THE COLLIE: BEAUTY PLUS DEVOTION
Examples of Rough and Smooth Coats in Sable, Tri and Blue
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Famous for a sweet and eager-to-please temperament, and for the beauty of the abundant coat, this ancient sheep-herding breed was developed to be an excellent worker in the fields. The collie was bred to assist the shepherd and that spirit of co-operation still influences the collie's temperament today.
Elegant, the collie walks with long steps and seems to float in the trot. An easy floating pace was necessary for the collie, who might work without the help of other dogs. The collie tends to be a “gatherer” in sheep-herding terms, and must be able to cover distances without undue stress. The oval feet are better adapted to distribute the impact of a faster and longer reaching gait.
The expression, sweet and intelligent, complements the extraordinary anatomy of the head, which favours vision, hearing, and scent. The lateral placement of the eyes covers 270 degrees, allowing the collie to see two times better than other dogs. The guardian of the sheep can watch the whole flock, plus an invader coming from the sides, at the same time. The ear raised high, with the tip slightly folded forward, is an acoustic shell which apprehends any sound. This is why our breed tends to be very sound sensitive! The long muzzle, almost straight with a slight stop, allows the dog to pick up on odor particles coming from many sources.
Ask anyone the color of the “Lassie” dog, and chances are the answer will be brown and white, officially sable and white. It is the price of fame! This was the color of the unforgettable Lassie, and in fact it may be said that she has become part of the collective conscience. But there are other beautiful colors, which are equally as accepted by breeders and show ring judges, if not as well known by the general public. There is the elegant tricolor, distinct and sober, which is predominantly black with tan and white markings. The exotic blue merle awakens the curiosity of people, with her bluish gray and black mottled coat. The sable merle is basically a brown (sable) color but with swirls of darker or lighter hairs. The blue merle and the sable merle are the only colors in which blue eyes are acceptable by show standards. It is generally not considered wise or ethical to breed two blue merles together, as there is a probability that the off-spring may be deaf, blind or have fatal genetic faults. There is also the white collie, which is genetically a colored dog, but with a white masking coat.
The Collie actually comes in two varieties, Rough Coat and Smooth Coat. This is a fact not well known by the general public. The Smooth coated variety is the same breed of dog, and in fact there may be rough and smooth puppies in the same litter! The Smooth has an outer coat that is short and harsh, to ward off bad weather, and the undercoat is downy and warm. It can be said that the Smooth has all the brains of Lassie but with less work! Although the upkeep is much easier for the Smooth, both varieties need regular grooming and lots of extra combing when they are shedding the undercoat.
For more information on the collie you can visit the web sites of the “Collie Club of Canada” http://www.collieclubofcanada.ca/ and the “Collie Club of America” http://www.collieclubofamerica.org/ Recommended reading material is THE COMPLETE COLLIE by Margaret Osborne, and COLLIE CONCEPTS by the late great Bobbie Roos.