The Welsh Collie is a highly intelligent dog that for centuries has been working alongside shepherds herding flocks of sheep in some of the remotest regions of the Welsh hills. They have always been highly prized thanks to the way they work sheep which is different from that of a Border Collie in that they do not fix their eye directly on the flock, but rather work the sheep with a "loose eye". Today, these charming, active dogs are also becoming a popular choice as companions and family pets thanks to their good looks, their intelligence and their loyal, affectionate natures. However, anyone wishing to share a home with a Welsh Collie would need to have the time to dedicate to such an intelligent, high energy dog and register their interest with breeders because very few well-bred puppies are produced every year.
It is thought that Welsh Collies first appeared on the scene during the 19th century when working collies found in both England and Scotland were crossed with native Welsh breeds. However, the true origins of these working dogs remains a bit of a mystery although there is some belief that Gellgi or "Covert Hounds" may be in the breed's ancestry.
There were a variety of different and unique sheep herding dogs found in Wales during the 18th century with many shepherds using five or more dogs at one time and they were rangier than the collies we see today. However, the number of collie breeds fell by the 1940's seeing just two or three being left with the oldest breeds like the Black and Tan Sheepdog and the Welsh Hillman almost vanishing altogether.
The most popular Welsh working dogs were descendants of the Black and Tan which had been crossed with working Border Collies. The first sheepdog trials were held in the late 1800's which saw the Scottish Border Collie becoming the most popular working dog at the time. However, the number of Welsh Collies fell into decline because they were crossed with too many other collie types. With so few records of the breed, the only way a dog was judged to be a true Welsh Collie was in the way they worked sheep which was far different to that of the Border Collie in that they did not "fix" their eyes on the flock, but worked them with what is referred to as a "loose eye". Welsh Collies were also very able to work on their own without the need of a shepherd being around.
The Welsh Sheepdog Society was established in 1997 with an end goal being to preserve and to promote what is thought to be the oldest and purist of Welsh working dog breeds. Although still highly prized for their working skills, the Welsh Collie is not recognised as a breed in its own right by The Kennel Club and very few well-bred puppies are available every year even though these charming, active dogs make wonderful companions and family pets.
Height at the withers: Males 48.26 - 55.88 cm, Females 45.72 - 53.34 cm
Average weight: Males 13 - 18 kg, Females 13 - 18 kg
Welsh Collies are medium sized dogs that tend to be a lot rangier and longer legged than their Border Collie cousins. Because they are bred for their working abilities and intelligence, their appearance and conformation can vary quite a bit. Farmers often tell people that what determines a Welsh Collie is not their looks, but rather what is in a dog's head.
Welsh Collies are well balanced, graceful dogs and they are always alert, ready to obey commands they are given whether in a working or home environment. As long as they are given the correct amount of exercise and mental stimulation on a daily basis, they make wonderful family pets. They boast double coats with some dogs having luxurious wavy coats whereas others have slicker, finer ones.
Welsh Collies have broad heads with a very distinct stop and tapering muzzle. They have black noses except if they have brown or chocolate coats when their noses can be brown to match their coats. Dogs with blue coats have slate coloured noses but all dogs have well developed nostrils. Their oval eyes are set wide apart on a dog's head being brown in colour with the exception of Merles where one or both eyes can be blue. Sometimes just part of a merle’s eye is blue, but all Welsh Collies boast a very keen, alert, intelligent and mild look in their eyes whether they are working or at when they are at rest.
Their ears are medium in size and set well apart on a dog's head which they carry either erect or semi-erect. Their mouths are strong and dogs boast a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. A Welsh Collie has a strong, muscular neck that’s slightly arched and which is wider at the shoulder than at the nape.
Their forequarters are strong and well boned with well laid back shoulders and nice, long straight front legs. They boast athletic looking bodies with well sprung ribs, a deep chest and deep, muscular loins. The hindquarters are muscular with well-developed thighs and long back legs adding to a dog’s rangy appearance. Their feet are oval in shape with deep pads, tight arched toes and short nails.
Welsh Collies have quite long, low set tails with a slight curve in them which goes right to the tip which adds to the perfect balance and proportions of these dogs. When excited, dogs carry their tails raised, but never curled over their backs.
