Dogs Of The Shepherds
by David Hancock


DOGS OF THE SHEPHERDS - A Review of the Pastoral Breeds

This book, David Hancock’s thirteenth, is about pastoral dogs, those remarkable dogs dedicated to herding and guarding livestock and loyal companions of both shepherds and discerning dog owners. Dogs of the Shepherds is not a manual covering training, breeding, nutrition and dog care; it’s much more a reflective review of the considerable contribution by pastoral dogs to the working and companion dog scene, an examination of their past, their performance and their prospects, in an increasingly urban society.

 David Hancock asks some highly pertinent questions: Have breeds become too important? Is breed identity truly more important than soundness and health? Primitive shepherds never aimed to create breeds – just functional animals. How can we best simulate live-stock herding to retain the instinctive talents of our pastoral breeds? How can we save our unfancied native pastoral breeds? Would the Rough Collie and the Smooth Collie both be better bred if they were one breed? Why did we lose old breeds like the Smithfield Sheepdog, the Old Welsh Grey, the Glenwerry Collie and the Blue Shag? Why don’t we re-create them? Will the Old English Sheepdog still be with us in 20 years time? Should the Sheltie now be placed in the Toy Group? Wouldn’t a re-created Smooth Shetland Sheepdog make an ideal companion dog? Is there an argument for reshaping our native pastoral breeds as they once were? Wouldn’t they be sounder dogs?

 In his usual forthright way, he challenges the often over-romanticized breed histories so unquestioningly repeated, queries the anatomical soundness of pastoral breeds and pleads for a greater awareness of their simple needs. Lavishly illustrated, with many of the illustrations being published for the first time, this comprehensive survey of the pastoral dogs’ origins, role and future is essential reading for all those with an interest in these admirable dogs.

 David Hancock’s earlier books have been highly praised, as have his many articles in sporting magazines in the last thirty years. When reviewing one of his previous books, the revered writer on sporting dogs, the late Brian Plummer described it as ‘a masterpiece’. Reviewing his Sporting Terriers (Crowood, 2011), Dogs in Canada magazine stated that it ‘has the quality of a classic’.A reviewer of his book, Sighthounds (Crowood, 2012)wrote that “Hancock’s work provokes thinking in the reader the way a good discussion stimulates and refreshes our minds’. A Canadian reviewer of one of his past books gave the view that David Hancock is ‘perhaps the most important living writer about dogs’. A reviewer of his book Gundogs (Crowood, 2013) gave the view that it was ‘one of the most important and thought provoking books on the subject of gundogs to have been published for decades’.

This is a successor to David’s sporting dog quartet: Sporting Terriers (2011), Sighthounds (2012), Gundogs (2013) and Hounds – Hunting by Scent (2014), all published by Crowood.