Breeding and Selection of Collie Dogs – 1898

For many years I have been a breeder of collie dogs, and will probably continue to be as long as I live, for the breeding of collies has become a passion with me. So the handling and rearing of this faithful companion of man is one of the great pleasures of my life.

The ideas I shall set forth are the conclusions I have arrived at after years of experience and close observation of the requirements of a perfect dog.


In the breeding of collies there are four points which I have kept constantly in view; namely, working qualities, type, disposition, and stamina or constitution. From an economic point of view, the working qualities are the most important, but there is no good reason why all these four qualities cannot be combined by proper and intelligent breeding. By continuance on these lines we can have a class of collies in this country in every respect worthy of the name.


As to the working qualities of the farm collie, the most important part to be considered is the disposition to go to the heel instead of to the head, as a dog that goes to the head is absolutely worthless as a cattle dog. He should know this instinctively, and if he does not, it will be found very hard to break him of it, and perhaps impossible. His ancestry went to the cattle’s head, in all probability, and he does the same thing by the strong law of heredity. Training should follow heredity, and not attempt to oppose and overcome it.

A bitch that is a strong heel worker, backed up by a good line of heel workers, will rarely produce puppies with inclinations to go to the head, provided she is properly mated. A dog or a bitch should be thoroughly trained and their working qualities well tested and approved before they are put to breeding.

It is instinctive on the part of a finely bred collie to drive stock, it matters not whether it is chickens, sheep or cattle, the same as the inclination to hunt birds is inherited by the pointer and setter.


The bringing up of a puppy has much to do with its development, both intellectual and physical, but it is all important that its breeding be correct to begin with. Breeding forms a large part of training.
Because a dog or its parents are imported means but little; the pup may be useless as a worker notwithstanding the fact of its importation. It is essential that it has a good and true pedigree, and the breeder should insist upon its having it. Its parents should be recorded, or, at least, be capable of being recorded, in the “A. K. C.” (American Kennel Club). The finer head it has, the better the ear, and the nearer it comes to perfection as regards physical parts, with nervous temperament and intelligent eye, the better dog it will make, if it possesses the instinctive driving ability. It will obey much quicker than the heavy-boned, thick-skulled one.

The nervous dog will stand more work and do it better. The purchasing of a well-trained dog is out of the question; they are not for sale. Rarely one can be had, at a high price; but this is an exception, and when you have it, it will not be worth as much to you as the one you have lived with from a little puppy. The one you raised knew no other home, and you are all the world to it.


In addition to its value as a worker on the farm, the collie is the best of watch dogs, being the most sagacious of all the canine race, his devotion for his master and fondness for children being sometimes almost human. He ranks first among the highly cultivated, aristocratic and fashionable breeds of dogs. He is the most fashionable dog in Europe to-day, and is fast becoming so in this country.

Note by the Editor.—We have owned a collie which possessed all the good traits referred to in the foregoing. We have been frequently pained by the wholesale condemnation of dogs upon farms, particularly dairy farms. A good collie does not annoy cows. They are more gentle than many men, and are gentle enough. Added to this they greatly aid in the labor of driving to and fro.

This article is solicited, and is welcomed. The writer is known to be one of the best breeders of collies in the Northwest.

Excerpted from Minnesota Farmers’ Institute annual, Issue 11
by Thos. Stone, Menomonib, Dunn County, WIS. – 1898

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