Our breeding philosophy and thoughts on collies
I have been a “dog nerd” my entire life (after not being allowed to have a dog as a child—this is all my dad’s fault!), but my involvement with collies began in 2005. We had moved the family from a home on a small city lot in Portland, OR to our hobby farm in Southwest Washington, and I was finally in a position to realize my dream of breeding dogs...But I had to choose a breed! I have always loved the trainability and human-oriented nature of the herding breeds, and I began to research several of them, looking for a breed that was beautiful, genetically healthy, and would be gentle and trustworthy with children and other animals. I kept coming back to collies…I had read all the Albert Payson Terhune books as a child, and the fact that collies come in a variety of striking colors was a plus! But I had known only one collie in real life… the one that belonged to my best friend when I was a child. After going to some local dog shows and meeting collies there, as well as spending countless hours doing internet research and speaking with many, many collie breeders, I took the leap and brought Stormy into our lives. Eight years later, I am totally in love with and devoted to this breed, and I’m so grateful I can share my love for collies with others.
Yes collies are beautiful, but the primary focus of my breeding program is and always will be temperament. The collie people remember from the old days was a remarkably intelligent, intuitive dog with human-like qualities….and this is the type of collie I want to own and breed.
A collie should show keen intelligence, good judgment, sensitivity, a sense of intuition about what his or her owner wants, a strong desire to please, some degree of herding instinct, and nurturing behavior towards other animals in his or her “pack”. A collie should not be hyperactive, nervous, or timid. He should be able to learn that you don’t want him to chase the chickens or steal food off the counter…and his sense of responsibility will make him reliable (once he’s an adult at least J). He should bond very closely with his people; and he should be VERY trustworthy and gentle around children and small animals. (Our dogs are unmistakably drawn to kids—the smaller and younger the child, the more gentle and loving they are around them.) A collie should not require harsh punishments or corrections in order to behave appropriately--in fact being shouted at really hurts their feelings! A collie should be easy to live with--not annoying. Not all collies have this temperament anymore, which is concerning to me. If these qualities aren't nurtured and selected for, they will eventually be lost.
We will only breed a collie who has an exemplary temperament, correct for the breed and of high intelligence, gentleness, and trainability. We do extensive health testing on all our potential breeding dogs, and breed with an eye towards selecting away from dogs that are carriers of things like CEA and the MDR1 mutation. We also pay particular attention to sound physical structure, including hips that are free of dysplasia. And of course we look at things like coat type (the goal being a moderate amount of coat, with a beautiful mane, a coarse outer coat that sheds dirt and moisture, and a softer undercoat) and aesthetics such as a pretty face, sweet expression, and naturally tipped ears. However, we make no guarantees on tipped ears--they are very hard to come by in today's collies!!