One man and top dog Sam are 
leaders of the pack at auction

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To the untrained eye he may look like just another sheepdog but Marchup Sam is the second most expensive dog of his kind in the world.

The 15-month-old black and white dog fetched £5,250 at Skipton Auction’s Mart’s summer sale of working sheepdogs, the second highest price paid at an official sale in history.

The price comes just £1,050 short of the world record price, which was also set at Skipton in February last year, of £6,300.

Marchup Sam was bred locally by Andrew Throup, of Silsden, and was owned prior to the sale by Shaun Richards of Hapton near Burnley.

He was bought by a sheep farmer from the Harrogate area who wishes to remain anonymous.

Mr Richards told the Yorkshire Post: “I am very pleased, he is a tremendous young dog. He was very easy to train and he has just superseded my expectations.

“I have trained hundreds of dogs and he was just so simple to train. He is eager to please all the time and his breeding was very good.”

Mr Richards has been training dogs full-time for the last five years having previously worked as a self-employed shepherd. He began training dogs aged 12 and sold his first when aged just 14 for £400.

“I was bitten by the bug at a young age you could say”, he said. “It is a very rewarding way of life. There are certainly much worse ways you can earn a living.”

The dog itself was displayed in action at the auction mart’s main ring with the buyer having also previously visited Mr Richards’ house to see him prior to the sale.

Mr Richards said he was particularly pleased that the buyer also intends to keep him working as a sheep dog.

He also sold Sam’s brother earlier in the year for £1,750 and admits now that he wishes he had kept a hold of him.

The news of the sale has travelled fast with Mr Richards already seeing much more interest in his dogs, having been contacted by several people ahead of another upcoming sale at Lazenby near Penrith.

However he has a relatively simple formula for training his sheepdogs.

“It is just a case of day-today training out in the field with the sheep,” he said.

“You need to give them the experience of going out there and working their way round the field while responding to calls.”

However he also acknowledges that in Marchup Sam he had something very special, a fact he recognised virtually immediately upon working with him.

“This dog learned the ropes in just three-and-half weeks, some take three-and-a-half months or even three-and-a-half years before they pick it all up but he was just like a sponge.”

Mr Richards, 45, also said that he was not surprised that to see such a strong price for the sheep dog being agreed, explaining that good quality dogs are increasingly in short supply.

“There is still a demand although even just a few years ago you would see a lot more like Sam at a sale.

“A lot of the work these days is done with quad bikes and the like, with a lot of farmers just using the dogs to push the sheep into the pens.

“However some people still like to do things the old-fashioned way.

“There is real skill involved in using dogs to herd up sheep and it is a tradition that obviously goes back some way.”

Skipton’s next seasonal working sheep dog sale is scheduled for Friday, October 26 with catalogue entries set to close on October 12.