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What kind of dog was Lassie originally in the novel?

Lassie, according to the original 1940 novel, was a tricolor collie bitch. In 1943, when they were looking for the right dog character for the first Lassie movie, they couldn't find a suitable tricolor bitch for the role, so Lassie was finally played by an American sable male, Pal. Over the next eleven years, Pal played Lassie in seven movies and two TV movies, and later his descendants took over the work of their famous ancestor. So Lassie lives on in everyone's memory as a sable dog.

What effect did Lassie have on collie breeding?

Lassie's appearance contributed greatly to the breed's sudden surge in popularity. Of course, this was accompanied by the law that demand creates supply. The demand increased, and the breeders could not meet it, so more and more people are starting to breed and propagate the breed ad hoc. Of course, this was at the expense of quality breeding. In Hungary, the Lassie movement peaked in the 1980s and 1990s. A lot of litters were born, many dogs had so-called seal or B ("bés") pedigrees.  The stamped pedigree: the parent does not have the required certification, which indicated the lack of the breeding inspection and/or the required exhibition certification. Pedigree B was awarded to those dogs who, according to experts, met the expectations of the breed, but could not prove their origin. Sealed and pedigree B are concepts that no longer exist. The Lassie fever began to subside at the end of the '90s, as a result of which most of the occasional breeders and breeders turned away from the breed. However, the results of their activities did not disappear without a trace. Thanks to the many years of hard work of a couple of Hungarian breeders - very dedicated to the breed - the Hungarian collie population has now been cleansed of the ruins of the great Lassie fever. Although far fewer puppies are born than, say, in 1993, it can be confidently stated that the Hungarian herd is really high-quality and heading in a very good direction.

Eric Knight: Lassie Comes Home First Edition, 1940


A collie named Pal playing Lassie in 1942


What are health screenings?

Every breed has its own diseases. There is often an overlap between these, as dogs come from a common ancestor, so all dogs are actually related to each other. There are diseases that affect most of the different dog breeds, as wolves are also affected by them (e.g. Degenerative Myelopathy). Moreover, certain diseases - for which we screen dogs - can also be found in humans (e.g. MDR1 defect). Collies are no more sickly than any other breed. What's more... The aim of the breeders is to try to reduce the number of pregnant dogs through conscious selection. Total eradication of all diseases, however, is impossible, because then new ones appear. Breeders can do nothing but pay attention and try to reduce the risk. By the way, the Hungarian collie stock is screened at a much higher rate compared to many other countries.

Clinical screenings, examinations (eye screening, dysplasia screenings)

Genetic screenings (MDR1 defect, Degenerative Myelopathy - abbreviated DM)

What is the white factor?

All members of the collie family (border collie, bearded collie, etc.), including the long-haired collie, have white markings. These are the so-called collie marks (officially: Irish spotting, i.e. the white collar, white legs, paws, white tip of the tail). These marks can be unique, each dog has a different proportion of white. Although dogs with no or few collars are rejected by many when choosing a puppy, the amount of white markings does not affect the quality of the dog. It's just a matter of taste. There are plenty of successful show dogs that don't have full collars. The standard does not say exactly how much white should be on the dog, but the maximum limits of white are. White marks in too many or inappropriate places (e.g. on the side, strongly extending beyond the forehead, on the tail, on the thighs) are called the white factor. The white factor does not affect the dog's quality of life, it can still be a beautiful, healthy dog. Moreover, it is tolerated to a certain extent, even at European exhibitions. The information whether the dog has a white factor or not is important to breeders at most, but not to a hobby owner.

white factor to a lesser extent

canadian tricolor male

Glasgowhill's Meet Me Halfway


white factor to a greater extent

American blue merle female

Millcreek's Oh So Beautiful


with a colored head and an almost completely white factor

American sable white male

Milas Strictly Ballroom


Are there really all-white collies?

There is, but you don't really see it in Europe. Completely white is rarer anyway, most have spots of color here and there. However, it does not matter what kind of white collie we are talking about. Because most of the dog's body surface can be white if both parents have the white factor. Two white factor parents can easily have a puppy that is almost completely white, but their head is always colored (white collie with a colored head). In this case, the white color is only an aesthetic issue. The dog can be completely healthy regardless of the amount of white factor. In America you can exhibit them or breed them without any problems, but not in Europe. The situation is different with those collies who are white because both of their parents are merles (sable merle or blue merle), i.e. double merles. Because it can cause serious health problems. In most of these cases, white puppies are born deaf and/or blind (severely ill or missing an eye). These dogs usually have mostly or completely white heads. So why do breeders use the merle - merle pairing? The secret lies in the unpredictability of tricolor - blue merle litters. In principle, a Merle dog can only be mated with a tricolor. Thus, among the puppies there will be tricolor and blue merle. Typically, more tricolors are born in a litter than blue merles. In fact, it sometimes happens that only tricolor puppies are born.  However, breeders usually want the blue merle x tricolor pairing because of the blue merle puppies. A litter of only blue merle puppies, especially larger ones, is very rare. If, on the other hand, we have a double merle dog and we pair it with a tricolor, the puppies are guaranteed to be blue merles one by one. That's why. (Merle x merle mating is prohibited in Europe for the reasons mentioned above.)


white with colored (sable) head

america male

Glenbracken Classique On Ice


white with colored (blue merle) head

american male

Clarion Marko's Trace Of Smoke


white with a colored (tricolor) head

American bitch

Clarion Sky Dancer



double merle

Canadian male puppy

Glasgowhill's Pablo Picasso


double merle

canadian bitch

Alfenloch A Beautiful Starlet


double merle

american male

Wyndlair Avalanche


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