The Scottish Shepherd Dog (Collie) is a large herding dog with an elongated muzzle and a charming sly look. Since the late 90s, it has been bred in two independent varieties – long-haired and short-haired.
The Scottish Shepherd is a charming shepherd collie, better known among dog lovers in its long-haired incarnation. Moderately sporty, playful, and inquisitive, this cute creature does not require strict control and, due to its good-natured nature, gets along with everyone who does not try to put pressure on him with tough authority. Fluffy enchantresses are demanding only for one thing – regular and long walking, so either buy comfortable sneakers and put up with excursions in any weather or look after yourself a more passive pet.
Scottish Shepherds began to take shape in a separate breed at the end of the 19th century. Until then, they belonged to the large family of herding collies, used as cheap labor when it came to guarding flocks of sheep. It is believed that Queen Victoria gave the dogs a start in life, first settling a collie dog named Noble in her palace kennel, and then several of his relatives. As a result, already by 1860, a stratification was outlined in the clan of shepherd dogs, during which a variety of larger individuals with thick reddish hair emerged.
The Scottish Shepherd Dogs acquired their recognizable aristocratic appearance as a result of interbreeding. For example, collies inherited elongated muzzles from the Russian greyhound and the reddish-red color of fur coats from the Irish setter. Work on the formation of the phenotype of the breed stretched for several decades, but since 1885 at European exhibitions, there have already been “specimens” that resembled modern dogs. One of these stars of the ring was the Old Koki male, considered the great-great-grandfather of today’s collies.
At the end of the 19th century, the short-haired and long-haired Scottish Shepherd Dogs were finally separated. And although until the end of the 20th century, their representatives were crossed with each other, now dogs with smooth hair and fluffy individuals belong to different breed types. Moreover, short-haired collies continue to be considered a rarer family than their shaggy cousins.
In Russia, Tsar Nicholas II became the first owner of the Scottish Shepherd breed. According to one of the versions, the same Queen Victoria presented the puppy to the imperial family, and according to another story, the monarch himself acquired the dogs on a trip abroad. After the October Revolution, the trail of the emperor’s wards was lost, but by that time a service dog breeding section had opened in Leningrad, where they were engaged in breeding and improving the working performance of collies.
With the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, the four-legged pupils of the Leningrad nurseries were called up to serve, so that only five purebred individuals survived the blockade of the city on the Neva, from which all the lines of Soviet collies subsequently descended. Like most breeds in the USSR, “Scots” were bred in complete isolation, without a rush of blood from the outside, so domestic shepherds differed from their European and American counterparts both externally and in terms of temperament. As an example: all Soviet individuals were tall and quite explosive since in the Soviet Union puppies were initially introduced to official activities. It was possible to get relatively good-natured and smaller livestock only in the early 90s, with the advent of the possibility of importing breeding bitches and males from other countries.
Collie is a slender aristocrat with a slightly sly expression of a long muzzle and an equally sly look. Despite the fact that today’s individuals are no longer herding sheep that have strayed from the flock, a strong build, without a bias in the roughness and dampness of the skeleton, remains the defining feature of the breed. Regarding the dimensions of the long-haired shepherd dogs, each standard describes them differently. For example, in the opinion of FCI experts, the growth of an exemplary collie dog is 56-61 cm, bitches – 51-56 cm. At the same time, the AKC (American Kennel Club) offers its own standards: 61-66 cm for “boys” and 56-61 see for “girls”.
Abundant straight hair, reminiscent of an exquisite coat, complemented by a lush collar and fluffy tail, is another spectacular attribute of the long-haired breed. However, it is important to understand that even a record voluminous and glamorous “outfit” is not able to cover the physical disabilities of the animal. To put it simply: in the rings, the condition, movement, and bone of the collie are judged more pickily than the coat. This is because historically the ancestors of the Scottish Shepherd Dogs were bred as working dogs, which means they were much poorer dressed. At the same time, the luxurious “mantles” of today’s representatives of the breed are just the result of the persistent striving of breeders for a standard photogenic exterior of pets.
The elongated dry head of the Scottish Shepherd should have a blunt wedge-shaped shape, but at the same time not copy the head of one of its ancient ancestors – the greyhound. The collie’s skull and cheekbones are flat, the stop is poorly defined. The head and muzzle are approximately the same lengths.
The main sign that this is a Scottish Shepherd Dog is the sly look of obliquely set almond-shaped eyes, which Western breeders describe as “sweet.” The most common iris color is dark brown. An exception is individuals with marbled hair, for which a blue eye tone is acceptable, as well as heterochromia.
The teeth are large, complete. Jaws strong, in a scissor bow.
A slightly rounded shape is characteristic of the back of the nose of the muzzle. The lobe has a rich black tone.
