History of the Collie Breed
The origin of the collie, as well as the source of its name, is not well documented. Several theories abound, including one that the dog was created from the same ancestors as the Border collie and that the name of this fine breed was derived from the Gaelic word that means “useful.” Others say that the name comes from a Scottish black-faced sheep called a “Colley.” It is said that the collie was brought to the British Isles by the Celts when they first settled there. However, evidence of the collie is not documented until the 1800s when the breed was known as rough- or smooth-coated Scotch collies. It is claimed that t he smooth collie is the same breed as the rough collie; it just doesn’t have the longer coat. The AKC considers the two as varieties of the same breed. It is believed that these two Scotch collies originated from different crosses, and according to some sources, it was hardly known outside of Scotland for many centuries. The rough-coated Scotch collie was usually a smaller black or black and white dog with a broader head. In time, both varieties became taller and more refined thanks to the interest of dog fanciers. It is believed that a rough-coated collie named “Old Cockie” was responsible for the introduction of the sable color in this breed in the late 1800s. It was at this time that Queen Victoria became impressed with the collie and kept the dog at the Balmoral Castle in Scotland. It is reported that collies were mixed with the Borzoi at this point in time. Thanks to the Queen’s sponsorship, the dog became very popular with the upper class as well as working shepherds. Around this time in America, sheep herding became very important, so settlers brought their collies with them. Queen Victoria added to the popularity of the collie when she entered two of them in the Westminster Dog Show in 1878. This caused the breed to surge in popularity in America among the social elite. Author Albert Payson Terhune also championed the breed when he wrote stories about this fine dog. The collie has succeeded in many areas over the years, including work as a rescue water dog, sheepdog, herding dog, guard dog, and a guide for the blind.
Size and Appearance of the Collie Breed
Active and lithe, the collie is a dog that personifies grace, speed, and strength. The front legs of this breed are muscular and straight, offering a strong bone structure in relation to the size of the dog. The back legs feature muscular and sinewy thighs. The oval-shaped feet are rather small with tough, well-padded soles and well-arched toes.
The head is the shape of a lean wedge, and it is well balanced and proportioned to the rest of the dog. The smooth, well-rounded muzzle is blunt at the end and has good-sized teeth that meet in a scissors bite. The medium size, almond-shaped eyes are usually dark in color and offer an expression of intelligence and curiosity. The smallish ears are proportionate to the head. The firm neck is muscular and sinewy and features a heavy frill. The muscular body of the collie is firm and slightly longer than it is tall. The strong back is supported by powerful hips and thighs. The moderately long tail is carried low when the dog is at rest and carried gaily when the dog is alert. The gait of the collie can best be described as effortless and speedy. The herding ancestry allows this breed to change direction very quickly. The coat of this breed consists of an outer coat which is harsh and straight and an undercoat that is softer and denser. The mane and frill of this dog is abundant while the face is smooth. The tail hair is profuse, and the hair on the hips is long and bushy. There are four recognized colors for the coat of the collie: sable and white, tri-color, blue merle, and white. The smooth-coated variety of the collie features a coat that is short and dense with an abundant undercoat.
A gentle and devoted friend and companion, the collie is an intelligent dog that is generally willing to please. It is a wonderful dog for a family with children, and it usually gets along with other dogs and pets in the family. The collie can be reserved and wary with strangers, making it a good watch dog, but its friendliness prevents it from being a very good guard dog. Puppies can exhibit innate herding behavior by nipping at heels, but they usually grow out of this behavior as adults. The collie puppy is quite easy to housetrain. Sometimes this dog can be a little stubborn, and at times may bark a lot. Overall, the collie is a friendly, good-natured dog that is devoted to its family.
Collie Recommended Maintenance
The smooth-coated variety of the collie needs very little coat care: occasional brushing is all that is needed. The rough-coated variety takes considerably more time to keep the coat looking its best. This coat should be brushed at least two to three times per week and more often during shedding seasons, which is normally twice a year. When the dense undercoat is being shed, extra care should be taken. The rough coat sheds dirt easily. Bathe or use dry shampoo as necessary. An active dog, the collie should be provided with a long walk or jog, on a leash, every day. It also enjoys energetic play sessions in the yard. The collie does best with an average fenced-in yard, and it is not recommended for apartment dwelling because of its tendency to bark. This breed is sensitive to heat, so shade and plenty of water needs to be provided on warm days. As with most dogs, obedience training should begin early. The collie is quick to learn, and it responds to the tone of your voice.
Life span: 8 – 12 years
Major concerns: CEA
Minor concerns: distichiasis, pyotraumatic dermatitis
Occasionally seen: PDA, deafness, cerebellar abiotrophy (Rough)
Suggested tests: eye, (cardiac), (hearing)
Note: often sensitive to ivermectin. Merles should not be bred to merles because homozygous merle is lethal or detrimental to health.