This gauge was developed to help illustrate the collie spectrum. There is a range of looks in the collie family and different breeds cover different portions of that spectrum. Moving your mouse over the gauge shows the range of looks between the Rough Collie and the English Shepherd while clicking the breed buttons at the bottom will highlight the range covered by that particular breed.

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  1. This collie-o-meter (color fan) is a well-intentioned failure. The dogs are all of poor breed type and do not illustrate the chronological history of the development of proper collie breed type. The author would be well served to obtain the 6 volumes of the CCA Library of Champions. These thick volumes are pictorial atlases of the develoment of the breed. From the old-time Farm Collie type to the correct examples of today’s modern collie. One does not study mediocrity in order to define excellence. Great breeders aren’t created by judging by defect. It is a knowledge of the nuances of the breed, obtained by a study of the history and origins of the breed …plus an understanding of proper breed type which allows the great breeder to evaluate correct collie type.
    Best Regards,
    Karen Tewart

  2. Karen

    How incredibly pompous and arrogant of you to assume that modern show collies represent “proper collie breed type”. As a graphic designer I understand that taste is subjective, many people prefer the old fashioned looking collie of years ago, yet I would not be so bold as to call that look “proper”, merely my preference. Furthermore, this chart was not intended to represent “the chronological history of the development of proper collie breed type”, instead it illustrates the range of looks in the collie family as it exists today, there is nothing chronological about it. As for “a study of the history and origins of the breed” you have but to browse the contents of this website.

    If you are looking for a website that talks about how wonderful the modern AKC collie is or how much improved they are over the collie of 100 years ago, you are in the wrong place, move along. If you are looking for a website that celebrates collies with old fashioned looks and the brains that collies had 100 years ago, you are in the right place, welcome.

  3. The collie-o-meter is a really cool idea! Like Karen though, I do have to suggest that if this is to represent the spectrum, in this form (probably a prototype with revisions later) the spectrum is not complete.

    As a graphic artist you know that a spectrum implies example of all the possibilities arranged in order like the colours in a rainbow where when visible light is separated into its various frequencies, they appear same order depending on their individual frequencies. A spectrum of the various collie heads then should also be in order. If the meter is just a few chosen images supporting a particular point of view then perhaps it should be not called a spectrum.

    The rough collie heads starting from the right are
    1. very poor head-very faulty, not desired nor seen in the ring now for some time
    2. British or European collie, separated from long time British type (Ladpark,Beulah etc) and winging on a very different path than most of the rest of the Collie world
    3. much like # 1, a bit better but certainly not desirable nor seen in the main-stream show dog
    4. again probably British or European
    5. as above, very atypical of roughs outside of a few places in Europe unless it is supposed to be a sheltie
    6. a little better than most on your spectrum, but way too wedgey in profile-not seen in the ring now
    7. ditto #1

    You and I certainly have every right to enjoy our dogs. We do best however by building on the strengths of our respective versions of the Collie and touting those strengths rather than trying to tear others down. Let’s get together and put out a more accurate meter. Let’s show the “spectrum” as it is. I’d sure like to use this idea on rough collie historical photos as well! What a great tool for learning!

    May I add that my rough collies, bench champions of old English and top North American lines, can and do complete successfully in arena trials on sheep and ducks (I don’t do cattle) and they have a number of CKC (Canada) titles. They also assist us with our sheep and are excellent stock dogs.

    All the best in the New Year,

    Beth Redfern

  4. Beth

    This was not intended to “tear down” any dogs, all dogs of the collie family have good attributes and I have many friends who own and breed AKC collies. When I created this tool I was trying to find good pictures I could use without causing copyright trouble (which I have had in the past), so I relied heavily on the collies I could find on Wikimedia Commons and other copyright free sources. If you would like to collect some good pictures to finish off the right side of the spectrum I would consider amending the chart. However, I feel as though you have a very breed-centric attitude that may limit your ability to be subjective in this endeavor. Your statements like “seen in the ring”, touting the bench show champions in your dog’s pedigree and dismissing British or European collies seem to imply that those collies found in American show rings are the only ones that should matter or at any rate the only ones that should be represented here. I am looking at the big picture here, the entire collie family, British, American, Brazilian, of working lines, show lines or just pet lines. You should come down from your ivory tower and realize that what you consider a collie, more specifically the AKC Rough Collie, is just one small branch on the large tree that is the greater collie family.