The relatively small ears of the Scottish Shepherd are set in the crown of the head and are laid back. The ear canopy takes a semi-raised, forward-looking position only if the dog is interested or worried about something.
A muscular, balanced collie’s neck should have a pronounced curve and sufficient length.
The elongated body is an external feature especially pronounced in bitches. The back of the Scottish Shepherd Dog is strong, slightly raised in the lumbar region. The chest is deep, wide behind the shoulder blades, with elegantly rounded ribs.
The forelegs are dry, with oblique shoulder blades, straight forearms and elbows directed straight back. The hind legs have a muscular thigh and a sinewy lower leg. The hock joint gives the impression of restrained power and slopes downward. The dog moves at an easy slow trot, springy pushing off with its hind limbs.
The collie has a long tail, the lower vertebra of which is at the level of the hock. In a relaxed dog, the tail is kept downward and slightly curved upward at the tip. If the animal is excited, the tail is carried cheerfully, but it is not thrown on its back.
The rich undercoat fits snugly around the collie’s body, completely hiding the skin. The cover hair is rough, straight, forming a lush mane and a frill on the neck, feathering on all four legs, and an exquisite “fan” on the tail. On the ear tips and on the head, the hair is short and smooth.
The standard fixes no more than three basic suits:
- sable – all varieties from clarified gold to darkened sable, with the exception of light straw and cream;
- tricolor – coal-black with reddish-brown marks;
- blue merle – silver-blue with black narrow veins and spots, as well as red marks on the top of the head and legs (the latter quality is optional).
A preferred addition to the color is also the presence of a white shirt-front, collar, tail tip, and white spots on the paws.
Representatives of the breed are disqualified for cryptorchidism, anatomical deformities, aggressive attacks, or excessive cowardice and bite defects. Any noticeable deviation from the standard is sufficient to reduce the show score. For example, dogs with an insufficiently filled muzzle, protruding cheekbones, and an occipital protuberance, as well as an incomplete dental formula, will not be able to claim the championship. The same fate awaits the Scottish Shepherd Dogs with a short, stocky body, erect ears, soft hair, and cow-set limbs.
Collie is a charismatic intellectual who knows how to build warm relationships not only with the owner and members of his family but also with fluffy “antagonists” in the form of other dogs and domestic cats. One of the most pleasant and rare qualities of the breed is the absence of extremes in character and temperament. We can say that in the soul, the animal carefully weighs the validity of each action, fearing to overdo it, therefore the correct Scottish Shepherd is playful and mobile, but will not arrange a semblance of a natural disaster in the house; she is eager to contact the owner, but she never transforms into a delivery dog, from whose attention she wants to hide in another room.
In relations with strangers, fluffy aristocrats are also extremely diplomatic – despite the natural distrust of a stranger, the Rough Collie will not allow himself to sink to a threatening growl and display of fangs. That is why they are reluctant to take the breed as bodyguards, preferring to entrust its representatives with search and guard work. Shepherd dogs have a permanent partnership with children, so if your heirs need a patient and inexhaustible nanny, take a closer look at the collie. The only caveat: in order to achieve the maximum effect, you will have to raise the future “babysitter” yourself – dogs that have not been in contact with children until adulthood, alas, are not so child-loving.
Almost all dog handlers note the extraordinary talkativeness of the breed. And it’s not only about the voice response to intrusion or extraneous sounds – a true “Scotsman” is not averse to chatting with the owner for no reason. So do not be surprised when, in response to the word spoken to the pet, you hear something grumbling, shrieking, or howling. In relation to other representatives of the fauna, Scottish Shepherds behave with restraint and peacefulness, and small livestock and poultry are carefully guarded against encroachments. The collie is able to present unpleasant surprises only by succumbing to the collective euphoria. For example, when a pack of other dogs is chasing a cat or a bird. A four-legged shepherd will most likely join such a fun activity – whatever one may say, but herd instincts in the life of shepherd dogs still play a significant role.
Consider the fact that there are no dogs that are exact copies of each other, both externally and in behavior, so it makes no sense to compare the puppy you got and the individual living in a friend’s house. Often, differences in the character of animals are due to the geography of breeding. For example, dogs from American lines are more temperamental than their European relatives. By the way, in terms of physical activity, the Scottish Shepherds, although they are lively, are quite manageable, which cannot be said about their cousins - the short-haired collie, whose internal battery always works at the limit of possibilities.
The quick-witted, hard-working and incredibly curious collies are among the top of the most easily trainable breeds. However, it is possible to achieve positive and quick results only on the condition of a benevolent attitude. Remember, the Scottish Shepherd has a vulnerable psyche and categorically does not accept an authoritarian style of communication. Moreover, the home atmosphere plays a huge role for her. If the family communicates in a raised voice, it is stress for the pet, which prevents it from delving into the educational process and turns the puppy into a silly, nervous creature.
