The Rough Collie (also known as the Long-Haired Collie) is a long coated breed of medium to large size dog that in its original form was a type of collie used and bred for herding in Scotland. Originating in the 1800’s,it is now well known through the works of author Albert Payson Terhune, and through the Lassie novel, movies, and television shows. There is also a smooth-coated variety some breed organizations, including both the American and the Canadian Kennel Clubs, consider the smooth-coat and rough-coat dogs to be variations of the same breed. Rough Collies generally come in shades of sable, merles, and tri-coloured. This breed is very similar to the smaller Shetland Sheepdog which is partly descended from the Rough Collie.
Both Rough and Smooth collies are descended from a localized variety of herding dog originating in Scotland and Wales.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. 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 Queen 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 (in the UK; in the US, the size standard has not been revised downward and dogs have remained between 24-26″). 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 In the UK the Rough Collie is no longer used for serious herding, having been replaced by the Border Collie.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.
The Collie Club of America is one of the oldest breed-specific clubs in existence in the United States (founded in 1886). The Collie Club in England dates from 1881.
Quoted from Collie Club of America:
Unfortunately, the Collie’s exact origins are shrouded in obscurity. It has been the subject of much research and speculation. The word “Collie” is as obscure as the breed itself. The name has been spelled many different ways: Coll, Colley, Coally and Coaly. Generally, the most accepted origin of the word is “Coll” – the Anglo-Saxon word for “black”. In the 18th century, the Rough Collie’s natural home was in the highlands of Scotland, where he had 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. Without a doubt, it is to the English fancy of the late 1800s that the breed owes its development as a popular show dog. Rough Collies were first exhibited in 1860 at the Birmingham, England dog show, in the generic class “Scotch Sheep-Dogs”. In 1879 the first English Rough Collie was imported to this country. It is from England that we find the famous pillars of the breed, from which the American fanciers sought not only their next big winner, but also their foundation stock. By the turn of the century, the American Rough Collie was in a state of continued development. The breed continued to flourish in England. American show prizes were dominated by the British imports. As a result of the imports, the breed made rapid progress between 1900 to 1920. These dogs built the foundations upon which the present day Rough Collie is based and paved the way for the emergence of the great American kennels of the 1920s and 1930s
The word may 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.
Three coat colours are recognised for Rough Collies: sable and white, where the “sable” ranges from pale tan to a mahogany; tricolour, which is primarily black edged in tan; blue merle, which is mottled gray. All have white coat areas, in the collar, parts of the leg, and usually the tail tip. Some may have white blazes on their faces. In addition, the American Kennel Club accepts white, where the dog is predominantly white with coloured markings of sable, tricolour, or blue merle on the head and sometimes body patches.Rough Collies have a blunter face than the smaller, but otherwise very similar Shetland Sheepdog, which is partly descended from the Rough Collie. The planes of the muzzle and the top of the skull should be parallel in collies, with a slight but distinct stop. (In shelties, the planes are not parallel.) The downy undercoat is covered by a long, dense, coarse outer coat with a notable ruff around the neck, feathers about the legs, a petticoat on the abdomen, and a frill on the hindquarters.
The desired size and weight varies among breed standards; male collies can stand 55.8 to 66 cm (22 to 26 in) at the shoulder; the female averages 5 cm (2 in) shorter. The males are usually in the weight range (45 – 75 lbs) and the females are usually 5 to 10 lbs less. Although collies in the US are sometimes reported to be over a hundred pounds, this is a gross exaggeration for a healthy dog- a large collie typically weighs no more than 85 pounds. The UK standard calls for dogs to be significantly smaller than those under the American Kennel Club.
One of the characteristic features of the Rough Collie is its head. This is light in relation to the rest of the body, and resembles a blunted wedge tapering smoothly from ears to black nose, with a distinct stop and parallel head planes. The muzzle is well rounded, and never square. There is considerable variation in the colour of the head, however. The eyes are medium sized and almond shaped. The ears are supposed to be semi-prick, with the upper third folded over. Ears which do not ‘tip’ properly are fairly common, and many collies have their ears taped as puppies (using medical adhesive or paper tape) to encourage them to lay properly- no cutting or surgery is involved. They are similar to a Shetland Sheepdog’s, but larger.
