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University of Nevada, Reno

Sheep Dogs of Northern Nevada

Photo: Sheepherder with sheepdog

Sheepherders could not do their jobs without trusty, well-trained sheep dogs. One man with two or three dogs is more effective than several men at herding sheep. A herder often raised his dogs from pups, and if a he moved from one outfit to another, he took his dogs with him. A sheepherder and his dogs were inseparable and mutually loyal companions. Having at least one intelligent and responsive dog in the camp could help a sheepherder control loneliness and homesickness on the range. The young dogs that were often apprentices to more experienced sheep dogs would keep the herder entertained.

Anyone who has ever driven sheep a single mile knows so well that a good sheep dog is almost an absolute necessity. without the presence of a dog the sheep fear and dislike, they soon slow down to almost a standstill and pay no attention to the hoots and hollers of men who try to urge them to move on ahead.

— Clel Georgetta, Golden Fleece in Nevada, p. 10

Dogs would protect the sheep from predators such as coyotes and bobcats, especially at night when the herder was asleep. A good sheep dog would keep the sheep from bunching too much and trampling the feed, and would not make them overly nervous.

Photos of sheep dogs in Northern Nevada

Kelley of the Triune: Biography of a Sheep Dog by Clel Georgetta is an online book.

An excerpt about sheep dogs from the book Nevada Nomads by Byrd Sawyer.