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rec.pets.dogs: Collies Breed-FAQ
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997
There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article
is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp
to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list, via
the Web at http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-fa.../faq-list.html, or
via email by sending your message to with
in the body of the message.
This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is"
without express or implied warranty.
Marla Belzowski (formerly )
Editing, Cindy Tittle Moore
Currently maintained by Cindy Tittle Moore. Marla lost net access
sometime in 1992. Copyright 1992-1996 by Marla Belzowski and Cindy
Tittle Moore. All rights reserved.
* Marla Belzowski, Created 30 March 1992.
* Updated information provided by Catherine C. Sims, Dec. '93
* Addition of two new breed books & rearrangement of material by
CTM, May '94
* Additional information on heartworm medication, adapted from
Kristen Thommes' ) article on the
subject by CTM, June '95
* July '95, added "online resources" section
* Updated information provided by Leslie Mamer, Aug. '95
Table of Contents
* Characteristics and Temperament
* Special Medical Problems
+ Online Resources
Most believe the Collie evolved in the highlands of Scotland and
Northern England. Some claim that the Collie's ancestors were brought
to the British Isles by Roman conquerors in the middle of the first
century, A.D. But it is known that the earliest invaders, the Stone
Age nomads also brought dogs with them to what is now Southern
England. From these probable decendants came a hardy, quick-witted dog
that was needed to handle sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs, and they
were undoubtedly used for hunting along with their herding duties.
English dogs were highly prized in Italy in the 11th century. The
growth of the wool industry in the Middle ages was aided along by dogs
known as the ban dog and the cur in 15th and 16th century England. Not
until about the 18th century did the breeding of domestic animals
begin. The rough Collie was virtually unknown in London as late as
1860, while a bob-tailed smooth sheep dog was more common to that
area. The rough Collie came down from Scotland and the border
countries to farmer's markets at Birmingham, following the development
of the railroads. The Collie most likely made his show ring debut in
December, 1860, at Birmingham, the third formal dog show at which
conformation of individual animals was judged. They were most likely
shown in the group classified "sheepdogs" with combined different
strains of rough and smooth Collies, bob-tails, and beardies.
None of the sheepdogs were very popular at this time. They were
generally working dogs, without pedigrees, and they were more of a
farmers dog. They were small, weighing 25 to 45 lbs, relatively short
legged, long-backed, short necked, and had unsightly feet and legs.
Many were cow-hocked, fiddle fronted, overangulated, with a wide
variety of tails lengths including no-tails, bob-tails, half-tailed
and long-tailed dogs all occurring in the same litter. They had much
heavier heads and had terrier like eyes. The coats were various
lengths from smooth to extremely long and frilled, in one black and
white Scottish strain. The color was origionally black and white or
black and tan, but sometimes grey, dull brown or mixed brindle sable
The Collie's popularity began with Queen Victoria (1837-1901), who
fell in love with the breed on visits to her Scottish retreat. It was
then that the lowly farmers dog was elevated to a state of canine
aristocracy. It then became more fashionable to own a Collie and show
One of the most important Collies, a dog named Old Cockie, became
recognized in 1868. All show Collies trace back to Old Cockie through
his sable and white grandson Charlemagne, whose pedigree shows the
only two sables: Maude, his dam, and her sire, Old Cockie. Old Cockie
live fourteen years as a cherished and pampered companion of Mr. James
Characteristics and Temperament
Collies are very family oriented dogs. They love children, they are
very intelligent, quick learners, very sensitive, playful, and great
outdoors dogs. Collies get along well with other pets. Collies,
however, are not for everyone. The do require a lot of exercise to
keep them happy and fit. Collies are very energetic and will become
easily bored if left alone for extended periods. They are very good at
finding things to do if they are bored, which will often include
digging, barking and other general destructive behaviors.
