Guild of Shepherds & Collies

What’s in a Dog Breed Name?

Have you ever wondered how dog breed names are chosen? Sure, some of them are pretty obvious (we’re looking at you, Golden Retriever), but we wanted to know about the origins of the names of some of our favorite breeds.

A dog breed name can be developed from a number of things, including their intended work, origins, or even a person who played an important role in developing the breed. And sometimes, just like human names, a name is simply a name without much meaning behind it.

Below, we investigate the history of the names of five different herding dog breeds.

Border Collie

The Border Collie is a descendant of landrace collies. Although the origin of “Border” is up for debate, many believe that it comes from the place of origin of the breed: the Anglo-Scottish border. Some believe that the word “collie” is based off of the old Celtic word for “useful.”

Australian Shepherd

If you believed that the Australian Shepherd was native to Australia, we wouldn’t blame you. The breed actually has no ties to the continent – it is believed to have originated from Spain, where it was used by shepherds. So how did it pick up the “Australian” name? The jury is out, but there are two popular theories: one says that they were named after the sheep they herded, which were often from Australia; the other suggests that many dogs coming from Australia were blue merle, leading all dogs with similar coloring to fall under the “Australian” label.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd was named by Max von Stephantiz, a German man who declared his dog Horand von Grafrath to be the very first of the breed in 1899. The breed was intended to assist shepherds in sheep herding, hence the name German Shepherd.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Cardigan Welsh Corgi

The two types of Corgi – Pembroke Welsh and Cardigan Welsh – are named after their place of origin. As for “Corgi”? It’s a combination of two Welsh words: “Cor” means “to watch over or gather” and “gi” means dog. A perfect name for this herding dog breed!

Bouvier des Flandres

This herding dog comes from Flanders, the northern portion of Belgium. The name translates from French to mean “Cow Herder of Flanders.”

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