What is the collie eye and shape, what does it mean, what do I look for, what makes a good Collie head? These are the most common questions I get from beginners and this page is designed to help you BEGIN to realize what you are looking at and why.
You read about what the ‘STANDARD’ says the eye should look like, now lets see what that means, and remember, this is my opinion only. What makes a dog show a competition is that others may interpret the standard differently and therefore see something other that what I do in the same dog. What I tell beginners is to listen to everyone…look at everything..keep what you think is right and discard the rest. You need to educate yourself enough to form YOUR OWN opinion.
In simple words… The Collie Eye should be almond in shape and set into the head. This means that it should not be placed on the face, but indented into the face. In order for that to occur there must be a receptacle for the eyeball and the eyeball is recessed into that receptacle. Here is a good picture that shows this.
You will see the recepticale for the eye in this picture very clearly. It seems that the face was carved out to hold this eye in place …this is a puppy. Also notice the dark, liquid look. This is most desirable. When you look at the eye..head on..you will see what is meant by the “three-cornered look” so coveted by breeders.
This is an adult dog showing the same depth to the eye. To me, this eye is almost perfect in size and shape.
This is also an extremely good eye..as you can see, these are different dogs with slightly different angles of the head. Notice how the stop appears different due to the angles presented.
Now I want you to look at a rounder eye..lacking the depth and almond shape. This normal-eyed dog is also a Champion. It is my opinion that being normal-eyed does detract somewhat from the perfect shape. However, this is still a nice eye..just not what I would call perfect and not what I prefer.
Now look at these two eyes side by side and you can really start to see the difference.
They are almost the same angle, but you will see one eye is rounder and the other eye is showing the almond shape and appears deeper set into the head. This slight difference can be enough to make a show dog up for any competition…or a pet.
The eye is a most important part of TYPE…what makes a Collie a Collie..TYPE. This is what I look for in selecting breeding animals..one that exemplifies TYPE. When looking at a Collie, another key word you will need to learn to see is BALANCE. All parts must blend together to give the dog a pleasing appearance as a whole. I am not a pieces and parts kinda person, but need to see the whole picture. The head and body need to balance and the parts of the head need to balance. Backskull (the area from the top of the eyes to the ears) and muzzle (the part from the bottom of the eyes to the nose) also need to balance. This is what also gives that soft expression. Here are two good pictures showing balance in a lovely head. Note the flat backskulls and the rounded muzzles. The lipline is also clean without alot of extra lip hanging down. I like that.
One of the fads of today’s Collies that I hope does not become engrained in the breed is the tendency to have muzzles that are square rather than round. You should not be able to see or feel ridges or corners on the muzzle. Fad #2 that bothers me is having too pronounced a stop ( the slight indentation on the top of the muzzle right below the eyes. On a Collie, it should be “a very slight, but perceptible stop or break” as quoted from the standard. A Sheltie has a very pronounced stop, like a strair-step..a Collie should not, but this seems to be a rage at the moment..that and the dish-face which is even more distracting.
When it all comes together, you have a Collie that is pleasing in outline, balanced both in body and head, and gives you that…takes my breath away….feeling. Here is my favorite picture denoting balance. Now, look at every Collie you see from here on out with these two words in mind…
and remember, this is only the beginning