Irish Collie

Excerpts from “Herding Dogs Their Origins and Development in Britain” by Iris Combe 
Irish Collie

Published 1987 
Chapter 12
-  The Collie of Ireland

Until recent times cattle have been of more importance than sheep in the Irish livestock market, but the collie has always been a versatile farm dog.  It is from the history of the Celts in Ireland that I have been able to trace what are possibly the most ancient herding dogs in the British Isles. 

Three distinct Celtic groups occupied Ireland between the fifth and first centuries BC.  The Cruthins arrived prior to 500BC, followed by the Erainns and the Goidils.  Each group live in isolated communities but spoke a common Gaelic dialect, which was known as ‘Q Celtic’, from which the word collie, meaning ‘useful’, is derived.…their herds and flocks were small,
but it is known that specially trained dogs were kept to ward off attempts by wild animals to attack the lone herdsman and his stock while grazing, or the farmer tilling his land.  These dogs were probably descended from those used by the Basque Celts, for they were of medium height with lithe, athletic bodies covered by a dense, harsh coat usually brindle in colour.

When the Goidil Celts made their way over to the Western Isles of Scotland, history …. gives no information on the state of agriculture or livestock.  Later, however, as Christianity spread, so too did the use of a trained dog to help with livestock farming. 

When the monks from Ireland founded the monasteries on the outer islands of Scotland and ran farms to supply the daily necessities of life, they brought with them their own livestock and the labour to look after them…. These monks fully appreciated the value of a well-trained dog for whatever purpose. So for the first time the true ‘collie’ arrived in Scotland from Ireland. 

Viking influence was also a force to be reckoned with in Ireland as elsewhere, and in the provinces of Ulster, Munster and Connaught a type of pastoral dog has existed for centuries similar in size and build to those found in Scotland, thought by some to have been brought by the Vikings as guards for the herds and flocks.  They were usually black and tan or sand coloured with white or brindle markings, and rough or smooth coated.  In character they were aloof and apprehensive, but loyal, trustworthy and intelligent.

In the province of Leinster, particularly in Co. Wicklow, is found a pure strain similar in appearance to a modern border collie, though slightly larger.  Long ago they were born either with a natural bob or stumpy tail.  Originally they were mainly red and white in colour or red merle, sometimes black and white, or an attractive sable or sandy colour with black points….
They are plain workers with not much ‘eye’ and inclined to be noisy, but they are powerful with large numbers of sheep and very useful stock or yard dogs.

From customs records it appears that a few sheepdogs arrived in Ireland with the merino sheep from Spain and Portugal in the early part of the eighteenth century.  The sheep from that area were being exported all over the world to effect improvement in local breeds….

Another type is the Iberian strain, as it was known, and which is thought by some to have been brought to the Irish monastery farms by monks returning from Spain and Portugal….

A number of Irish collies were taken to Australia, but it is not known from which strain, and little is known of their progress out there.  Then we find an Iberian strain of pastoral dog turning up in America under the name of the Australian bob or shepherd.  Such a breed has not been heard of in that part of the globe, but then this is an Irish tale!

….In the sheep-rearing districts, particularly Galway and Roscommon, these new merinos and one or two breeds imported from England improved the quality of both fleece and flesh.  It would appear from early farming history that this improvement took place over a period of about 100 years, and during this time the imported dogs, by now called by the Gaelic name of collie, became a strain of useful farm dog and were being bred as carefully as the Irish greyhound or Connemara pony….

When sheep or wool in England became scarce due to some local disaster or disease,…then graziers and market dealers went to the fairs in Ireland where livestock was cheaper and all were impressed with the strength and beauty of the collies they saw both at the fairs and working in the fields.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Iberian strain had been crossed with Scottish dogs and the results were seen working on almost every farm in Ireland and with all types of livestock…. Most of the collies on Irish farms today are of the border collie type, but on a few isolated farms in west Galway and Co. Clare one or two Irish collies can still be found….

