The Rough Collie’s origins are so shrouded in the mists of time that it is now impossible to say, with accuracy, from where these highly intelligent dogs derive.

What we do know is that inhabitants of the upland regions of the British Isles, who traditionally earned their livelihood breeding and rearing livestock, required a specialised breed of light, hardy, lithe, active dog, built along the lines of strength and endurance, but capable of sudden burst of great speed, with coats capable of protecting them in all weather. Additionally these stockmen required both  biddability and intelligence in their dogs thus enabling them to work on their own initiative.

As form always follows function these shepherd’s helpmates soon acquired a uniformity of type, which we now recognise as the Rough Collie, clearly seen in this Samuel Howitt’s illustration from ‘Memoirs of British Quadrupeds’ edited by the Rev W. Bingley.

We know from Kennel Club records that Sheepdogs of this type were the foundations of today’s Show Collie, with every Rough Collie worldwide able to trace its ancestry back to a single working shepherd’s dog owned by Mr Sewallis Evelyn Shirley MP, founder of ‘The Kennel Club’, and many of the earliest Collie families can claim working sheepdog ancestry at the furthest end of the bottom line of their pedigrees.

The second image of two Rough Collies, chasing one another in play proves how little type has changed in the 200 years that has elapsed since the publication of the Rev Bingley’s book in 1809, which was long before organised Dogs Shows or the foundation of the Kennel Club, and those collies which grace today’s show ring and many firesides. This fact emphasised by a Breed Standard which remains essentially the same, despite amplified over the years, as that produced by the founding members of the first Collie Club in 1881. The RCBC : Member Clubs : RCBC Seminars : RCBC & KC : Rough Collie : Archives : Links

image showing the similarity of type between the early Sheepdog and the modern Rough Collie


Related internal links

The Rough Collie Companion Dog