The origins of the collie dog breed is Scottish and is thought to have originated from a strain of dogs indigenous to Scotland crossed with other breeds imported by the Romans during the colonisation of England. So the strain is undoubtedly a couple of millennia old, when sheep and goat breeding was already very present in the area and well developed. This gave rise to many breeds of sheepdogs.
Another theory regarding its origins is that it was born from a cross between a Russian greyhound and an Irish setter. Its name “collie” is derived from col which means black. This term was used to refer to Scottish sheep that had dark coats and were called colleys, consequently it was called colley dogs and later simplified to collies.
Until the latter half of the 1800’s there was no concern to distinguish between the long haired collie called rough collie and the short haired, smooth collie; in shows for hunting dogs and other breeds the collie was referred to as the English sheepdog. It was not until the late 1800s that there was official recognition of the two varieties: the short-haired and the long-haired.
Much better known is the long-haired one, the other is almost unknown unfortunately. Much popularity for the collie came with Lessie, the canine character created by Eric Knight and who was the main character in very successful novels, films and television series. To this day many people still call the breed ‘Lessie’.
Over the years, its popularity has declined, but the breed continues to be well known and loved as a pet.
Character of the collie dog breed or Scotch sheepdog
The collie’s temperament is truly beautiful, in no other breed can you find that way of being reserved, never intrusive and always in the right place at the right time, and like no other breed can pick up on its owner’s mood and behave accordingly. He is very sensitive, he is easily offended and tends to withdraw into himself if he is not understood and appreciated, but for his master he is willing to do anything as long as it makes sense and he understands the reason.
It is particularly docile with children, so much so that it becomes their defender when they are scolded by their parents. It is easy to train because it learns everything easily and is very intelligent. Thanks to these characteristics it is also used as a defence and police dog, as a guide dog for the blind and is very successful in pet-therapy.
It is a dog that needs exercise, so it must have long daily outings to run and explore, but it is also a very affectionate animal that would always be with its family, so it is unthinkable to leave it to live perhaps in the garden.
He is very fond of dog sports such as agility and also has aptitudes for rescue work. He is an excellent guardian, attentive but never aggressive, with great balance and social skills with the other dogs and pets in his household. Obviously it must be socialised as soon as possible to interact with other people or animals, otherwise it could be shy and reserved.
Appearance of the collie or Scotch Shepherd dog breed
The collie is a medium-sized dog; the height at withers of a male is between 56 and 61 centimetres and weighs between 23 and 30 kilograms, females usually a little less. Its physical structure is strong and supple, it is endowed with undeniable beauty, usually reserving an impassive dignity, a perfect overall harmony and giving the impression of strength. It is robust but not massive, well-proportioned and agile, also because it was born as a working dog. Its movements are elegant and fluid. The paws are strong and muscular, but not big; the tail is usually carried low and with the tip pointing upwards, in action it is carried high.
Its head is conical, with a smooth profile; it does not have a pointed muzzle, although the sides of the muzzle gradually taper from the ears to the tip of the nose. The truffle is black and the eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped and obliquely arranged. They are usually dark brown, with the exception of the blue merle specimens, which may have one or both eyes totally blue or spotted blue. Its expression is sweet, full of intelligence with a ready and alert look. The ears are small, carried back at rest, but at attention semi-erect forward.
The coat is the most distinguishing characteristic of this breed; it is long, dense with a smooth, hard coat, while the undercoat is soft and woolly, so dense that it hides the skin. The fur forms a real mane and very abundant fringes, while on the muzzle the hair is smooth, as are the ends of the ears, which however have long hairs at the base.
The colours of the fur can be sable with some white (light golden or dark mahogany with white patches), tricolour (black, fire and white) and blue merle (predominantly silvery blue, with some black spots). The hind limbs are provided with abundant hair above the hock.
Health and Care of the Collie or Scotch Shepherd Dog Breed
The health of the collie is rather poor, although it has a robust appearance. The most common diseases are: collie eye abnormality, stomach torsion, hip dysplasia, dystichiasis, deafness, MDR1 gene mutation.
Its average life expectancy is about 12 years, its double coat protects it well from cold and weather but does not help it to withstand high temperatures.
If he does not get enough exercise, he tends to gain weight, so it is important that his diet is controlled and, above all, that he gets all the exercise he needs on a daily basis.
As far as the care of the coat is concerned, this being long, it should be combed almost daily to avoid knots and felting, especially behind the ears and the fringes on the paws. It is not necessary to bathe it frequently as it tends to get very dirty.