CHARACTERISTICS - To enable the Collie to fulfill a natural bent for sheep-dog work, its physical structure should be on the lines of strength and activity, free from cloddiness and without any trace of coarseness. Expression, one of the most important points in considering relative values, is obtained by the perfect balance and combination of skull and foreface; size, shape, color and placement of eye, correct position and carriage of ears.
TEMPERAMENT - (Not specified.)
HEAD AND SKULL - The head properties are of
great importance and must be considered in proportion to the size of the dog.
When viewed from the front or the side the head bears a general resemblance to a
well-blunted, clean wedge, being smooth in outline. The skull should be flat.
The sides should taper gradually and smoothly from the ears to the end of the
black nose, without prominent cheek bones or pinched muzzle. Viewed in profile,
the top of the skull and the top of the muzzle lie in two parallel straight
planes of equal length divided by a slight, but perceptible "stop" or break. A
mid-point between the inside corners of the eyes (which is the center of a
correctly placed "stop") is the center of balance in length of head. The end of
the smooth, well rounded muzzle is blunt, but not square. The under jaw is
strong, clean cut and the depth of the skull from the brow to the under part of
the jaw, must never be excessive (deep through). Whatever the color of the dog
the nose must be black.
EYES - These are a very important feature and give a sweet expression to the dog. They should be of medium size, set somewhat obliquely, of almond shape and of dark brown color, except in the case of blue merles when the eyes are frequently (one or both, or part of one or both) blue or blue flecked. Expression full of intelligence, with a quick, alert look when listening.
EARS - These should be small and not too close together on top of the skull, nor too much to the side of the head. When in repose they should be carried thrown back, but when on the alert brought forward and carried semi-erect, that is, with approximately two-thirds of the ear standing erect, the top third tipping forward naturally, below the horizontal.
MOUTH - The teeth should be of good size, with the lower incisors fitting closely behind the upper incisors; a very slight space not to be regarded as a serious fault.
NECK - The neck should be muscular, powerful, of fair length and well arched.
FOREQUARTERS - The shoulders should be sloped and well-angulated. The forelegs should be straight and muscular, neither in nor out at elbows, with a moderate amount of bone.
BODY - The body should be a trifle long compared to the height, back firm with a slight rise over the loins, ribs well sprung, chest deep and fairly broad behind the shoulders.
HINDQUARTERS - The hind legs should be muscular at the thighs, clean and sinewy below, with well bent stifles. Hocks well let-down and powerful.
FEET - These should be oval in shape with soles well padded, toes arched and close together. The hind feet slightly less arched.
TAIL - The tail should be long with the bone reaching at least to the hock joint. To be carried low when the dog is quiet, but with a slight upward swirl at the tip. It may be carried gaily when the dog is excited, but not over the back.
GAIT/MOVEMENT - Movement is a distinct characteristic of this breed. A sound dog is never out at elbow, yet it moves with its front feet comparatively close together. Plaiting, crossing or rolling are highly undesirable. The hind legs, from the hock joint to the ground, when viewed from the rear, should be parallel. The hind legs should be powerful and full of drive. Viewed from the side the action is smooth. A reasonably long stride is desirable and this should be light and appear quite effortless.
COAT - The coat should fit the outline of the
dog and be very dense. The outer coat straight and harsh to the touch, the
undercoat soft, furry and very close; so close as to almost hide the skin. The
mane and frill should be very abundant, the mask or face, smooth, also the ears
at the tips, but they should carry more hair towards the base; the fore-legs
well feathered, the hind legs above the hocks profusely so, but smooth below.
Hair on the tail very profuse.
As sheep herding is one of the world's oldest
occupations, the collie's ancestors date far back in the history of dogs. The
collie was considered principally as a drover's dog used for guiding cows and
sheep to market, not for standing over and guarding them at pasture.
Until the last two centuries, both the rough and smooth collie were strictly working dogs, without written pedigrees. Their masters saw no need for pedigrees, if indeed they were even interested in keeping stud books for their dog breeding. The earliest illustrations known to bear a resemblance to the collie are found as woodcuts in The History of Quadrupeds by Thomas Bewick, antedating 1800. The rough collie was described as a "shepherd's dog" and the smooth as a "ban dog." The rough collie was described as being only 14 inches at the shoulder and the smooth was said to be much larger and descended from the Mastiff. (Mastiff in this sense does not refer to the breed we know today by that name, but was something of a generic term used basically to describe a common type of dog.)
The rough collies at that time were not only much
smaller but had shorter, broader heads and were usually black, or black and
white in colour.
From early in the 19th century, when some dog fanciers began to take interest in these dogs, the keeping of written pedigrees began and the breed progressed rapidly, becoming not only larger in stature but also more refined. The dog "Old Cockie" was born in 1867, and he is credited with not only stamping characteristic type on the rough collie, but he is believed by some authorities to be responsible for introducing to the breed the factors which led to the development of the sable coat colour in the collie. A short time later collies were seen of almost every imaginable colour, including red, buff, mottle of various shades and a few sables.
At that time the most frequently seen colours were
black, tan and white, black and white (without tan) and what are now called blue
merles, but which were known then as "tortoise shell."
The early pedigrees were very much abbreviated, as
compared with our present breed records. In fact, the first volume of the
English stud book showed 78 "sheep dogs and scotch collies" registered up to
1874. Fifteen of them had written pedigrees but only three extended beyond sire
and dam. Proof that pride of ownership was given priority over written records
is found in the fact that it was in 1860 that the first classes for "scotch
sheep dogs" were offered at the second dog show ever held in England, that of
the Birmingham Dog Society. Both varieties competed in the same classes.
Shortly thereafter, Queen Victoria visited Balmoral and
saw her first collies. They captivated her, and she enthusiastically began to
sponsor them. There was a marked surge in the popularity of the breed which
found itself not only the indispensable helpmate of the humble shepherd, but the
treasure and the playmate of the royal and the rich. Collie type was essentially
"fixed" by 1886 so that English breeders have never seen fit to change the
height and weight established in their standard at that time. Numerous so-called
"clarifying changes" have taken place in the United States standard over the
ensuing years, but except for recognizing that the Collie has become slightly
larger and heavier in the USA, there is no fundamental difference, even today,
from that 1886 description of the ideal Collie.
Many of the early settlers in the new world brought dogs with them to herd their sheep and cattle in the colonies, but it was not until May of 1877, 17 years after their show ring debut in England, that they were shown in what had become the USA, at the second show of the Westminster Kennel Club in New York. Classes were offered for "shepherd dogs, or collie dogs" and a few were entered. The next year, however, would see great interest and excitement as two collies imported from Queen Victoria's Royal Balmoral Kennel were entered! Soon collies were to be found as prized possessions of the wealthy and socially eliteon both sides of the Atlantic. Kennels were established in the USA by the well-known fancier J. P. Morgan and his financial contemporaries, and many fashionable estates up the Hudson River and on Long Island had collie kennels.
English dogs were imported into the USA for what were
then considered to be exorbitant prices.
Being no longer in great demand as a herder, today's
collie, no matter where you find them in the world, has transferred their hard
working, intelligent and loyalty to serving as a devoted and reliable family
dog, wonderful companions and family friends, and show a particular affinity for
small children. Today's collie remains an alert watchdog, quick to sound alarm,
and very protective of his family, although a collie should never be an
aggressive dog. Elegant and beautiful in appearance, loyal and affectionate in
all his actions, self-appointed guardian of everything he can see or hear, the
collie will always represent, to his many admirers, the ideal family companion.
Collies are now bred, shown, and adored in most
countries these days, and are one of those enduring breeds that we would all be
the poorer without!