Description & History

The Rough Collie originates from both Scottish and Irish herding and farm dogs.

Shepherding or sheepdogs have been used to herd, drive and gather in the flocks for centuries. They often worked in very difficult conditions especially in the mountainous regions in the far north of the British Isles. Their ability and desire to work was all that was needed by the shepherds who owned them.

Gradually the image of the Rough Collie changed. In the early nineteenth century, selective breeding and strains from the Rusian Borzoi, an aristocratic breed, created a dog which is not only glamorous but also has presence.

In 1875 Collies belonging to Mr S E Shirley - founder of the British Kennel Club - were brought from Ireland to take part in sheepdog trials which were held at Bala in North Wales. These dogs, and dogs from the north and north-west of England, are the true forebears of today's show dogs and not the Rough Collies from Scotland. This is confirmed by pedigrees which can be traced back to the the end of the nineteenth century.

Royalty made the Collie fashionable. Both Queen Victoria and the Princess of Wales - later Queen Alexandra - both took a keen interest in the breed and this marked the beginning of their popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1860 the Collie became a show dog and, nearly a century later, a film star! In 1943 the first Lassie film was released adding to the popularity of the breed.

Like all herding breeds they are best suited to an active life, but they do adapt themselves to modern living especially if adequate exercise is given.

Rosamund Walters.

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