Once seen, the contrast between the Rough Collie head and that of a Border Collie is immediately apparent, the latter having a considerably shorter muzzle and a more distinct stop between muzzle and forehead. The ruff is also distinctive in distinguishing the two breeds.
Rough 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. Rough 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.
While Rough Collies are generally resilient and healthy, there are some health issues that can affect the breed.
Collie eye anomaly (CEA), a genetic disease which causes improper development of the eye and possible blindness, is a common ailment in the breed. More rarely, Rough Collies can be affected by progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), another genetic disease in which bilateral degeneration of the retina results in progressive vision loss culminating in blindness.Through genetic testing and careful screening program it would be theoretically possible to eradicate both of these problems in purebred lines, however, certainly in the UK, the Kennel Club does not require these tests to be done either for registration or showing. CEA is so prevalent that elimination of affected dogs except through very slow and careful breeding decisions to avoid shrinking the gene pool more than absolutely necessary. Rough Collie puppies should be screened at an early age (6–8 weeks) by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist to check for CEA. PRA has a later onset and can be detected by DNA test, but is much less widespread (in the US) than CEA. (In the UK, PRA is more common.) Note, the UK Kennel Club “Accredited Breeder Scheme” requires eye tests and recommends the genetic test for this class of members .
Canine cyclic neutropenia is a cyclic blood disorder that is usually fatal to affected puppies. The disease is also referred to as “gray collie syndrome”, due to affected puppies having a pale gray, pinkish/gray or beige colouring, none of which are normal Rough Collie colours. Puppies that survive through adulthood are plagued with immune disorders throughout their lives and rarely live more than three years. DNA testing can help detect carriers of the recessive gene that causes the disease.
Hip dysplasia: As with most of the larger breeds, hip dysplasia is a potential concern for Rough Collies. Although this disease appears to be “multigene”, careful selection by many breeders is reducing this problem. The UK Kennel Club “Accredited Breeder Scheme” requires hip-scores this class of members ,however, a very small proportion of UK registered puppies are bred under this scheme. Hip dysplasia is rare in collies compared to their closest relatives and other breeds of the same size.
Rough Collies may carry a mutant Mdr1 gene that results in a sensitivity to Ivermectin and related drugs. A screening test is used to determine if alternative medications are required. Overdoses from the proscribed medications can result in neurological imparement or even death. This faulty gene is present in several breeds, but is well known among collies.
In addition to these problems, all of which can be tested for, there are a number of problems which are thought to be genetic but for which no screening test exists. These include epilepsy, bloat, a tendency towards allergies, and thyroid disorders (primarily hypothyroidism.). Because no DNA tests exist for these disorders (and all can have causes other than genetic origins), breeders can only do their best to avoid producing them by removing affected dogs from the gene pool.
The double layered coat needs to be brushed frequently and thoroughly to keep it in a show condition. Pet dogs need less maintenance but still a significant amount. The profuse coat picks up grass seeds and burrs, and many dogs tend to mat to some degree, particularly behind the ears, around the collar (if a collar is left on the dog), and in the pants. Shaving collies is very bad for their skin and some do not regrow any significant amount of hair after being shaved. Spaying and neutering can alter coat texture, making it softer and more prone to matting. Individuals who like collies but do not love grooming are strongly recommended to consider a smooth collie instead.
The Shetland Sheepdog, often known as the Sheltie, is a breed of herding dog.They are small to medium dogs, and come in a variety of colors, such as sable/white, tri-color, and blue merle. They are vocal, excitable, energetic dogs who are always willing to please and work hard. They are partly derived from dogs used in the Shetland Isles for herding and protecting sheep.The breed was formally recognized by the Kennel Club in 1909.
The Shetland Sheepdog’s early history is not well known. They were originally a small mixed-breed dog, often 8–10 inches (200–250 mm) in height and it is thought that the original Shetland herding dogs were of Spitz type, and were crossed with collie-type sheepdogs from mainland Britain. In the early 20th century, James Loggie added a small Rough Collie to the breeding stock, and helped establish what would become the modern Shetland sheepdog.The original name of the breed was “Shetland Collie”, but this caused controversy among Rough Collie breeders at the time, so the breed’s name was formally changed to Shetland Sheepdog.
