A Match for Man or Beast

There is a brief but important article titled A Match for Man or Beast published in the English Shepherd Club of America’s Who’s Who Breeder Manual on page 22. This article by Horace Curtis of Algood, Tennessee is only two-hundred and sixteen words in length, but Mr. Curtis has a direct and informative writing style that provides us with some valuable and detailed information about the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English shepherd.

As a frame of reference, Mr. Curtis states that as a child his father always kept a shepherd dog and a few cattle on their farm. He goes on to say that they trained a shepherd pup in about 1927 or 1928.

“We could send him after a cow, or we could make him stand guard; or we could surround a cow and make her go in the stable. We could get on a horse and lead a cow with a rope with the help of the heeling dog.”

Horace Curtis

After going several years without a working dog, Mr. Curtis obtained an ARF registered Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd pup from Mrs. Polly Blankenship of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It is at this point that Mr. Curtis begins to provide us with some valuable details about the behaviors offered by his Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd.

He states that his English Shepherd was a natural heel driving dog.

He goes on to observe that his English Shepherd would go into the woods, catch squirrels, and bring them back to the farm house.

He then states that his English Shepherd would kill rats at the barn.

He proudly proclaims that his English Shepherd has “stock loving, heel driving instinct”.

And finally, Mr. Curtis states that his English Shepherd would fight man or beast to protect his children.

“I do not have time to hunt for wild animals, but recently my dogs went to the woods, caught a squirrel and brought it to the house. They killed a rat at the barn and took it where they saw my wife bury one the day before.”


And so from this short article by Horace Curtis, we can gain some direct insight and confirmation into the behavioral traits rural Tennesseans valued in their locally bred farm dogs. Simply put, the black and tan English Shepherd dogs bred by Mrs. Blankenship were valued by rural Tennesseans for their ability to eradicate vermin, protect children, and drive cattle.

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Tony Bierman, "A Match for Man or Beast," OBTESA, Accessed June 18, 2024, http://esbt.us/60.

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