British rural sports, Stonehenge – 1875 edition

Sheep Dogs

The sheep dog has undoubtedly a higher commercial value than any other, as he has often under his charge a flock worth thousands of pounds. There are various breeds in use throughout the United Kingdom, some smooth, but the majority more or less rough. The most distinct of these is the Scotch colley. I do not place much reliance upon the value of the points in the breed, but they may be put nearly as follows :—Head, 25 ; ears and eyes, 10 ; shoulders, 10 ; chest, 10 ; coat, 10 ; colour, 10 ; back and loin, 10; feet and legs, 15; symmetry, 10.

The English Rough Dog has nearly always a wiry muzzle, and a good useful hard coat of hair over his whole body. The best specimens are not so long in the leg as the generality of dogs, and when they have tails they carry them lower than the Scotch dog. They have good feet and legs, and are possessed of iron constitutions. In those districts where large numbers of sheep are kept, great attention is paid to their education, and a good sheep dog is considered as indispensable to the well-doing of a flock as a good shepherd.

The Scotch Colley, or Highland sheep dog, is a far more graceful animal, and his sense and intelligence are equal to any breed of dogs in the world. Two races are to be found in Scotland—the rough and the smooth. The rough or shaggy-coated colley is the most choice description ; for his impenetrable warm thick coat is a good protection to him when his duty calls him to face the storms and mists and snows of the wild mountains, especially when the stragglers of his flock have been covered by the snowdrifts and he goes in search of them with his master. Ho has a fine fox-like muzzle ; full, expressive, but rather crafty eyes ; small ears, drooping forward, and the mask of his face is smooth. From the base of the skull the whole of the neck and the entire body are protected by a deep, warm, long coat of various colours—sometimes black with tan points; sometimes sandy, or of various mixed greys, some of which are singularly beautiful and picturesque. There is generally a very fine white line down the forehead, not amounting to a blaze, as in the spaniels. His legs (especially the hind-legs, from the hocks) are bare, that is, not feathered; and for many years authorities on the dog have described the coolly as having one, or even two, dewclaws on each hind-leg, which is indeed generally the case. His neck is long, and rather arched ; his shoulders are set well back, and are very powerful; the elbow is well let down; the fore-arm is short; the ankles or pasterns are long, and rather small for his size ; and the feet are round, arched, and have excellent thick hard soles; the chest is deep, but rather narrow ; he is broad over his back ; his loins are well arched; the hips are wide ; his thighs are muscular, and he is inclined to go rather wide behind; the tail is very bushy and large, and carried up when he is in motion, and when he is controlling his excitement it is turned over his back. The Smooth Scotch Dog is generally of a sandy colour, although occasionally he may be met with of the black tan or mixed tints.

Related Images:


  1. amusing to see that his tail is carried over his back when controlling his excitement – certainly not something admired by modern judges.

  2. It’s interesting to me that so many of the ideas as to what a proper collie ought to look like are merely subjective decisions based on the whims and fancy of the day.

    The “gay tail” for example. The collie has herding spitz in it’s ancestry, it is only natural for spitz type dogs to carry their tails over their backs, especially when they are excited or on alert. Yet for over 100 years breeders have been working against that characteristic which has no real value for or against the dog except that somebody long ago decided that they didn’t like that.

    How about the collie’s blaze? A rough collie with a blaze on its face is a rare thing today, yet 100 years ago it was fairly common. Why is this the case? Because somebody, for some entirely subjective reason decided that it was not a good thing and therefore breeders have been eliminating that feature from the breed.

  3. Shep: I do find it strange that there are so few collies with a blaze nowadays. The famous Lassie has a blaze, and he was responsible for a surge in the collie’s popularity. It seems Hollywood fashion statements do not hold sway in the show ring…

  4. I seem to remember reading that the blaze was banished from one year to the next when a judge only gave CCs to dogs without blazes – I wish my memory were better, but I seem to remember it was in the fifties. Now, one tends to think that a collie with a blaze will not do well in the show ring, which ought to be ridiculous

  5. Here we go : “Miss Grey of the LADYPARK’s dominated the stud scene with that incredibly successful stud dog CH LOCHINVAR OF LADYPARK, who many of today’s breeders say was the greatest Rough Collie of all time. I would argue that as he had a prominent blaze he would not be shown today and indeed would not have had any success at all once this decade had passed in to 1960’s, as it was then that blazes were much frowned upon and any collie with a blaze was just walked past in the ring by the judges. How quickly fashion can dictate what can win in the show-ring. It still happens today, with the demand by many judges for a Rough Collie to have a Border Collie head with the exaggerated stop that seems to be de-rigueur today. Hopefully it is just a passing fad by few of the less successful exhibitors trying to put their influence onto the Standard.” quoted from:

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Proposed Breed Standard for Old fashioned Scotch Collies | Old Time Farm Shepherd .org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


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