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For centuries in the UK, dogs have been used to help shepherds tend to large flocks of sheep. The Welsh Collie or Sheepdog was selectively shaped to undertake this job utilising its speed, agility, intelligence, stamina and manoeuvrability to help the shepherd in all weather and on all terrain. Its technique of flock control varies from that of the Border Collie. Called 'loose eye' they do not fix their eye directly on their flock and can also work very independently.
Believed to have been established in the 19th century, the Welsh Collie was developed in Wales, as the name suggests. Working collies in Scotland and England were crossbred with local native Welsh breeds to form this breed. The Welsh Sheepdog Society was formed in 1997.
Average height to withers: There is no set height, but there are usually a little taller than a Border Collie.
Average weight: Weight should be in proportion to height.
Welsh Collies are generally medium-sized dogs, usually with a double coat which can vary from slick and fine to wavy and course. They come in many colours, although traditionally black and white with the white blaze, collar and legs is the most recognisable. Tricolour (black/tan/white or sable and white), red or chocolate and white, and red tricolour (red/tan/white) are also found, with other colours such as lilac, red and blue merle and brindle occur. They tend to have longer legs than their Border Collie cousins, and are often described as 'racier' than them The long legs give them the ability to cover boggy and harsh terrain equally well.
As these dogs are generally bred for intelligence and ability to work, the general conformation can vary - any famer will tell you what determines a Welsh Collie is not what he looks like but what is in his head.
The working nature of Collies makes them a demanding dog to own as a pet, and one in which the owner must be someone who can invest time and energy in the dog and who likes to walk a lot! If the owner is prepared for this and understands the needs of their Welsh Collie, they will get a lot more out of their pet.
As a dog bred to be a work and herd, the instinct to work is one which the domestic owner will neglect at their own peril; however, when their desire to work is acted on coupled with the correct training and stimulation, even in a domestic setting, they can thrive. The owner of one of these dogs will need to invest considerable time into its stimulation and they are the perfect dog to undertake many canine sports including herding, flyball, agility and obedience.
The average lifespan of a healthy Welsh Collie is around 15 years. They are very hardy animals but can suffer from Hip Dysplasia. (HD) can affect all breeds of dog but is more prevalent in some breeds than others. It is caused by the abnormal formation of the hip ball and socket joint. Normally the ball would form a pivot point in the socket; however, some dogs are born with a genetic predisposition for HD. This means that at birth their hips are normal but as they grow, the hip joint does not grow correctly and as a result the ball no longer fits as it should. After the age of a year or so, the owner can opt to have their dog 'hip scored'. Hip scoring is a method used by vets to determine the degree of HD in dogs and involves the vet assessing a number of criteria during a diagnostic examination. If the dog is then found to have a high probability of HD, remedial action can be taken.
Like its Border Collie cousin, the Welsh Collie can often be allergic to fleas and as a result, proper care of its coat and skin is paramount. Regular brushing will not only keep the coat is tip top condition, but will also give you the chance to look for signs of flea infestation. Do not over shampoo and only use when necessary.
As mentioned previously, it is imperative this breed is provided with enough and suitable exercise and mental stimulation because, ultimately a bored Welsh Collie will not make a good pet.