Gabby, a Scotch Collie

What is an Old-Time Scotch Collie (OTSC)?

An OTSC is the same Scotch Collie that was so popular 100 years ago. Some branches of this family have diverged in the past century either through selective breeding (Rough Collie) or crossing with other breeds (English Shepherd, Australian Shepherd), but some have remained more or less true to form, it is these remnant old type Scotch Collies that are referred to as OTSC.

OTSC is also the same thing as McDuffie’s Old Time Farm Shepherds (OTFS). J. Richard McDuffie considered his dogs to be Scotch Collies but shied away from using that name because of its long association with the show type collie. Because Mr. McDuffie left no written standard as to what constitutes an OTFS, the only dogs that can rightly be called OTFS are those directly descended from Dunrovin’s Ole Shep and his littermates, yet these 4 dogs were not the only old type Scotch Collies left in existence. The name Old-Time Scotch Collie allows us to define a standard and enroll other dogs of this sort and keep the ball rolling that Mr. McDuffie started. This work is being accomplished at our breed club website

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Is this different from a Farm Collie?

Yes and no. There was a time back in the 1990s when “Farm Collie” was used to refer to this breed and there was talk of writing a standard, I have even heard that a proposed standard may have been written at one time. Today the term “farm collie” is considered by many to be a type and not a breed and has grown to be completely ambiguous. A farm collie today can refer to anything from a Border Collie to a Rough Collie to an Australian Shepherd, in effect any collie type dog that either lives on a farm or is old fashioned in looks.

So in short an Old-Time Scotch Collie is a farm collie, but not all farm collies can be considered OTSC.

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What is the history of these dogs?

The Scotch Collie developed in Scotland centuries ago to aid in herding, protecting and driving flocks of sheep. Among it’s ancestors were undoubtably Roman Cattle Dogs, Native Celtic Dogs and Viking Herding Spitzes. We know from accounts that by the late 1700s the Collie existed in Scotland in a form very similar to what we have today, as the nineteenth century progressed their popularity and fame spread abroad and they became quite sought after outside of their native land, in England for herding and driving stock as well as for dog shows, they were also being exported in small numbers to America in these times to aid farmers on the frontier.

By the turn of the twentieth century the Scotch Collie was one of the most popular dog breeds in England and America, it’s striking beauty, loyalty, intelligence and eagerness to please made it the perfect choice for both city and country living. But trouble was quietly brewing.

Scotch Collie breeders were selecting based purely on looks, an idea that has proven bad in countless breeds over the years. As the years of this kind of breeding past, the Scotch Collie lost much of the intelligence that had made it so popular in the first place, replaced by longer hair, a longer face and other aesthetic virtues. By the mid-twentieth century, as today, a dogs worth was being measured by its pedigree, so the old fashioned Scotch Collies, which had not been registered or bred to meet the AKC’s standard were often considered worthless mongrels. In this environment the old-time Scotch Collie population plummeted.

In the 1980s a few people remembered the fine old Scotch Collies of their childhood and began to revive the breed. Today there are a few lines of these dogs being bred and new dogs are occasionally discovered. We are attempting to restore and promote this great breed to some of their past grandeur.

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Do they make good farm dogs?

Absolutely, most of these dogs either are working farm dogs or have working farm dogs in their pedigree. Unlike some farm dogs that you may be familiar with though, OTSC will learn the rules and be content to lie around when there is nothing to do, they will not worry your stock unnecessarily, nor are they high strung.

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Do they make good pets?

Definitely, the biggest difference between the Old-Time Scotch Collie and other dogs is their personality. You will not find a more bidable, gentle dog, an OTSC wants to obey and loves children, it was this type of personality that made them so popular back in 1910. This is quite literally the kind of dog you read about in Lassie Come Home and Lad: A Dog, yes these are works of fiction but they are based on real dogs and it is no accident that the dogs in both these stories are Scotch Collies.

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If your question was not answered here please ask it below in the comment section.


  1. Could someone please explain to me a bit about the difference between an Old Time Farm Collie and an English Shepherd?? I had always assumed they were very similar, and just about interchangeable in reference. I would like to share life with a dog similar to what my mother’s family had on the farm in the early 1900’s, and am attempting to euducate myself as much as possible on these two types of dogs. Thank you so much for any and all help. God bless.

  2. I guess I asked my question too soon! Did alot more digging into your site and found more articles on English Shepherd compared to the Old Time Farm Collie. Thank you for such a great and informative site!

  3. What are the requirements for owning an Old-Time Scotch Collie?

    How much exercise?
    Are they good with other dogs and cats?
    Is there anything I should be aware of (aggression, destructive etc)?
    What health problems do they get?
    How easy to train?
    Do they make good watchdogs?
    How likely are they to run away?
    What are the good points?
    What type of home?
    What type of owner?
    How big do they get?
    What is their average life span?
    What colors do they come in?

    Sorry for all the questions, but I wanted to know more about this breed and possibly owning one someday. I am writing an article about Old Scotch Collies.
    Thanks in advance.

    By the way, there are several Old Scotch Collies around here in rescue shelters in Long Island. I may have had one that was a mix. Three of our neighbors had them. The shelters call them “farm collies” or “farm shepherds” usually…

  4. 1. As medium size working dogs, the Scotch Collie will need a decent amount of exercise. I would suggest at least a moderately sized yard.
    2. They are great with all animals in your family, animals not in your family may be seen as outsiders and not welcomed.
    3. Depends on the line, they are quite diverse, mine are quite sensitive and must be treated sensitively. In most situations they are not destructive and should never be aggressive, strangers may be treated with suspicion.
    4. Some have had hip problems but most don’t, some can have CEA or MDR1 drug sensitivity.
    5. Very easy to train and quite smart
    6. Some lines do and others do not, know the breeding stock you are buying from.
    7. Unfixed males may wander, generally they are not wanderers.
    8. Many, read this site or the FAQ above.
    9. Many types, the more attention they get from their owners the better they will respond. So being left alone all day may not be the best situation.
    10. Sensitive owners who are not inclined to yell or be harsh. People who spend time with their animals, inside dogs will perform better because of more bonding time.
    11. Generally no larger than 65 or 70 pounds for males, some lines get larger.
    12. Many live in excess of 15 years, they are hearty and healthy dogs.
    13. Many colors. sable and white, tri-color, blue merle, black and white, black and tan, milk sable, and collie colors.

  5. The picture on the left, titled “Colle Brand” looks much like the same vintage (and background) of our prints noted above. any way to trace their origin?

  6. I’ve heard that the Rough Collies have less doggy odor than other breeds. Is this true for the Scotch Collie breed as well?

  7. Maybe, I haven’t had another breed for so long I have nothing to compare it to. I’ll have to go sniff a friend’s dog.

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

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