Finding The Right Collie For You
If you are looking to purchase a Collie, I cannot stress enough the need to do research and make yourself a smart buyer and a smarter owner. Your Collie will thank you for it.
You have many choices when it comes to purchasing a Collie for you or your family. You can spend just a little time and purchase whatever is available from wherever you can find it, or you can spend a little more time researching the options available and gain confidence and security in your choice. Education will save time and heartache over the long run. Even though I only have dogs available on occasion, I want to give buyers as much information as possible and hopefully provide the tools for identifying a dedicated breeder.
Before purchasing a Collie, consider the option of adopting from a Rescue Organization. The Collie is not a breed that is routinely dumped or surrendered but if you want to give a Collie a second or third chance, I definitely recommend contacting a rescue organization to see what is available. Click here for more information on Collie rescue groups.
Any litter produced should be for the betterment of the breed. Some of the tools to accomplish that goal include registration with the American Kennel Club. The American Kennel Club has served as the oldest and most respected breed registry in the United States. This registry records lineage on each breed and partners with each Parent Club to establish a written standard on the characteristics of each breed. For Collies, our parent club is the Collie Club of America (www.collieclubofamerica.org). The Collie Club of America has put together a great primer on the Collie and more information can be found here.
There are other registries within the US that may be offered with a supposedly 'purebred' dog however research those organizations to determine if they really add any legitimacy to your purchase.
Consider rescue (click HERE for a list of organizations). There may be loving Collies waiting to find homes again. Should you decide on either a rescue or the purchase of a new puppy/adult, there are crucial questions you should be prepared to ask yourself and the breeder or group you obtain a Collie from.
So, will it be an Adult or a Puppy?
Whether it is a rescue or a purchase from a breeder, you need to decide which will best fit into your household and your future plans.
There are many, many articles and much has been written in helping people find their pets. The only thing I would add is to stress the importance of staying away from pet stores that offer animals that are not part of a rescue organization or humane society/shelter. Any pet store that is selling purebred non-rescue dogs is not acting in the interest of the dog. They are simply puppy mill outlets. Do not fall victim to the sales pitch on quality and health.
I do not know of any National or Regional Breed Club that condones a pet shop market. If a member is found selling to this type of store, they are usually ousted from the club. The ONLY exception to considering a pet store puppy is the store owner who also breeds and shows his own stock...and just happens to extend his work into a pet shop. This owner will be very aware of the lure of the "impulse purchase" and will take extra steps to make sure that you really are the right home for one of his/her dogs. These dogs may spend their day at the store, however they are taken home at the end of the day. This type of situation, however, is few and far between.
It will probably be very difficult to obtain health information on an adopted animal. Exhaust all of the sources but realize that the best planning and awareness does not account for Murphy's Law....whether it be for an adopted dog or a purchase from a breeder things can go wrong even with the best planning and the most background.
If you are buying a purebred Collie puppy, require eye checks for CEA (Collie Eye Anomaly), some type of health guarantee, and as much detail on the pup's ancestor's as possible. Seeing as much of the family is always a good idea, but realize that the stud dog may be clear across the country in which case photos and the name and address of the stud dog owner is recommended. Again, education is your best defense. Visit my HEALTH page for more detailed information.
Be prepared for it to be expensive whether you choose to adopt or purchase. Do not assume that your adopted dog will be inexpensive to maintain since you will probably not have information on the health history. Many rescue groups have an "adoption" fee which can run hundreds of dollars and covers the medical maintenance that the dog may have needed during the time it was rescued. The advantage to an adopted dog is that the majority do not cost any more than usual to maintain, and will often allow a family with limited income to enjoy the companionship that a dog can offer. It will also be very satisfying to give a dog a second (or third) chance at a new life.
Be prepared to spend anywhere from $800 to $2000 for a quality Collie that is not intended for showing or breeding (this cost will often vary according to location and age). Show prospects will average $800 to several thousands of dollars depending on age and show history. A show prospect does not mean that it will be a show dog, but that at the time of the sale, the dog shows considerable signs of quality and continuing improvement. In addition to the initial investment, sometimes the best laid plans go to ruin and an unexpected genetic or environmental crisis hits. The advantage to choosing a well bred dog is that selective breeding has attempted to retain the best attributes of the Collie while reducing the likelihood of a major health problem. You also should have access to the breeder's knowledge and help should something unexpected happen.
I have heard the argument that some people feel that paying a lot for a dog is 'unfair' and doesn't take into account the money that will be spent for the care of the dog through its' lifetime. On the contrary, when buying from a breeder, a buyer often does not realize that a great deal of money has already been invested in the dog by the breeder before that dog is ever offered for sale. Not only does the breeder have the 'usual' costs of raising a dog, but a breeder needs to take everyday care to a higher level. A breeder working to improve stock also incurs costs for medical screening of parents and siblings, incurs costs for competition to evaluate dogs against the standard, attends seminars and shows to increase knowledge, and often makes specific life choices on what home to buy, what car to drive, and sometimes what job to take that has the best work/dog life balance. A breeder may maintain several dogs into adulthood but ultimately choose only one to carry on the line based on health, temperament, and quality. Many traits and health certifications can only be determined a year or more down the road. This is above and beyond the traditional costs to raise a litter which can include stud fees, time off work, vaccines, quality food, wormers, whelping supplies, etc. A well bred puppy is the product of a lot of time, effort, and money invested by the breeders over many generations.
