Telfer and Hemp biography

Auld Hemp (1893–1901) was a sheepdog and stud, owned by Adam Telfer. His style was different from that commonly seen during his era, as he worked far more quietly than the other sheepdogs of the time. This was adopted and used by other breeders and trainers, and became the most common style among Border Collies within a few generations. Many of Hemp’s descendants became successful international sheepdog champions.

Life and herding career. In September 1893 Auld Hemp was born to Adam Telfer’s two dogs in Cambo, Northumberland. Hemp’s mother, Meg, was a reticent and very strong-eyed sheepdog, while Hemp’s father, Roy, was a loose-eyed black, white, and tan sheepdog with a good nature. Unlike many modern Border Collies, Hemp was a tri-coloured dog with only a small amount of white fur on his trim.

Adam Telfer realised that Hemp was something special at just six weeks of age. His quiet, yet utterly determined manner to ‘follow’ Sheep was summed up in Telfer’s own words: “He flashed like a meteor across the sheepdog horizon. There never was such an outstanding personality.” Shepherds, upon seeing Hemp work, saw what great potential he had, and as many as 200 Pups were sired by Auld Hemp. He is generally considered to be the ‘Father of the Border Collie’ we all recognise today.

Each of the twenty nine collies that won the International Sheepdog Society championship between 1906 and 1951 were descendants from Hemp. A huge number (possibly all) of the Border Collies alive today will have Auld Hemp’s genes, and although many other great Collies have ‘gone into the Mix’, it can be safely asserted that without Telfer and Hemp, the Border Collie would not exist as we know it today. The Farming of livestock throughout the world would be considerably more difficult, if not completely impossible.


Adam Telfer’s Son, Walter with his Collies