Do You Want a Dog JUST LIKE LASSIE?
After seeing Lassie live or seeing a Lassie movie or TV show, you might just come home wanting a Lassie of your very own. Before you go get that collie, learn about the breed and consider whether or not this breed is really right for you and your family. There is a lot of care and training involved and if you aren't willing to invest time training, grooming, exercising your dog and have enough money for food and vet care, you might be better off getting a plush Lassie to love.
What does it take to get a dog JUST LIKE LASSIE?
To start with, Lassie does not meet the AKC standard for breeding of collies. Lassie is bred larger than average so that a child actor can play opposite the dog for a longer time. So when you go to get a collie you will notice they are a little smaller than Lassie. AKC collies are 10-15 pounds lighter. You can see this standard, at the AKC page at: www.akc.org/collie.htm .
What is different between Lassie and most collies being bred today?
Lassie is a registered trademark, and that trademark requires the following:
a sable and white collie
4 white feet
a full white collar
a white blaze up the nose
Breeding to get this exact physical appearance is not an exact science. Collie color charts will tell us what color collie will produce the various coat colors, but it's up to nature whether or not these 4 components all come together. Lassie's owners and trainers have looked for similar physical characteristics to breed with Lassie when the time comes for a successor to be bred. But, many times the litters of pups have few, if any, candidates that have all 4 qualities. Sometimes they do have a blaze up the nose, but it is often lost over the first few weeks. So a puppy with a blaze may grow up to be an adult collie without one.
Collie breeders today are partial to the "no blaze" look and although it is not a penalty or fault in the show ring to have a blaze, you will usually find most collie breeders have few puppies that have the blaze. Some may have blazes now but could lose them as they become adults. Collie ears may look so cute but most need proper training as they grow to tip on the ends.. Also, did you know that collies come in four different colors? Sable, blue merle, tri-color and white! AND they come in two different coats! There is even a smooth collie! They all posess the same wonderful qualities Lassie is known for. Want to learn more about the collie? Click here for info from the Collie Club of America
The most critical part of getting a Lassie, other than physical appearance and health, is TRAINING!
Few people realize how much time, patience and work it takes to train Lassie. Lassie literally lives with Carol and is with her 24 hours a day. Training is constant and each time a command is learned, it is a building block on to another command, or series of commands. It takes a minimum of 1 1/2 to 2 years to prepare and train a puppy to take over for his father and to become the next Lassie! Lassie knows over 90 commands and many routines that involve a variety of commands together.
But I don't have 2 years, 24 hours per day!
Collies are VERY intelligent dogs that are easily trained. You can have a loving pet that is well trained without spending 24 hours a day for 2 years with your collie. You can even have a Lassie, IF you have the time, patience and techniques to train your collie. Most collie owners are quite happy to have a dog that knows basic obedience only, but still others are drawn to the show ring, agility, rally, obedience, therapy work in hospitals and more! You are only limited by the time, patience and training you give your collie!
But, don't expect that cute, adorable collie puppy to grow up like Lassie all by itself! You will wind up with a dog that is big, unruly and disobedient.
You can find out how to train your collie from local community organizations, and dog trainers in your area, and from books and tapes. "Lassie's Guide to a Family's Best Friend", by Ace Collins will teach you the basics, and some other fun stuff beyond that as well. Nothing works as well as a ADT trainer to teach you, as well as the dog, how to work together.
I want my collie to protect everyone in the family
Most dogs are protective of their families. Collies, being herding dogs by nature, will attempt to herd your family where it wants them to go, and there are plenty of stories of collies saving their families from harm. But some collies are big babies that want to be saved themselves! All breeds of dogs have difference personalities. When looking for a pup, remember the cute, shy one could grow up to be a loving pet but he might also become dependent on you for his protection! A lot depends on the training and socialization you give your pup and the amount of confidence he has. With the proper training, a shy dog, or an outgoing dog, will both become wonderful members of the family. But if you are expecting your collie to understand the English language, you will be very disappointed. Collies, like all breeds, know what they are taught. If you are caught in a bear trap and tell your dog to go get a C clamp from the garage, make sure you're taught him what a C clamp is, where the garage is, and that the C clamp is accessible or you will be waiting a long time!
