• Dogs of SCOTLAND (part 1 – Gundog & Pastoral)

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    November 7th, 2011Laura P (Editor)Dogs Of The World

    Every November, The Kennel Club hosts Discover Dogs at Earls Court in London. This is an opportunity for dog lovers to attend seminars and demonstrations, socialise, do some shopping, and, most importantly, meet and greet almost 200 different breeds of pedigree dog.

    In association with his event, and the Discover Dogs stands at Crufts in March, Dogs In The News aims to give you a brief preview of some of the dogs you might meet with our new “Dogs of the World” series. Today, Scottish dogs get the spotlight:

    Scotland is a prolific producer of some of the world’s most popular breeds. They can lay claim to a total of 14 breeds. Today we will look at their Gundog & Pastoral Breeds. Click the link to our tribute to Scotland’s Terriers & Hounds.

    One of the most universally recognised dog breeds is the Golden Retriever. And, although America, Canada and England can all claim to have contributed to this breed’s ancestry and development, Scotland is the country that started it all. This plucky, attractive chap is beloved by families the world over for his steady temperament, dark facial features, and soft golden coat. He is also a popular gun and working dog, and has starred in many feature films. This breed was originally recognised by the Kennel Club as “Flat Coats – Golden”, but has been known as the Golden Retriever, or ‘Goldie’ since the 1920s.

    The other Scottish Gundog is the Gordon Setter, named after the Duke of Gordon. The Gordon Setter is a handsome fellow in black & tan, heavier set than his English and Irish cousins. He predates the Goldie as a hunting dog; his job was to “set” upon animals (smell them out, show the hunters where they were and then scare them out of hiding) rather than retrieve the animal once it was down. Unfortunately, the rise of the gun meant the decline of the Gordon and he is now one of the rarer Scottish breeds.

    But not as rare as the Smooth Collie, the first of many Pastoral breeds which originated in Scotland. Much less common than his hairy cousin (see below), the Smooth Collie is identical to the Rough except in his lack of coat. This breed was popular with Queen Victoria and so was quite fashionable at one time, but sadly his numbers have now declined in favour of other breeds. However, anyone considering taking on one of these dogs would not be disappointed, as they are bright and quick to learn, and would make excellent agility stars or sheepdogs.

    Of course, we all recognise our next breed, the Rough Collie, from the eponymous Lassie film franchise. This Scottish breed was made famous by Hollywood for being loyal, brave and devoted – which is hardly far from the truth! The characteristic coat makes this handsome breed stand out from the crowd and they are well known the world over. Rough Collies are over 200 years old and were originally bred to herd sheep in the Scottish Highlands.  The name comes from the Gaelic word “càilean”, which means “doggie”.

    The Shetland Sheepdog, affectionately known as the ‘Sheltie’ by their fans, is another offshoot of Collie lineage. In theory, this breed should be a perfect miniature of the Rough Collie; the way the story goes is that settlers in the Shetland Isles bred their dogs (much like their ponies) in smaller sizes to better suit space available! Originally used for herding sheep, what these dogs lack in stature they more than make up for in personality. Today they are popular pets in cities and the countryside, and excel at mini agility and heelwork.

    This is a theme with Scottish breeds it seems, as our next breed has become practically synonymous with competitive agility. I am talking, of course, about the Border Collie. They also compete (and win) regularly at heelwork, flyball, obedience and, obviously, sheepdog trials. This breed is the true athlete of the canine world, and is never happier than when it when it has something to do which occupies both mind and body. Unfortunately, this need for constant exercise means that many are abandoned in rescue after being taken on by lazy owners.

    Finally, we have the Bearded Collie, the last of five Pastoral breeds to have come from Scotland. This dog, known for its long silky coat, was also bred to herd sheep, and to be hardy and reliable, able to stand up to the harshest conditions and the toughest sheep. It has a similar temperament to the Border Collie – these are dogs with active minds and they will make mischief if left to their own devices. It also has a nickname, being better known as the ‘Beardie’. The coat is high maintenance and will need brushing at least once a week, so think hard before you acquire one of these charming dogs.

    We hope you have enjoyed part one our little tour of the dogs of the Highlands and Islands.

    Don’t forget to check back soon for part two of the Dogs of Scotland feature: Terriers & Hounds!

    Plus, remember you can visit all these breeds and over 193 more at Discover Dogs at Earls Court in November and at Crufts in March every year. 

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