Adam Telfer and Old Hemp
The father of the modern Border Collie

Adam Telfer (1859-1940) was a world renowned sheepdog breeder and trials competitor. He came from a long line of Northumbrian shepherds. His father, Walter, was a winner at the first recorded sheepdog trial, which took place at Byrness in 1876.
Adam himself was a hugely successful competitor, becoming International Champion in 1910 and 1921 English National Champion in 1924. It is as a breeder of border collies however that Adam achieved lasting fame and as such, he will always be associated with his most notable collie of all – Old Hemp.

Old Hemp (1893-1901) born at Woodhouse, West Woodburn was Adam Telfer’s most remarkable dog and is widely regarded as “The father of the modern border collie sheepdog”. Through his skill and knowledge of selective breeding, Adam produced, in Hemp, a dog that was a ‘true master of sheep’. Hemp was a natural herder who could move and control sheep with a mere look (something that can be observed in sheepdogs to the day) and worked without fuss or commotion. It was said of Old Hemp that “No one who saw him work could ever forget him”. Old Hemp’s progeny sired many champions and, through them, the ancestry of many border collies across the world can be linked to him.

  • From the Parish of Corsenside’s Memorial

Adopting a Border Collie

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