  5. Ivory tower, good gracious!!! Looked it up on wickopedia since I thought that regular dictionaries are probably passe.

    My dogs ARE of basic British background, my Ch Ravensglen Lovely, UD (Canadian titles) was of totally British import breeding by Longfellow of Ladypark Eng.Imp) ex Ravensglen Rosalind (Eng.Imp.) she of Ladypark breeding too! She was bred to Ch.HMS LIneal, CD (Can. titles) and he was by Lineal of ladypark (Eng,Imp) ex Loomis Hill Beulah Bell by a Bellhaven ex a St. Adrian bitch. British, certainly. Actually the same as the Brazilian dogs.

    I went to Brandwyne based American dogs when my British source was not available. Actually, I imported one of the last of the Ladyparks in the early 70’s. At that same time, I encouraged a local couple to use Mrs.Bates’ Eng.Ch. Bririch Gold Emblem with their wonderful Canadian bred bitch. I whelped the litter, graded the puppies and finished Ch. Duster of Trelane, CD who came to live with me for most of his life along with several other Bririch based dogs. Uk dogs, yeah I know them. Edition, as I said, a different direction. The dogs from Brazil and NA went one way, they went another. Would I own an Edition kid, sure! Some make my skin crawl with pleasure.

    The Nordic countries have excellent potential-I watch them closely. There are collies there I would have in a heartbeat. The same holds for Australia. Lots of lateral thinking there.

    The thing is, we need to know that certainly in rough collies, the gene pool is big, big BIG. If you include your ideas and your group’s vision, well it is really big. I am operating within the accepted parameters of the accepted “stud dog registries” but that is a human construct. I think we need to look at the whole picture, not cut each other off and fling insults back and forth.

    Two weeks ago I went to Duluth Minn. to pick up two wonderful smoothies and continue the adventure into the Collie experience. Let’s drop the crap and address what really matters.

    Of course, what really matters is what we decide. Tolerance, performance, and genetic viability or taunts and exclusivity.

    Happy New Year,


  6. Beth

    This is not the place to brag on your champion bloodlines since most readers of this blog could care less. You really need to look beyond the world of pedigreed show collies to see the big picture I am talking about, not just look at show collies from other parts of the world. For example, when I mentioned Brazilian collies I was referring to the Ovelheiro Gaucho, not the show collies of Brazil you mentioned.

    Now I am going to take your advice and “drop the crap and address what really matters”. The theme of this website is the old fashioned Scotch Collie, any further comments from you that stray from this theme, and are not constructive towards the goal of reviving this rare branch, or should I say trunk, of the collie family tree, will be unceremoniously deleted.


  7. Karen, I don’t know you but you strike me as one of those folks blindsided by the AKC show world. Bench shows as they stand in America have a short, aristocracy hobby-based history in the grand scheme of dogdom. However much some show folks consider themselves history buffs, they often seem to dismiss old dogs as inferior in type. But all I see is a group that cares more for the # of inches on top of the head from ear to ear, than what’s INSIDE that head. And an AKC herding title does not guarantee any dog can go work a real mob of hundreds to thousands for hours on end, and do anything other than get lost. The AKC world has low standards for intelligence and skill in an effort to “golf clap” their constituency into feeling good about their dogs. You want the best herders? Prove they can herd and keep the genes variable.

  8. To moderator and all, perhaps my last comment was fairy unnecessary, given that others have written such fair minded responses. Most sorry. I’ve just run into too many show folks who feel they are the only folks with “real” dogs whether they have seen anything other than a show ring or not. I am humbled by the bigger hearts of those here.

  9. This unpleasantness with show collie fanciers brings to mind chapter 10 of Iris Combe’s 1987 book “Herding Dogs: Their Origins and Development in Britain.” Ch. 10 is about the Scotch or Highland Collie, & Combe tells about Scottish shepherds horrible experiences at early dog shows (c. 1860). According to Combe, the shepherds became so incensed at the dissing of their purpose-bred pastoral breeds that “avoidance of the whole show scene in general became an obsession, which has continued through generations of farming families to this day.” She goes on to say, “[the shepherds] left their good-looking aristocrats to the show fraternity and returned to their native hills and hirsels to continue breeding working dogs.” This Scot-Irish descendant can vouch that hatred of conformation showing & its myopic emphasis on non-work related traits continues even to this day. So calling our beloved English shepherd dogs examples of “poor breeding” & “mediocrity” hardly wins any brownie points with us.