Do not be afraid that a shaggy friend will misinterpret your loyalty during the training and start playing like a “big boss”. The breed is not prone to dominance in principle and prefers kind mentoring from the owner. Otherwise, Scottish Shepherd Dogs are raised in the same way as most breeds. First – socialization and establishing contacts with family members, then – get used to the daily routine, then – getting to know the street, new smells, and sounds.
At all of these stages, it is possible and necessary to introduce the puppy to the basic commands. At 2 months, a four-legged prankster is taught to respond to the call “Come to me!” and understand the order “Place!” At 3 months, the pet is introduced to the leash and the commands “Walk!”, “Sit!” 4 months is the optimal age to learn the orders “Near!”, “Fu!” and “Lie down!” Well, a six-month-old teenager is also able to master more complex actions, for example, a command-posting and the demand “Stop!”. By the way, speaking about deportation: collies are one of the few breeds with a reduced craving for chewing objects, so any toys in these shepherd dogs live longer.
It is better to deal with the “Scotsman” on the street, and first, the puppy is supposed to walk, and then get down to business. In the first lessons, the pet will be distracted by external stimuli, and this is normal. Gradually, the animal will learn to control its own attention and concentrate on the requirements of a person. The main thing is not to overdo it with repetitions of commands and the duration of classes. The time interval during which the Scottish Long-haired Shepherd is able to keep its attention on one action is 5-10 minutes.
With regard to training programs, the breed perfectly copes with UGS and OKD. The international standard for obedience (obedience) also passes the majority of individuals. Theoretically, nothing prevents the owner from walking with the collie and ZKS, but this is done more often “for the show” – in the character of the Scottish Shepherd Dogs there is a lack of healthy aggression and suspicion, so necessary for a dog-bodyguard.
Like all historically working breeds, Scottish Shepherds are not afraid of temperature changes and are able to live in a kennel or aviary. However, in practice, moving a pet to the yard on a permanent basis is not worth it for two reasons. Firstly, because of the contact of the collie, which requires constant interaction with the owner. And secondly, because of the overly luxurious wool, which perfectly collects small debris. Residents of country cottages will have to think about how to provide the animal with a free passage from the street to the house and back. Well, apartment owners – get ready for regular proms in the company of a pet.
The collie’s main problem is, first of all, the coat. Lots of wool. Dogs molt seasonally, in autumn and spring, but this happens with individuals living in the fresh air. Apartment shepherd dogs shed their hairless spontaneously, but throughout the year. Puppies acquire fluffy fur coats only by the end of the first year of life, and in the process of changing children’s “clothes” for an adult, they will have to help by combing, and occasionally bathing – this way the puppy’s coat comes off faster. The molting of female individuals is a separate topic. Bitches renew their coat after each birth, and often the newly regrown hair is not very effective.
The non-shedding collie is combed once a week with the obligatory moistening of the coat with a spray for detangling. The tail is combed carefully and strictly according to the growth of the hair – in this part of the body there is poor blood supply, therefore, with dead hairs, there is a risk of pulling out healthy ones. Do not be alarmed if the faded ward resembles a slightly shabby creature – this is normal. The gradually renewed undercoat and awn will gain the necessary strength and density. The only caveat is that you cannot show yourself with such an unevenly “dressed” dog at an exhibition.
Useful tools for working out the coat of the Scottish Shepherd Dog are combs with sparse and frequent metal teeth, a brush, scissors for trimming hair behind the ears and on the paws. It is recommended to wash the animal with shampoo for wire-haired dogs, no more than 2-3 times a year. The collie is also supposed to do a monthly “pedicure” with a nail clipper for large and medium breeds, and once a week the dog’s ear funnel is cleaned of excess sulfur secretions (a cotton cloth and warm water are enough).
Strict supervision is necessary behind the eyes of a four-legged friend. And if dust lumps can be removed from the mucous membrane with the help of chamomile broth and a tissue napkin, then in case of redness and visible inflammation, you will have to resort to the services of a veterinarian. Post-walk hygiene is also part of the mandatory care program. After the promenade, you need to wash the dog’s paws, periodically nourishing the skin of the pads with unrefined vegetable oil or fatty cream. It is better to cut the hair between the toes – this way the paws will get less dirty, and in winter they will not build up a crust of ice and reagents.
