History of the ISDS

The Start

The pursuit of sheepdog trialling had been well established since the 1870's in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. However, in those days travel was difficult and people were naturally much more parochial, thus it was a locally organised interest.

The first recorded trials involving more than one country were the 1873 Bala trials in Wales, where a Scotsman took first prize. It was William Wallace of Otterburn, Northumberland at the Hawick Trials of 1883 who is credited with first demonstrating control of the dog "with a mere hiss at hand and a low whistle at distance". Before then, much waving, shouting and barking might be noticed by a spectator.

Dogs with the right ‘eye’ for the task were bred and handling skills perfected by the men of Northumberland and the Border regions of Scotland. In the 1890’s Adam Telfer, of Cambo, Northumberland bred and trained the dog that is considered the ‘father of the breed’, Old Hemp (see photo below). It was out of these lands that the ‘Collie from the Borders’ came.

William Wallace and Moss - 1907

At the same time, early sheepdog societies were founded in north-west England and Wales. Their contribution to the dog is less well known but should be acknowledged.