  10. Although not a dog expert by ANY stretch of the imagination, I can see both sides, here since I raise fancy show dairy goats (that I worked long & hard on & “bred up” from junkcrap) . . . & good-workin’ farmdogs (some of whom COULD actually excel in the conformation ring). Breeding for what’s desirable in the show ring really IS quite different than breeding for what’s desirable in the home milking parlor – that hardy, efficient, easy-keeping, good-mama, good-milkin’ goat. . . .or for that crazy-smart, scarily-intuitive, good-workin’ stockdog. Everyone needs to just get a grip & get over their various prejudices – show-ring only people AND working dog only people – & APPRECIATE this for what it is – a VERY nice, well thought-out & informative depiction of what Andy’s managed to put together, thus far, on the evolution of these canines we ALL love & appreciate & enjoy.

  11. I like this spectrum idea a lot. It gives me a good side by side look at the differing dogs as I’m trying to figure out what my dog is. Thank you for this web site.

    I have a 21 month smooth collie that I acquired as a rescue. I think she must be one of the old lines as she does not look like the modern AKC collie. My vet said of her that she is too friendly, too sweet and too pretty to be the AKC version and she is what a collie should be. She looks and acts very much like a collie but she has a little stop on her forehead, her head is wedge shaped and she has larger almond eyes than the AKC collies. Her ears fold down a lot more than the AKC collies do as well but they fold forward. She never holds her head down like I see the AKC collies do, rather always holding it up. She is big at 73 pounds with long legs and a slim build. Very athletic dog. Her coat is wonderful and self-cleaning. The dirt just falls off of her. She has a dense undercoat and stiff guard hairs on top about 1-2″ long.

    She is very smart and a fast learner. She shows a lot of persistence when she wants to do something. She doesn’t have stock to herd, just a couple of uncooperative cats. She usually loves other dogs, is very gentle with children, adores the fetch games and doing her tricks. She is also very patient and waits when I need her to. She loves being outside, no matter what the weather is. She caught a rabbit and a mouse so she has the hunting instincts intact.

    She looks so much like some of the old collies. All I know of her origins is that she came from a breeder, probably one in West Virginia or western VA state. Her first family gave her the basics but no training or interaction and thought having a big fenced yard was all she needed. I have been unsuccessful in figuring out who the breeder might be but wonder if it is someone who has been breeding farm collies for pets and farm dogs without any intent of showing them. I am really enjoying my girl as she grows up. I think she just might become the best dog I’ve ever had.

  12. Mary B. Did you consider sending a some pics to Andy of your girl for the spectrum? I became acquainted with this site while doing my own personal research into the history of the Collie Dog. It’s a favorite and passionate topic for me and I can never get enough. Finally finding a group of individuals who have come to much the same conclusions I have on my own has been so wonderful.

  13. This spectrum is outstanding if the reader has a grip on the Evolution of AKC Collies today. One must first understand and accept the actual history of the American Collie. The breed’s development began long before the AKC came into the picture.

    I note specific traits such as ears and eye shape plus pigmentation patterning which have apparently been deleted from current gene pool of show collies. Thank you for the memories.

  14. I like this spectrum quite a bit! I am no expert on collies, so this helps me grasp something of the diversity that has developed over the years, as well as an appreciation of the differences Thank you.

  15. Wandering around gather more knowledge about my favorite landrace and discovered this lively exchange. Looked at the date it was written and felt it is as relevant a conversation today as then. I laughed and enjoyed the whole show whilst feeling my Old Time Scotch Collies’ warmth at my side on my bed. So appreciative to you who gave me a chance to know these dogs. Hoity Toity show snobs almost closed that door on my chance to ever know the wonder of these dogs. My Emma Jane will never win a ribbon except the Blue one my heart holds for her. My sincere thanks you, my friend “Shep”.

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