Eliza Forlonge


Mother of the Australian Fine Wool Industry


Eliza Forlonge was a woman ahead of her time. Her vision, courage and determination can only be described as amazing. Born in Scotland, Eliza Jack married John Forlonge, a Glasgow wine merchant in 1804, she bore him six children but lost four of them to the scourge of the times - consumption. Only two sons survived, William, born 13th May 1813 and Andrew born May 1814.

Fiercely protective of these boys, Eliza determined that the climate of the Colony of New South Wales would ensure their survival and so began her incredible journeys.

In 1827 Eliza took the two boys to Leipzig in the Kingdon of Germany. First learning German, the boys, William aged 14, and Andrew aged 13, were put to work as wool staplers (wool classers) in the wool lofts of a sorting house for the English market. William commenced as a common workman and then graduated 2 years later as a "Master of the Business of Wool Stapling", then, as now, viewed as a craft.

Leaving the boys to learn their craft, Eliza began on the first of three epic journeys. She walked the length and breadth of Saxony sourcing and purchasing the best possible breeding stock for her sons to take to New South Wales. Buying one sheep here, two sheep there, Eliza selected the animal, paid for it and then fitted a collar bearing the Forlonge seal to the beast's neck and left in it the care of the studmaster from whom she had made her purchase. On and on she walked, averaging a daily march of ten to twelve miles. When she had reached her target number, she then retraced her footsteps, collecting the sheep and driving them on.

We can only imagine the horrors of the journey. Eliza herself recalled many years later "my heart used to sink, as I heard the chains of the drawbridge rattle on coming to a fortified town, lest our passport and all our papers should not be at hand, or should by any chance be lost".

Not only did Eliza complete the task she had set upon but, once she had the flock together she then drove them from Koenigstein to Brunswick and on to Hamburg where she shipped the sheep to Liverpool (in 1829) and Greenock (in 1830).

What makes her feat even more remarkable is that Eliza had no knowledge of sheep the and wool trade and had to learn it as she journeyed. One of the journeys also took her to Rambouillet, the top merino stud in France, en route to Saxony.

Eliza, after many more adventures eventually made her home at Euroa. The original homestead Seven Creeks Estate still exists.

Eliza died on the 5th of August 1859 and now lies at the foot of her beloved Balmattum Hill overlooking the town of Euroa.

Carea Leon


To date we have no information regard Carea Leons, but would be interested

in receiving some at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Tiger

German Tiger or Alpine Header Dog

For more information cut and paste  this link for an interpreted version of a German site, please note the interpretation has used "Hat Dog" instead of "Header Dog".



The shepherd Johann Christoff Pabst with his wife (a free Irish girl, Ellen Scott) and two daughters arrived at Ten Mile Creek, 66 kilometres north-east of Albury, NSW. He had arrived in Australia on 15th November 1825, as one of four shepherds hired in Germany by the Australian Agricultural Co., founded by John Macarthur. As well as the four shepherds the Company brought about 700 Saxony sheep to Australia. In 1840 Pabst took over the licence for the Woolpack Inn, a stagecoach-stop on the southern bank of the Ten Mile Creek. The area became known as "The Germans" and in 1858 the settlement was officially named Germanton. In 1915 during World War One Germanton was renamed Holbrook after a British submarine captain who had been awarded the Victoria Cross and the French Legion of Honour.


Friedrich Johann Heinrich Bracker from Mecklenburg, arrived from Hamburg on 17th January in the Diadem. He brought with him about 300 stud sheep which he had chosen from Prince Esterhazy's Silesian flock for the Aberdeen Company. Bracker had planned to return to Germany, but he stayed in the colony and made a big contribution to the development of wool-growing in Australia. In 1843 the Aberdeen Company made him superintendent of a sheep run near Warwick on the Darling Downs which he named Rosenthal (the place name exists today). The explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, who visited him in March 1844 (and again on later occasions), noticed that Bracker was well-known in the colony as 'Fred the German' and was popular with all the squatters, many of whom asked him for advice on sheep. Bracker had good relations with the Aborigines.