Unlike many miniature breeds that resemble their larger counterparts, this breed was not developed simply by selectively breeding the Rough Collie for smaller and smaller size. The original sheepdog of Shetland was a Spitz-type dog, probably similar to the modern Icelandic sheepdog. This dog was crossed with mainland working collies brought to the islands,and then after being brought to England, it was further extensively crossed with the Rough Collie, and other breeds including some or all of the extinct Greenland Yakki, the King Charles Spaniel (not the Cavalier), the Pomeranian,and possibly the Border Collie. The original Spitz-type working sheepdog of Shetland is now extinct, having been replaced for herding there by the Border Collie. The Shetland Sheepdog in its modern form has never been used as a working dog on Shetland, and ironically it is uncommon there.
When the breed was originally introduced breeders called them Shetland Collies, which upset Rough Collie breeders, so the name was changed to Shetland Sheepdog.During the early 20th century (up until the 1940s), additional crosses were made to Rough Collies to help retain the desired Rough Collie type – in fact, the first AKC Sheltie champion’s dam was a purebred rough Collie bitch.
The year 1909 marked the initial recognition of the Sheltie by the English Kennel Club, with the first registered Sheltie being a female called Badenock Rose. The first Sheltie to be registered by the American Kennel Club was “Lord Scott” in 1911.
The general appearance of the Sheltie is that of a miniature Rough Collie. They are a small, double coated, working dog, agile and sturdy. Blue merle and the undesirable white Shelties may have blue eyes, but all others have dark coloured eyes. Their expression should be that of alertness with a gentle and sometimes reserved nature. They carry their tail down low, only lifted when alert and never carried over the back. They are an intensly loyal breed, sometimes reserved with strangers but should not be shy or showing timidness as per the AKC breed standard.
Coat and colors
Shelties have a double coat, which means that they have two layers of fur that make up their coat. The long, rough guard hairs lie on top of the thick, soft undercoat. The guard hairs are water-repellent, while the undercoat provides relief from both high and low temperatures.
The American Kennel Club describes three different colors: “black, blue merle, and sable (ranging from golden through mahogany), marked with varying amounts of white and/or tan.”Essentially, however, a blue merle dog is a genetically black dog, either black, white, and tan (tricolor) or black and white (bi-black) carrying a color modification gene that causes merling. In the show ring, blue merles may have blue eyes; all other colors must have brown eyes.
Basic Coat Colors
- Sable and white–Sable is dominant over other colors. May be pure for sable (two sable genes) or may be tri-factored or bi-factored (carrying one sable gene and one tricolor or bicolor gene). “Tri-factored” sable and “shaded” sable are NOT interchangeable terms. A shaded dog (one with a lot of black overlay on a sable coat) may or may not be tri-factored or bi-factored.
- Tricolor–black, white, and tan. Tricolor is dominant over bi-black. May be pure for tricolor (2 tri genes) or may be bi-factored (carrying one tricolor gene and one bicolor gene).
- Bi-black–black and white. Bi-black is recessive. A bi-black Sheltie carries 2 bi-black genes; thus, any dog of any other color with a bi-black parent is also bi-factored.
“Modified” Coat Colors
Any of the above colors may also have a color modification gene. The color modification genes are merling and white factoring. Merling dilutes the base color (sable, tricolor, or bi-black) causing a black dog’s coat to show a mix of black, white, and gray hairs, often with black patches.
- Blue merle–blue, white, and tan. A tricolor with the merling gene. May have blue eyes.
- Bi-blue–blue and white. A bi-black with the merling gene. May have blue eyes.
- Sable merle–faded or mottled sable and white. Often born with a mottled coat of darker brown over lighter brown, they usually present as a faded or lighter sable in adulthood and are sometimes hard to distinguish from non-merle sables. Sable merles are shown in the breed ring as sables; therefore, blue eyes are a disqualifying fault.
White factoring affects the amount of white on the dog. It is hard to tell, without actually breeding, whether a dog is white-factored or not, though dogs with white going up the stifle (the front of the hind leg) are usually assumed to be white-factored. Breeding two white-factored dogs can result in color-headed whites–Shelties with colored heads (sable, tricolor, bi-black, or blue or sable merle) and white bodies. Since dogs with more than 50% white are heavily penalized, they are not shown in the breed ring, but are perfectly normal in every other way.
Double merles, a product of breeding two merle Shelties together, have a very high incidence of deafness and/or blindness.There have been reports of a brindle Sheltiebut many Sheltie enthusiasts agree that a cross sometime in the ancestry of that specific Sheltie could have produced a brindle. Unacceptable colors in the show ring are a rustiness in a blue or black coat. Colors may not be faded, no conspicuous white spots, and the color cannot be over 50% white.