I want a collie just like Lassie because his coat is so beautiful!
Lassie always looks beautiful because he is constantly groomed in front of the cameras. Even when Lassie is not working, he still needs to be brushed several times per week to keep his coat clean and tangle free. If you don't brush your collie, he gets matted and not only does he look terrible, sometimes the mats are so tight that the only answer to the problem is to shave off his hair and let him grow out. Lassie's coat is also beautiful because he gets proper nutrition in his food.
Can I adopt a REAL Lassie puppy??
Lassie only breeds for a successor and that only happens a few times in the entire life of Lassie. There is no ongoing breeding program that sells puppies to the public. Puppies born that are not kept are adopted mostly to family and friends. A very few are actually adopted out to others and they have to meet very strict criteria for the potential home, care provided and requiring spaying or neutering. There are also other terms that must be met. The list to be considered is extremely long and if you really want a collie, your local reputable breeder can provide a quality dog that can be trained just like Lassie and provide as much joy and love as Lassie.
Where do I find a collie?
It's important that your collie comes with a good health background. Don't buy your collie from a pet store, or ads in the paper that advertise every different type of dog known. These are usually from puppy mills, which keep dogs in horrible conditions and overbreed them, just to make money. Collies, just as all other breeds, are prone to certain health problems. Reputable breeders will breed only with dogs that do not have those problems, and continually strive to improve the breed. Find a reputable collie breeder to purchase your pup from. A good place to start is by talking to your vet, or calling a training group you might see advertised in your area for references. If there is a collie rescue group in your area, they are also an excellent source for information on your breed and usually know the breeders in the area and can point you to a reputable breeder. You can subscribe to internet collie mailing lists. You can learn about collies there and get to know breeders from all over. Look for local dog shows in your area. Talk to the people showing collies and find out about local collie clubs or breeders in your area.
Responsible breeders have spent years producing collies that are not only beautiful but sound in mind and body. Like all dogs, collies are prone to certain diseases, and a good responsible breeder will be able to provide you with certain documents that assure some of those diseases are not in the dog you are buying.
They will be able to provide a pedigree tracing the dog's ancestors and most of the time at least one of the parents is on the premises, where you can get a good idea of what your collie will be like when it's full grown.
They might ask you a lot of questions about the home you will provide. Responsible breeders want to make sure their dogs are placed in good, loving homes and will do their best to make sure they are.
A pet store or backyard breeder might provide AKC papers but AKC papers do not guarantee quality and health. Don't support puppy mills. Always buy from a reputable breeder.
Have you thought about a rescue collie?
Did you know the first Lassie could be called a rescue collie? Pal was a dog that was not trained that Rudd Weatherwax was hired to train. When the training was complete, the owners had decided they no longer wanted the dog and asked Rudd if he would take him. This dog that wasn't wanted, Pal became the star of the first Lassie movie and began the legacy of 9 generations of Lassie that we all know and love. Rudd also got a lot of his other famous dogs from shelters! Rescue collies are collies looking for a new home. While some are actually rescued from bad situations, a lot of rescue collies are turned in by their owners for reasons like - we're moving and can't take the dog, we're having a baby, someone is allergic to the dog, he's too big and out of control (lack of training). There are collies of all ages, even puppies sometimes, in rescue groups! Don't think of these as problem dogs, think of them as dogs that need a second chance at a loving home. You will get a purebred collie for a price much less than from a breeder through a rescue group. The costs you pay go towards medical care such as shots, and spaying or neutering your pet. There is usually a contract involved that requires certain care of the dog, and a promise to return to the rescue group if you cannot keep the dog at any time. And remember, these people are usually breeders or collie fanciers that really know and understand collies and are a great source of information and referral even if you don't get a collie from them. Check them out!