The Collie and Old English Sheepdog
From paintings by Louis Agassiz Fuertes
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A Look at the Collie
There is little resemblance between the working “collie” of the Scottish
sheep-herder and the elaborately furred, slender faced, bench dog now so popular.
The broad-skulled, rather neglected looking “shepherd dog” of our boyhood,
with his friendly, democratic manners (or lack of them) would get
short shrift now at any show or gathering of the elite, while of all dogs
his handsome, richly frilled descendant, with all the ear-marks of aristocracy,
is the cause of more “Ohs” and “Ahs” than any other dog in the show.
Nevertheless, one might see an “ornery-looking,” half-moulted
type of the countryside handle a drove of 3,000 or more sheep in
Saskatchewan in a manner to bring one up standing.
And when, on returning at nightfall, he puts every ewe and lamb in
one corral and every ram in another, without error or violence, one
feels like asking him if he would shake hands with a mere spectator!
It is doubtful if any borzoi-headed champion could do that with a lifetime of training.
Intelligent and handsome dog.
Still, the collie is a most intelligent and handsome dog, and the present
tendency is toward a greatly elongated and consequently narrowed head,
forming almost a straight or even slightly deflected line from nose to occiput.
The neck, throat, and chest bear a great frill of long hair, and the back of the
thighs also is very deeply and richly furred.
The hair of the body is long and straight, rather harsh, but with a deep and
woolly undercoat. The feet, from hock and wrist down, should be smooth.
In color, the collie may be black and tan, “sable,” or rich orange brown, with
white frill, collar, and face “harlequin”; or white, with black spotting and
freckling at random; “blue,” or mouse color, and white, or even pure white everywhere.
Some few kennels specialize in white collies and advertise extensively;
they are very beautiful dogs, though probably requiring more care to
keep presentable than the more “practical” colors, as our mothers would call them.
The collie should stand 20 to 24 inches and weigh from 40 to 60 pounds.
He requires considerable exercise, and while growing up needs
Old English Sheepdog
Rapidly gaining in popularity, the curious woolly sheep-dog has become
thoroughly established in the United States; he has long been used as a
practical helper in the great sheep ranges of western Canada.
The collie bears no resemblance whatever to the familiar collie type of
sheep-dog, but looks rather like a great long-legged, round-headed, bounding terrier.
The Voice of a Sheepdog
It has a formidable voice, very different indeed from the rather
fox-like yap of the collie, and while he is some 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder
and weighs 60 to 80 pounds one cannot quite get away from the impression
that he is, in fact, a huge terrier of some kind. The effect is heightened
greatly by the long woolly hair on his head and face, which virtually
hides the clever eyes, and makes a study of his actual head-form very difficult.
The hair on back and hips is very long; when combed out they look very curious indeed.
In color they are usually blue gray and white; any strong tendency toward
brown is not good. The white usually occupies most of the head and fore-quarters.
The Sheepdogs appearance
He is a dog of very striking appearance—one might almost say of
un-dog-like appearance. He is large, rather tall on the legs, tailless,
and covered from head to foot with a long, loose hair, which tosses
about freely when he runs or jumps, giving him the appearance
of a huge animated floor-mop. But if you part the hair on his face
you will find a pair of beautiful, intelligent, friendly eyes. He is active, good-natured, and makes a fine companion.
Dogs of this breed were not always bobtailed; originally they
were probably as well provided with tails as other dogs.
Many of them were used for herding, and consequently
exempt from taxation. It is said that the drovers amputated
the tails of their working sheep-dogs to distinguish them from those which were not exempted.
It is believed by some authorities that this mutilation, continued through
many generations, created in the breed a tendency to produce
tailless and short-tailed offspring. Whatever the cause, it is certain that today
many Old English sheep-dog puppies are born bobtailed. When they are
born with tails it is customary to dock them to within an inch or two of the root,
and the operation is performed not more than four days after birth.
The docking accentuates the characteristic rounded quarters and increases
the somewhat bearlike appearance of the animal.