Collies should not be tied up or chained. Because they are a herding
dog they are able to run up to 40 miles a day. It is preferable to
have a large fenced yard or a large kennel area. Collie are also great
athletes and can easily jump a 4 or 5 foot fence when motivated to do
so. A 6 foot fence is suggested for fencing off areas. Collies
understand boundaries well and it is advisable to walk a new puppy
around the yard twice a day for the first week, and once a day for two
following weeks to teach them the yard limits. Collies can become car
chasers and it is advisable to stop this at the FIRST sign of car
Collies make excellent obedience dogs. The require a soft touch when
initally learning the exercise and a quick correction once they do
understand but just refuse to do the exercise. Collies can become
stubborn and unwilling to learn anything if too much correction is
used. They are also bright enough to figure out ways to avoid doing
exercises. In general they are very intelligent and very sensitive
dogs. Collies also retain many of their inherited herding abilities
and make excellent working dogs. Smooth collies are occasionally used
as assistance dogs for physically handi-capped people. Collies have
also been known to be used as therapy dogs, Search and Rescue dogs,
Avalanche Dogs, Water Rescue dogs, Drug-detection dogs, and Fire
Rescue dogs. Collies have been decorated five times for Ken-L-Ration
Grooming is a necessity for rough collies. Rough coats take some care.
A good brushing one a week will take care of many mats and tangles and
a bath every two months or so is ok. Smooths are much easier to care
for. They have short hair like a shepherd, but still have the thick
double coat. Smooths seem to shed a lot because the fur is more likely
to fall out, where as in roughs, it is more likely to tangle up into
hair balls. Collies shed about as much as any other dog. Their major
hair loss is in the spring as the weather gets warm and in the fall as
the new winter fur comes in. If you brush them out then, shedding
shouldn't be a big problem. Large mats should be removed with thinning
shears if they persist behind the ears, under the legs or around the
neck. It is also advisable to remove the fur from the inner pads of
the feet and the lower areas of the hock and pasterns. Those dogs with
dew claws need them trimmed at least once a month.
Collies live about 12 to 16 years on average. Males are a bit more
rambunctous than females. Females are usually pretty reserved. Both
are equally acceptable for children. All of the "Lassie's" were male
collies. Females tend to have less coat than the males and are
slightly smaller. Both are equally intelligent. Collies also "think"
they are also great "lap" dogs.
Get your collie puppy from a responsible breeder and you should not
have any problems. Collies from pet stores and back yard breeders are
notorious for eye and other problems. Get a guarantee of quality with
your puppy and don't be offended by spay/neuter contracts for pet
puppies (most pet puppies will have slight eye problems but are not
serious for neutered pets). Pet puppies are about $250 - $400 and show
dogs are usually $500 and up. You aren't getting a bargain at $150 or
so, if the breeder doesn't check eyes.
The Standard is the physical "blueprint" of the breed. It describes
the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed
otherwise known as _type_. Some characteristics, such as size, coat
quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function
for the dog. Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye
color; but taken together they set this breed apart from all others.
The Standard describes an _ideal_ representive of the breed. No
individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the
breeder to strive towards.
Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards
at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not
typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the
publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club
for a copy of the Standard.
American Kennel Club (Rough and Smooth collie)
United Kennel Club (Scotch Collie)
Kennel Club of Great Britain (Scotch Collie)
Canadian Kennel Club
Japanese Kennel Club
and many other kennel clubs
Special Medical Problems
The Collie Club of America Foundation is dedicated exclusively to the
health needs of the Collie and supports ongoing research with grants.
Current grantees are Dr. Aguirre at Cornell, working on a blood test
for gene-identification of PRA; and Dr. Johna Veatch of Central States
Pathology, for work in gene identification of dermatomyositis (the
most destructive of the autoimmune skin diseases in the Collie).
Research into this disease, an autoimmune skin disorder is under way
at Michigan State by Dr. Johna Veatch, with help from Dr. John Gerlach
(human molecular geneticist) and Leslie Mamer, caretaker of the
research animals. The first stage of gene sequencing has been done. It
is estimated that over 70% of the Collie breed (rough and smooth) are
affected as carriers or otherwise with this disease. It's been
recently proven that there are several genes involved as well as
environmental, nutritional, and chemical influences. You can address
questions about this research to Leslie Mamer at .
Depigmented ulcerated lesions of the nose.
Collie Eye Anomaly
Collies do have eye problems. Estimates are that 95% of collies are
carriers of or affected with Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA). CEA can, but
does not always, cause blindness as the severity of the condition can
vary. Most responsible breeders will know and check their puppies for
the problem with a veterinary ophthalmologist.
CERF -- Canine Eye Registration Foundation -- registers "Normal-eyed"
dogs. If you just want a pet, a grade 1 or 2 CEA (and even a grade 3)
are just fine. Grade 3 and over should never be bred. Grades 1 and 2
are still bred and shown, but breeders are making an effort to not
breed any affected dog. Right now it is difficult to do with the high
rate of affected and carrier dogs.