It’s great if you have enough time to devote at least 4 hours a day to walking and jogging with the collie. However, compromises are also possible. For example, in the morning and in the afternoon it is permissible to take the shepherd dog to a short “toilet” promenade, but in the evening it will have to compensate it in the form of a full two-hour walk. Individuals freely moving around the courtyard and personal plots are also allowed to slightly cut the timing of daily excursions. By the way, you can let the collie wander around the fenced yard without unnecessary worries – the breed is not prone to escapes and does not arrange tunnels to escape into the wild.
If you live in a city where there are grounds for training dogs in a sporting pasture, it makes sense to enroll in a furry ward for classes. Frisbee exercises are considered a good way to warm up. And in winter you can practice skijoring – the Alaskan Malamute and Labrador Collie will not overshadow in this discipline, but will receive physical and emotional relaxation, and will provide the owner with fun. Pitch and go is considered a positive and relatively easy sport – the good old-fashioned transfer of objects on command. In the summer, it is recommended to transfer the fun to the banks of reservoirs, that is, throw an object into the water, from where the collie will get it. Scottish Shepherd Dogs like these attractions – the breed swims well and is not averse to freshening up on a hot day.
After water procedures, the dog’s coat should be doused with slightly warmed running water and blotted with a terry towel, since raw hair is a breeding ground for bacteria that cause an unpleasant odor emanating from the animal. In the slushy off-season, collies are more comfortable to walk in protective overalls – although the breed’s wool has dust-repellent properties, this does not save the stomachs of its representatives from liquid dirt.
The easiest way to meet the nutritional needs of the Scottish Shepherd is to feed it “dryers” containing natural meat. As a rule, these are super-premium and holistic varieties, selected individually, depending on the activity, health status, and age of the individual. A natural menu is no less useful, but its preparation will require efforts from the owner in the selection of products and their processing.
Scottish Shepherds eat the same as other dogs, that is, lean raw meat, fillets of boiled and raw sea fish, vegetables (pumpkin, zucchini, carrots), low-fat dairy products. For puppies that are forming a skeleton, it is useful to give calcified cottage cheese. Porridge with buckwheat, rice, and oatmeal is cooked for babies in milk, and for adults in broth. Sometimes puppies and adolescents are allowed to pamper a flat beef bone, but keep in mind that a young dog should nibble it slightly, and not eat it whole. For overly fat collies, it is advisable to arrange fasting days in which only water is offered, however, it is better to agree with a specialist in advance of therapeutic fasting.
Some owners give their four-legged wards vitamins that improve the growth and structure of the coat. But the approach to the selection of dietary supplements should be careful since such complexes “plant” the liver. It is better to replace ready-made preparations with fish oil and unrefined vegetable oil, although they should be added in very moderation. Seaweed is also a useful supplement, although the iodine contained in it can stain the animal’s fur. Accordingly, if you are raising a show dog that is about to go to the exhibition, it is better to minimize the reception of kelp.
On average, collies live 12-14 years, although exceptions to the rule, meeting their own 16th birthday in good health, are not so rare. Genetic ailments plague Scottish Shepherds to a lesser extent than most popular breeds, due to the working status in which the representatives of this canine clan have stayed for a long time.
To specific hereditary diseases, which are susceptible to “Scots”, most often include the eye anomaly CEA, which has several degrees of severity and is diagnosed in 5-7-week-old puppies. In adults, it is possible to detect CEA only with the help of DNA tests. Before buying a puppy, check with the seller if the producers are carriers of the defective gene that is passed on to the offspring, and ask for the test results.
In animals with blue merle color, congenital deafness is sometimes found. In addition, some members of the breed suffer from degenerative myelopathy, ectopia of the ureters, hip dysplasia, and dermatitis. Anomalies in the development of the eyelid are also still taking place, therefore, offspring with everted or rolled eyelids, as well as distichiasis, are periodically born.
How to choose a puppy?
- Give preference to monobreed kennels where exclusively long-haired collies are bred, rather than five or more breeds.
- Become a regular on breed forums and carefully read real reviews about breeders and kennels – in such places you can find a lot of useful information and check the seller for honesty.
- Evaluate the appearance of the litter breeder. The dog should not look emaciated and have an exhausted look, as, indeed, its offspring.
- Take your puppy only when you are sure he can feed on his own. To do this, stay in the nursery until the next feeding and watch how the babies eat.
- If the total area of white marks on the body of a collie puppy is 50% or more, get ready to consider it as a pet. The way to the exhibitions for such a shepherd will be closed.
- For those who are taking their first steps in dog training, it is better to choose a “girl”. Scottish Shepherd bitches are less obstinate and easier to train.
- Collie is a talkative breed, but if at the first meeting the puppy barks at you without stopping, choose another baby. In the future, such talkativeness will cause a lot of problems with neighbors.
- Before visiting the kennel, print out the Fisher and Campbell tests to help determine the character and ability of the puppy, and coordinate them with the breeder.