The Science of Collie Genetics

The Science of Collie Genetics

Have you ever ever questioned concerning the ancestry of the Collie? I for sure have, so I used to be thrilled when College of Arizona Professor Felice L. Bedford contacted me asking if I’d be all for posting her article about Collies’ genetic origins on Collie Chatter. Naturally, I stated, “Sure, please!”

Her phrases be offering reason behind why many breeds appear so equivalent. The relation between Tough Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs might not be surprising, since many of us already check with Shelties as “miniature Collies.” (Now not relatively true, however no longer a long way off both.)


A sable and white Shetland Sheepdog and a tricolor (black, white, and tan) Shetland Sheepdog pose beside a much larger sable and white Rough Collie
Tough Collie Matilda with Sheltie buddies Gemma (sable) and Corrie (tricolor) PC: Amber Starrs, Australia


Any person who is aware of their breed historical past would possibly already remember that Collies have been initially extra of a “sort” sooner than settling into a number of separate breeds. If truth be told, the primary Collies to look at a British canine display in 1870 have been divided into classes of rough-coated collies (nowadays’s Tough Collies), smooth-coated collies (now referred to as Clean Collies), and short-tailed collies (possible progenitors of recent Australian Shepherds).

However do you know that Collies have greater than 10 close to and near-ish relations? If no longer, stay studying and get ready to be enlightened. Although you’re a breed aficionado, the extra far away Collie “cousins” would possibly marvel you!


4 blue merle dogs lie in a green field: 2 Rough Collies, 1 Shetland Sheepdog, and 1 Australian Shepherd
Blue merle Tough Collies, Australian Shepherd, and Shetland Sheepdog. PC: Diesel & Sky, the Netherlands



Six Levels of Lassie: The Inhabitants Genetics of the Collie Canine

Through Felice L. Bedford

Contemporary analysis at the genetics of canine breeds reveals new knowledge touching on the origins of our favourite bushy buddy, the Collie.

The Collie’s closest genetic relative is the Shetland Sheepdog. This will likely come as no marvel to you, since the Shetland wears the similar sumptuous fur coat because the Tough Collie. Alternatively, a majority of these overlapping characteristics ceaselessly grow to be superficial, coming up independently in numerous breeds which might be unrelated to each other. On this case although, the bodily resemblance between the canines seems to be greater than fur deep.


A sable and white Sheltie with a Lassie facial blaze lies in the lap of her person, taking a kayak ride down a peaceful river
Clara the Sheltie looks as if Lassie, however extra travel-size PC: Deborah Frias, USA


13 further breeds are discovered to be in the similar genetic clade because the Collie. The nearest cluster is composed of the Australian Shepherd, Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Border Collie, Kelpie, Bearded Collie, Australian Livestock Canine, and the Previous English Sheepdog. Which means that each unmarried Collie, Shetland, Corgi and so forth on this planet stocks a not unusual dog ancestor who lived only a few hundred years in the past, just like the way you proportion a great-great-grandparent from the 1800s along with your cousins. A couple of hundred years could be very contemporary in canine historical past in comparison to the preliminary domestication from wolves greater than 10,000 years in the past.

Beside most likely a herding intuition, do breeds of the Collie extended family have anything in not unusual from all their shared genetic variants? The extra far away contributors of the United Kingdom rural clade (the reputable identify of the Collie extended family), as an example, Greyhound, Scottish Deerhound, and Borzoi, are particularly thought-provoking. Shared genes can produce not unusual behaviors, bodily options, illnesses, or simply be a silent remnant of not unusual geographic starting place. Nobody has in point of fact delved into that query but for this giant fifteen-member extended family. In all probability the following time you’re lacking a dose of Collie, you’ll check out enjoying with, say, a Scottish Deerhound and spot if anything else feels acquainted. Let me know!


A small young girl sits on the ground with her arms wrapped around a grey scottish deerhound lying on the groun
Kyrah hugs Australian Ch. Luvadeer A Gorgeous Mirrahcle PC: Luvadeer Deerhounds


In a presentation of the “Family tree of Canine” 60 years in the past, sooner than fashionable genotyping was once imaginable, there have been as an alternative stated to be 3 siblings of the Collie at the “circle of relatives tree of 114 canine breeds,” the German Shepherd canine (referred to now to be far away), the Briard (additionally far away), and the Previous English Sheepdog (stays a detailed cousin). Curiously although, the German Shepherd canine does have a notable relation to the Collie; it seems each and every is attached to the Australian Shepherd. This was once discovered the usage of a kind of genetic comparability that I love to name Six Levels of Lassie, named after the sport Six Levels of Kevin 1st Baron Beaverbrook.

As with the relationship to the German Shepherd canine, essentially the most fascinating findings concerning the Collie from genetic analyses would possibly come from the Six Levels of Lassie comparisons to breeds from different clades. A fortunate Collie (or Shetland Sheepdog) was once a founding father of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Thus, Collie’s genes survive in each member of that breed. As well as, intriguingly, the Collie stocks a genetic variant with an overly new breed of canine, the Chinook, and most likely the very historic uncommon breed, Xoloitzcuintli. The thriller of ways gene float happened has but to be utterly unraveled.


A red Toller with white paws leaps into a stream
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever PC: Andrew Howells Animal Images


Focused on fixing this and different Collie capers? DNA checks for canines are actually to be had commercially similar to the preferred checks for those that use saliva to discern genetic ancestry. Genetic checks can come with autosomal DNA, the vast majority of DNA inherited from each oldsters, in addition to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that you just and your doggy get best out of your respective human and dog mothers. I’ve began extending my human mtDNA research due largely to my simple adoration for the Collie.


A wet sable and white OTSC (Old Time Scotch Collie) jumps gleefully into a river
Ollie the Collie PC: Cindy Swistak – Michigan, USA


Through Felice L. Bedford, Ph.D.
Reprinted from the e-newsletter of Collie Rescue Basis of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Wintry weather 2020. Copyright to F. Bedford, all rights reserved ©. Touch Felice L. Bedford for permission to reprint or with any questions, feedback, or passion. All footage have been submitted by means of Collie Chatter readers until in a different way indicated and don’t seem within the authentic printing of this text. All hyperlinks also are an addition by means of Collie Chatter.

Felice L. Bedford is a professor on the College of Arizona and writer of the ebook All Cab Drivers Glance Alike: The science of adjusting belief via revel in. Analysis pursuits come with perceptual finding out, belief and neatly being, genetics in ancestry and well being, mindfulness, and lately coronavirus. She were given her levels from College of Pennsylvania and her Collie from New Jersey. She hopes to get a rescued Collie quickly.


a young woman in a black tank top and skirt poses beside a sable and white Collie, photo from circa 80s-90s
Felice L. Bedford and her earlier Collie Viking


Megargee, E. (1954). The Canine Dictionary (International Pub. Co).
Parker, H.G., Dreger, D.L., Rimbault, M., Davis, B.W., Mullen, A.B., Carpintero-Ramirez, G., and Ostrander, E.A. (2017). Genomic Analyses Expose the Affect of Geographic Starting place, Migration, and Hybridization on Trendy Canine Breed Building. Mobile Rep. 19, 697–708.

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