CEA is the most common form of eye problem found in the Collie, both
rough and smooth variety. It is also found in the Border Collie, and
the Shetland Sheepdog. CEA is a simple recessive, as shown by research
at Ohio State; however a cluster of genes controls the _severity_ of
CEA in an affected dog and that can complicate diagnosis.
There is no correlation between CEA and sex, coat color, type of coat
(rough or smooth), or presence of the merling gene. Usually both eyes
are affected, but not necessarily to the same degree. Those dogs with
minor anomaly make fine pets and usually do not lose their eyesight.
Those that are more severely affected can lose their eyesight within a
few years of diagnosis if the retina is detached by a blow to the head
or else they are born blind. These dogs usually do not make acceptable
A recessive trait means there are three types of dogs: unaffected dogs
that do not display the trait NOR have genes for the trait; carriers
that do not display the trait, but DO have one of the genes for the
trait; and affected dogs that have the trait and can only pass along
genes for the trait. If a dog is "mildly affected", it is an affected
dog and will always pass along CEA to it's puppies. So breeding two
"mildly affected" dogs will never result in unaffected, or even
carrier puppies. Breeding two apparently normal dogs may result in
puppies with CEA if both dogs turn out to be carriers. If a dog ever
produces a puppy with CEA, then that dog must be either a carrier or
an affected dog itself.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
PRA will result in blindness. A well known and widely used stud dog in
the '70s was found to be a carrier and did produce blind puppies.
While the breeder now test-breeds all their stock available for stud
services, PRA is present in a number of lines. Most reputable breeders
who know or suspect that PRA is in their lines do test-breed. Since
PRA in Collies is a simple recessive, it has been easier to control
Nodular Granulomatous Episclerokeratitis (NGE)
Sometimes called Nodular Fascitis, Fibrous Histiocytoma or Collie
Granuloma, NGE is thought to be an immune mediated disorder in which a
cellular proliferation occurs at the corneal scleral junction. This
eventually causes damage to the cornea. Many collies with "Collie
Nose" also have NGE. Treatment is with anti-inflammatories or
Collies have VERY low rates of hip dysplasia. Most breeders do not
check or OFA their dogs. Collies and Boston Terriers are about equal
in the number of hip dysplasia cases. It is still preferable to have
the dogs checked before breeding.
There have been numerous discussions about the safety, or lack of
safety, of using ivermectin-based heartworm prevention in collies and
other herding breeds of dogs. You should ask the breeder of your
collie what they recommend for heartworm preventive.
Much of the concern over the safety of ivermectin began when this
medication was first tested in dogs for toxicity studies. In the
initial testing of ivermectin, the drug was tested in Beagles to see
at what dose clinical signs of toxicity would develop. Later, these
same studies were performed on Collies and it was found that Collies
had clinical signs of toxicosis at much lower doses of ivermectin than
the Beagles did. Therefore, at the time, a warning was issued that
collies and collie mixes should not be given the newly approved
heartworm preventative containing ivermectin as the active ingredient.
After these initial toxicity studies were done, further studies were
done to determine if the dose of ivermectin present in the monthly
medication would cause a problem in collies. As a reference, the dose
of ivermectin in Heartgard is 6 - 12 micrograms per kg of body weight.
In studies that have been done, doses of more than 50 micrograms per
kg have been tested in collies to determine toxicity at many times the
dose in Heartgard.
The signs of toxicosis seen in clinical trials varied in their
severity. Early signs of toxicosis included salivation, dilated
pupils, vomiting, tremors, and difficulty walking (ataxia). Severe
signs of toxicosis included weakness, inability to stand (recumbency),
nonresponsiveness, stupor, and coma.(1) "Similar reactions have not
been seen in the studies evaluating ivermectin efficacy as a
In one study, collies were dosed with increasing amounts of
ivermectin, from 100 microgram per kg up to 2,500 micrograms per kg.
In this study, the dogs that developed the most serious clinical signs
were given supportive care (fluids), and even the most severely
affected dog was normal within 9 days of drug administration. (1)
In several of these type of studies, there were collies that seemed to
react to ivermectin, and other collies that did not react to the
ivermectin. It has been suggested that there are collies that are
"ivermectin sensitive" and those that are considered to be "ivermectin
non-sensitive" based on the results of these studies. Unfortunately,
to date, no research has provided us with the ability to differentiate
between the ivermectin-sensitive and non-sensitive collies.
