Complete Guide To The McNab Herding Dog

The McNab Herding Dog is an American-bred wonder developed for the rigorous California climate. Tough as nails but with a soft heart and tireless spirit, they’re ready for work and play.

What Does The McNab Herding Dog Look Like?

McNab Herding Dogs average 40-70 pounds — females are significantly smaller than males. Though short-haired, they bear a strong resemblance to the Border Collie with a strong triangular muzzle and glowing brown eyes. Ears range from drop to pricked.

Coats are short and smooth and come in black, red, white and blonde — any color combination is acceptable. Ticking is not desirable.

Most dogs have a long, gently upswept tail that completes a long, lean look. Puppies are occasionally born bob-tailed, and docking is acceptable for working dogs.

What Is The Personality Of A McNab Herding Dog?

McNab Herding Dogs were born for the outdoors. They thrive on meaningful work and prefer an active family they can help around the house. They’ll be bored, frustrated and destructive if left alone for long hours.

Independent in their jobs as herders, they’re necessarily strong-willed and need an experienced owner who can channel their instincts in positive ways. Like other herding dogs, they have a strong sense of territory and are able but not aggressive protectors. Even-tempered, they’re faithful companions for adults and children.

How Much Exercise Does A McNab Herding Dog Need?

This breed was designed to be a working dog, so a McNab needs a few hours of daily exercise. They enjoy hiking, camping and other outdoor activities, but nothing beats working. Happiest on a mission, they need a mental challenge that engages their herding instincts.

Like other working breeds, they need something to do and families to do it with. Homes with room to run are best. Apartment living is a tough sell for these active and intelligent dogs.

For non-working McNab’s, agility training is the perfect outlet for their physical and mental energy. Though they’re not AKC-recognized, they’re eligible to participate in Rally events plus a range of organized activities through local dog clubs.

How Much Grooming Does A McNab Herding Dog Need?

McNab’s were developed for tough terrain, so their short coats are thick enough to be protective without being so long that they’re vulnerable to puckers and brambles. Care is as simple as a weekly brush down. There’s nothing pretentious about these dogs.

They shed year-round and blow their undercoats out seasonally — dogs who spend ample time outdoors shed less regularly than their indoor counterparts. The occasional McNab has feathers on their legs and tail, so tease out tangles with a metal comb before they become mats. With little doggy odor, they only need a rare bath.

Dogs with pricked ears are less prone to infections than those with drop ears. Check them every few weeks for redness and odor — regular cleaning with a pH-balanced solution reduces wax build-up and discourages the growth of yeast and bacteria. And though most McNabs will wear their toenails down naturally with exercise, it’s worth trimming them back occasionally so that they’re less vulnerable to damage outdoors.

Interesting Facts About the McNab Herding Dog

Interesting Facts About the McNab Herding Dog

McNabs are still relatively rare in the US, but their star is rising. Here are a few intriguing facts about this up-and-coming breed.

• The First McNabs

McNabs were developed bred by their namesake, Scottish immigrant Alexander McNab. The family’s Scotch Collie, Flora, was responsible for herding duties on their 10,000-acre California sheep ranch. But after her passing, the McNab family tried to go it alone and nearly lost their livelihood.

McNab returned to Scotland for more dogs, but realized that Scotch Collies weren’t well adapted to the hot climate. So he began developing a multi-talented, short-haired version, and the McNab Herding Dog was born. Today, California ranchers depend on these capable, tireless helpers.

• A Dog by Many Names

A problem with breeds still in their infancy is that they have no ‘official” name until they’re recognized by a major kennel club. The McNab Herding Dog is also known as the McNab Shepherd, McNab Collie, McNab Sheepdog, McNab Cattle Dog and more.

A Vague Breed Standard

Similarly, no authority has developed a clear breed standard that covers exactly what McNab Herding Dogs should look like. For example, blue eyes are rare, and most breed enthusiasts agree it’s not a trait to breed for — other sources disagree.

The McNab Herding Dog is, in many ways, still in development, and better breeders are careful to exclude those with traits associated with medical conditions or that compromise the soundness of the breed. Buyers should vet breeders thoughtfully.

• A Future in Rescue

As the McNab’s popularity surges in the US and Canada, they’re increasingly valued for their prowess as law enforcement dogs. Hundreds are already working as evidence and cadaver dogs and to search for missing persons.