Here in the twentieth century, the Collie is easily identified as the companion of children or as the adornment for an obscure farm in the Midwest. The film and television industry have done much to create this image with the promotion of the classic T.V. series “Lassie”.
One could easily think the Collie to be as American as hot dogs and apple pie. In some respects this might be true, since the refinements to the original breed were originated in America. But the breed itself can be traced back to the 17th and 18th century to the highlands of Scotland.
It was in Scotland that two varieties of Collies emerged, the smooth-coated Collie and the rough-coated Collie. The smooth-coat is not so well known, but was used in the warmer climate of Scotland for the same purpose as the rough-coated Collie was used in the colder climate. The Collie was a sheepherding animal. His purpose in life was to take the place of ten men, and in this endeavor he excelled.
He was truly a working dog who had not only the ability to herd sheep, but the intelligence and courage to protect both his owner and the flock from the ravages of hungry wolves. Since sheep represented the major industry in Scotland at that time, the “Coally dog” (as it was referred to at the time) became quite popular in that country.
It is believed that the name “Collie” is derived from the black-faced sheep they herded, or from the fact that the original Collies were themselves all black. Our modern day Collie however, sports a variety of different colored coats; sable and white, blue merle, tri-color, or white.
Whether worker or show dog, the Collie is gentle and affectionate in nature and graceful in gait. He is one of the most easily trained dogs, but has a temperament that displays his reluctance to repeat any trick he has performed well already.
The Collie shows a boundless sense of responsibility. The selection of a Collie to portray Lassie could not have been more accurate. The Collie has a centuries-old heritage of faithfully guarding whatever is committed to his custody.
As with most long-haired dogs, the Collie coat needs faithful grooming and attention to prevent skin disorders, fleas and ticks. This dog has been bred to remain outdoors for most of the day and both the coat and the dog are not at their best unless these requirements are fulfilled.
Since his guarding instinct is so highly developed, he makes a fine watchdog and protects children in his “people family”, much like his ancestors protected the sheep of their flock. He is known for his loyalty and faithfulness with those he knows and loves, but is reserved and distrustful of strangers.
The Collie is not suited for apartment living. He is happiest when at liberty in the great outdoors. Because of his size, he needs the open spaces in which to run. Of all the breeds which exemplify companionship to man, the Collie stands out among the best.