When it comes to their coats, Welsh Collies can either have quite long hair or their coats are short and smooth, but both have a dense topcoat and softer undercoat which offers a lot of protection against the elements. Long-coated dogs have longer hair around their necks and upper shoulders and they have feathers on their legs and under their tails. Border Collies, as previously mentioned come in a variety of colours and colour combinations which are as follows:
Any white in a dog's coat should never be the predominant colour.
Welsh Collies are intelligent, high energy dogs that are never happier than when they are working which makes them quite demanding to live with in a home environment. Owners need to have the time and energy to keep these dogs busy both physically and mentally. As such, they are not the best choice for first time owners simply because they need to be trained and handled by people who are familiar with their needs for them to be truly happy, well rounded dogs.
The instinct to work is deeply embedded in a Welsh Collie’s psyche which means they are better suited to families who live in a rural environment and who lead active, outdoor lives and where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house. Puppies need to be well socialised from a young age and this has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, people, noises, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's a good idea to enrol young dogs into puppy classes which is a great way to start their training in earnest after having taught them the "basics" when they first arrive in the home.
It's important to gently curb a Welsh Collie's strong herding instinct when they are in a home environment or dogs would constantly want to "herd" everything they come across which includes any children which could become a problem. They tend to be wary around people they don’t already know, but rarely would a Welsh Collie show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance.
Welsh Collies are highly intelligent dogs which means in the right environment and with the correct amount of early socialisation they can be easy to train. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits and behaviours too. These high energy collies are often seen competing in many canine sports which includes activities like agility, obedience trials, flyball and many herding events that are held all over the country all of which are activities they excel at and enjoy.
The key to successfully training a Welsh Collie is to start their education as early as possible. Training sessions have to be short and very interesting in order to keep these hyperactive dogs focussed on what they are being asked to do. They love the one-to-one attention they are given when they are being trained and it reinforces the bond they form with their owners.
Like other collies, they do not respond well to harsh correction, but they do answer well to positive reinforcement. It's important to handle a Welsh Collie puppy with a firm yet gentle hand so they understand their place in "the pack" and who is the alpha dog in a household. They are never happier than when they know who they can look to for direction and guidance, although Welsh Collies are renowned for being able to work on their own because they are independent thinkers by nature which is another reason why they are best handled and trained by people who are familiar with their particular needs.
Welsh Collies have a strong instinct to round things up even when they are in a home environment which can see them herding children as well as anything else they come across. As such they are not the best choice for families with younger children, but they do well in households where children are older and who therefore know how to behave around dogs. However, any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by adult to make sure playtime does not end up getting too boisterous which could end up with someone getting knocked over, albeit by accident.
Welsh Collies can be a little reserved around other dogs they have never met before, but usually get on well with dogs they already know. If a Border Collie has grown up with a family cat in the home, they are generally get on well together, but they would think nothing of chasing any other cats they come across. Because they have such a strong instinct to round things up, they might start to herd other pets and smaller animals, as such care has to be taken whenever they are around them.
The average life expectancy of a Welsh Collie is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Welsh Sheepdog Society was only established in 1997 and as such not many puppies have been registered which in short, means that as yet it is hard to say whether the breed is affected by any hereditary or congenital health issues. With this said, all stud dogs should be health checked before they are used in any breeding programme to ensure that Welsh Collies remain a pure and healthy breed.
As with any other breed, Welsh Collies need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The grooming needs of a smooth-coated Welsh Collie's are far less than that of a longer haired dog. A weekly brush is all it takes to keep things tidy and to remove any dead and loose hair from a dog's coat. A dog with a longer coat would need more frequent brushing to prevent any knots and tangles from forming in their coats. Welsh Collies are often allergic to fleas so it's important to make sure that preventive treatments are always kept up to date.
Welsh Collies shed throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to keep on top of things. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Welsh Collie is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded and obedient dogs. They need a minimum of 2 hour's exercise a day and ideally even more. This has to include as much off the lead time as possible so dogs can really express themselves. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Welsh Collie would quickly get bored and develop some destructive behaviours around the home.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a much longer and more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these high energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Welsh Collie puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Welsh Collie puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Welsh Collie, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred puppy.
The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Welsh Collie in northern England would be £19.44 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.75 a month (quote as of July 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Welsh Collie and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Welsh Collie would be between £70 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree or other puppy.
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