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Rough Collie

Rough Collie

The Rough Collie is a breed of dog developed originally for herding in Scotland. It is well known because of the works of author Albert Payson Terhune, and was popularized in later generations by the Lassie novel, movies, and television shows. There is also a smooth-coated variety; some breed organizations consider the smooth-coat and rough-coat dogs to be variations of the same breed.

Appearance

Four coat colors are recognized for Rough Collies: sable and white, where the "sable" ranges from pale tan to a golden mahogany; white; tricolour, which is primarily black edged in tan; and blue merle, which is a mottled gray. All have white coat areas, in the collar, parts of the leg, and maybe tail tip. Some may have white blazes on their faces. Rough Collies have more pointed faces than their look-alike Sheltie 'cousins'. The downy undercoat is covered by a long, dense, coarse outer coat with a notable ruff around the neck, feathers about the legs, a petticoat on the abdomen, and a frill on the hindquarters.

The desired size and weight varies among breed standards; male collies can stand 55.8 to 66 cm (22 to 26 in) at the shoulder; the Female averages 5 cm (2 in) shorter. The male can weigh 20.4 to 34 kg (45 - 75 lb) and the female 5 to 10 pounds (2.3 - 4.5 kg) less. According to the American and UK Kennel clubs Breed standards, UK Rough Collies are slightly smaller than their USA counterparts.

One of the characteristic features of the Rough Collie is its head. This is light in relation to the rest of the body, and resembles a blunted wedge tapering smoothly from ears to black nose. The muzzle is well rounded, and never square. There is considerable variation in the colour of the head, however. The eyes are medium sized and attentive. The ears are generally bent, the bottom part vertical and the tips sloped forwards, although the dog can lay them back, or hold them vertical when alert.

Once seen, the contrast between the Rough Collie head and that of a Border Collie is immediately apparent, the latter having a considerably shorter muzzle and a distinct stop between muzzle and forehead. The ruff is also distinctive in distinguishing the two breeds.

Temperament

Rough Collie is an intelligent, friendly and active dog. The double layered coat needs to be brushed frequently and thoroughly to keep it in a show condition, but it does not require extensive care. Rough collies should show no nervousness or aggressiveness, and are good with children and other animals. They are mid-sized dogs, suiting them to live in small houses and apartments. The herding instinct is very much apparent in some dogs, but other dogs do not show this as much. Rough Collies are very loyal and protective to their owners. They are a good family dog. They are eager to learn and to please and respond best to a gentle hand. They require human company and should never be kept outside as they will become bored and inclined to bark. By nature gentle and domesticated, they are fearless in danger and will rush to defend their owners.

History

Both Rough and Smooth collies are descended from a localised variety of herding dog originating in Scotland and Wales. The Scottish variety was a large, strong, aggressive dog, bred to chase highland sheep. The Welsh variety was small and nimble, domesticated and friendly, and also herded goat. When the English saw these dogs at the Birmingham market, they interbred them with their own variety of sheepdogs producing a mixture of short and long haired varieties. After the industrial revolution, dog ownership became fashionable, and these early collies were believed to have been crossed with the Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound) to get a more "noble" head, which is today one of the true characteristics of the Rough Collie. Though it is not known conclusively if the Borzoi cross made it into the mainstream of the breed. Other crosses possibly occurred with the Irish Setter. The Irish Setter cross may have genetically resulted in the introduction of the sable colour to the Rough Collie breed. This cross also made the dogs taller and straighter, as well as heavier. When Queen Victoria acquired a Rough Collie, after seeing one at Balmoral Castle, they were transformed into something of a fashion item. Continued breeding for show purposes drastically changed the appearance of the dogs; in the 1960s, it was a much taller dog than it is today. Earlier dogs were also more sturdy in build and capable of covering up to 100 miles in one day. In the UK the Rough Collie is no longer used for herding, having been replaced by the workaholic Border Collie. Though in the United States and a number of European countries, there has been a resurgence in the use of the Collie as a working and performance dog.

The Collie Club of America is one of the oldest breed-specific clubs in existence in the United States (founded in 1886). The Collie Club in England dates from 1881.

Health

While Rough Collies are generally resilient and healthy, there are some health issues that can affect the breed.

Collie eye anomaly (CEA), a genetic disease which causes improper development of the eye and possible blindness, is a common ailment in the breed. More rarely, Collies can be affected by Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), another genetic disease in which bilateral degeneration of the retina results in progressive vision loss culminating in blindness. Through genetic testing and careful screening program it would be theoretically possible to eradicate both of these problems in purebred lines, however, certainly in the UK, the Kennel Club does not require these tests to be done either for registration or showing. Some people claim that the problem is made worse with the less rigid breeding standards of home breeders and puppy mill breeders. Collie puppies should be screened at an early age by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist to check for both of these problems. Note, the UK Kennel Club "Accredited Breeder Scheme" requires eye tests and recommends the genetic test for this class of members , however, a very small proportion of UK registered puppies are bred under this scheme.

Canine cyclic neutropenia is a cyclic blood disorder that is usually fatal to affected puppies. The disease is also referred to as "gray collie syndrome," due to affected puppies having a pale gray, pinkish/gray or beige coloring, none of which are normal Collie colors. Puppies that survive through adulthood are plagued with immune disorders throughout their lives and rarely live more than a three years. DNA testing can help detect carriers of the recessive gene that causes the disease.

Hip dysplasia: As with most of the larger breeds, hip dysplasia is a potential concern for Rough Collies. Although this disease appears to be "multigene", careful selection by many breeders is reducing this problem. The UK Kennel Club "Accredited Breeder Scheme" requires hip-scores this class of members , however, a very small proportion of UK registered puppies are bred under this scheme.

Collies may carry a mutant Mdr1 gene that results in a sensitivity to Ivermectin and related drugs. A screening test is used to determine if alternative medications are required. Overdoses from the proscribed medications can result in neurological imparement or even death. This faulty gene is present in several breeds, but is well known among collies.

Famous Rough Collies

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