The Australian dogs tend to too short and chunky, while many British dogs are very leggy and fine boned.
The British Type
There are several physical types of working Border Collie, all of which are correct and serve specific purposes, depending on terrain and type of stock to be worked. These are: the smooth coated, often prick eared, lightly boned and very fast “lurcher” or “fox collie” type which is an ancestor of the Smooth Collie, Kelpie and Australian Cattle Dog; the large, drop eared, heavy coated Northumbrian type, good for cattle, sheep and droving large flocks – requiring a bigger, powerful dog. These dogs are the major ancestor of the rough Collie, English Shepherd and Australian Shepherd. The pretty, little, foxy faced, fine boned, rough coated “Highland type” found on the islands, rocky shores and steep highland areas requiring a sure footed, fast, small dog which is the ancestor of the Sheltie. Recently, as a result of intensive linebreeding on Wiston Cap, a tall, athletic type with prick ears and a rough or medium coat has developed. These dogs are rather setter like in build, very fast and doing very well in herding trial work. In addition, there are many combinations in between.
The Australia Type
Many top working Border Collie stud dogs were exported to Australia and New Zealand, especially after World War I and before World War II. The blood of these important dogs was lost to the British working Border Collie. These studs were interbreed with females of a variety of types to include the German Coolie, Smithfield Bobtail, Collie and Lancashire Heeler due to a shortage of quality females. In those days it was also felt the male was the most important influence on the pups. the female being primarily a receptacle. The names of many females were not even mentioned in pedigrees, others were listed only as female from such and such station, and sometimes the breed was mentioned! The offspring of these matings became the foundation stock for the Australian Border Collie, Kelpie and Cattle Dog. A study of their pedigrees shows several key individuals in the ancestry of all three breeds to include such dogs as Bantry Girl. In the 1940s standards were drawn up for conformation of these breeds, and breeding for the show ring started. Show dogs of all three breeds are registered with the Australian National Kennel Council. The type of Border Collie the Australians selected for the show ring was the pretty little shaggy type. Due to influence of Lancash-ire Heelers and Smithfields, the Australian Border Collie has a blocky body, proportionately short legs, big domed skulls, very distinct stops and short muzzles. The Collie influence “improved” the thickness and length of the coat.
By the 1950s show type was pretty well set. Unfortunately, these dogs did not function too well as working dogs, since they couldn’t cover the vast spaces with their shorter legs, and had too much coat for the hot climate. As a result, they became primarily show dogs. Their temperaments are much more laid back than the working dogs, and they are intelligent and easily trained, which makes them a popular companion and obedience dog. The ranchers have continued over the years to import top working dogs from Scotland and register them with the Australian Sheep Dog Soci
ety (patterned after the International Sheep Dog Society). These dogs are bred strictly for working ability. Sheepdog trials are very popular and competitive just as they are here and in Britain. Many show breeders complain the “trialers” are breeding hyperactive, overly intense, oversized, long legged, smooth or medium coated dogs, with unmatched, prick or drop ears, and horror of horrors – too much white, split faces or blue eyes! One well known show breeder even recommend the tri- alers call “their” breed something else, but NOT a Border Collie!