Collie can mean a kind or herding dog. As a result, while most people are most familiar with rough collies and smooth collies, there are other breeds that can be called collies as well. For instance, there are Scotch collies, which should not be mistaken for the aforementioned dogs. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Scotch collies:
1. Came Into Existence in Scotland
Given the name, it should come as no surprise to learn that Scotch collies came into existence in Scotland. After all, Scotch means that something is connected with Scotland in some manner. However, it tends to be used in the context of foods and beverages in the present time, not least because it has picked up connotations of condescension. Regardless, most collies came into existence in Scotland and Northern England before being brought to other regions by interested individuals.
2. It Is a Landrace
The Scotch collie is a landrace. For those who are unfamiliar, a landrace is a variety of a domesticated species that has developed over time through gradual adaptation to its environment while remaining separate from other populations of the same domesticated species. As such, there are a lot of breeds that were bred from landraces based on a tight set of standards.
3. More Variable in Nature
Landraces are not as variable in nature as the wild ancestors of domesticated species. This is because they developed in human-dominated settings, meaning that they have been shaped by human considerations. However, landraces haven’t been subjected to the tight standards used to create standardized breeds, which is why there can be more variation from dog to dog. For those who are looking into Scotch collies, this can have both upsides and downsides depending on exactly what they want out of their canine companion.
4. Started Out as Farm Dogs
Most people in the past lived more precarious lives than most people in the present. As a result, while plenty of them had dogs, they tended to have roles other than household companion in mind for those dogs. Scotch collies were no exception to this rule. As such, they started out as herding dogs for sheep as well as other livestock. However, Scotch collies were versatile enough to play other roles on the farm. For example, they saw use as guard dogs. Similarly, they were sometimes used for pest control as well.
5. Saw a Surge of Popularity in the 19th Century
Scotch collies saw a surge of popularity in the 19th century. Thanks to this, a lot of dogs departed Scotland for the purpose of becoming farm dogs in other regions. Furthermore, Scotch collies came to the attention of the upper classes, who started breeding them with a very different set of intentions in mind. Eventually, this process led to the creation of rough collies, which became different enough from their landrace counterparts for the two to be recognized as being separate from one another.
6. Went Through a Period of Decline
The modern world uses dogs in a very different way from its predecessors. For proof, look no further than the much-diminished role of farm dogs in the west, which is connected to the much-diminished role of small family farms in the west. Due to this trend, a lot of breeds used for farming became less and less common in the 20th century, so much so that some of them have vanished altogether. Scotch collies managed to hang on here and there, thus enabling them to make something of a comeback in more recent decades thanks to renewed interest in the landrace.
7. Smart Dogs
Working dogs tend to be smart dogs. After all, interested individuals would have preferred dogs that could learn fast and learn well, meaning that this is something that would have been selected for. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Scotch collies are true to this. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that there are those who believe that Scotch collies tend to be smarter than rough collies. Essentially, the argument is that these dogs have remained closer to their working roots whereas rough collies have diverged because they have been bred for other purposes for a very long time.
Speaking of which, Scotch collies are also very human-oriented. This makes sense because they were expected to work for their human owners, meaning that this would have been another valuable trait to have. Having said that, this means that Scotch collies benefit from spending a lot of time with their families. Otherwise, these dogs can get very stressed-out. Something that can lead to various behavioral issues.
9. Has an Open Registry
Scotch collies have an open registry, whereas rough collies have a closed registry. This means that it is possible for dogs to be added to the list of Scotch collies so long as they have the right characteristics, thus making for infusions of new blood from time to time. In contrast, rough collies have had a closed registry for a very long time, meaning that every single member of the breed comes from that limited gene pool with no new blood being possible. On top of that, show winners tend to have a disproportionate number of descendants, thus making rough collies even more inbred than what interested individuals might have expected based on that.
10. There Are Still Certain Health Issues to Watch Out For
Unfortunately, while Scotch collies are less inbred than rough collies, they are still more susceptible to certain health issues than other dogs. Something that their human owners should keep in mind when caring for them. One example would be MDR1 sensitivity, which causes herding dogs to fail to metabolize certain medicines in the right manner. Another example would be the bloating that is common in deep-chested breeds, which is a build-up of gas in the stomach that can cause a visible distortion in its appearance. Fortunately, Scotch collies aren’t some kind of rare and obscure breed, meaning that interested individuals should be able to get all of the assistance they need from their veterinarian.