Scotch Collie – Lassie and the lost dogs

Scotch Collie

Talk about Scotch Collies, and most people think of Lassie.  Although Lassie, now known as a rough collie, shares her roots with Scotch Collies, they are very different dogs. In fact, there is a growing movement to get the Scotch Collie recognized as a distinct breed.

The original Scotch Collies were landrace which means that there was minimal interference in their breeding.  Instead, through natural selection, dogs developed qualities adapted to their specific environments and needs.

The Scotch Collie’s organic development means that unlike modern breeds of dogs, there is diversity in their behavior and looks. The easiest way to think of Scotch Collies is to think of them as existing on a scale. Ranging from what we now know as a Rough Collie at one end all the way back to the various looks of the traditional farm collie or Scotch collie.

Breed History -old-time scotch collie

The Scottish collie is, at heart, a farm dog. Originating in Scotland, this hardy dog was a sheepherder, protector, and family pet. Scotch Collies were invaluable around a farm and appreciated their intelligence and ability to know what to do without being told.

It is sometimes known as the old-time Scotch Collie or old-time farm collie to differentiate them from the modern rough collies and smooth collies. The Scottish Collie was not a dog bred with intent. Instead, the breed developed over time to fit the diverse roles that it was required to perform.

Its popularity saw it imported to other countries and shown at events resulting in the Scotch Collie club’s formation and acceptance into the American Kennel Club in 1885. Eventually, the name Scotch was dropped in favor of ‘Rough’ and ‘Smooth’ to differentiate the working dogs from the show dogs.

As the breed developed within the new breed standards, scotch collies began to change shape and form into the ‘Lassie’ type dog we recognize today. By the mid-twentieth century, the original Scotch Collies were so far removed from the AKC breed standard that their popularity declined, and their population fell.

It’s believed that without the Scotch Collie, many of the dogs that we know today, including the Rough Collie, Smooth Collie, Border Collie, Gordon Setter, English Setter, and Australian cattle dog, would not exist. So, although the Scotch Collie is no longer recognized as a distinct breed by the Kennel Club, there is an ongoing movement primarily supported by the old-time scotch collie association to bring it back.

Scotch Collies appearance

The Scotch Collie is a medium-sized, well-balanced dog breed. It ranges from seventeen to twenty-five inches tall and around thirty-two to eighty pounds in weight. While there is a lot of diversity in Scotch Collies’ appearance, the overall look of the Scotch Collie is athletic, lean, and fit but without bulk.

Slightly longer than they are tall, the Scotch Collie is a well-balanced dog. The medium size ears are pointed at the tip and sit erect, partly erect, or folded. These dogs have a gently tapering, smooth face with eyes that are most commonly brown. However, blue merles may have blue eyes or one of each color.

Scotch collies have a dense, medium-length double coat with a soft underlayer and slightly coarse topcoat. With a distinctive mane, the fur is also longer and thicker around the tail and breeches. Coat colors vary, including sable, red, black and white, blue merle, and tan. Facial markings are typical, as are flashes on feet and tail.

Graceful and confident, the Scotch Collie is a handsome dog with a keen and intelligent look.

Scotch Collie temperament

The Scotch Collie is highly intelligent, biddable, and gentle. Protective of their flock and their family, the Collie is a natural defender, herder, and hunter. The Collie is brave in responding to a threat and efficient in ridding their traditional farm homes from vermin. The Scotch Collie’s natural desire to herd and their athletic and rugged nature was invaluable in Scotland’s rough terrain.

Their obedient personality combined with a strong desire to please makes the sweet-natured Scotch Collie a popular choice both as a working dog and as a family pet.

Scotch Collie At its best  Sweet, intelligent and biddable. This versatile dog is just as happy as a family dog as they are as a working dog.

Bold but reserved with strangers, the Scotch Collie’s temperament is responsive with a sensible yet playful nature. It is always ready for action but not high-strung. This adaptable dog is content to relax when it’s not needed but is always prepared for action.

Scotch Collie At its worse Over-protective with a strong desire to control their families, and a low threshold for boredom.

Scotch Collie exercise

As a working dog, the Scotch Collie needs plenty of physical exercise as well as mental stimulation. At least two long walks a day combined with play sessions and training will keep them happy.

The Scotch Collie is a perfect companion if you love the outdoors. They will happily keep pace with you on hikes, bike rides, or while you’re jogging.

Although generally biddable, gentle, and devoted, under-exercised, or bored, Collies are easily frustrated and can quickly develop unwanted behaviors and traits. They can become destructive and resort to ‘nipping’ in the wrong family and be persistent barkers.

Scotch Collie grooming

The Scotch Collies coat offers perfect protection from the elements. With a thick, harsh topcoat that guards against thorns, thistles, and inclement weather, and a dense, water-resistant undercoat, it’s one of the scotch collie’s most distinguishing features.

Despite the Scotch Collies abundant coat, a weekly brush should keep it in good shape. Tangles should be eased out and are often found around the breeches, tail, and rough – areas where the fur is thickest.

As with all double-coated breeds, expect a lot of shedding, especially in spring and autumn when the dog blows its fluffy undercoat.

Scotch Collie health

While the Collie dog is robust with no significant health problems, minor ones need consideration. These include;

  • Collie Eye anomaly
  • Drug sensitivity
  • Bloat
  • Epilepsy
  • Skin conditions
  • Hip dysplasia

While these shouldn’t put you off getting an old-time Scotch Collie, it’s always worth being prepared for possible issues. Good breeders will be happy to discuss the medical history of the puppy’s parents and advise on any genetic tests.

A healthy collie dog can expect to have a life span of 12-15 years.

Scotch Collie highlights

The Scotch Collies are adaptable dogs, suitable as both a working dog and as a family companion. Sweet, gentle, smart, and tolerant of children, this dog encapsulates everything an old-fashioned farm collie should be.

Although numbers of this breed are low, there is a growing interest in bringing back this hard-working herding dog and make them distinct from dog breeds such as rough collies.

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