Learn what makes the Collie a great herder, and the variations of sizes and colors
Famous for his sweet and eager-to-serve temperament, and for the elegance of his abundant coat, this ancient sheep herder was developed to be an excellent worker in the fields. With his protective spirit, fundamental to watch sheep, the Collie look for signs of peril, and acts immediately after identifying them. Reports about this are common, such as the one told by Roberto Ramos Teixeira, breeder for 11 years. "When I go into the sea, my Collie observes worried, and if I take too long, she goes into the water to fetch me," he says.
Elegant, the Collie walks in long steps, and seems to float in his trot. He developed this pace when, working without the help of other dogs, he needed to be faster than the breeds which herd packs, according to the explanation of cynophilist Hilda Drumond. His oval feet, longer than in the dogs that have round feet, distribute the impact of the fast pace better. The expression, sweet and intelligent, complements the extraordinary anatomy of his head, which favors vision, hearing and scent. His lateral eyes cover 270 degrees, allowing him to see two times better than other dogs. It can see the whole flock and an invasor coming from one of the sides, at the same time. The ear raised hight, with the tip slightly folded forward, is an accustic shell which aprehends any sound. The long muzzle, almost straight, with a slight stop allows him to notice odor particules coming from distant predators.
The American Collie is about 10% bigger than the European, because of the American tendency to give more visual impact to the exposition dogs. In Brazil, most Collies come from an American bloodline, and some work must be done to adapt them to the European standard. "For more than 30 years, most dogs came from the USA. Now we have increased importing from Europe," says Maria Glória Romero, president of the Collie Clube Paulista. "There are excellent Collies in all kinds of sizes. With this initiative, breeders affiliated to the European FCI, want to adapt to their demands," he concludes. "the issue of size is a matter of personal taste. Neither standard disclassifies because of height; they just take some points off," comments Gino Ornstein, judge and breeder at Kennel The Colliedition, São Paulo, affiliated to ACB (Associação Cinológica do Brasil) which bases its standard on the one used by AKC (American Kennel Club), thus maintaining the bigger size.
Ask anyone the color of Collie that first comes to mind, and the answer will probably be "brown and white," officially sable and white. It is the price of fame. This was the color of the unforgettable Lassie, and it may be said that she has become part of the collective mind. But there are other colors equally allowed. Distinct and sober, the tricolor is black, white, and tan. The exotic blue merle awakens the curiosity of people with his blueish gray body, sprinkled with black spots and some white areas; this is also the only Collie in which blue eyes are accepted, as well as each eye in one color, or brown eyes with a blue dot in the middle. "Not many months ago I advertised in Cães & Cia the picture of a blue merle. It was pure madness. Several people wanted one exactly the same, and other asked me if it was bred with a Siberian Husky, due to the blue eyes," says Christian Guillarducci, from Kennel Apolion's, Caieiras, SP. There is also the white one, accepted only by AKC, with head and some spots in sable or blue, or black and tan.
Variety: There is also the Smooth Collie (Short
Hair), different only in the length of coat.
Size: Males, 56 to 61cm, females 51 to 56cm by FCI and CBKC standards. By AKC and by ACB standards, males, 61 to 66cm, females 55,88 to 61 cm.
Purchase of Puppy: To evaluate how big it will be, check parents. Knowing if it's an American or European blood line helps. The nose has to be black; scissors bite, and length of tail must reach at least the upper part of the hocks.
Special Care: If ears are not folded from birth, fold tip around a cylinder of tape. Change when it doesn't adhere anymore; do this until dog is one year old. To keep coat clean and free of knots, brush every other day where hair is longer, for example under tail and bangs. Brush thoroughly once a week. Minimum of baths.
Do not breed: Don't breed 2 Collies with "merle"genectic factor, because part of the brood may be born completetly white (double merle), and possibly blind, deaf and barren. The "merle" factor is present in: 1) any blue merle; 2) some sable and white with at least one blue merle ancestor, including every puppy of this variety which present blueish gray spots in the ears and tail during the first 30 days. Also some puppies from the same brood even if they don't present the blueish gray spots.
Reading Material: The Complete Collie, from the Collie Club of America, Howell Book House, New York, USA. O Collie, by Margaret Osborne, Editora Brasels Wallace, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
We would like to thank the people interviewed, and the
assistance of cynophilist Hilda Drumond. We also thank Ms. Drumond, Ananilia
Vasconcelos, from Kennel Lochaven, São Paulo, and José Peduti
Neto, CBKC all rounder judge for the editing of this text.
Research and text: Flávia C. Soares. Text editor: Marcos Pennacchi
Picture: Luiz Henrique Mendes
Owner: Kennel Apolion's