Farm Shepherds Magazine

Josie by the Chickens

In the 1980s, there were some folks who missed the reliable and versatile farm dogs of their childhood. They knew the type of dog they sought was on the verge of extinction. And so an effort was launched to locate the descendants of the collie landrace. Sought out were dogs who retained the varied instincts and traits of America's once ubiquitous, but now nearly forgotten working farm dog. Luckily, a few scattered individuals still remained.

A few years later, the American Working Farmcollie Association was founded in 1998. Then as well as now, the association seeks to preserve the working instincts and traits found in all breeds descended from the collie landrace. To qualify for permanent registration with the American Working Farmcollie Association, a candidate must pass evaluations in at least two out of three identified working areas. Of course, double registration is encouraged. For example, a dog may be registered by breed as an English Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog, Kelpie, AKC Collie or Border Collie. And then based on his or her working evaluation, a dog may also be registered with the AWFA. In this regard, the AWFA describes itself as the 'Good Farmkeeping Seal of Approval' for working farm dogs.

Another function of the AWFA is to help match farmers with working farm dogs. The AWFA provides technical support to help raise and train working dogs to become productive, successful farm partners. An eligible working farm dog may be English Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog, Kelpie, AKC Collie, Border Collie, or a mix of these breeds.

In support of its mission, the AWFA maintains an excellent web site chock-full of useful information about working farm dogs. In addition to member registration, the AWFA website also provides breeder education, dog training articles, a list of breeders, and more. The site is both well-organized and easily searchable. As well, AWFA members can easily be reached for questions and advice by joining their AWFA Facebook group.