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Scotch Collie

Scottish Collie or Scotch Collie was a Victorian-era term originally given to the collie dog derived from Scotland and nearby regions. Diversity of type was much more common during the 17th to very early 20th centuries. Type was varied, but the dogs could easily be discerned as being Collie dogs. "Scotch" was for the most part dropped from the name by the late 20th century. A small group of fanciers of the old-fashioned collie type have attempted to resurrect this type of dog, and utilize the name of Scotch Collie. Unfortunately, only a small number of "throwbacks" to the old-fashioned type exist, and so the fanciers have often resorted to using other breeds of the Collie family (most notably English shepherds, Australian shepherds or Border Collies) to help bring back the type they desire. Scotch Collie was the name given to what is now commonly known as the Collie (Rough-coated and Smooth-coated). Certain other breeds, most notably Collie descendants such as the English Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, and Border Collie, have sometimes also been referred to as the Scotch Collie. During the Victorian and Edwardian era the name was used to describe nearly all types of Collie dogs of English, Irish, and Welsh ancestry. In some regions, it described the dogs having the appearance and bloodlines deriving from the border regions of Scotland; in others, for dogs from the highland regions. In America, the term was mostly used to describe the entire land-race of collie dogs. After the turn of the 20th century in America, the AKC Scotch Collie was developed using dogs of primarily the highland regions of Scotland, the low country and border regions of Scotland and England. However, it is believed that Collie dogs from both Ireland and Wales were included as well(see Rough Collie). The Highlander's Collies tended to be a bit larger, yet lighter-boned and longer legged than the border country Collie dogs, requiring the ability to survive on as little as possible, yet still be able to handle the large and surly "black face or Colley sheep." Just a few of the other names that the breed was once known by include: Colley, Shepherd Dog, Cur Dog, Ban Dog, Scottish Shepherd of Sheepdog, English Sheepdog, Smooth English Sheepdog, among other names for the same breed or landrace of dog. Books such as Bob, Son of Battle (Alfred Olliphant) and Lassie Come Home (Eric Knight; later turned into a major movie) were written about the Scotch Collie which is one and the same as the Collie. It was sometime during the mid 1900s that the use of the prefix Scotch was generally dropped as the breed had become extremely popular and the prefix Rough or Smooth differentiated the two coat types as "Rough Collie " and "Smooth Collie." The Scotch Collie was utilized in the development of a multitude of modern dog breeds such as the Shetland sheepdog, Australian shepherd, English shepherd, Border Collie, Gordon setter, Australian kelpie, Australian cattle dog, Golden retriever, German shepherd dog, etc. See Collie for other types of Collie and related dog types.

History of Rough and Smooth Collies

Origin The origin and history of the Scotch Collie is not entirely known, but we do know that it included ancestors originating in Scotland and northern England. Before this time, however, the breed has an ancestry that spans thousands of years as the Scotch Collie's ancestors had been used to herd sheep and cattle for many centuries in both the Highlands of Scotland and throughout early England. The word "collie" is thought to come from the word for "black" or "coal" in Old English. But the word could also trace to Gaelic or/and Irish, in which the words for "doggie" are, respectively, càilean and cóilean. It is also possible the word collie is of mutual English and Gaelic derivation. The Scotch Collie breed consists of both the Rough Collie and the Smooth Collie. Both coats have existed as far back as the breed is known. However, it is believed that originally the long-haired version may have been smaller than the current dogs. Larger size could have been bred for, or it could be the result of better health and vet care. Although the Scotch Collie and its ancestors had been used for a number of centuries as a working dog herding sheep and cattle, it was in England in the 19th century that the dog became popular as a pet and show dog rather than a working dog breed. Queen Victoria took an interest in Scotch Collies and the rest of the country soon followed suit. It was also rumoured during this time (never confirmed) that certain other breeds may have been interbred with the Collie to further physical changes in the Collie as well as to make improvements in certain other breeds Borzoi Gordon setter. It is not believed that any purported interbreeding, if any, made it into main lines in the breed. At this point, Scottish Collie breeders began to standardize the breed and keep written pedigree records. Scottish Collies were shown in dog shows in England as early as 1860and made its way to the United States by 1880. However, Collies reportedly arrived as early as the 1600s along with livestock shipments. By about 1886, the Scottish Collie breed was fully standardized and remains roughly the same as today. It was in this same year the Collie Club of America was formed, becoming one of the first breed clubs of the American Kennel Club which was founded in 1884. A surge in popularity occurred in the United States during the very early 1900s, and later in the 1940s and 1950s with the release of the movie "Lassie Come Home" in 1943 and the subsequent television series that began in 1954 and ran for seventeen years. Books written by popular author Albert Payson Terhune also heloped to further popularize the breed. Mr. Terhune began his writing career in the early 1900s, and his books are still popular and available to this day.

