Any farmer who keeps a flock of sheep, or any considerable number of other live stock, can have no more useful helper than a well-bred Collie. Such a dog attends strictly to business at all times, and, unlike some other kinds farm help, never goes on a spree; never leaves work undone to attend a circus, nor strikes for higher wages just before harvest. It is quite probable that it was the study of collies and their doings which suggested to Madame de Stael her famous remark that the more she saw of dogs the less she thought of man. To witness the marvelous efficiency of collies on the Scottish highlands, or among the half-wild Herdwick flocks of Cumberland, or on the great sheep ranges of Colorado, one might suppose that they were peculiarly a mountain race of dogs. But they are equally at home in the crowded stockyards of the West. When the avenues of those yards are thronged with almost countless flocks and herds, the active and vigilant collies may be seen moving among and around them, keenly alert to every movement, guiding, leading and driving each flock just where it is to go, without confusion or intermixture. The collie is not only a useful and valuable helper, but is also most devoted and affectionate to its master, while meeting the advances of strangers with suspicious indifference. There is really a sort of instinctive nobility and dignity in the nature of a collie which leads it to expect kindness in return for its intelligent work and devoted attachment. A harsh, angry word seems to hurt it, as a buffet would a less sensitive dog, and, if actually struck a cruel blow, one of them will go around for days with a grieved and dejected air. A collie which was owned on a Colorado ranch, always met its master with exuberant demonstrations of joyful welcome, on his return from occasional visits to the nearest settlement. But if he showed evidence of intoxication, the dog was quick to recognize the fact, and its whole aspect changed instantly. With a look of chagrin if not reproach, to its disguised master, it would slink off until the following morning.
In form, color, markings, and general appearance, the collie is a comely dog. The size may be called medium, a typical specimen standing a little less than two feet high at the shoulders. The entire form is firm, muscular and well-knit with no superfluous flesh. The head is long, wide between the ears, and tapering downward to the pointed muzzle. The dark, rather close-set eyes are bright, keen and watchful; the ears small, thin and drooping backward, save when pricked up in moments of excitement. The general expression of the countenance is kindly, intelligent and alert. The hair upon most of the body, is long, straight and somewhat harsh on the outside, while beneath is a close, fine under-coat. A striking feature is the thick mane which extends from the top of the shoulders around the neck to the breast, where it meets the frill, which, especially if it is white, has a sort of doggish resemblance to the ruffled shirt-fronts which our grandfathers wore when in full dress. The fore-legs are straight and firm, covered with close, short hair in front, and feathered behind from the elbows to the feet. The hind legs are very muscular in the thighs, with well bent stifles, and feathered behind as low as the hocks, which are well let down. The tail is in its general appearance a marked characteristic of the breed. Long, and fully feathered, it is carried low to within a few inches of the end, which curls gracefully upward. It would be difficult to make in six lines a more life-like picture of a dog, than Burns gives of his own collie, Luath:
“His honest, sonsle, bawsn’t face
Aye gat him friends In ilka place.
His breast was white, his towzle back
Weel clad wl” coat of glossy black.
His gawcle tall wl’ upward curl
Hung o’er his hurdles wl’ a swirl.”
In the matter of color there is a great variety. A very popular combination is black with white markings and very pale tan points. There has at times been quite a fancy for black-and-tan collies— pure black, with points of dark reddish tan. Such dogs are not pure-bred, the dark tan indicating a cross of the Gordon setter. They are very handsome as pets, but lack the essential characteristics of the collie for practical usefulness. Various shades of sable, orange and gray are common colors of pure-bred collies. The young collie learns very readily if treated with invariable kindness, patience and tact. It is essential, however, that one person, only, shall be the trainer, and that no other attempt to give orders or pay much attention to the pup, while it is in training. The natural sagacity of the animal is so great that it quickly comprehends what is wanted and learns the best way to accomplish it. Our frontispiece and initial vignette present very faithful likenesses of the young collie Fordhook Eclipse (AKC 8. B. 25630) of the celebrated Fordhook kennels of Mr. W. Atlee Burpee, Philadelphia. The dog was born in February, 1892, the sire being the Champion Christopher 21876, dam Fordhook Smilax 14049. Fordhook Eclipse is a typical collie, the counterpart of his famous sire. In color he is a very dark sable, with white markings, and in head, body, limbs, coat and action, is a remarkably fine specimen of the renowned breed.
Excerpted from American Agriculturalist, March 1893