Tag archives: collie

Breed of the Week: Shetland Sheepdog

Breed of the Week: Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland sheepdog is not just a collie in miniature form, but rather its own breed that has been crossed extensively with the long-haired, or rough, collie. Together they, and other similar breeds, are collectively referred to as collie, but make no mistake; the Sheltie is its own dog that has had many distinct (and extinct) breeds have contributed to its genetic makeup.

Placed in the herding group, Shelties in their modern form are more of a companion and show dog than working animal, however, they still retain many herding instincts and the intelligence associated with the group. It was developed from spitz-type dogs found on the islands of Shetland, which are northeast of England, and that were used for herding the smaller sheep and other livestock that developed there.

The rough collie obviously played a large role in the conformation and appearance of the Sheltie, but in addition to it and the Shetland spitz dog, the King Charles spaniel, Pomeranian, possibly the border collie and the extinct Greenland yakki all played a role in the smaller body and disposition of the breed.

The rough collie factors into the Shetland’s makeup with crosses taking place between the two breeds until ...

Breed of the Week: Australian Cattle Dog

Breed of the Week: Australian Cattle Dog

Better known as a blue or red heeler, the Australian cattle dog originated in the Land Down Under and was used to drive cattle over the continent’s rough terrain. Interestingly, it was developed by crossing cattle-driving dogs of the day with tame dingoes.

According to the AKC, “Australians began crossing Dingo-blue merle Collies to Dalmatians and Black and Tan Kelpies. The result was a dog identical in type and build to the Dingo, only with a thicker set and peculiar markings - and also an excellent worker.”

The mix of dogs is also responsible for the color variation seen in today’s breed, which can either be shades and patterns of merle blue or tawny-red.

The ACD is an active medium-sized, short-coated dog that possesses a high intelligence and which forms strong bonds with its owners. As cattle-driving dogs, ACD’s would nip the heels (hence the moniker) of stubborn cows to keep them moving. Because of their strong herding instincts and close relationship formed with cattlemen moving throughout the countryside, the breed retains a few of those necessary attributes. Namely, they’re prone to nipping, especially at the heels of running children (which should not be taken as biting or aggression), and ...

Breed of the Week: Collie

Breed of the Week: Collie

When someone refers to a "collie," many people think of the iconic image of Lassie – the dog made popular by Eric Knight’s novel and the MGM television production. However, the term collie more broadly refers to a collective of dogs with similar traits – including the border collie, Australian collie, bearded collie and Shetland sheepdog.

The image of Lassie-type collie is actually what’s known as a "rough" collie or long-haired collie. They were originally bred for herding and driving livestock during the 1700s in Scotland and Wales. The dogs from the two areas had distinctly different characteristics – the Scottish version was large, strong and aggressive in order to herd highland sheep, while the Welsh variety was smaller, more nimble and was used to herd goats. The two were crossed and then likely mixed with Borzoi (which resulted in the long tapered head) to produce the foundation of today’s breed.

While a working dog in ancestry, the shift toward the conformation ring and companion pet exploded after Queen Victoria acquired one in the 1800s. The continued breeding for these purposes has reduced the herding instinct in many lines; the result being that today the instinct is very hit or miss ...