Height and weight
Shelties normally weigh around 5–14 kilograms (11–31 lb). In general males are taller and heavier than females. Accepted height ranges may differ depending on country and standard used. In the USA and Canada, breed standards state that males and females can be between 33–41 centimetres (13–16 in), all other standards (Australia, New Zealand and U.K.) specify Males: 37 cm ± 2½ cm, Females: 35.5 cm ± 2½ cm except F.C.I. which specifies Females: 36 cm ± 2½ cm at the shoulder (withers), however, some shelties can be found outside of these ranges but are not considered truly representative of the breed.
To conform to the breed standards, the Shelties’ ears should bend slightly or “tip”, this contributes to the “proper Sheltie expression”The ear is to have the top third to a quarter of the ear tipped. If a dog’s ears are not bent (referred to as prick ears) some owners brace them into the correct position for several weeks to several months.Wide-set (too much distance between) ears are also not a desired trait, nor are ears which tip too low down (referred to as ‘hound’ ears).
Shelties have a double coat. The topcoat consists of long, straight, water-repellent hair, which provides protection from cold and the elements. The undercoat is short, furry, and very dense and helps to keep the dog warm. Mats can be commonly found behind the ears, under the elbow on each front leg, and in the fluffy fur on the hind legs (the “skirts”), as well as around the collar (if worn). The coat is usually shed twice a year, often at spring and autumn.Females will also shed right before or right after giving birth.Shaving these dogs is very bad for their skin and some do not regrow any significant amount of hair after being shaved, a condition known as alopecia. Spaying or neutering can alter coat texture, making it softer, more prone to matting and even more profuse.
The Shetland sheepdog is lively, intelligent, playful, trainable, and willing to please and obey. They are loving, loyal, and affectionate with their family, but are naturally aloof with strangers; for this reason Shelties must be socialized. The Shetland Sheepdog Standard from the AKC allows them to be reserved to strangers, but they should not show fear. Shelties do well with children if they are reared with them from an early age; however, their small size makes it easy for a child to accidentally injure them, so supervision is necessary. Shelties are vocal dogs.The average Sheltie is an excellent watch dog.
The herding instinct is strong in many Shelties. They love to chase and herd things, including squirrels, ducks, children, and if an owner is not watchful, cars. Shelties love to run in wide-open areas. They do well with a sensitive, attentive owner. Neglecting a Sheltie’s need for exercise and intellectual stimulation can result in undesirable behaviors, including excessive barking, phobias, and nervousness. Fortunately, the reverse is also true; annoying behaviors can be lessened greatly by an hour of exercise that engages the dog with its owner.
Shelties have a high level of intelligence. According to Dr. Stanley Coren, an expert on animal intelligence, the Shetland sheepdog is one of the brightest dogs, ranking 6th out of 132 breeds tested. His research found that an average Sheltie could understand a new command in less than 5 repetitions and would obey a command the first time it was given 95% of the time or better.
For the most part, Shelties are athletic and healthy. Like the Rough Collie, there is a tendency toward inherited malformation and disease of the eyes. Each individual puppy should have his eyes examined by a qualified veterinary ophthalmologist. Some lines may be susceptible to hypothyroidism, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, or skin allergies. The usual life span for Shelties is between 10 and 15 years.
Shelties are also highly susceptible to Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC). TCC is a cancer of the bladder, and can be diagnosed early by regular urinalysis from a normal veterinarian. Causes are debated between breed susceptibility and female gender and exposure to insecticides.
Dermatomyositis may occur at the age of 4 to 6 months, and is frequently misdiagnosed by general practice veterinarians as sarcoptic or demodectic mange. The disease manifests itself as alopecia on the top of the head, supra- and suborbital area and forearms as well as the tip of the tail. If the disease progresses to its more damaging form, it could affect the autonomic nervous system and the dog may have to be euthanised. This disease is generation-skipping and genetically transmitted, with breeders having no clear methodology for screening except clear bloodline records. Deep tissue biopsies are required to definitively diagnose dermatomyositis.
