If you are interested in a McNab Cattle Dog please contact us
via this website, by email or by phone!
13331 Brant Way
Anchorage Ak 99515
Ron: 208-315-3921
Karen: 907-244-2877

There are many stories about the McNab in it’s working environment.  McNabs were
an integral part of the agribusiness of Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and Marin
counties.  In the early 1970's, Ron Prentice went to California with his family to help
his in-laws at their RidgewoodRanch in Willits, California.  Ron and his family arrived
in California to find 16,000 acres of North Coast pasture land and cattle that had not
been gathered or worked for years due to his father in-law’s illness.  Ron’s first
priority was to introduce better herd management practices by sorting and culling the
older cattle and introducing new bulls.  Ron would soon find out that even with a
capable cowhand to help him, it was a huge task as the cattle were really wild and hit
the brush at the first hint of a mounted Cowboy!

Fortunately, Ron met two seasoned locals that owned the Ukiah Livestock Auction,
Rudy Morra and Melvin Rodriquez.  Rudy offered his help and showed up at
Ridgewood Ranch with his two McNab Shepherds.  Ron marveled at how intelligent
and cow-minded these dogs were.  These dogs were fast and could surround cattle
and keep them herded-up, even in the brush, by getting the head-end of the herd.  
Ron eventually became friends with the McNab family at the ranch in Hopland
California.   Ron's original dogs, which make up his foundation line of McNabs, are
from the place it all began, McNab Ranch.  Ron has been breeding and working
McNabs for almost 45 years.  Ron, and his wife Karen, would love to share their
knowledge and love of the McNab with you so please feel free to give them a call.
Socks the adult and Bitzi
Socks the adult, Bitzi & Ali
The McNab Dog
by Donna Seigmund and Alvina Butti
In the years we have worked with McNabs, I've often wondered if Alexander McNab truly
realized what a helpful friend he imported from Scotland for work on his sheep ranch
outside the town of Ukiah, California. We, the ranchers and farmers, up and down the
coast and the great central valley of California, thank the McNab family over and over
again. Because after over a century, the McNab shepherd is still working and is now
even more popular with the cattlemen and sheepmen.
Many questions arise from all over the US of A about the origins of this dog. We have
been fortunate in obtaining the following information, actually two histories. There has
been little written about these dogs, but what there is available we are more than willing
to share. Because we care, we try to keep the quoted word "as is". Please note our
personal footnotes and take them only as our opinions; the reference footnotes,
however, are from previously published articles, speeches, and letters.
The following are direct quotes from an article published by Al Testado, Times Sports
Editor, entitled "A Dog Detective Does a Scotland Yard Job" . A letter was written in
1955 by Robert W. Scott, son-in-law to John McNab, to Cliff Waterman who was
rewarded in his efforts to obtain a history of a really fine working dog.
"The McNab Dog is truly a unique breed in that it is a native stockdog of Northern
California via the Grampian Hills of Scotland. The first mention of this breed is in 1885
during the ranch and farming days of the young state of California. Alexander McNab
came to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland in 1868 and settled on a large
spread which is now known as the McNab Ranch. A year later he returned with his
young family and a Border Collie 1. In 1885, sixteen years later, he returned to
Scotland for the expressed purpose of obtaining new sheep dogs. He purchased two
Border Collies from the Grampian Hills of central Scotland named Peter and Fred.
Peter worked either lead or drive, while Fred was strictly a lead dog. These two,
breeding with selected females 2, originated in the United States, the line of McNab
shepherds. The original stock was supported from time to time by importations from
Scotland. Border Collies are of two varieties, long haired and short haired. The long
haired type is particularly adapted to the severe weather of Scotland, but the dry, steep
ranges of Mendocino County required a short-haired dog, both because of the summer
heat but also on account of the burs, fox-tails, and stickers which are not picked up so
easily by the short-haired dog. For these reasons, the importations by the McNab family
have been mostly of the short-haired type....
A McNab differs markedly in appearance from the usual English Collie. The McNab is
medium size, alert and cat-footed, has a black coat with white markings -- white muzzle
with a white streak running up the head between the eyes, usually a white neck and
chest, white tipped tail and one or more white feet. Its ears are medium sized and
somewhat pointed; usually the upper half of the ear flops over. The tail is not bushy.
These dogs have been bred primarily for performance in working stock--not for color
conformation -- although experience has shown that the best performance usually is
obtained from the original type." 3
I think we also should include Robert Scott's remarks on the Kelpie in this same letter
as they do bring up a relationship to the McNab Dog's 2nd history.
"McNabs should not be confused with the Australian Kelpie, which is a reddish-brown,
short-haired dog of about the same size, but with fully erect ears and often with a bushy
tail. The origins of the Kelpie seem to be in dispute -- once school of thought contends
it is a cross between the Border Collie, imported into Australia from Scotland, and the
Dingo, or Australian wild dog; a second contention is that the Kelpie is a development,
in Australia of the Scotch Border Collie, without the infusion of dingo blood; while still
others state the Kelpie originated in the "Fox Collie" 4, which was different in every way
from the Border Collie. At any rate, if you see a Kelpie you will see immediately,
primarily from its color, that it is not a McNab."
