The early history of the McNab Shepherd is best told by the instrumental role the McNab had in Northern California industry. As a working dog, the McNab Shepherd was developed in Mendocino County by Alexander McNab.  When Alexander passed away in 1901, his Will listed among his assets “2900 head of stock sheep." The iconic dog McNab developed on the range of his Lima Ranch was still serving him as a sheep dog. As the McNab Shepherd’s abilities and reputation grew, it became a staple of agriculture in Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma Counties. Like a generic trademark, the term ‘sheep dog' came to mean a McNab Shepherd; everyone shared the same definition. In the early 1900’s, Noonan Meat Company used McNab Shepherds as stock dogs to bring in stock from rural areas where there was no railroad, and drive the stock down the city streets of Santa Rosa.

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The Redwood Empire was growing, but the same names were always associated with the McNab Shepherd either through breeding, selling, working, or in competitive trials. As you read through this site, you will see these names mentioned during a time when the McNab Ranch was famous in the West. The same names always rose to the top when it came to McNab Shepherds: McNab, Walker, Bonnifield, Foster, Beebe, Newland, Butts, Nutter, Irwin, Ledford, Noonan, and Chambers. 

Through these livestock men and their use of the McNab Shepherd in their work, the McNab’s history and lore was developed. For those of us that admire and love this breed, we owe a debt of gratitude to these men. They were the pioneers of Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa counties during a time when they grew their livestock businesses and grew the reputation of the McNab Shepherd. For those of us that grew up in Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, or Marin Counties during a time when dairies and sheep grazed where grids of vineyards now cover the same rolling hills, we will always remember the McNab as one of the pleasures of living in one of the most geographically beautiful areas in the world; a time when life was simpler. A time when this shepherd dog came to represent the heart and soul of reward for hard work and sacrifice. 

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The McNab Shepherd Historical Society, Inc. is a California non-profit corporation. Have a story, artifact, or memory to share? Please use the contact form at right. We may even feature you on the website! Thank you for your interest and support.

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