Monday, May 3, 2010

Rough Collie

Today we have a very special animal of the day: My dog. It's his 2nd birthday! So far, he's broken two vacuums with his excessive hair, and he's claimed every single surface in the house as his own. But we love him, and so he (and more specifically, his breed) get the post for the day.

Collies, as pretty much everyone knows, descend from the herding dogs of Scotland. Rough (and smooth) collies today get their distinctive looks through possible crossings between the local collies and Borzois and Irish Setters back in the day. I can definitely see the Borzoi thing, they both have really long faces. Anyway, the aesthetic look changed when collies started to become the "it" dog to have, and years of selective breeding has distinguished it from other collie-types. Queen Victoria owned collies, and had their portraits painted numerous times, though those collies look far more like the border collie does today. Heck, one of those paintings is a dead ringer for my parent's old Border Collie/German Shepherd cross. They were also much smaller then, weighing less than 45lbs. Modern collies can hit up to 80. The Collie has been recognized by the AKC since 1885, and its national breed clubs are some of the oldest in the world, though the look of the dog has of course shifted over time. The modern AKC standard has been unchanged since 1977.

Collies come in 4 colors, sable, tricolor, blue merle, and white. The picture I threw in here shows the first three. White is well, white, with patches of color coming from one of the other three styles. While those coats are gorgeous (my dog gets so many shout-outs on walks I've contemplated a making a list), they can also cause a lot of grief during coat blowing season. Their double coat leads to a lot of hair, so frequent grooming is necessary for a happy dog and happy vacuum. They have some potential health issues and sensitivities, but I'll let you read a fact sheet if you really want to know.

Well, I made it all this way without mentioning Lassie. There, Lassie, I did it. And while the joke about my dog saving children from wells gets a bit old, he really (and the breed as a whole) is a smart, (usually) loyal dog who is just so freaking happy all of the time. AND he's really good at snuggling. Who wouldn't want to snuggle with that beast?

And just for the hell of it, because dog evolution is so fascinating, many people consider domesticated dogs to be omnivores. They are not obligate carnivores like cats are, and don't require the super high levels of animal protein in their diets. That type of diet is a major reason why dog breeds have become so diverse; they don't need to keep a short, muscular snout in order to tear at and consume prey. Oh dentition! There are a whole bunch of other interesting physical comparisons that arose between canids and felids in their respective evolutions... but I'll leave that to this awesome book for now.

1 comment:

  1. http://warriorlibrarian.com/ROFL/COVERS/lassie.jpg

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