Although the Scotch Collie and its ancestors had been used for several centuries as a working dog herding sheep and cattle, it was in England in the 19th century that the dog became popular as a pet and show dog rather than a working dog breed. Queen Victoria took an interest in Scotch Collies and the rest of the country soon followed suit. It was also at this time that the dog became larger through cross-breeding with breeds such as Borzois. At this point, Scotch Collie breeders began to standardize the breed and keep written pedigree records. Scotch Collies were shown in dog shows in England as early as 1860 and made its way to the United states by 1880. By about 1886, the the Scotch Collie breed was fully standardized and remains roughly the same today. It was in this same year the the Collie Club of America was formed, becoming one of the founder breeds of the American Kennel Club.
A surge in popularity occurred in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s with the release of the movie "Lassie Come Home" in 1943 and the subsequent television series that began in 1954 and ran for seventeen years.
The Scotch Collie, on the whole, has been treated mainly as a show dog after its sudden rise in popularity and many more are being kept as ring dogs. Farmers and livestock keepers generally use other types of herding dog, such as the Border Collie.
Few handlers of working herding dogs participate in conformation shows, as working dogs are bred to a performance standard rather than one based on appearance. Likewise, conformation-bred dogs are seldom seen on the sheepdog trial field, except in Kennel Club-sponsored events. Dogs registered with either working- or conformation-based registries are seen in other performance events such as agility, obedience, tracking, rally-o or flyball, however these dogs do not necessarily conform to the breed standard of appearance as closely as the dogs shown in the breed rings as this is not a requirement in performance events, nor do they necessarily participate in herding activities.
As modern-day "Lassies", both Rough and Smooth Collies have become successful assistance, and therapy dogs. At least one guide dog school (Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida) currently trains Smooth Collies as guide dogs, and a number of Scotch Collies are currently partnered with disabled individuals around the United States.
The Scotch Collie is typically a very healthy breed, and is known to inherit few health conditions that are both serious and prevalent. Some health conditions of note include Collie eye anomaly, PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), gastric torsion, dermatomyositis, grey collie syndrome (a type of neutropenia), collie nose (discoid lupus erythematosus), and demodicosis. Seizures, canine hip dysplasia, microphthalmia, and cyclic neutropenia are also occasionally seen. The Collie Health Foundation (http://www.colliehealth.org) maintains a website and database on disorders affecting collies.
Some Scotch Collies (and other collie breeds) have a particular allele of the the multi-drug resistance gene, MDR1. This is also known as "the ivermectin-sensitive collie", however the sensitivity is not limited to ivermectin, a common drug used to treat and prevent various ailments in dogs including heartworm disease. More than 20 drugs are expected to cause adverse reactions including milbemycin and loperamide. A study by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at UC Davis concluded that all dogs with this mutation are descendants of a single dog which most likely lived in Great Britain during the middle of the 19th century.
The mutation of the MDR1 gene is found in Scotch Collies and related breeds worldwide and affects approximately 80% of Scotch Collie dogs in the United States. Dogs with this mutation are predisposed to various sensitivities and some may suffer a potentially fatal neurotoxicosis.
Ivermectin is a popular choice in the prevention of heartworm disease in dogs, an extremely serious and potentially fatal condition. Despite the high prevalence of sensitivity in Scotch Collies to this medication, the low dosage provided is generally considered safe and preventative drugs such as Heartgard are advertised as approved for Scotch Collies, having a wide margin of safety when used as directed. A simple test, recently developed at and provided by Washington State University, can determine if a dog is a carrier of the mutation which causes sensitivity.
Scotch Collies typically live an average of 12 to 14 years.
Information about the MDR1-defect
Rough and Smooth Collie Info