ORIGINS OF THE BREED


The early history of both Rough and Smooth Collies, like that of many dog breeds, is largely a matter of speculation. The most common view of the breeds is that they are descended from a population of shepherds' dogs brought to Scotland & Wales by the Romans around the 5th century. The Scottish variety was a large, strong, aggressive dog, bred to herd highland sheep. The Welsh variety was small and nimble, domesticated and friendly, and also herded goats.

Even the origin of the breed's name is unclear, variously claimed to describe the early shepherd dog's dark colour ("coaly"), or derived from the name of a breed of sheep with black faces once commonly kept in Scptland ("Colley"), or derived from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning "useful." The word may could also trace to Gaelic or/and Irish - in which the words for "doggie" are, respectively, càilean and cóilean. This would be more consistent with the breed's origin in the Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlands than an Anglo-Saxon term.

In the 18th century, the Collie's natural home was in the highlands of Scotland, where they have been used for centuries as a sheepdog. The dogs were bred with great care in order to assist their masters in the herding and guarding of their flock.

When the English saw these dogs at the Birmingham market, they interbred them with their own variety of sheepdogs producing a mixture of short and long haired varieties. After the Industrial Revolution, dog ownership became fashionable, and these early collies were believed to have been crossed with the Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound) to get a more "noble" head, which is today one of the true characteristics of the Rough Collie. Though it is not known conclusively if the Borzoi cross made it into the mainstream of the breed. When Quenn Victoria acquired a Rough Collie, after seeing one at Balmoral Castle, they were transformed into something of a fashion item. Continued breeding for show purposes drastically changed the appearance of the dogs; in the 1960s, it was a much taller dog than it is today. Earlier dogs were also more sturdy in build and reportedly capable of covering up to 100 miles in one day. In the UK the Rough Collie is no longer used for serious herding, having been replaced by the Border Collie. Though in the United States and a number of European countries, there has been a resurgence in the use of the Collie as a working and performance dog.

Both Rough & Smooth Collies should show no nervousness or aggression, and are generally good with children and other animals. However, they must be well socialised to prevent shyness. They are medium to large sized dogs, but can be well suited to live in small apartments because of their calm disposition. Like many herding dogs, collies can be fairly vocal, and some are difficult to train not to bark. The amount of herding instinct varies, with some dogs being quite drivey and others calmer. Collies are very loyal and may be one-family dogs (although most make exceptions for children), but are very rarely aggressive or protective beyond barking and providing a visual deterrent. They are typically excellent with children as long as they have been well-socialised and trained. They are eager to learn and respond best to a gentle hand. They relish human company and generally fare poorly as outdoor dogs.

Collies are still capable of being keen herders while remaining sensible, flexible family companions, whether as working dogs on a farm or helping out a suburban owner who keeps a few sheep, goats, or ducks as a hobby. Participation in herding helps preserve the special heritage of the Collie and opens up new opportunities for owner and dog. The qualities that make a good herding dog—trainability, adaptability, loyalty, soundness of body and character, agility, grace—are important in many areas, and contribute so much toward making the dog an outstanding companion as well.

Collies can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Rough Collies exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials. The breed has also been known to work as search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs and guide dogs for the blind.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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