Von Willebrand disease is an inherited bleeding disorder. In Shelties, affected dogs as a general rule are not viable and do not live long. The Sheltie carries type III of von Willebrands, which is the most severe of the three levels. There are DNA tests that were developed to find von Willebrands in Shelties. It can be done at any age, and it will give three results: affected, carrier and non-affected.Shelties may also suffer from hypothyroidism, which is the under-functioning thyroid gland. It is an Autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Clinical symptoms include hair loss or lack of coat, over or under-weight, and listlessness.
Although small breed dogs are not usually plagued by hip dysplasia, it has been identified in Shelties. Hip dysplasia occurs when the head of the femur and the acetabulum do not fit together correctly, frequently causing pain and/or lameness.Hip dysplasia is thought to be genetic.Many breeders will have their dogs’ hips x-rayed and certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
The two basic forms of inherited eye diseases/defects in Shelties are Collie eye anomaly (CEA) and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
CEA can be detected in young puppies by a veterinary ophthalmologist.The disease involves the retina. It is always bilateral although the severity may be disparate (unequal) between eyes. Other accompanying defects (ophthalmic anomalies) may wrongly indicate a more severe manifestation of CEA. CEA is present at birth and although it cannot be cured, it doesn’t progress. Signs of CEA in shelties are small, or deepset eyes. That is, the severity of the disease at birth will not change throughout the dog’s life. CEA is scored similar to the way hips are.
The Condition is Genetic, inheritance is autosomal recessive, this means that even a dog that shows no phenotypic signs of the condition may be a carrier. Breeders should actively try to breed this disease out by only breeding with dogs that have “clear” eyes or very low scoring eyes.A CEA score considered too high to breed with may still be low enough not to affect the dog’s life. These dogs live happy and healthy lives as pets but should be not used for breeding.
PRA can be detected at any time but usually does not show up until the dog is around two years of age. Breeding dogs should be tested for genotype for this condition before breeding and only animals found “clear” should be used for breeding. PRA can occur in most breeds of dog including mix breeds. In Most breeds it is also an autosomal recessive condition, however it has been found in other breeds to be autosomal dominant and sex-linked in others.As the name suggests, it is a progressive disease which will eventually result in total blindness.Like CEA, an affected dog should not be bred with but these dogs can live happily as pets. Currently there is no treatment for either disease, but as both diseases (CEA and PRA) are hereditary it is possible to eliminate them using selective breeding.
As with any dog, Shelties should be screened for inheritable genetic diseases before breeding. Both male and female should be tested for thyroid problems, von Willebrands disease and brucellosis, as well as have hip x-rays cleared by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and eyes cleared by CERF.
Breeding colours is also a problem for many beginner breeders. Certain colour combinations can produce unwanted or potentially harmful results, such as mating blue merle to blue merle, the result of which can be deaf and blind white or mostly white puppies(called the lethal white). A tri-colour and bi-colour are the only two colours that can safely be mated to any other colour. By mating a sable and white to a blue merle, the result can be an unwanted sable merle. A tri-colour to a pure-for-sable (a sable and white which can produce only other sable and whites), will produce only sable and whites, but they will be tri-factored sable and whites (which means they have the tri-gene.) There are many more examples of breeding for color, so a good breeder will research what genes each dog carries. There are many different genes contributing to the different colors of the Sheltie, including the bi gene, the merling gene, the sable gene, and the tricolour gene.
MDR1 Gene Mutation
According to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, the Shetland Sheepdog, and many other herding breeds, have a risk of being born with a MDR1 Gene Mutation, frequency for the Shetland Sheepdog is stated at 15%. Cross-breeds are affected too.Due to this genetic mutation, affected dogs may exhibit sensitivity or adverse reactions to many drugs including Acepromazine, Butorphanol, Doxorubicin, Erythromycin, Ivermectin, Loperamide, Milbemycin, Moxidectin, Rifampin, Selamectin, Vinblastine & Vincristine.
As the name suggests, Shelties can and have been used as Sheepdogs and still participate in sheepdog trials to this day. They are ideal for small farm situations, and have proven to be dependable with a variety of stock including chickens, ducks, geese, sheep, goats and cattle.
In their size group, the breed dominates dog agility competitions. They also excel at competitive obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Shelties exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials.Participating in such a sport will satisfy a Sheltie’s needs for mental and physical exercise.
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE DON’T HAVE ANY SHETLAND SHEEPDOGS AVAILABLE NOW!
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