Comparing Two Popular British Canines – Collies Are From Venus – Yorkies Are From Mars

(In Memoriam: Salvatore, a much loved sable Collie, 1993 – 2005)

When one looks at the various dogs of the United Kingdom, there is a remarkable diversity between breeds. For example, let us compare the classic rough collie to the feisty diminutive Yorkshire Terrier. Based on breed documentation and my experience, I will compare and contrast these two popular breeds in regard to history, standards, development, temperament., and needs. Granted, there are variations in individual personalities, and as a previous owner of three collies and the current owner of a Yorkie, my comments may be slightly biased. But never-the-less, I love all dogs – big and small – from Venus or Mars. I am even the proud owner of the popular tail-wagging board game “Dog-opoly!”

The rough collie dates back to the 1860s when Queen Victoria became infatuated with the beauty and intelligence of these Scottish sheep herding dogs. These beautiful dogs were bred for family safety in addition to their working chores of herding sheep. They are sure-footed and bright. Soon these gentle dogs became popular with the wealthy in Great Britain and America. These are the classic “Lassie” dogs later made famous by the stories of Eric Knight and the Lassie films produced by MGM in the 1940s.

The standard collie presents firm and strong with good balance. He is classified as a herding/working dog. The head appears large and angular, but when compared to the entire body, it appears light and proportionate. The ears are erect and tipped at the ends. In the deeply chiseled face are dark almond shaped eyes. The collie coat is abundant and varies in color from sable, tri-color (black, brown, white), blue merle, and white. The standard weight ranges from 69 to 75 pounds.

The toy Yorkshire Terrier also originated in the latter half of the 19th Century, in the Yorkshire mining area of England. In contrast to the collie, they were bred as a “ratter” to help rid the mines of vermin. The “Yorkie” is a well proportioned, compact, long-haired toy terrier. The head is small and rather flat on top with a small black nose, round dark eyes, and small erect ears. The tail is docked to a medium length and rises above the back. The coat varies with black, brown, and steel-blue colors. A very long silky coat is characteristic and separates the Yorkie from other toy breeds. Weight standards ranges from only 4-7 pounds in the adult.

When one compares the temperaments of these two British breeds, there are also striking differences. The collie is loyal, friendly, protective, cautious, hard working, and always eager to please. For example, during WWII, collies were used as messengers between the lines, but they did not have the temperament to be trained as “attack-on-demand” dogs. The Yorkie is fearless, adventuresome, impulsive, and sometimes difficult to train. Yorkies have attitude and are always ready to take on anything. Yorkies also like to bark, and bark, and bark. Collies are more reserved and seem to bark mainly when needed (someone falling down a well, trapped in a blazing building, etc.). Both breeds have a stubborn streak, but much more so in the Yorkshire Terrier. Both breeds enjoy daily exercise and play, but Yorkies demand a larger toy box! They always like to carry around a stuffed animal of some sort (when not barking). House training was much easier with the Collie taking usually less than a week.

The grooming requirements for both of these breeds are extensive. Due to the double coat (a course outer coat and a soft fluffy inner coat) of the collie, grooming requires daily brushing to prevent matting of the fur. Grooming aids include a fine-needle brush, comb, and a conditioning shampoo. The desirable long silky coat of the Yorkshire Terrier also requires constant care. Like the collie, daily brushing and regular combing keep the coat tangle free. A good conditioner is also recommended to keep the ends of the coat from becoming too fragile.

Each of these two British pets offer quite unique personas based on the development of each breed, the resulting temperament, and grooming needs. They both have a long history dating back to the mid-1800s. Although very different, both the collie and Yorkshire Terrier can provide years of enjoyment, company, and protection for the entire family.

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