sheep. With him he had six Lowland Sheepdogs and this is what is written:

‘To bring unto the ship the dogs were sent to move the sheep, those that were chosen to be brought unto the ship to be separated from them that were to be left behind for there were gathered together 60 head of sheep and only 20 must come unto the ship. This the dogs did do, bring forth those chosen from the flock.’

Now the interesting part according to this record is that the sheep were good Scottish sheep, much valued by the shepherd and that this same shepherd offered a very fine horn ram for a pair of dogs, a deal being made for a ram and a ewe for two females and one dog.

There are to be found all over Europe, dogs of much the same type as the Bearded and the Polish Lowland, but there is hardly any of the type outside Asia Minor to the eastward. The Bergamaschi of Italy, the Rumanian Sheepdog, one of the Spanish Sheepdogs and several others all seem to have come from the same origin as the Kommondor breed, if not from that breed itself. It looks, on the face of it, that the dogs of the Bearded type came to the British soil from the west of Europe about 2000BC, and that new blood landed in Scotland helped to form the dog we have today for both came and where man goes his dog goes also.

The Vikings brought the Bunhund with them from Norway to help them steal sheep and when the Vikings got lost on the west coast of Wales the dogs crossed with the local types and from this came the Corgi.'

The more that one follows the lines of man’s movements from the very earliest times the easier it is to follow the breeds of dogs as they came into being.