Two clinical studies showed that 200 micrograms per kg of ivermectin
dosages resulted in 50% of the collies displaying severe toxic signs,
and NO signs of toxicity when the dosage was below 100 micrograms per
kg. "Because the 100 microgram per kg dose is nearly 16 times higher
than the manufacturers recommended minimum effective dose for the
prevention of heartworm (ie. 6 micrograms/kg), it appears that
treatment with ivermectin for the prevention of heartworm disease
would be safe in even the most ivermectin-sensitive dogs." (3)
Despite the studies, Ivermectin is not considered safe for collies by
most breeders. Although Merck has recently removed its warning, there
are now several cases of toxicity reactions reported from collies
given Ivermectin. There have also been numerous reports of subclinical
toxic reactions from dogs given Heartgard preventative. It is thought
that there may be a wider range of sensitivity than indicated by the
trials. To be completely safe, Collies should be given either
carbamazine heartworm preventative (daily dose), or the monthly
Interceptor heartworm preventative. _
References of interest:_
(1)Paul AJ et al. " Clinical observations in Collies given ivermectin
orally." _Am J Vet Res_ Vol 48, No. 4. April 1987. pp 684-685.
(2)Pulliam JD et al. "Investigating ivermectin toxicity in Collies."
_Veterinary Medicine_. June 1985. pp 33-40.
(3)Paul AJ et al. "Evaluating the safety of administering high doses
of a chewable ivermectin tablet to Collies." _Veterinary Medicine_.
June 1991. p 623.
(4)Clark JN et al. (title page lost). _Am J Vet Res_, Vol 53. No 4,
April 1992. page 611.
(5) Miller, JM. "Management of small animal toxicoses." In: The ISVMA
111th Annual convention proceedings. page 45.
(7)Rawlings and Calvert. "Heartworm disease." In: _Ettinger's Textbook
of Veterinary Internal Medicine- diseases of the dog and cat_. Third
edition, Volume 1. Copyright 1989. page 1182.
Some collies tend to have skin problems. Hot spots are sometimes found
in muggy summer months. They have also been known to have epilepsy.
(_Collie Concept_ and _The New Collie_ are widely considered the best
books on Collies.)
_The New Collie_
by: The Collie Club of America
Howell Book House Inc,
230 Park Ave
New York, NY 10169
copy right 1983 (approx. $24 )
_Collie Club of America Book of Champions, Vol. I_ (1884-1961) (CCA)
_Collie Club of America Book of Champions, Vol. II_ (1962-1976) (CCA)
by: Mrs. George H. "Bobbee" Roos
P.O. Box 7027
Alpine Publications, Inc
. Loveland, CO 80537
(approx. $29 )
_All About Collies_
by Patricia Starkweather
P.O. Box 297
Starke, FL 32091
_The Collie: A Veterinary Reference for the Professional Breeder_
by: Dr. Sharon Lynn Vanderlip DVM
Biotechnical Veterinary Consultants
P.O Box 327
Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007
(currently out of print?)
_The Smooth Collie: A Family Dog_
by: Iris Combe
Kathleen Rais & Co., Phoenix-ville, PA
1992, 270pp $35 paperback
_Rough and Smooth Collies_
by: Stella Clark
Seven Hills Book Distributors
1993, 160pp $19.95 hardcover
6200 Bay View Ave.
Richmond Heights, CA 94806
[no longer published]
Nancy McDonald, ed.
PO Box 149
Manassas, VA 22110
703-361-9089, $39/year, 10 issues
Leslie Rugg, publisher
3771 Longview Valley Road
Sherman Oaks CA 91423
2 Hemlock Cove Road RR#3
Falmouth, Maine 04105 $7/year 4 issues
collie and sheltie quarterly magazine
http://www.mjhb.com/collie-rescue/ Email lists:
+ Send email to _ with
subscribe in the subject line.
The Collie Club of America does not recommend breeders. You should
contact your local or regional club for help in finding breeders.
The CCA can help you contact your local club.
Collie Club of America
Mrs. Larry Leonard (Carmen), Secretary
1119 S. Fleming Road
Woodstock, IL 60098
American Smooth Collie Association
Membership Chair: Dean Collura
3926 Foskett Rd.
Medina, OH 44256
Collie Club of America Foundation
Helen Denton, President
5781 Hiway 85
Riverdale, Georgia 30274
Collie Club of America Bulletin
Editor: Angela Gillespie
Nonmember rate: $30/yr, $5/single copy
Cindy Tittle Moore,
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