CCA Judges Education Committee 2003
develop a clear mental picture of correct Collie type
an in-depth study of the Standard, attendance at breedspecific
seminars, and observation of judging in quality entries
[such as the National Specialty] definitely provide a
sound beginning. Interaction with qualified, articulate
mentors will bring you closer to establishing a clear
mental image of ideal type and an appreciation of the
virtues that are treasured by those breeders with long
experience in our breed.
is what makes a particular animal look like a Collie.
Correct Collie type should be apparent as the dogs enter
the ring. Your first impression will be in silhouette
from across the ring as the dogs are “showing” for their
handlers. Which ones immediately grab your attention as
having correct Collie proportions? The Collie is not square,
but slightly longer than tall. From this first glimpse
you can also find the ones who appear elegant, lithe,
responsive, and active. Paramount in this initial evaluation
should be two elements that the Collie Standard breathes
in each paragraph - balance and harmony.
the first impression one of a proud, impressive dog
carrying no useless timber?
- Does the head profile show lightness and cleanness with
parallel planes, without hint of depth?
- Is the neck fairly long with a slight arch at the nape,
contributing to the proud, upstanding appearance?
- Does the topline of the body appear level with a slight
rise over the loin?
- Are the elbows set well under the body with the head
well forward of the withers and well above the level
of the back?
- Does the chest extend to the elbow?
- Do the hindquarters place the rear feet just behind
an imaginary line dropped from the pin bone to the ground,
and does the dog exhibit well-bent stifles and well-let-down
- Is the croup well-rounded and does it continue the graceful
curves of the outline?
- Is the tail of a pleasing length to complete the picture?
- In Smooths, does the coat appear short, hard, and flat,
allowing a clear view of the natural outline?
- In Roughs, does the coat, which is the crowning glory,
appear abundant, straight, and harsh and is it wellfitted,
enhancing the beauty of the overall picture?
walk down the line is now in order as you assess the qualities
of expression. Expression is the most distinctive feature
of the Collie and perhaps the most difficult to describe.
Key words are sweet, bright, alert, intelligent, and quizzical.
Once you have seen correct and beautiful expression, you
will never forget it, and those dogs who come closest
to the best optical illustration will certainly stand
out from the others.
the eyes set obliquely into a well-chiseled foreface?
- Is the eye dark, almond shaped, and of medium size,
not round, light, and prominent or small, hard, and
- Are the ears drawn well up on the skull with a fourth
tipping forward when the dog is alert?
- Does the combination of these characteristics along
with a well-rounded muzzle, a clean, flat skull, and
correct ears create a clear, bright appearance and an
expression of “intelligent inquisitiveness”?
all of this is pleasing, the Collie on first impression
is “typical” and can be considered to be within the guidelines
set by the Standard. And now - how does this Collie move
around the ring? Side gait is the true test of the balance
and fit of its individual parts.
the Collie move as a unit, not dissolving in a mass
of unrelated pieces?
- As it covers ground, does the Collie do so in an effortless
manner, showing speed and endurance?
- Does the topline remain steady, the tail carried confidently
but not curled over the back?
- Do the four legs move in correct tempo, carrying the
Collie over the ground with grace and efficiency?
- Do the front legs extend freely with no extra lift or
- Do the rear legs exhibit a propelling stride that provides
the dog has been taught to move on a loose lead at a moderate
speed to display his herding heritage at its best. Key
words here are smooth, efficient, effortless, and ground-covering.
It is possible to have soundness without type, but you
cannot have type without soundness. An untypical Collie
that is sound is useless while a typical Collie that is
sound is priceless.
now you will have begun to assess temperament as well
as physical qualities. Which dogs show the proud picture
of true balance, displaying no signs of timidity, frailness,
lack of animation, or a cumbersome appearance? The dog
who projects naturally elegant carriage is highly desirable
in a Collie.
individual exam should begin with the head. When viewed
from both front and side, your first impression should
be a long, lean, well-blunted wedge. You can’t really
judge a Collie without putting your hands on its head,
and that means more than a “good dog” pat as you pass
from the bite to the body. As you lay your hands lightly
on the head, keep in mind the importance the Collie Standard
places on head qualities.
the muzzle smooth and round and are the cheekbones flat
to the touch without flaring?
- Is the underjaw well-finished and do the teeth meet
in a scissors bite?
- Are the muzzle and skull equal in length?
- Are the planes parallel? Be sure to check for excessive
depth from brow to the throatline.
- Is the stop very slight but perceptible?
- Is the center of the stop at the inner corner of the
- Is the backskull as flat to the touch as it appears
from a distance? Hair can play funny tricks and ears
drawn at attention can disguise a skull that recedes
to the back or side.
- Is the eye placed obliquely and chiseled into the foreface
to give it a forward outlook?
- Is the eye dark, almond shaped, and of medium size?
completing a thorough examination of the body you next
consider the coming and going soundness. Send the dogs
down and back, seeking those whose legs converge and single
track as speed increases. The Collie should be evaluated
standing naturally after coming to a stop. Ask the handler
to take a step forward if you have a
question about the dog’s static balance or stance. Now
send the dog around again to remind yourself of his side
this point you will have made mental note of the dogs
who possess the best type and soundness. Now it is a matter
of sorting through this final cut to find the best of
the best, always keeping in mind the Collie Standard’s
emphasis on correct head and expression. Don’t hesitate
to have your final contenders face you to compare expression,
which is often a key deciding factor in top competition.
summary, what we really value is an overall picture of
a balanced, elegant, confident dog who is put together
correctly, who can move effortlessly, and who possesses
the essential beauty of breed type. What distinguishes
the Collie from any other breed are his head properties,
especially the eye, ear, and the typical expression. Without
these qualities you have just an ordinary dog and with
them you have one of the most majestic breeds imaginable.
Education Selected Bibliography
ABOUT COLLIES Patricia Starkweather, 1980, Craftsman
Printing, Birmingham, Ala.
COLLIE CHAMPIONS Vol. 1-5, Collie Club of America,
COLLIE Dr. O.P. Bennett (various editions), Washington,
CONCEPT Mrs. George (Bobbee) Roos, Alpine Publications,
DOG IN ACTION McDowell Lyon, Howell Book House, 1988
OF THE COLLIE Trudy B. Mangels, 1971
MAGNIFICENT COLLIE Patricia Starkweather with John
Buddie, Doral Publishing Co., 1997
NEW COLLIE Collie Club of America, Howell Book House,
NEW DOGSTEPS Rachel Page Elliott, Howell Book House
YEARBOOKS Collie Club of America (various years)
the two-page guide, Judging the Collie (44k/PDF)