The Prince George arrived in Adelaide on 20th November with the first large group of German settlers in South Australia (including those on the Bengalee). They were 178 conservative, religious German migrants mainly from Klemzig in Brandenburg, who left home mainly because of their rejection of Prussian state enforcement of a new prayer book for church services. Led by Pastor Augustus Kavel, they established the village Klemzig on the river six kilometres from Adelaide. Today Klemzig is a suburb in the north-east of Adelaide. The colony of South Australia, which promoted itself as a place only for free settlers and providing freedom of religion, was keen to attract these Germans, who had the reputation of being pious, hard-working and reliable farmers. On 18th November the Bengalee had arrived at Port Adelaide with 21 members of Pastor Kavel's group who could not be fitted on the Prince George.


In March a group of German and Wendish farmer settlers from Mecklenburg, Sachsen and Schlesien established a close-knit farming community just to the north of the city of Melbourne on land acquired on their behalf by the prominent Melbourne merchant William Westgarth. Many of them had arrived on the Pribislaw from Hamburg on the 2nd of February. Westgarth actively promoted German immigration to Victoria. Over time the village was known by various names: in 1850 Keelbundora (after the parish in which it was located); ~1851 Dry Creek; ~1855 New Mecklenburg; ~1860 Westgarthtown; ~1900 up to the present Thomastown. Many of the first settlers were Wendish/Sorbian, reflected in family names such as Wuchatsch, Ziebell, Zwar and Kupsch. The Westgarthtown church is the oldest continuously operating Lutheran church in Australia, opened on 17th November 1856. Today the farm buildings and church lie within the suburb of Thomastown and are an example of an old German-style village, with one home restored to its original condition as a heritage site.


The Queensland government appointed Johann Christian Heußler, a German businessman in Brisbane, as immigration agent for continental Europe. Queensland had become a separate colony two years earlier and was keen to attract German settlers who would open up new areas. In order to compete with other Australian colonies such as SA and Victoria that were already attractive to German settlers, Queensland offered subsidised transport  from Germany to the colony. Heußler went to Germany and his system was so successful that by 1879 over 17,000 German-speakers had settled in Queensland. Most of them were farmers and agricultural labourers from the poor regions of Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia and Württemberg, and the majority moved to rural areas of the colony. Large numbers settled in the Rosewood, Fassifern, Lockyer and Darling Downs regions, and later in Mackay, Bundaberg and Maryborough. The Germans settled in some districts whose terrain and vegetation had been rejected by British settlers as being too difficult.


German farmers from Victoria's Western District and from South Australia started colonising Victoria's southern Wimmera. Many villages developed, some with German names (Kirchheim, Grünwald, Kornheim), some with Aboriginal names. The Cyclopedia of Victoria, Volume III, An Historical and Commercial Review, published in 1905, says about Murtoa on page 229:

(In 1882) the district was then held almost entirely by Germans, whose superior frugality and simpler ways of life enabled them in many cases to buy out their British and Australian born neighbours.

The first district leases were granted in 1836-37 and the first resident was German-born Johann Pabst who had arrived in Australia in 1825 as a sheep expert working for the Australian Agricultural Company. He settled here with his family in 1838. In 1840 he became the licensee of a grog shop known as the Woolpack Inn on the southern bank of Ten Mile Creek. Other inns then began to open on the Sydney-Melbourne Rd.

The first European settler, John Purtell, started calling the area Ten Mile Creek around 1838, when he had settled on the creek, 10 miles from Father Therry's cattle yards The first recorded sheep grazier was German born Johann Pabst, a sheep expert for the Australian Agricultural Company. He worked for two years in charge of the sheep owned by Thomas Mate. (Lynch, 1988)