McNab Dog Breed – Facts and Information

McNab Dog
Photo by Anna Dudkova on Unsplash

What is McNab dog?

The McNab dog is a medium-sized athletic dog with a short to medium black coat. McNab usually has white patches on the muzzle, feet, chest and tip of the tail. This breed has a distinctive cat-like foot which contributes to its agility.

Another distinctive trait of the McNab is that it lacks dewclaws on the rear feet, as opposed to the Border Collie where this is a common occurrence.

McNab Collies are bred for its working ability and is not recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club).

Origin/history of the McNab Border Collie

McNab Dog Breed is an Innovation done by Alexander McNab in the late 19th Century. When Alexander left his motherland Scotland to travel to homestead a 10,000-acre sheep ranch located in the Hopland, California, he needed a good herding dog which can handle the harsh conditions commonly found in Northern California such as heat, burrs, foxtails, rugged terrain and also look out for the wild predators.

Alexander McNab crossed the Scottish border Collies he had brought with him with the tough dogs of the nomadic Basque sheepherders he had met in the ranch, and this new breed came to known as the McNab Shepherds.

Later, in the early 1900s, John McNab, his youngest son, becomes the sole owner of the ranch. He took a keen interest and started experimenting by adding bloodlines from dogs imported from Scotland.

The McNab Shepherds proved to be supreme herding dogs among the California ranchers. Their popularity spread across the US and Canada exponentially. Some of them are also working as stock dogs in Germany and sporting dogs in Japan.

McNab dog breed Appearance & Characteristics

The McNab is a medium-sized muscular dog having a deep chest and long elegant legs with distinctive cat-like feet which gives them great agility. The elongate body slopes slightly towards the tail and exhibits a slightly tucked up tummy. An elegant slender neck supports their pointed head which is rounded at the top. They have a variety of ears sets from pointed to floppy ears and everything in between.

They have almond-shaped eyes which are set well apart, of brown, hazel or copper coloured with occasional marble flecked or powder blue eyes. This dog breed will always see you coming no matter how quiet you are.

McNab has a dense, close and weather-resistant coat. The coat is short to medium length but can vary from slick and short to dense double coats. They are smart looking, independent dogs with a glossy coat which neatly fits their bodies.

Their coats are reddish with white markings or black with white markings. On occasion, you will discover this tri-coloured.

Height: Females: 16-21 inch Males: 18-25 inch

Weight: Females: 14-23 kg Males: 16-32 kg

Colour: Brown, black, tricoloured, white markings

Temperament: Protective, obedient, friendly, hard-working, sociable, Agile, Fast, Calm

Life expectancy: 13-15 years

Barking: Occasional

Litter Size: 7 puppies or less

Good with Children: Yes

Shedding: Seasonal

Other Names: McNab Collie, McNab Sheepdog, McNab Herding Dog, McNab Stock Dog, McNab Border Collie, McNab Shepherd, McNab Cattle Dog

McNab dog temperament

McNab Shepherds can herd any creature like geese, goats, llamas, cattle and even can gather the horses in from the pasture. This breed can quickly move stock to exactly where they want them. McNabs are known for their incredible stamina, persistence and their loose eyed herding style and loves to work independently as compared to other herding breeds. They are skilled at both herding and heeling stock, which means they can turn stock from the front or go behind them to drive them forward.

McNab Dog is an affectionate family companion who often bonds strongly to its family members, even with the other household pets. They have a keen territorial instinct and never roam far from home, fearlessly defends its family members and territory from outside threats. They are friendly but remains watchful and cautious with strangers.

This dog breed needs a strong leader who is firm, consistent with rules and skilled in positive dog training methods to control their assertive and demanding nature. Otherwise, they will become bossy. Mcnabs loves challenges and needs mental stimulation as well as physical exercise.

These smart furbabies need a lot of time with the family and love to be with their master most of the time. McNabs are best for the families who are looking for an intelligent pet to spend plenty of time with them.

How to take care of Mcnab Dog?

McNab dog
Photo by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash

Mcnab Border Collie is an easy dog to care. They rarely need a bath unless they roll in the mud. Rubbing down with a clean cloth is sufficient to keep its dapper appearance. In case of taking them to bath, use a gentle shampoo to protect their natural body oils which act as a weather proofing. Remember to brush its teeth twice a week for good dental hygiene. Other then this check their ears time to time and clip of the toenails and that’s it, your furbaby is ready to make a boom!

