The Science of Collie Genetics

Have you ever ever puzzled in regards to the ancestry of the Collie? I actually have, so I used to be delighted when College of Arizona Professor Felice L. Bedford contacted me asking if I’d be taken with posting her article about Collies’ genetic origins on Collie Chatter. Naturally, I stated, “Sure, please!”

Her phrases supply rationalization for why many breeds appear so comparable. The relation between Tough Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs might not be surprising, since many individuals already discuss with Shelties as “miniature Collies.” (Not fairly true, however not far 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


Anybody who is aware of their breed historical past could already bear in mind that Collies had been initially extra of a “kind” earlier than settling into a number of separate breeds. In truth, the primary Collies to look at a British canine present in 1870 had been divided into classes of rough-coated collies (at this time’s Tough Collies), smooth-coated collies (now referred to as Easy 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 family? If not, preserve studying and put together to be enlightened. Even if you happen to’re a breed aficionado, the extra distant Collie “cousins” could shock 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

By Felice L. Bedford

Latest analysis on the genetics of canine breeds finds new data pertaining to the origins of our favourite furry pal, the Collie.

The Collie’s closest genetic relative is the Shetland Sheepdog. This will come as no shock to you, as a result of the Shetland wears the identical luxurious fur coat because the Tough Collie. Nevertheless, a lot of these overlapping traits typically develop into superficial, arising independently in several breeds which can be unrelated to at least one one 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 appears to be like like Lassie, however extra travel-size PC: Deborah Frias, USA


13 further breeds are discovered to be in the identical genetic clade because the Collie. The closest cluster consists of the Australian Shepherd, Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Border Collie, Kelpie, Bearded Collie, Australian Cattle Canine, and the Previous English Sheepdog. Which means that each single Collie, Shetland, Corgi and so forth on the planet shares a typical canine ancestor who lived only a few hundred years in the past, very like the way you share a great-great-grandparent from the 1800s along with your cousins. A couple of hundred years may be very latest in canine historical past in comparison with the preliminary domestication from wolves greater than 10,000 years in the past.

Beside maybe a herding intuition, do breeds of the Collie clan have anything in frequent from all their shared genetic variants? The extra distant members of the UK rural clade (the official title of the Collie clan), for instance, Greyhound, Scottish Deerhound, and Borzoi, are particularly thought-provoking. Shared genes can produce frequent behaviors, bodily options, ailments, or simply be a silent remnant of frequent geographic origin. Nobody has actually delved into that query but for this large fifteen-member clan. Maybe the subsequent time you might be lacking a dose of Collie, you’ll be able to strive taking part in with, say, a Scottish Deerhound and see if something 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 Stunning Mirrahcle PC: Luvadeer Deerhounds


In a presentation of the “Family tree of Canines” 60 years in the past, earlier than trendy genotyping was potential, there have been as an alternative stated to be three siblings of the Collie on the “household tree of 114 canine breeds,” the German Shepherd canine (now identified to be distant), the Briard (additionally distant), and the Previous English Sheepdog (stays an in depth cousin). Curiously although, the German Shepherd canine does have a notable relation to the Collie; it seems every is linked to the Australian Shepherd. This was discovered utilizing a sort of genetic comparability that I prefer to name Six Levels of Lassie, named after the sport Six Levels of Kevin Bacon.

As with the connection to the German Shepherd canine, essentially the most attention-grabbing findings in regards to the Collie from genetic analyses could come from the Six Levels of Lassie comparisons to breeds from different clades. A fortunate Collie (or Shetland Sheepdog) was a founding father of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Thus, Collie’s genes reside on in each member of that breed. As well as, intriguingly, the Collie shares a genetic variant with a really new breed of canine, the Chinook, and sure the very historic uncommon breed, Xoloitzcuintli. The thriller of how gene movement 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


Concerned about fixing this and different Collie capers? DNA tests for dogs are now available commercially similar to the favored checks for those that use saliva to discern genetic ancestry. Genetic checks can embody autosomal DNA, the vast majority of DNA inherited from each mother and father, in addition to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that you simply and your pup get solely out of your respective human and canine mothers. I’ve began extending my human mtDNA research due largely to my plain 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


By Felice L. Bedford, Ph.D.
Reprinted from the publication of Collie Rescue Basis of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Winter 2020. Copyright to F. Bedford, all rights reserved ©. Contact Felice L. Bedford for permission to reprint or with any questions, feedback, or curiosity. All footage had been submitted by Collie Chatter readers until in any other case indicated and don’t seem within the authentic printing of this text. All hyperlinks are additionally an addition by Collie Chatter.

Felice L. Bedford is a professor on the College of Arizona and creator of the e book All Cab Drivers Look Alike: The science of changing perception through experience. Analysis pursuits embody perceptual studying, notion and properly being, genetics in ancestry and well being, mindfulness, and lately coronavirus. She acquired 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 (World 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 Reveal the Affect of Geographic Origin, Migration, and Hybridization on Trendy Canine Breed Improvement. Cell Rep. 19, 697–708.