A SHEEP dog has sold for a world record price of £14,805 – about A$29,269 – at the Skipton Auction Mart in North Yorkshire.
The 16 month-old Border Collie dog Cap, was bred and trained by Irish brothers Padraig and Joe Doherty, and their father PJ Doherty, of Ardagh Sheepdogs in County Donegal, and sold for 14,100 guineas or £14,805 while being demonstrated before a large crowd on May 13.
The dog was believed to have been bought by an anonymous Irish buyer for farm and trial work. The previous world record for a working sheep dog of £9240 was also set at the Skipton auction in 2013.
Cap was described in the auction catalogue as a top quality dog which had been used at lambing, on mountain and road work. His breeders described him as very good on large flocks, having nursery trial potential (for dogs up to three years-old) and able to ride on a quad bike, tractor and jeep.
A litter mate of Cap sold at Skipton in July last year set a new pen record for unbroken pups when six-month-old black and white bitch, Ann, sold for 1,850gns or £1719 (A$3391). Cap and Ann were by Sid, bred in Donegal by trialling legend James McGee. Sid was also the sire of Glencregg Silver, the youngest-ever International Trials champion and Ann’s dam is the Doherty family’s Sue, whose own sire, Dan, is a half-brother to Mr McGee’s 2011 World Sheep Dog Trials supreme champion, Becca.
The auction mart’s website says it is one of the leading auctions in the country for working sheepdogs, attracting sellers and buyers from across the UK and Ireland. All sales offer potential buyers the opportunity to buy dogs suitable for the trial field or for general farm work. A number of handlers prepare dogs specifically for these sales, whilst for trainers a selection of unbroken dogs and puppies are always available.
Cap was a Doherty team effort
Cap was reared and readied for training by Joe and Padraig’s father PJ (Patsy) Doherty, and trained by Padraig. The dog would certainly be one of the best the Doherty’s have ever bred, Joe said.
“Cap has genuine power to command and move stock; he shows absolutely no fear.
“This confidence allows Cap to master stock in a very calm controlled manner,” Joe said.
“In our experience power cannot be trained.
“A dog’s confidence can be helped along and built up, but when the pressure comes on, the stock will know which dog to challenge or not,” he said.
Joe said Cap has natural flanks and “a great engine.”
“He will work all day and still want to do more.”
Cap has demonstrated his working ability at 16 months old, Joe said.
“This is the first and foremost important point in selling Cap.
“After this his pedigree becomes important.”
He said Cap is also keen to work cattle and would make a very good cattle dog.
“Cap’s father James McGee’s Seth (Sid) is himself a very capable dog, having bred many good dogs, including James’s “Glencregg Silver”, who is the youngest dog in history to have won the international.
“Cap’s mother Sue is closely related to James McGee’s Becca who won the 2011 world trial and is the mother to Glencregg Silver.”
Joe said the family breeds from either trialling or working dogs “provided we like them”, but are not involved in trialling.
They don’t breed for trialling or work specifically and believe a good trialling dog will be a good work dog, and vice versa.
Joe said the family keeps a small flock of ewes and PJ’s sons work full-time work off the farm.
“Our father PJ (Patsy) Doherty has been keeping dogs for approximately 50 years.
“We breed a litter of pups from time to time to try and obtain a dog to suit us,” he said.
“My father really liked James McGee’s Seth and brought his bitch Sue to be mated.
“We are fortunate to be in Donegal and the North of Ireland where we have the option of many exceptional dogs to bring a bitch to.”
Joe said Cap’s new owner has asked that his name not be released.
Potential for Kelpies in the United Kingdom
Welsh expatriate sheep farmer and dog trainer Richard Davies believes the level of international interest in buying Border Collies out of the United Kingdom and the all-round attributes of the Kelpie highlighted the potential for marketing Australia’s working dog overseas.
He said many of the Border Collies sold at auction in the United Kingdom were bred purely for paddock work and were sold to overseas buyers. But UK sheep producers were showing increasing interest in Kelpies for yard work.
The Australian record for a working kelpie was A$12,000 (£6081 today) for a full-trained dog set in 2012 at the Casterton Working Dog Auction, but Mr Davies believes there is renewed potential for marketing Kelpies correctly to overseas buyers.
“I feel that perhaps the way the Kelpie is going – they are getting more popular in America and the UK – that possibly buyers will be hitting up people to buy them at auctions here.
“I think that will push the prices up for us as trainers over here.”
Mr Davies said £6000 would buy only an unbroken sheep dog in the UK, but he said many of the UK dogs were only bred for paddock work and not for all-round work, including backing and barking in yards.
Mr Davies said many of his friends in the UK were looking for dogs to do yard work, but Kelpies are currently promoted in the UK as yard dogs, not as all-rounders with the ability to do paddock work.
“Until we can change that aspect of it, we will struggle, but it is getting through to people that they are actually good paddock and all-round dogs.
“I feel that the more people that jump on board over there, the price will go up over here,” he said.
Mr Davies said it was becoming the norm for UK sheep dog buyers to pay high sums for dogs because they were competing with overseas buyers.
“These buyers, they just want the bloodlines, they want the dogs and they are prepared to buy.”
The next Clark Rubber Casterton Working Dog Auction will be held on June 12 as part of the town’s annual Kelpie festival on June 11 and 12.
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