The Rough-coated Collie is a purely Scottish-bred dog, and, like all varieties of sheep and cattle dogs, used in pastoral life and agricultural pursuits, is of great antiquity. Indeed, it is generally assumed that of all the varieties of the domesticated dog, the Collie or Sheep Dog is the oldest, and probably the one variety from which all breeds have been evolved. This idea has doubtless arisen from the fact that the Collie most resembles the wild dog, and that there is a great similarity in form and character between the sheep and cattle dogs of all countries, which points to a common origin. The little differences may be accounted for by the variations in character of the different countries which call for dogs somewhat different in build, but all are more or less of the same type and character-the Dutch, German, Belgian, French, Spanish, etc.
The chief points to look for in the selection of Collie puppies at from two to four months old and after, are: Great length of head, which should be level and wedge-shaped, but should not run into coarseness or width at the base of the skull, which should be narrow. Ears small; body short and round; tail short; forelegs straight. The biggest puppies are apt to be the best if they are not coarse, but possess the desired points. The foregoing applies to both roughs and smooths, the latter requiring to be very smooth in coat, short but dense. The more coat the roughs have the better.
The following are the standard description and points as laid down by the Collie Club for the two varieties:
HEAD.-Skull flat, moderately wide between the ears, and gradually tapering to the eyes. There should be but a very slight prominence of the eyebrows, and a very slight depression at the top.
The proper width of skull necessarily depends upon the combined length of skull and muzzle, for what would be a thick or a too broad skull in one dog is not necessarily so in another of the same actual girth, but better supported by length of muzzle. It must also be considered in conjunction with the size of the dog and should incline to lightness, accompanied by cleanness of outline of cheeks and jaws. A heavy-headed dog lacks the bright, alert, and full-of-sense look so much to be desired. On the other hand, the attenuated head is most frequently seen with small Terrier eyes, which show no character.
Muzzle should be of fair length and tapering to the nose, which should be black; it must not show weakness or appear snipy. The teeth of good size and even. English standard says, “Mouth the least bit overshot,” but this is by no means desirable, and if at all exaggerated should be treated as a malformation.
EYES.-There being no “brow” in which to set the eyes, they are necessarily placed obliquely, the upper portion of the muzzle being dropped or chiseled to give them the necessary forward lookout. They should be of medium size, never showing too light in comparison with the color of coat, nor with a yellow ring. Expression full of intelligence, with a bright “What-is-it?” look when on the alert or listening to orders. This is of course largely contributed to by the throwing up of the ears which accompanies the qui vive attitude.
EARS.–The ears can hardly be too small if carried properly. If too small they are apt to be thrown quite erect or prick-eared; and if large they either cannot be properly lifted off the head or, if lifted, they show out of proportion. When in repose the ears are folded lengthwise and thrown back into the frill; on the alert they are thrown up and drawn closer together on the top of the skull. They should be carried about three-quarters erect. A prickeared dog should be penalized. So much attention having of late been given to securing very high carriage of ears, it has resulted in reaching the other extreme in some cases, and it is now necessary to guard against that.
NECK.-Should be muscular and of sufficient length to give the dog a fine upstanding appearance, and show off the frill, which should be very full.
BODY.-Rather long, ribs well rounded, chest deep but of fair breadth behind the shoulders, which should have good slope. Loin slightly arched, showing power.
LEGS.-Forelegs straight and muscular, with a fair amount of bone, the forearm moderately fleshy; pasterns showing flexibility without weakness; the hindlegs less fleshy, very sinewy, and hocks and stifles well bent. Feet oval in shape, soles well padded, and the toes arched and close together.
TAIL–Moderately long, carried low when the dog is quiet, the end having an upward “swirl;” when excited, carried gaily but not over the back.
COAT.-This is a very important point. The coat, except on the head and legs, should be abundant, the outer coat harsh to the touch, the inner coat soft and furry and very close; so close that it is difficult on parting the hair to see the skin. The mane and frill should be very abundant. The mask or face smooth, the forelegs slightly feathered, the hindlegs below the hocks smooth. Hair on tail very profuse, and on the hips long and bushy.
COLOR.-Immaterial, though a richly-colored or nicely-marked dog has undoubtedly a considerable amount of weight with judges. The black-and-tan with white frill and collar, or the still more showy sable with perfect white markings will generally win, other things being equal.
SIZE.-Dogs, 22 to ?4 inches at the shoulder; bitches, 20 to 22 inches. Weight-dogs, 45 to 60 pounds; bitches, 40 to 50 pounds.
EXPRESSION.-This is one of the most important points in considering the relative value of Collies. “Expression,” like the term “character,” is difficult to define in words. It is not a fixed point as in color, weight, or height, and is something the uninitiated ran only properly understand by optical illustration. It is the combined product of the shape of the skull and muzzle, the set, size, shape, and color of the eyes, and the position and carriage of the ears.
GENERAL CHARACTER.-A lithe, active dog, with no useless timber about him, his deep chest showing strength, his sloping shoulders and well-bent hocks indicating speed, and his face high intelligence.
As a whole he should present an elegant and pleasing outline, quite distinct from any other breed, and show great strength and activity.
FAULTS.-Domed skull, high, peaked occipital bone, heavy, pendulous ears, or the other extreme, prick ears, short tail or tail curled over the back.
The following scale of points are those adopted by the Collie clubs of England. The club does not recommend point judging, the figures merely showing on which “properties” the greater stress is laid:
VALUE OF POINTS.-Head and expression, 15; ears, 10; neck and shoulders, 10; legs and feet, 15; hindquarters, 10; back and loins, 10; brush, 5; coat with frill, 20; size, 5. Total, 100.