We Still Need Improvement
The American collie breeder has made great strides in the past few years. An improvement in head lines has been particularly noticeable. We must all admit that the crowning glory of the collie is his head, expression and ear carriage. Without -the long clean head, crafty, alert outlook, and well tipped ears, the collie is nowhere. With such a head the dog, faulty in every other respect, commands attention from the judges. For some time a vigorous protest went up about the “modern” head. It was freely stated that we were breeding out brains to get elongated heads. This allegation, however, has proved groundless and there are few breeders who will not admit the great improvement which the long head has produced on our show collies of today.
The “modern” head has come to stay and it is a mighty good thing for the breed that such is a fact.
In his efforts to produce a good head, however, the American breeder has neglected to improve several other essential points which now that the “head type” is well “fixed” should command his earnest attention.
The Madison Square Garden show may be taken as the safest index of what is being accomplished in the breeding world. The visitor this year would have found a surprising number of typical headed collies and a mere sprinkling of the “old” type wide heads with the pronounced stop. But on the other hand he would have had some trouble to pick out a scant two dozen of good headed dogs that possessed the same time a good heavy coat, and of this two dozen perhaps eighteen might have qualified as being good also in feet and legs.
Another Man’s View
An article appeared in Dogdom for June Wherein the writer tries to convince the public, without proof, that the “modern slim collie,” as he terms them, is equal in sagacity and intelligence to the historic collie of the past, that has made the reputation of the breed, by his rare intelligence and usefulness to his master.
The writer of that article tries to “sling mud” and give the lie to those who have made statements to the contrary. He offers as proof to back his statements the names of some old time collies. I desire to reply to this article by stating that I have been a breeder for many years, and in that time have trained a great many collies, in fact, I try to train a number each year. Go back to the days of old Dublin Scott, Champion Christopher, Scottilla, Strephon, etc., and some of the Ashwin dogs. Nearly all the puppies from these dogs proved to be good workers, in fact, I would say not less than fifty per cent of the puppies in those days proved to be intelligent and had the working instinct. As time went on we found them less susceptible to training, in trying to follow the fashion of long heads, and breeding to the winners, our puppies grew less intelligent, until at the present time we find that we do well to get one in ten worth the trouble of training, and the fact is, the “heeling” quality found in the old time collie has gradually disappeared, and not over ten per cent of the puppies now “fashionably” bred have that trait, and let me say to the public, a puppy that will heel properly is worth a dozen that have not that quality. In regard to collie type will say the narrow head is an abomination, the old writers on the breed have warned us against the greyhound type, but we have it pure and simple. The old English standard was good enough, and if you produce a collie that fills its requirements he will have both brains and beauty and will work and win. —J. E. Dougherty.
Excerpted from Dogdom, August 1908