The Border Collie

Written by Roy Saunders, from the book
“Sheepdog Glory”:

The Border Collie Breed

The Border Collie is never seen at dogshows and unlike dogshows he
is not to be judged by any physical characteristics. He need not
conform to a particular colour, shape or size, length of muzzle or
height of shoulder. His coat may be fine long and glossy, harsh and
curly, or very short and sleek; all that matters is his brain,
temperament, reactions to work and the consistency of his
performance behind sheep. If he has a cast, a wide gather, a strong
eye to single out a required sheep; if he moves freely, never barks,
never bites; if he is prepared to take orders, is affectionate
towards those he knows, regards his master as a sort of god and the
sheep pastures as the equivalent of heaven, then and only then can
he be called a first class specimen of his breed.

No man-dictated fashions have governed the Border Collies bodily
proportions; his outline has been modelled by the bleak mountain run
with its gullies, screes, stone walls, wind, rain snow and miles of
heather, fern and rock. Centuries of running on wide hills have
evolved a small lightly built animal with a light well co-ordinated
frame and a stamina for work mentally and physical beyond anything
else on four legs.

Despite the apparent insistence on breeding for working qualities
alone, most Border Collies are in fact of a handsome appearance. The
homozygous tendencies are very strong and although greys and tans
occasionally crop up, about ninety percent of these dogs are a
smartly proportioned black and white. If the dog is well-marked in
black and white in the right places and is generally pleasant to
look at, it is of course so much the better, but a collie which a
layman might find striking handsome would look ugly and ridiculous
to the shepherd if his head and tail were held high. The
dogs “intelligence quotient” is shown more clearly in the carriage
of his tail than by any other physical sigh, and it is perhaps a
pity that we cannot test a child’s IQ so simple and with such a
degree of accuracy. In any case the plain mismarked miscoloured
sheepdog whose breeding is right can give a stylish performance
which is fascinating and beautiful and will easily surpass the
performance of the most splendid looking dog with less good breeding.

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