Published in the March 15, 1912 issue of Country Life in America.
Save the Old-Fashioned Collie!
In our issue of December 15, 1911, on page 40, we published a brief appeal, signed by Otis Barnum, entitled "Who Is Breeding Old-Fashioned Collies?" This appeal resulted in a few letters from readers who share Mr. Barnum's love for this fine old breed, now rapidly becoming extinct like the mastiff and the Newfoundland. Somehow we can't get the idea out of our heads that we are a wicked and foolish generation if we let the old-fashioned collie go. What can we do about it?
This is not the first time the question has been raised, and yet nothing has been done. In our issue of February, 1908, we published a debate between Homer Davenport and James Watson on the topic "Is the Show Dog Degenerating?" Here Mr. Davenport made a plea for the old-fashioned collie that should have moved hearts of stone, but Mr. Watson replied with a defense of the modern show collie, and there the matter rested.
It seems to us, upon maturer thought, that it is a mistake to make a controversy of this. There is nothing to be gained by discussing the question of superiority between the old and the new, because they have become totally different. The modern collie is a direct descendent of the Scotch shepherd dog, but the two resemble each other less closely that the Welsh and Irish terriers, which are rated as two distinct breeds, or than the Boston and bull terriers. They are now distinct types, and should be so considered by breeders, judges, and fanciers.
The case for the modern collie was proved in our last issue (march 1st). He has won his place on the show bench and the country place. He has come to stay. But there is no more reason that he should displace his prototype than that the chow should displace the greyhound. There is room for both, not only on the show bench, but in the hearts and homes of dog-loving Americans.
It is needless to dwell on the fine qualities of the old-fashioned type. His wonderful intelligence, faithfulness, and courage have long been celebrated in story and song. But it may not be out of place to quote from one or two of the letters which came to us or to Mr. Barnum in replay to his appeal. At least these letters indicate that the breed is not entirely extinct, but could doubtless be revived and reinstated if the right people were to interest themselves.
To the Editors:
About two years ago my nephews bought three beautiful puppies of this description in this county. They have grown to be very intelligent and affectionate dogs.
Springfield Ohio. I.A. Blount.
Mr. Otis Barnum:
You can see one of the "old-fashioned collies" at my home. When I saw the picture you published I was struck with the likeness to my pet. He always wants to "shake," and the markings and nose are almost identical.
New Rochelle, N.Y. M.E. Lobdell.
Rollo, Mrs. Burt's collie, at the age of a year and a half, very indignant at the photographer
To the Editors:
Though I am not breeding old-fashioned collies, it is with reference to your article under that heading in the issue of December 15th that I wish to speak. My collie is modern if being a thoroughbred, with his ancestors recorded in the American Kennel Club, makes a dog so; but he is not a "sharp-nosed, show type of collie," and he certainly lays claim to the old-fashioned virtues of being "affectionate, intelligent, and reliable," which your correspondent requires.
The first of the qualities is so marked that though he is not yet three years old, at the slightest word from, or even the appearance of any member of the family, he will instantly leave his wild play with his dog friends, or leave food, sleep, or any occupation to rush to the side of the human friends and express his readiness for their wishes in a series of running high jumps.
He is not a broad across the face as the dog in the article referred to, but neither is he of the "self-satisfied, sharp-nosed" variety. He measures fifty-eight inches from tip of nose to end of tail, and both head and tail are carried high.
He has one annoying habit for which I wish there was a remedy. He is fond of howling at night--a high, long-drawn wail. In winter, when shut in the barn, there is very little of it, but during the summer nights, after he is put into his roomy yard and left there, he makes the night altogether too vocal.
Sophie S. Burt.
"One of the most intelligent dogs that ever lived." Mr. Angell's old-fashioned collie
To the Editors
Possibly the enclosed picture may be of interest to some of the old breeders who, like Mr. Barnum, remember the "old dogs" with affection. I do not take issue with the kennel clubs; they have a perfect right to say what shall constitute "points" and what shall entitle a dog to their prizes; but I do claim--because I know it to be a fact--that the collie (or colley as we used to spell it) has changed so much that for those of us who have loved him for half a century, there seems but little in common between the pet of to-day and the almost human companion and helper of thirty or forty years ago.
The real thing in collies ceased to be fashionable twenty-five years ago. I am sending you the picture of one of the most intelligent dogs that ever lived. He was the son of a champion, but so far away from bench show requirements that the breeder begged the buyer not to exhibit him as he would be ashamed to have it known that he had sold the dog as a thoroughbred.
The writer has never had any use for the narrow-head variety and has kept himself provided with a dog having sufficient brain room to learn the meaning of such words of the English language as are of use in conversing with "the best animal companion ever made."
Breeders of twenty-five or thirty years ago will remember Champion Clipper and his first wife, Nellie McGregor; some of their daughters were given in marriage to the dog whose picture is enclosed, and the resulting progeny had the intelligence and sagacity which would have delighted Mr. Barnum; but, needless to say, not one of them was fit for the show bench of to-day. They, however, made up for this loss of social standing by becoming protectors of children, herders of cattle, and companions of some of the finest people in the land--that is, the people who love good dogs.
I have no doubt that the collie would come back into his own again if the breeder would raise the thick noses and broad foreheads instead of weeding them out and following fashion by breeding for points only.
Scarsdale, N.Y. H. H. B. Angell.
Again the question, what are we going to do about it? Here is a noble breed following the bison to oblivion. It is not too late to save him, but how shall we go about it?
Of late years breeders have been forced to follow bench-show fashions. Sons of dogs with bench-show records are the most readily sold, and the public has been educated by the shows to demand show types--or, at least, so the breeders believe.
We have no quarrel with the shows, and the best plan would seem to be to secure their cooperation. We cannot ask to have the Collie Standard so changed as to include the old type or make its characteristics standard; that would simply meant thrusting out the modern collie, which we wouldn't do if we could.
The simplest and most logical method is undoubtedly the forming of a separate class for the old-fashioned collie, just as we have formed a separate class for the smooth-coated collie, offering separate honors for superior specimens in competition with others of their own type. This would involve, also, the writing of a Standard for the new class, in which it is to be hoped breadth of head would be fixed as a leading feature. For it is time that we began to pay attention to breeding for intelligence.
We therefore respectfully bring this suggestion to the attention of the authorities of the American Kennel Club, the Collie Club, the Westminster Kennel Club, and any others whose influence is needed to save the old-fashioned collie.
We further suggest that a greater impetus might be given this movement if some person, or persons, or club were to offer special prizes for a year or two for the best old-fashioned collie in any show.
Finally, we invite our readers to send us their views on this subject, for our columns are now open, and we are anxious to do all we can to help.
This thick-nosed broad-headed type of Scotch collie or shepherd dog was popular twenty years ago
Queen of Green Mountain was a prominent collie five years ago. She shows traces of the earlier type.
Ch. Southport Sculptor is a handsome example of the modern type. Some have narrower heads than his
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