English Shepherds and Scotch Collies in 1861

The Highland Collie contrasted with the English Shepherd of the 1860s

More proof that the English Shepherd is not an American breed as is often claimed. Here the English Sheep-dog is contrasted with the Scotch Collie in a book published in 1861, long before dog shows and breed standards began to change the look of the breed. The picture above combines two illustrations from the 1840s, the left a “Scotch Sheep Dog” and the right an “English Shepherd’s Dog”.

The English Sheep-dog

This dog has a longish head, with a sharp muzzle, and a good breadth over the forehead. His ears are slightly raised; his coat coarse and woolly. The tail is long and bushy, but is generally cut off even now, when the Excise Laws no longer require it, and this gives the dog an awkward, clumsy appearance. His size varies greatly.

The English Sheep-dog does not possess all the fidelity and sagacity of the Colley, but he is a teachable and intelligent animal, as any one may satisfy himself of by watching his manoeuvres in driving sheep. In temper he is treacherous and savage, but not by any means courageous, and I have seen a little Scotch Terrier put one to an ignominious flight.

The Colley

The Colley is a smaller, lighter, and more graceful dog than the English Sheep-dog. His body is remarkably compact, his muzzle very fine, and his eyes large and clear: his legs are strong and well set on. His coat is thicker than that of any other British dog, standing out two inches or more on his sides and round his neck, where it forms a sort of ruff.

Few dogs surpass the Colley in intelligence, and, as he has the advantage of patient and judicious training, he is unequalled in his utility to man. The only dog to be compared to him for sagacity is the Poodle; but there is this difference between, them, that the performances of the Poodle, who has little affection for his master, consist in useless tricks, which he goes through without much exertion to himself, and with the prospect of an immediate reward,—while the Colley spares himself no trouble in his master’s service, and seems to act from a sense of duty alone.

I once saw a Colley, in the Highlands of Scotland, left in solitary charge of a flock of sheep, which were feeding in a field separated only by a ruined wall, full of wide gaps, from a field of young corn. I watched the dog for some time: he had taken his stand on a hillock, from whence he could overlook the whole field, and check the slightest attempt to break fence on the part of the sheep. I was told by the person who accompanied me, that the dog remained patiently and watchfully at his post from the earliest dawn to nightfall, and brought the flock home in the evening on hearing the shrill whistle of his master, who lived nearly a mile away. What extraordinary intelligence and what a strict sense of duty must this dog have possessed!

The training of the Colley is perfect, and no sportsman has his dogs under such complete command as the Highland shepherd. Many of my readers must have noticed and, if they are sportsmen, envied the ease with which a shepherd, standing on a hill side, can direct every movement of his dog in the valley below him.

Excerpted from House Dogs & Sporting Dogs by John Meyrick, 1861

See also The English Shepherd Contrasted with the Scottish

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