10 Famous Herding Dogs
History's Top 10 Famous Herding Dogs
Enthusiasts won’t be surprised to discover that some of the most remarkable dogs throughout history have been herding dogs. These dogs were war heroes, famous actors, and even royalty. All of these extraordinary animals set new standards for their breed and redefined what it means to be man’s best friend.
Perhaps the most famous dog in the world, the character of Lassie the Collie, was created by author Eric Knight in his novel “Lassie Come-Home.” The novel tells the story of a loyal Collie who undertakes a long journey to reunite with her young master, Joe, after his family sells her for money. In 1943, the novel was adapted into a feature film by MGM, which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Roddy McDowall. In the years since, Lassie has been featured in countless films and a television series, and she has a special place in hearts worldwide.
Chips was a Collie-German Shepherd-Siberian Husky mix (two out of three isn’t bad) who became the most highly decorated dog during World War II. His heroic actions include helping take ten Italian soldiers captive, and aiding in attacking an Italian machine gun station. Chips was awarded the Purple Heart, the Silver Star, and the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery. Unfortunately, all these commendations were revoked because of military policy regarding animals being awarded such honors. Chips probably didn’t care though, as he made it through the war safely and returned to his home in New York, where treats for his bravery surely awaited him.
Fly is a no-nonsense Border Collie in the hit movie Babe who adopts Babe, a young pig. Fly teaches Babe how to herd sheep, and inspires him to want to become a sheepdog like her. Though Babe, at first, is not accepted by other sheepdogs, such as Fly’s mate, Rex, he eventually earns the respect and admiration of others. At the end of the movie, Babe even wins a sheepherding competition. This feel-good movie became an instant classic, and was nominated for seven Oscars. It also began a resurgence in the demand for Border Collies as family pets.
Bullet was a German Shepherd who starred in the, “Roy Rogers Show.” Bullet, along with his co-star, Trigger the horse, appeared in more than 100 episodes. Bullet’s role on the television show was to rescue the stars, Roy and Dale, whenever they encountered trouble. He was an incredibly fast dog, and was often filmed running beside Trigger as they chased down outlaws. Bullet was the epitome of a good dog on and off the silver screen; he was Roy Roger’s pet as well as his co-star.
The Dulux Dog
Beginning in 1961, Dulux paint began to use Old English Sheepdogs as their brand’s mascot, featuring them in countless print and television advertisements. These ads have had such an influence that people in the UK and Australia now refer to these sheepdogs only as “Dulux dogs.” Over the decades, different dogs have been used in the advertisements, though most of them were related. The most famous Dulux dog was Fernville Lord Digby. When filming commercials, Digby was treated like a celebrity and even had his own chauffeur to drive him to the studio. The Dulux dogs have an impressive pedigree, and five of them have won “Best of Show” prizes. The most recent Dulux Dog, Don, is Crufts Qualified.
The Royal Corgis
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are the famous pets of Queen Elizabeth II, who has owned more than 30 during her reign. In fact, Elizabeth’s crown coin issued during her Golden jubilee year, depicts the Queen with a Corgi. Her most beloved Corgi was Susan, who was gifted to the Queen when she was 18. Susan even accompanied the Queen on her honeymoon. All of the Queen’s Corgis since then have been direct descendants of Susan, including her current dogs, Holly and Willow. Unexpectedly, the Queen has even had some of her Corgis trained to herd, as these dogs were originally bred to herd sheep and cattle in Wales.
The Shaggy Dog
The Shaggy Dog was a 1959 Walt Disney film about a teenage boy named Wilby Daniels who accidentally uses an enchanted ring to transform himself into Chiffon, the shaggy Old English Sheepdog of his crush, Francesca. As a sheepdog, Wilby undergoes a series of hilarious misadventures, foils a plot of international espionage, and saves Francesca. At the end, he is transformed back into a boy, and keeps Chiffon as his beloved pet. The Shaggy Dog was the most profitable film produced by Disney at the time, which spurred the company to create multiple sequels and remakes.
Nemo, a German Shepherd, gained fame for his loyalty to his handler, Bob Thorneburg, during the Vietnam War in 1966. After coming under enemy fire, Nemo received a gunshot wound to his eye, and Throneberg was shot in the shoulder. Despite his injury, Nemo attacked the Viet Cong guerillas, giving Throneberg time to call reinforcements. After Throneberg fell unconscious because of his injuries, Nemo placed himself on top of his body to shield him. Nemo refused to leave his body once reinforcements arrived, and only a veterinarian could move him. Both Nemo and Throneberg made a full recovery, and Nemo lived to see a comfortable retirement.
Rin Tin Tin
Rin Tin Tin was rescued from a World War I battlefield by Lee Duncan, an American soldier. Duncan believed Rin Tin Tin was good luck, and named him after good luck charms called Rintintin that French children gave to the soldiers. When Duncan returned to America with Rin Tin Tin, he began to look for movie roles for the well-trained dog. Rin Tin Tin’s big break came when he landed a role in the silent film Where the North Begins. The film was a massive success and is credited with saving Warner Brothers from bankruptcy. From there, Rin Tin Tin became an international movie star, and his films sold out in theatres worldwide. Rin Tin Tin’s bloodline is still thriving today, and some of his descendants are currently trained as service dogs for special needs children.
Bobbie, The Wonder Dog
A real-life Lassie story occurred in 1923 when a Scotch Collie-English Shepherd mix named Bobbie made a courageous journey home. While on a trip to Indiana, Bobbie was separated from his owners. After desperately searching for their beloved pet, the family eventually returned home to Oregon. Six months later, Bobbie arrived at their doorstep with feet worn to the bone; he had walked 2,551 miles to reunite with his family. Upon his return, he became an instant sensation. Newspaper articles, Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, and films featured the determined dog. Bobbie even played himself in the silent film The Call of the West. When he died in 1927, another canine celebrity, Rin Tin Tin, laid a wreath at his grave.
Though these dogs are more famous than most humans, many dog owners will see reflections of them in their own pets. Perhaps your dog has the fierce courage of Nemo, or the loyalty of Bobbie, The Wonder Dog. Whether they are shaggy Sheepdogs, or spunky Collies, dogs like this are the reason why man and dog have enjoyed a friendship thousands of years long.