Most believe the Collie evolved in the highlands of Scotland and Northern England. Some claim that the Collie's ancestors were brought to the British Isles by Roman conquerors in the middle of the first century, A.D. But it is known that the earliest invaders, the Stone Age nomads also brought dogs with them to what is now Southern England. From these probable decendants came a hardy, quick-witted dog that was needed to handle sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs, and they were undoubtedly used for hunting along with their herding duties. English dogs were highly prized in Italy in the 11th century. The growth of the wool industry in the Middle ages was aided along by dogs known as the ban dog and the cur in 15th and 16th century England. Not until about the 18th century did the breeding of domestic animals begin. The rough Collie was virtually unknown in London as late as 1860, while a bob-tailed smooth sheep dog was more common to that area. The rough Collie came down from Scotland and the border countries to farmer's markets at Birmingham, following the development of the railroads. The Collie most likely made his show ring debut in December, 1860, at Birmingham, the third formal dog show at which conformation of individual animals was judged. They were most likely shown in the group classified "sheepdogs" with combined different strains of rough and smooth Collies, bob-tails, and beardies.

      None of the sheepdogs were very popular at this time. They were generally working dogs, without pedigrees, and they were more of a farmers dog. They were small, weighing 25 to 45 lbs, relatively short legged, long-backed, short necked, and had unsightly feet and legs. Many were cow-hocked, fiddle fronted, overangulated, with a wide variety of tails lengths including no-tails, bob-tails, half-tailed and long-tailed dogs all occurring in the same litter. They had much heavier heads and had terrier like eyes. The coats were various lengths from smooth to extremely long and frilled, in one black and white Scottish strain. The color was origionally black and white or black and tan, but sometimes grey, dull brown or mixed brindle sable in color.

      The Collie's popularity began with Queen Victoria (1837-1901), who fell in love with the breed on visits to her Scottish retreat. It was then that the lowly farmers dog was elevated to a state of canine aristocracy. It then became more fashionable to own a Collie and show entries rose.

      One of the most important Collies, a dog named Old Cockie, became recognized in 1868. All show Collies trace back to Old Cockie through his sable and white grandson Charlemagne, whose pedigree shows the only two sables: Maude, his dam, and her sire, Old Cockie. Old Cockie live fourteen years as a cherished and pampered companion of Mr. James Bissell.

by Marla Belzowski and Cindy Moore

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