A SPORT, in botany and zoology, is a plant or animal
in which has been produced some peculiarity such as an abnormal
color, not common to the species. A variety is a group of plants or
animals whose differences from the rest of the species are constant
and capable of perpetuation.
The white peacock is a sport; any albino is a
sport. The silver fox is a variety. The variety breeds true to type;
the sport does not.
Is the white collie a sport or variety?
It is not merely an academic question, for it is
one which makes a great deal of difference to the breeders. If the
collie is merely a sport, tending constantly to revert, then most of
the attempts to breed white collies will be necessarily unsuccessful
and most of the labor will be wasted.
Or is the white collie a sport which we may, with
great care in selective breeding, convert into a variety? This is
probably the truth of the matter. The fad for white collies has been
alive for a number of years now, and there seem to be enough white
collies born to meet the demand. How far do the breeders have to
depend on good luck to keep up the supply?
One breeder writes me as follows in answer to these
questions: "We certainly consider them an established variety, as
we have the color well fixed. They have the same characteristics as
the colored collies and we think we have some white ones that have
even superior intelligence and hardiness. We eliminate the color by
the simple process of retaining for breeding purposes only those
animals that are nearest pure white. There is no secret about it at
all except that of patience".
Another breeder writes more extensively: "The
white collie was originally a sport from a whelping of pups of the
sable collie. Breeders of sable collies in past years have been
trying to breed an extra heavy white collar, and in so doing they
have inbred to a certain extent, so that all-white sports have
occasionally been produced from the breeding. These all-white pups,
from different litters, have been crossed and recrossed, so that
to-day the white collie is a standard variety. That it is no longer
considered a sport is indicated by the fact that we are able to
register white collies as such in the stud books of the American
Kennel Club, and receive signed certificates, bearing register
number, pedigree, etc. Pedigrees are now obtainable running back for
seven or eight generations of all-white collies.
You ask if they breed true to color. White
Carolina, the mother of my kennels, has a sable ear and a sable spot
on one side of her face. In her last litter of seven pups there were
four absolutely all-white collies, one with a very small spot on its
face, one with a sable ear, and the last with one sable ear and two
small spots on the other ear. These spots are due, I believe to
inbreeding in the mother's pedigree. It will be as hard to get rid
of the sable spots on the white collie as it is to get rid of the
black spots and black hairs on the sable collie, but it can be done.
I expect to be able, with properly unrelated matings, to produce 90
per cent. all-white collie pups".
another breeder writes:
"I consider the white collie an established variety. My Calla
Lily has had two litters, eight in each litter, and all but one were
white ... Twelve years ago I bred my first white pups. One of them
was bought in the neighborhood and made one of the best cow dogs I
The testimony of such breeders, though not
disinterested, is certainly expert, and it looks as though the white
collie had come to stay.
The question naturally arises: Why a white collie,
anyway? Aren't the other colors good enough? For most people they
are, but there are always some to whom nothing looks so beautiful as
white in horse or kitten or Plymouth Rock. And no one could possibly
deny that the white collie is a beautiful animal. To say that he is
ornamental is to put it mildly.
Of course, the white collie's coat requires care to
keep it in perfect condition, but so does any collie's coat. A white
collie is like a white porcelain sink: you've got to keep it
spotless or be shown up.