The collie or shepherd dog has been bred in Scotland for many years as a help to shepherds.
Those old collies bred many years ago would hardly know some of the great winners of today. They were a short, broad-headed dog, as most dogs’ heads are made. A short jaw for strength. But man wanted a different head, and we have it. It is likely, too, that we do not have near as many dogs that can be trained to drive cattle and sheep as the old kind will, too. And if they can be taught to do driving so well, they can be taught the many other things we would like the dog to do.
Remember the collie is a dog of many uses. He will guard property as well as catch a chicken or drive sheep. I have pups now that are but seven months old, yet they stayed by my man’s coat in the field after he had gone to town. The next day I found them staying by the rubber that he had left up in the path to the feed house. It was no place to rest at all, but they knew it was part of his property, and they stayed by it. I have no trouble to teach them to stop cocks when they are fighting. A few times showing will do it. A few catchings of hens, and they will do it. They very soon learn to open doors and gates. All these things show the wonderful adaptability of the collie.
The present collie females are in size from twenty to twenty-three inches tall and weigh from forty to sixty pounds. The males are from forty to seventy pounds each, and are from twenty, for the small ones, up to twenty-six inches tall. But, remember this, if you want the best worker and the best learner do not select the largest in the litters. The medium and smaller ones will, as a rule, be the best in mind and quickness of body.
The present day standard calls for a long head. The value of a show collie depends first on the head and then coat, yet all parts of the body count, but these are the fad parts. The head must be narrow at the top and taper to the muzzle. Ears must be small and set on the top of the head and half pendant.
If the head is not too faddy, it makes a beautiful dog, that is sure, but, as I have said, some have suffered in intelligence tto get it.
The coat must be dense and straight. The outside coat is rather coarse, but the under coat is soft and fine. It should be so dense that you will have difficulty to part it to the skin.
The limbs should be straight. Feet like a cat, short and round.
I very much dislike to see faulty front legs. The body should be long and well ribbed out. A flat ribbed dog is not a good collie. If the front legs are set well apart you will generally have a good chest.
Much is added to the collie if it has what is called the collie expression. That is a gentle look. It is one of the scoring points in a collie and is a strong point in their favor.
A collie should be of trusty, gentle disposition to all of the people of the family and not treacherous to strangers. That is, if he is what we call cross, he should give warning to you that he wants you to stop or get out.
They should be and are the protection of the children. Do not keep on? if you find it will turn on them in anger if they abuse it, for if anything goes wrong in its mind, it will turn on them. I never yet had a child bitten by a collie, but I had one that would grab a man behind. I do not like that. I like them to do as one of my best bull terriers would do. She would give them fair warning, and if they were at the same place too long there would be trouble. She never bit a man, for they were so quick to give in to her wishes.
Some persons will say a collie cannot be trusted with children. Ever since I have raised collies, and that is for some years, the neighbors’ children have played with them from the beginning. They lead, drive, ride or do just what they wish, and never did one of them turn on them. But now and then there is in some strains one that will not stand it. You had better not keep it. as I have said, for it may, some day. get angry and bite a child. One such will give many honest ones a bad name.
Remember, it is a dog’s nature to want to be with humans, and it is their joy to please and serve them. No other animal has this desire in any way near the degree the dog has. And the collie is one of the very best of them all — W. W. Kulp, in Industrious Hen.
Excerpted from Poultry Topics and Western Poultry News, July 1907