Breed Standards As is the case with many breeds of dogs that are still used for their original purposes, breed standards vary depending on whether the registry is more interested in a dog that performs its job superbly or a dog whose appearance meets an ideal standard. The Scottish Collie, on the whole, has been treated mainly as a companion and show dog after its sudden rise in popularity. However, they are also used for many different types of work and sport such as agility, obedience, sledding, therapy dogs, service dogs for the disabled, etc. While the Scotch Collie (Collie) was the favored dog of farmers and ranchers since its arrival to the United States and Canada, since approximately the 1920 onward the newly named Border Collie (a Collie descendant bred primarily for work) has been the global leader as a working sheepdog and herding trials dog. Other breeds, such as the Australian Shepherd, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Kelpie, and Ebnglish Shepherd (all Collie descendants) are also used frequently, but on a much lesser degree also dependent upon country herding dog Border Collie. Few handlers of working herding dogs participate in conformation shows, as working dogs had primarily been bred to a performance standard rather than one based on appearance. Likewise, breeds bred primarily as companion, work/sport, or show dogs are infrequently seen on the Border Collie-type sheepdog trial field, except in Kennel Club-sponsored or speciality breed club-sponsored events. Dogs registered with either working- or conformation-based registries are seen in other performance events such as agility, obedience, tracking, rally-o or flyball, however these dogs do not necessarily conform to the breed standard of appearance as closely as the dogs shown in the breed rings as this is not a requirement in performance events, nor do they necessarily participate in herding activities. This has all been changing as well—for example the Border Collie, heretofore once only bred as a working dog only, has changed dramatically in physical appearance and behavior with the recognition of the breed in The Kennel Club (England), the American Kennel Club, and other modern breed registries. The conformation, temperament and character bred dogs have taken on a standardized appearance, are calmer in demeanor (trial lines Border Collies generally have OCD—obsessive compulsive disorder), coatier, with heavier bone, and squarer bodies. The availability of a variety of colors have exploded with the advent of the Border Collie in the "breed ring" (conformation ring) -- besides the commonly seen black and white, there are blue merles, black and tans, solid blacks, pale cream and white, diluted colors, etc.

Coat Colours Both Rough and Smooth varieties are available in four distinct colours: Sable collies are generally the most recognizable, the choice of the Lassie television and movie producers. The sable colour on these dogs can range from a light blonde colour to a deep reddish-brown, with or without mahogany, and with any hue in between possible. Tricolour dogs are mostly black and white with rich tan markings. Blue merle collies are best described as tricolour or black-and-white dogs whose black has been diluted to a mottled gray-blue colour. White collies are usually mostly white on the body with a head colouration of any of the three previous. They may also have some colored body patches. As modern-day "Lassies", both Rough and Smooth Collies have become successful assistance, and therapy dogs. At least one guide dog school (Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida) currently trains Smooth Collies as guide dogs, and a number of Scottish Collies are currently partnered with disabled individuals around the United States.


The Scottish Collie is typically a very healthy breed, and is known to inherit few health conditions that are both serious and prevalent. Some health conditions of note include Collie eye anomaly, progressive retinal atrophy, gastric torsion, dermatomyositis, grey collie syndrome (a type of neutropenia), collie nose (discoid lupus erythematosus), and demodicosis. Seizures, canine hip dysplasia, microphthalmia, and cyclic neutropenia are also occasionally seen. The Collie Health Foundation ( maintains a website and database on disorders affecting collies. Some Scottish Collies (and other collie breeds) have a particular allele of the multi-drug resistance gene, MDR1. This is also known as "the ivermectin-sensitive collie", however the sensitivity is not limited to ivermectin, a common drug used to treat and prevent various ailments in dogs including heartworm disease. More than 20 drugs are expected to cause adverse reactions including milbemycin and loperamide. A study by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at UC Davis concluded that all dogs with this mutation are descendants of a single dog which most likely lived in Great Britain during the middle of the 19th century. The mutation of the MDR1 gene is found in Scottish Collies and related breeds worldwide and affects approximately 80% of Scottish Collie dogs in the United States. Dogs with this mutation are predisposed to various sensitivities and some may suffer a potentially fatal neurotoxicosis. Ivermectin is a popular choice in the prevention of heartworm disease in dogs, an extremely serious and potentially fatal condition. Despite the high prevalence of sensitivity in Scottish Collies to this medication, the low dosage provided is generally considered safe and preventative drugs such as Heartgard are advertised as approved for Scottish Collies, having a wide margin of safety when used as directed. A simple test, recently developed at and provided by Washington State University, can determine if a dog is a carrier of the mutation which causes sensitivity. [2] Scottish Collies typically live an average of 12 to 14 years.


Scottish Collies are known to be generally sweet and protective. They are generally easy to train due to a high level of intelligence and a willingness to please. Some are a bit clingy, but this is often seen as an overdeveloped sense of loyalty. They are excellent herding dogs and benefit from the companionship of a family or other dogs. Scottish Collies are very playful and gentle around children. They can also exhibit a strong herding instinct, especially around children. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Scottish Collies exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials.

Famous Scottish Collies Lassie Rob Roy and Prudence Prim (among others) owned by former USA President Calvin Coolidge Colleen from Road Rovers Laddie from The Simpsons Flo & the other puppies in All Dogs Go to Heaven Blanco owned by former USA President Lyndon Johnson Reveille, official mascot of Texas A&M University Lad of Sunnybank, from the series of novels by Albert Payson Terhune Wilson of the 1984 Manga series (and 1986 Anime) by Yoshihiro Takahashi, Ginga Nagareboshi Gin, and ex-circus dog. Murray the dog of Paul Buchman & Jamie Buchman in the TV series Mad About You Max the dog of John & Rosie Marshall in the life series You and Me in Threes, a favoured Australian documentary on life in Melbourne. Sam, Martin Riggs' collie in the Lethal Weapon movies Bobbie, of Silverton Oregon. In 1923, travelled a distance of approximately 2,500 miles, from Wolcott, Indiana, to his home in Silverton, Oregon over a six month period from August 15, 1923 to February 15, 1924. Numerous books and articles exist regarding the authentication of his nearly unbelievable journey. Guinness Book of World Records is one verifying source.