Old Time Scotch Collies are growing in popularity as a breed.
You might wonder how they differ from rough collies, English Shepherds, or other herding breeds. What is the breed profile? What makes them unique? 220 Old Time Scotch Collies were entered into a form by their owners. There were several questions, some open-ended and some were yes/no. The results can be seen below. As a breeder, I found the information incredibly interesting and valuable. I was able to identify trends within the breed, as well as a larger view of where these dogs are living, what they are doing, and how their health is. Here are some details about the information sample: -220 OTSC's were submitted from a wide variety of breeders all across the U.S. (not every person answered every single question, but the number of submissions is listed on the data for each question) -Age Range: <1 year - 16 years, Median Age: 3 years
Let's review the results!
QUESTION #1: DOES YOUR DOG DO ANY FORMAL THERAPY WORK?
While many OTSC offer emotional support and non-formal therapy work, only 5% of those surveyed serve in a formal therapy role.
The diversity of the breed allows them to thrive in therapy and companion roles as well as herding and traditional farm work. A shrewd breeder will carefully place their puppies in the home and environment where they can thrive considering the temperament of the puppy and the owner's needs.
*Photo of Grant's Caledonia of Summerside Farms receiving her AKC CGC award
QUESTION #2: HOW VOCAL IS YOUR OTSC? (Barking, whining, etc)
I get this question a lot as a breeder. The spread of vocality in these results indicates that you can expect about 80% chances your dog will be at least moderately vocal. Many owners appreciate how their OTSC keeps them alerted to danger or anything "different" going on.
QUESTION #3: DOES YOUR OTSC ENJOY SWIMMING/BATHING?
If this were up to my dogs, it would be a hard and fast NOPE. I'm excited to find that some enjoy swimming and most like to occasionally swim, making them wonderful adventure companions. OTSC do not need bathed as frequently as most breeds as their coat is one of their defining attributes known as "teflon" or "self-cleaning", it seems impervious to dust, mud, and dirt, however, the skunks tend to leave a lingering impression. The OTSC coat is perfect for outdoor work and a variety of weather conditions.
QUESTION #4: DOES YOUR OTSC LIVE ON A FARM?
Because of the versatility of the breed, owners are drawn in for various reasons. Ultimately, the collie of old thrived as the perfect homestead dog - able to herd a variety of animals and lay by your feet at night. Many breeders are concerned about losing this aspect of their nature, as it could change the breed if lost entirely. More than half of the OTSC entered into the form live on farms, and I would venture to say that many who live on farms didn't get entered as their owners aren't active on social media.
*Photo of Grant's Bonnie of Summerside Farms as a pup, a perfect addition to our farm
QUESTION #5: DOES YOUR OTSC EXHIBIT HERDING INSTINCTS?
In some ways, this is THE question. In my previous blog posts regarding heritage breeds, I discuss the importance of preserving the original purposes of different breeds, and the changes in human lifestyle that threaten those purposes. I was very happy to see these results. There is certainly a "back to basics" trend that is creating a resurgence of the homestead, and these dogs are perfect for covering a wide variety of needs on the farm. Finding jobs for them to do is easy, and a necessity for such an intelligent and perceptive breed. I will post in the future regarding ways to nurture the herding instinct in your OTSC, so follow along if you own one! If you are shopping for an OTSC or considering the breed, please be aware that they will likely have some level of a herding instinct and it will be a burden (for both you and the dog) if you do not have the time or energy to engage this trait.
QUESTION #6: WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE QUALITY IN YOUR OTSC?
There were several really sweet answers. Some were repeats, so here is the condensed list followed by some of the answers that really stood out and showed the diversity of the breed. According to their owners, OTSC are…
Calm, Loving, Loyal, Smart, Involved, Helpful farm-hands, Intuitive, Confident, Watchdogs/Alert, Protective, Companions, Displaying Herding Instinct, Nurturing/Caring for Children, Resilient, Versatile, Friendly, Desiring to be involved, Controlling small pests, Fun and Easy to Train The following were some individual responses:
*Photo of the very first Summerside Farms' litter
QUESTION #7: HAS YOUR OTSC HAD ANY HEALTH DIAGNOSES? The vast majority had no health issues or diagnoses, but of the responses that did have issues or concerns, they were notably the following: -Lyme disease and tick-borne illness, allergies, & some GI issues
The median age of the dogs is 3, so it’s a relatively young sample, but overall, I was very pleased to see so many healthy dogs with only 2 reported cases of cancer. Health is so heavily influenced by many factors, but to see recurring issues across a breed is a concern. With most breeds, there are specific ailments that they consistently develop- I have not personally seen this with OTSC, and this was refreshing feedback.
QUESTION #8: HOW WELL DOES YOUR OTSC GET ALONG WITH OTHER DOG BREEDS?
About 80% of OTSC got along very well (#5) or just under very well (#4) with only a tiny percentage not reporting as getting along well. Many of the OTSC I have met have lived in situations with other breeds with no issues. On our farm our OTSC and our LGD's play together and live peaceably.
QUESTION #9: HOW QUICKLY DOES YOUR OTSC SEEM TO PICKUP ON NEW COMMANDS OR INFORMATION?
Almost 90% of owners reported their OTSC as picking up on new commands or information "Very Quickly" (#5) or just under Very Quickly by selecting #4. Intelligence was also noted repeatedly on the question of what their OTSC's most valuable quality is. This breed is special because they often perceive their owner's needs, they problem solve even the most complicated farm issues, and aim to please. It's in their "eyes", as many OTSC totally understand. I'd say my favorite quality of my dogs is the attention and focus they give me that makes training a breeze and a delight.
*Photo of the very first Summerside Farms' litter
QUESTION #10: IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR OTSC THAT WAS OUTSIDE OF YOUR EXPECTATION OF THE BREED? (NEGATIVE OR POSITIVE) The positives far outweighed the negatives, but there were some good things to be aware of on the "negative" list. Some of it is owner preference, to which I would recommend asking very specific questions of any breeder from whom you plan to get a puppy from and be clear about your needs and expectations up front. When I got our male puppy from his breeder, I ensured that he had a low prey drive as our poultry is all free range and it's a must that our OTSC protect and don't chase them. Also, the shedding is no joke, so get a good vacuum! Some positives: - More fun than I expected! - Better than I could have imagined - He LOVES children and babies
- Calmer than I expected - He knows what I'm feeling at all times!
- I researched thoroughly, but was still astounded at how smart he is! Some negatives:
- Can be pretty vocal - High prey drive
- Can be reactive to passers-by
- The shedding was more than I expected Finally, I gave owners space to add about their experience with OTSC, and here are a couple of those responses:
-I absolutely love this breed and hope all breeders do everything in their power to maintain a genetically diverse and healthy population going forward. -The coat is easy to take care of, mud and water just run off and she dries quickly. And when she blows her coat it is over and done -I absolutely love him, and he has won my family over to dogs-we've had cats the last 20 years and they were hesitant about getting a dog as our interactions with other breeds were just okay. We love his silly, playful nature that matches our family's life style. My goal is to train him for therapy work with elementary students to give him a job. When I get another dog, it will also be an OTSC.
Thanks for reading, I hope you've found the information valuable and fun! Follow along on Facebook (@summerside) and subscribe to stay up to date on the development of our future litters.
*Photo of spring 2022 Summerside Farms' litter