The second history of the McNab was given to me a few years ago. However, many of
our older ranchers here in Northern Sacramento Valley of California have known this
for decades. This history is called the Ed and Myrtle Brown McNab Shepherd History
and was verified by a personal interview with Myrtle Brown.
"In the early 1800's, the Bruce McKinsey family left northern Scotland and settled in the
Grampian Hills of central Scotland. They brought with them their stock dogs, the Fox
Shepherds, the origin is not known, but have survived in Scotland for centuries.
Alexander McNab was a neighbor of the McKinseys who raised the Fox Shepherds, and
started the breed in the Grampian Hills.
Alexander McNab and his family left Glasgow, Scotland in 1868, came to the United
States of America, and settled in California on the ranch known as the McNab ranch in
Mendocino, California south of Ukiah. They brought one dog with them, but it died soon
after they arrived. In 1885, Mr. McNab returned to the Grampian Hills in Scotland for the
sole purpose of getting some of the dogs he was used to working (with). He purchased
two dogs, Peter and Fred. He brought Peter back with him. Fred was left in Scotland to
have his training completed, and was sent to America later. Fred was strictly a lead
dog; Peter worked both lead and drive. These two dogs were bred to select shepherd
females of Spanish origin which were brought to this country by the Basque sheep
herders, and that cross was called McNab shepherds because Mr. McNab perfected
this breed of stock dogs which would head or heel. The McNab is not a Border Collie.
John L. McNab was the son of Alexander McNab and became the sole owner if the
McNab ranch south of Ukiah in Mendocino County. He made several importations in the
early 1900's from the Grampian Hills in Scotland. One importation in about 1906 was a
Red Fox Shepherd called "Clyde" -- later another red dog called "Ready" was imported,
and that is the reason why occasionally there will be a red pup in the litter.
Ed G. Brown put in an order for a McNab pup in 1895 These dogs were so much in
demand he didn't get one until 1915 when Mr. McNab imported a female with pup. She
whelped three weeks after arrival, and Ed Brown got the pick of the litter. He named the
pup "Jet". This pup was black with faint line of white up his face, white chest, and a
small amount of white on his feet. Some of these dogs have a wide strip up the face
and a ring of white on the neck. Also, some will have brown on the legs and face, but
they are mostly black.
They are never long haired, nor do they have loop ears or speckled legs 5. Their ears
are mostly pricked, some will tip at the top. The strain Ed Brown raised from "Jet" are
the true McNabs as he never outcrossed on other breeds. This is not a pedigree but
just a history of the McNab dog we raised and knew" --- Myrtle Brown.
As you read both of these histories you will see, as I did, several agreements in the
"tellings" and also the interesting comments regarding the very near "probable"
relationship of Border Collie, Kelpie, and McNabs via the "Fox Shepherds and/or Fox
As for working ability, the McNab is very cat-footed, very fast and agile. He generally is
a more direct and forceful stockdog than his "cousin" the Border Collie, not as excitable
as the Kelpie, and not as strong minded as an Australian Cattledog. He is very easy to
teach, giving you his alert attention and complete loyalty. He is usually a one-man (or
woman), one-family dog, does not tolerate stray dogs, strange people or animals.
He is known throughout northern California as an avid hunting companion, deer, wild
pig, squirrels, and rabbits. The dog is also known as a protector, what's his is his, and if
you are his companion, everything you own is his to protect, your spouse, children,
livestock, truck, ranch, boots and saddle.
The McNabs are recognized as working stockdogs and are registered through the
National Stockdog Registry of Butler, Indiana. I hope this will help your in your questions
regarding the versatile McNab dog. The Breeding and working of these fine dogs have
been one of the pleasures of our lives here at our place, they are truly unique in their
devotion and loyal companionship to our families.
1.        Personal comment: The name Border Collie was not officially used until after
1900, and then, used mostly for the trialling dogs on the border of Scotland and
2.        Refer to second history - Spanish herding dogs.
3.        Personal comment: description used as a standard by some breeders.
4.        Reference: see 2nd history.
5.        Personal comment: A few freckles on the legs are acceptable to some breeders.
The Collie in Mendocino, May 1894 issue, Overland Monthly, pg. 481 Lulu McNab.
Hard-Workin' DOGS, January 1982. California, pg. 78 by Paul McHugh.
The American Herding Breeds, March 1987. Dog Fancy, pg. 42, Linda Rorem.
Mendocino County Wool Growers Association, speech, O. E. Chambers, son-in-law of
John McNab. June, 1965.
Appendix A Breeder Contacts
Alvina Butti
Knee Deep Stock Dogs
84046 Lorane Highway
Eugene, OR 97405
Kirby McIlveen aka Kirby McNab and Rockin
KR Torch won the World UFO Frisbee
Championships in Tennessee today, Torch
is only 19 Months old and out of our
daughter and Son in-laws dog Dottie who is
by Socks and Jasper and Kye that was
raised by Maggie Elliott
We now have new UFO SkyHoundz world
Champion Frisbee dog, Torch is 20 months old
and won the world in Frisbee at Chattanooga
Tenn last weekend! We raised him and
another of Kirby Dog Kirby competes with Blue
Flash, We are so proud of her and also
Sketch. Kirby is the first woman in Skyhoundz
history to win four quad events in a year by a
Rockin KR Blue Flash wins California State Championship Frisbee Skyhoundz