Dogs; Their Origins and Varieties – 1847


The genuine original Shepherd’s dog is now nearly altogether confined to Scotland, where he is called the “Colley.” He stands about twenty-one inches in height at the shoulder; is very gracefully shaped; muzzle pointed; ears half erect; coat long, but fine and silky; tail and hams fringed with hair; colour usually black and tan, or sandy yellow.

This animal is remarkable for his sagacity; and his disposition to tend sheep appears to be inherent and hereditary. The late lamented Hogg, better known as the “Ettrick Shepherd,” had a dog of this breed, named Sirrah, to whom, from his extraordinary intelligence, one would almost be disposed to allow the possession of reason. Mr. Hogg has immortalized his favourite; and, perhaps, the following anecdote may not prove uninteresting to the reader:—

On one night, a large flock of lambs that were under the shepherd’s charge, startled at something, scampered away in three different directions across the hills, despite his efforts to keep them together. “Sirrah,” said the shepherd, “they’re awa!”
It was too dark for dog and master to see each other at any distance apart; but ” Sirrah” understood him, and set off after the fugitives. The night passed on, and Hogg and his assistant traversed every neighbouring hill in anxious hut fruitless search, but could hear nothing of either lambs or dog; and he was returning to his master with the doleful intelligence that his charge were lost. “On our way home, however,” says he, “we discovered a lot of lambs at the bottom of a deep ravine, called the ‘Flesh Cleuch,’ and the indefatigable Sirrah standing in front of them, looking round for some relief, but still true to his charge.”


Is larger and stronger than the preceding, and has much of the appearance of a cross with the great rough water-dog. It is coarser in the muzzle and in coat, and is destitute of tail. In sagacity, however, I believe it is fully equal to its more northern relative.


This dog is not to be confounded with the Matin. He resembles in form, size, and disposition, the common sheep-dog of England, and, like that animal, usually possesses little or no tail. Mr. Whyte Baker has favoured me with the following interesting notice of this dog:—”In France where, from the absence of fences, the dogs are placed in care of the various flocks, it is usual for these animals, at the bidding of their master, to keep ranging round their charge, from flock to flock, till he calls them off again. In one case this was forgotten, and the faithful animal continued his rounds till he died of the fatigue! A parallel case among animals to the celebrated one among the human kind, of the French admiral’s son in the ship ‘ Orient,’ at the Battle of the Nile—the theme of Mrs. Heman’s beautiful song, ‘ Casabianca.’ ”


Is larger than the colley, and seems to have sprung from a cross with the lurcher. He is as sagacious as the shepherd’s dog, but more courageous; and will pin and pull down a bullock in a moment, if directed to do so by his master.


Is the colley mongrelized. He is a bully and a coward, and is very fond of running after the heels of a horse; but, with all his faults, is the best watch-dog in existence, and is, on that account, valuable to the poor cottager, of whose humble dwelling he is ever a faithful guardian.

Related Images:

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.