Consider the purchase of the dog over the expected course of the dogs' lifetime. As an example, a puppy costing $1200 with a reasonable life expectancy of 10 years is $120 a year or $10 a month! You can easily spend more a month buying Lattes than your investment in your Collie companion. The purchase of your dog will be the smallest expense when compared to dog food, vet care etc. But, if research is not done up front and health and temperament valued, costs beyond the purchase price are likely to increase.
Rough or Smooth?
One of the most wonderful aspects about this breed is the availability of two coat types. For some, the care that is involved for the rough variety can be daunting. The smooth may be the answer as you get all the Collie for half the work. For others, there can be no match for the elegance and image of the rough collie and the extra grooming becomes a bonding time for owner and dog. Both varieties shed the same (it just varies in volume), and for the most part the temperaments are the same, although smooth owners often testify that their variety has a unique outlook on life.
For the show hopeful, the smooth Collie is often the introduction of choice. The number of points required for winning is directly related to the number of dogs registered with the AKC, therefore it takes a win over many more roughs to get the points than Smooths. This doesn't mean that a smooth win is "cheap" or "easy". A good dog will rise to the top the majority of the time, regardless of coat. Remember, it just takes one dog to beat yours and take the points! It is often easier for the newcomer to start with a smooth as the pressure in competition is different. It is much easier to feel confident in a ring of five than in a ring of twenty five, not to mention you are usually going to be hauling around less grooming materials and spend less time brushing and blowing.
What is the difference between a Companion and a Show/Performance dog?
Tercan Companion Collies – Puppies or adults that are available as companions receive the same care and attention as those destined for the show and performance rings. This means they are familiar with grooming, traveling, and other dogs and people (varies by age of the Collie). All of the same medical care, food, and love applies to all puppies. Companion puppies may be show quality themselves however there are no requirements or conditions for showing with placement as I know that the pursuit of a title is not the goal of every owner. Companion puppies may have slight conformation differences that are farther from the ‘ideal’ but in a day to day life, make no difference in their role as a loved family member. If you are curious about what separates a companion from a show or performance prospect, please feel free to ask.
Tercan Show/Performance Collies - Puppies or adults that are available for show and/or performance homes are raised as companions first, show dogs second. Conformation show prospects are placed based on whether they deserve to finish and stand as a quality example of the breed. Not all Champions are created equal and while not every Collie may have the opportunity to shine in the ring, I want to produce a Collie that truly deserves the title. Performance prospects must be especially sound in structure and temperament to pursue the challenges of the sport.
I Want a Show Dog
There are two ways to look at a dog....one you would want to show and win with, and one you would want in your breeding program. Ideally, they should be one and the same, however some of the best producers either never saw the show ring or took such a dislike to it that it was a waste of time to try. A litter bred with the hope of show prospects may only have one or two serious candidates for show dogs. Some litters may have more, sometimes a litter will not produce anything of note. A breeder’s job should be to evaluate a litter with an extremely critical eye. It can be difficult to acknowledge that a litter produced with high hopes and judicious planning resulted in dogs that do not offer virtues to either the show ring or to future generations as breeding stock. In reality, not every litter works out and I would question if a breeder claims otherwise.
For the show dog, you can then get into physical specifics however your personal specifics will vary and must be balanced against the degree of fault or excellence. There is much more to evaluating a show puppy that can be put here and it is necessary that you work with an experienced exhibitor and breeder for more information. For the breeding prospect, the stakes are raised due to the health considerations. This is also where so many fanciers go different directions. A health priority for one breeder will be different for another breeder. Research to find a breeder that aligns with your own ethical standards in health and quality.
I am not interested in a show dog…why should I pay show dog prices?
Breeders focused on show stock are holding themselves to a higher standard in terms of breed quality and type. The goal of a show dog breeder is to produce the best representative possible based on the written standard for the breed put out by the Collie Club of America (click HERE to review the standard). We don’t want to just produce ‘a Collie’…we want to produce the perfect Collie. We will employ science and education to get there investing in health testing, and seminars to hone our skills. We will take the proof of our efforts to the show ring where judges determine how close or how far we are from the mark. None of this is cheap. None of this is free. None of this is easy. None of this is guaranteed. We will have litters where everything goes right and others where everything goes wrong. We will spend thousands on a breeding but end up without a pregnancy, or have the litter die, or in some cases even to lose the dam to something unforeseen.
I do understand that sometimes it feels frustrating to just want a ‘good dog’ without paying for a show dog or breeding quality dog. My investment in time and money in a litter does not change based on the different family life of each puppy. Nothing is skimped just because the puppy may not end up in the show ring or whelping box. My goal is to control and mitigate the potential for health issues for the lifetime of the dog. Some of these issues science is allowing us to test, some we cannot (yet), but all require diligence, hard choices, and they come at a cost.
When looking at the purchase price of a well-bred dog, consider the work that has gone into that dog for generations. The purchase of the dog is the least expensive part of owning that dog! Make that purchase count – buy from a breeder who is health testing and working to keep the Collie correctly built, mentally sound, and conforming to the breed standard.
Prices do not change between companion or show/performance prospects nor are special prices charged for males or females or for specific colors. They are all treated and raised the same and are equally priced. Tercan Collies are not kennel raised and will expect to be a part of your family.
Looking for a dog can be an emotional and exciting time. I would recommend going to shows and local all breed and collie club meetings to make contacts and learn those little things that no one can seem to remember to put in books. A "cooling off" period is always a good idea after visiting that bouncing litter of collie puppies. You have plenty of time to find the right dog. You will be living with your choice for many years to come...so make it wisely.