The Scotch Collie: Ancestor or Unique Breed?

The farthest reaches of Collie history remain a bit of a mystery, but both rough and smooth varieties have existed for a very long time in Scotland and northern England, possibly descending from a local variety of herding dog originating in those countries (more on that in a moment). The rough-coated variety is the more familiar of the two, but the smooth Collie is bred to the same standard except for the coat.

In 1867, a very influential dog named “Old Cockie” was born, and to him is given the credit of stamping breed type on the rough Collie as well as introducing factors which led to the development of the sable coat color in the Collie. Less than 20 years later, Collie type was “fixed” and English breeders “dabbled” with the breed’s height and weight.

Seen here is a vintage photograph entitled, “Duncan’s Royal Scotch Collies” which may refer to the Victorian-era term originally given to Collies, Scottish Collies or Scotch Collies, but most dog experts believe that the Scotch Collie was that local variety of herding dog from which the Rough and Smooth Collie of today came through selective breeding.  There are people, however, who are presently trying to preserve what they feel is the original Scotch Collie, and they call these “old type” of dogs, “OTSC,” or Old Time Scotch Collies (or Old Time Farm Shepherds). There was even a dog once called the “McDuffie’s Old Time Farm Shepherds,” but some cynologists think that the only reason that the breeder, J. Richard McDuffie called his dogs, “McDuffie’s Old Time Farm Shepherds” was because he didn’t want them confused with what he considered to be “show type collies.” McDuffie believed they were Scotch Collies. 

At one time, the Scotch Collie was registrable by the United Kennel Club as well as the National Kennel Club, but over time, it lost recognition and began to be absorbed into other breeds. One source we found said that the AKC even chose the name, “Scotch Collie” for the initial breed club, but eventually dropped the “Scotch” part of the name because standards had changed. They chose to call the breeds, Rough/Smooth Collie, instead, to differentiate it from the “common” Scotch Collie.

2 thoughts on “The Scotch Collie: Ancestor or Unique Breed?

  1. My heart breaks for Piper’s people. I am sure his passing will leave a huge void. I can not help thinking this dog must have had more fun on a daily basis than many other dogs had in their whole life! Soar on Piper!

    • We were alerted to Piper’s passing by a Michigan resident who shared how proud the state was of this dog. It’s been hard for everyone, we think, but like you, we believe Piper had a glorious life! Thank you for writing, Stephanie.

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