What We Do

The International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) was founded in 1906 with the intention of stimulating interest in the shepherd, the shepherd's calling and to secure the better management of stock by improving the shepherd's dog.

This is still the objective today, for without a good working dog the work of the shepherd, both on the hills and the lowlands would be impossible.

National Trials are held annually each summer in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are few occasions on which they have not been held - the First and Second World Wars, and during the Foot & Mouth outbreak in 2001.

The dogs are guided through a series of commands to complete a variety of tasks which reflect their everyday work with a packet of sheep. Each handler will have a preference when giving their commands, either by voice, by whistle, or a combination of both. This has changed very little over the years, and the shepherds of yesterday would easily recognise the requirements of today’s handlers’ competition.

During the three days of the National Trials, handlers will run 150 dogs over the course. Each handler can enter a maximum of three dogs, but only two of these may run, the third being an ‘alternate’ dog who may be substituted for one of the two. The handler’s aim is to gain a place in their National Team to represent their Nation at the Society’s annual International Trial. Each National Team has 15 places and one reserve place, so competition is fierce.

The ISDS is not only about sheepdog trialling, the ISDS Stud Book was set up in the late 1940s and remains an invaluable and comprehensive list of working sheepdogs and their progeny. There are over 300,000 entries in the Stud Book, and thousands of new entries are added every year, either on the basis of parentage or if a dog has proved itself to be a good working example ("Registration on Merit").

In addition the Society runs an on line shop selling branded goods and products relating to the working sheep dog, and produces a bi-monthly magazine 'The International Sheep Dog News',