From the beginning I always thought differentiating ourselves from the more well-know English Shepherd would be important. It is the primary reason I toyed with the idea of using the name “Scottish Shepherd”, because it shows more clearly that one is a dog of Scottish extraction while the other is English. More and more as the Old-Time Scotch Collie gains in notoriety I hear the question, “What is the difference between an Old-Time Scotch Collie and an English Shepherd” and so I think the time has come to tackle this issue.
It is interesting that many examples exist in which Scotch Collies and English Shepherds are mentioned in the same sources, indicating that they were recognized as different breeds, yet few, if any sources exist that contrast the two breeds. One of these sources was brought to my attention recently by my friend and well know English Shepherd breeder Vivian Flynt. It seems that the famous English Shepherd breeder and promoter, Tom Stodghill was breeding and selling Scotch Collies and English Shepherd concurrently in 1947. His ad from the April 1947 issue of UKC Bloodlines is below.
The issue has never clearly been answered in my mind what the difference between the Australian Shepherd and the English is, sure the AS can be merle and bob-tailed, they certainly are not all that way and ES can also be bob-tailed too. Logic dictates that no more than 50% of Aussies can be merle at any one time since merle x merle breedings are dangerous and a merle x non-merle breeding will result in only about 50% of the pups being merle. The same goes for natural bob-tails, although less dangerous to cross NBT x NBT the fact remains that a percentage of Australian Shepherds do not exhibit this dominant gene. Take away the merle and bob-tail and what differentiates them from English Shepherds, at least Border Collies have their working style to differentiate them. The point I am making here is that all working members of the collie family are quite similar, the Old-Time Scotch Collie does not need to be strikingly dissimilar to justify its existence as a separate breed any more than AS and ES need to be strikingly dissimilar.
The Collie Spectrum
As I described in the article The Collie Spectrum: Understanding the Scotch Landrace and as illustrated in the post Collieometer – Illustrating the Collie Spectrum the range of looks within the collie family is like a spectrum from the Roman Cattle Dog looks of Stodghill’s English Shepherds on the one side to the pointy-headed aristocrat known as the Rough Collie, everything else falls somewhere between these two extremes and each breed decides just where they draw the line within that spectrum to form their breed, furthermore every collie breed overlaps another somewhere along that spectrum. So it should be no surprise that the Old-Time Scotch Collie breed overlaps others, most notably Rough Collies, English Shepherds and Australian Shepherds.
The following points stand out in my mind as the primary and most notable differences between the English Shepherd and the Old-Time Scotch Collie.
- Ears – OTSC ears tend to be more erect or semi-erect, and have a higher set.
- Ruff – OTSC often have a more pronounced ruff.
- Coat – OTSC tend to have a longer and thicker coat than many ES.
- Head – OTSC usually have a longer, more pointed muzzle.
- Temperament – OTSC temperament leans more towards the biddable and less towards the bossy or aggressive.
Old-Time Scotch Collie
|Basic Body Type|
|Square & stocky, not much “tuck-up”||no||no||yes||no|
|Rectangular & stocky, medium “tuck-up”||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Rectangular & lithe, “tuck-up” almost greyhound like||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Over 60 pounds||no||yes||no||yes|
|Under 60 pounds||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Domed Skull, distinct “stop”, short muzzle||no||no||yes||no|
|Flat Skull, medium “stop”, wedge shape||no||yes||no||yes|
|Flat Skull, medium “stop”, sharp features||yes||no||no||yes|
|Some Dome, medium “stop”, heavier features||yes||no||no||no|
|Ears (when alert)|
|low, semi-prick, set forward||yes||no||yes||yes|
|low, semi-prick, set on side||yes||yes||no||yes|
|low, high, totally pricked, mixed||yes||no||no||yes|
|slightly almond shape, more to side||no||no||yes||yes|
|round, more front of face||yes||yes||no||yes|
|round, more front, almost spooky and alert||yes||no||no||no|
|Merle (red or blue)||yes||no||yes||yes|
|Black & Tan (no white)||no||yes||no||rare|
|Sable & White||rare||yes||no||yes|
|Black & White (no tan)||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Tricolor (black, white, & tan)||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Red & White (with or without tan)||yes||no||yes||rare|
|long and/or thick||yes||no||yes||yes|
|medium length, not too thick||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|alert and intense||yes||no||no||no|
|alert and excitable||no||no||yes||no|
|alert yet relaxed||no||yes||no||no|
|uses mostly eye contact with sheep, fluid, stalking type motion, crouch low, head lower than body||yes||no||no||no|
|a nip and run type style, sort of darting in and out||no||no||yes||no|
|standing approach, smooth in motion, assesses stock to be worked, changes style to fit situation||no||yes||no||yes|