Do McNab dogs shed?

McNab collies are considered less shedding dog breeds. They possess exceptional personal hygiene habits like cats, therefore are low maintenance dogs. McNab Dog only requires a good brush once a week to keep his neat and crisp appearance.

McNab Activity Requirements

As a herding dog, McNab needs a lot of exercise and physical activities. McNab Border Collie is no slouch or lap dog; they love to run, roam, herd and mess around in fenced-in areas. They can also adapt to city life if they get plenty of exercise. If you like early morning walks or running, then this dog is your perfect partner.

Being an intelligent and energetic dog breed, it loves to be mentally challenged and likes to work. Hence, agility trials, flyball and disc dog competitions work best for this athlete buddy.

Long walks in the wide-open country or on a beach suit this furbaby who gets on well with other pets such as your cat. They can get bored and destructive if left alone; they need to flex their muscles to keep them out of trouble.

Feed Healthy food

Size of meals will depend upon the age of dogs and also on their activity level. More active dogs require high energy, thus, need more food. Just make sure to feed your McNab Shepherd with high-quality food whether it’s dry or moist, which consist proper amount of carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, and vitamins.

Also, add home-cooked food containing organ meats, salmon, tuna, and eggs combined with barley, brown rice, sweet potato, apples, bananas, and pumpkin in their diet. Besides, always make sure they have access to a fresh, clean bowl of water throughout the day.

Also check:- Top 18 Healthiest Human Food For Dogs.

The following items should never be feed to Mcnab Dog.
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Chocolate, coffee, or tea
  • Alcohol, beer, wine or liquor
  • Poultry bones
  • Salt & salty foods
  • Onions, chives, and garlic
  • Mouldy or spoiled food of any kind
  • Tomato leaves stem or unripe fruit
  • Yeast dough

Also check:- 22 Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat.

How to train a McNab dog?

McNab Shepherd
Photo by Anusha Barwa on Unsplash

McNab Dogs are super smart and easy to train but remember if they didn’t have a strong, firm leader with good positive training skills, then they will become bossy with time.

Obedience training

As soon as you bring your McNab baby home, lay the foundation for obedience. Be firm and consistent with the rules. Train your furbaby to sit and stay in one place, and follow some basic commands like come to instantly when called. Give healthy treats whenever he follows your command, and keep the session small to avoid boredom.

Stopping it from herding or mouthing people

McNab puppies have strong herding instincts, they are likely to chew, nib or mouth on humans if we don’t channelize their natural herding behaviour. Give your McNab puppy, a variety of chew toys. Teach them to play with those toys like rubber or plastic balls and allow them to herd those toys. In this way, you can channelize their natural herding instinct and allow them to express their behaviour more safely.

Also check:- The Ultimate Guide For AGGRESSIVE DOG TRAINING

Common Mcnab Collie health problems

McNab Dogs are strong and hardy dogs with very few health issues. Their average life span is 13–15 years. Still, if they develop a health problem, then it’s most likely to be one of these:

  • Hip Dysplasia: It occurs when the ball and socket joint are malformed, which results in dislocation.
  • Epilepsy: It is a neurological disorder that produces seizures.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: It is a genetic disorder found in McNab, which is caused by missing or defective clotting proteins.
  • ‘Cherry Eye’: It is a disorder which causes the gland of the nictitans to prolapse and pokes out from the eye. It’s typically a red fleshy mass occurs after a tear gland in a dog’s third eyelid becomes inflamed.
  • Primary Lens Luxation: It is a genetic disorder that causes weakening zonular fibres in the eye results in a breakdown of the lens zonules.

If you are getting your furbaby from a breeder makes sure to check all documents showing that the parents are healthy and fit. In that way, you can eliminate a lot of health issues right away.

How much does a McNab dog cost?

On average, the cost of McNab puppy price is between $700-$1000. For a superior pedigree and a top breed line McNab Collie, have a budget anywhere between $1700 to $4500.

Today’s Quote –

“If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”– Will Rogers


The McNab is a smart, intelligent, well mannered, loving dog, which is ideal for either herding or as a family companion. They are highly social animals and get along with children and other animals too.

If you have this furbaby we would love to know your story, feel free to share in the comment box.

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Written by Adrienne Farricelli, well versed CPDT-KA(1) certified dog trainer.
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