As most of you know, I love dogs. Some of you will remember my days as a dog musher. Those memories are some of my fondest. Sadly, I got a bit old to keep up with that. But huskies have not been anywhere near the only breed of dogs I’ve owned. Brittan and I have kept a good variety. It’s only been our move to Scotland, and living in an upstairs apartment with no yard, that has changed all that.
I still read all I can. I watch dog shows. I watch you tube videos. I will walk dogs, and even help people with training challenges. I’ll do pretty much anything I can to be around them.
Recently, I read an article about British breeds that are at risk right here in the country of their origin. These breeds are not necessarily at risk world wide, but some are very close to disappearing here in the land of their birth. As I read through the list, I was utterly shocked at some of the breeds on the list. Brittan and I have owned three of them, and would own them again. There are several others on the list I would gladly own. And perhaps I will do an article about each of them, who knows. But I’m going to write about each of the breeds we’ve owned, that are at risk of extinction here in Great Britain.
The first of those, is the Smooth Collie. The Smoothie, is identical in build and color to the Lassie style, Rough Collie, only it has short hair. In fact, they are the same breed. A litter can actually have both smooth and rough coated pups, depending on the genes carried by the parents.
Everything about them is the same, except the grooming requirements in the Smooth variety, are much simpler. They are amazing family dogs, are great watch dogs, and are strong herding dogs. There are many who would contend that the Smooth Collie is actually better at herding. I would contend that is merely because more of them have been used as working dogs in recent years, due to the difficulties in coat maintenance required for a Rough, and the popularity of the athletic little Border Collie.
In Great Britain, last year, only 60 Smooth Collie puppies were registered with the Kennel Club. That got a big WOW out of me. Although the breed is from right here in Scotland, I have never seen one in this country. I’ve seen a few at dog shows, but never anywhere else. And that’s a tragedy.
Brittan and I have owned three, all while we lived in the States. Our first, Dream, was a Blue Merle, with brown eyes, and we rescued her from a puppy mill when we lived in Maine. She was 6 years old at the time. As an aside, I wrote the last chapter of my upcoming book, Life Lessons From A Lead Dog, about Dream, as an introduction to the next book, which I’m currently calling, Choose Joy.
Dream was an absolute delight, despite her tough start in life. She had been seriously over bred during her 6 years. One of the first things we did, was have her spayed. But despite her difficult time, she was loving, and smart, and a tremendous watch dog. She was not a guard dog. But no one sneaks up on or into a collie’s home. They will make sure their owners, and everyone else in the neighborhood knows someone in in the yard. They have huge barks, and to be fair, when they are standing at attention, barking at a stranger, they look quite intimidating.
Smoothies are not as glamorous as their Rough Cousins. But they are, in my opinion, more so than the amazing, and popular, Border Collie, but don’t have nearly the exercise requirements that Border’s have. I can’t think of a single negative characteristic they possess.
Our last two, did have a tendency when they were young, to kill chickens, if the birds got into the yard. But in time, we managed to train that out of them, and one of the two, Lady, would even help me corral loose ones and get them back to where they belong.
Our third Smooth Collie, Karma, was a beautiful tri color, who was rather beautiful in every way, but a bit small. Not Shetland Sheepdog small, but rather small for a collie. She got over killing chickens before Lady did, but she had a taste for fresh eggs, and if she got into them, she could gobble them up before you could say, ‘Don’t do that!’
Dream used to go hunting with me on our property in Maine. We would walk through the woods and she would enjoy every minute of the outing, until I fired the gun. She hated it, and would take off running back to the house. When I got home, she’d be sitting on the back porch waiting for me. Eventually, I stopped taking a gun when Dream was along.
She was the first dog I ever owned that I could walk off leash. She would go down to the sled dog kennels with me and show off to them that she was free. The huskies didn’t mind her. They were perfectly self assured. After all, they were sled dogs. It their minds, that made them extra special.
Dream lived to be 13. She died of cancer. In my memory she was the perfect dog. She set a standard that Lady and Karma could never quite live up to. They were very good dogs. I was crazy about them. Lady was as smart a dog as I’ve ever owned. She was funny. Karma was photogenic. She loved cuddles. But she was not confident, and training was difficult. She took corrections personally, and got depressed. And she loved to get in your lap. We have a photo somewhere of Brittan on the mower, trying to cut the grass, and Karma is on her lap.
My one regret, is not training Lady for agility. She would have been awesome at it. She was trainable, athletic, and easy to reward.
Smooth Collies are the perfect family dog. They do shed. Girls more than the boys. But, as a breed, they are the perfect fit. They are light footed, meaning they won’t wear a path in your yard, like German Shepherds will. They will be great friends who you can train to do anything.
Fortunately, the Europeans really like them. I follow several on Instagram. Americans like them, too. Not like Rough Collies, but there are plenty of them in the States. But for some reason, I can’t figure out, the British have turned their noses up at the grandfather of all the Scottish Herding Dogs, the Smooth Collie.
If you are looking for a puppy, I encourage you to check out this breed. If you’re in the U.K. chances are, any one breeding them is a responsible breeder, but check out the breed club if you’re in doubt. If you live in the States, check out the breed club, or the AKC. Don’t just buy a pup you see advertised. And look into the breed rescue groups. There are often Smoothies looking for a new home. We’ve had a love of great dogs this way.
If you’ve got any questions about Smooth Collies, drop me a line and ask. I would love to hear from you. And here’s a hint, our next article will be about the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.