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THE HISTORY OF THE SHEPHERD'S DOG GLOSSARY




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Above, "Heelstone" by Edgar Barclay (1842-ca. 1913)

Allele - one of a number of alternative forms of the same gene that each produces a different effect. For example, in modern breeds of dog there are currently eight known genes within the canine genome that are associated with coat color; each of these genes occurs in at least two variants or alleles.

Altai or Altay - a range of mountains separating the Western Steppe and the Eastern Steppe. From the Turkic-Mongolian word altan, meaning "golden".

Ancient Greece - dated from ca. 700 BC to 146 BC.

Ancient Rome - dated from as early as ca. 10th century BC, but divided into three Periods: Roman Kingdom (753 - 509 BC); Roman Republic (508 - 27 BC); and Roman Empire (27 BC - AD 1453).

Anglo-Norman Literature - literature written in England in a dialect of French (ca. 1100-1250).

Anglo-Saxon Literature - literature written prior to the 15th century in Middle English (ca. 1100-1500 for example Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales) or Old English (ca. 650-1100, for example Beowulf).

Antiquity - the ancient past, usually used to refer to the period before the Middle Ages.

Bearded or bearded-coat - see "Coat type", below.

Border Collie - a breed of collie or shepherd's dog that was developed in Great Britain from working collies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Breed - a formally recognized group of dogs genetically isolated from other groups of dogs by a breed registry.

Breed club - an organization devoted to a single breed.

Breed registry - an official list of dogs with known parents within a single breed, also known as a studbook or register, or the organization that keeps such records.

Breed standard - an arbitrary set of guidelines set by a breed or kennel club to which individuals of particular breeds must conform in order to compete in activities put on by those clubs. These guidelines are usually not scientific and may include such qualities as appearance, movement, and temperament for each specific breed.

Bronze Age - an archeological era when a culture used bronze as the most advanced metal technology for their cutting tools and weapons. As with any age of prehistory, the Bronze Age occurred at different times in different areas, but very roughly 3000 BC is given as the date for its beginning. It generally followed the Neolithic and ended with the Iron Age.

Chromosome - an organized structure of DNA, protein, and RNA found in cells. Each chromosome carries many genes.

Coat type - It is generally thought that smooth-coat is dominant over rough-coat. Two smooths can produce a rough, but two roughs cannot produce a smooth. Smooths carrying the "rough factor" often have a more full coat, though there are other modifiers involved for texture and length, etc. Bearded and/or wire coat is on a different locus, and is dominant over non-bearded, so both rough and smooth-coated dogs could, in theory, be bearded, but on smooth coats there usually isn't enough hair to show a beard. However, sometimes a smooth-coated dog might show a little "mustache" or a slight emphasis on the cheeks, etc., which would indicate he was carrying a gene for beardedness. One other point is that the gene for bearded is the same one that produces wire haired coats in other breeds, but most wire-haired breeds have short coats. There are also gene modifiers at work on both coat type and coat color. It isn't straightforward. There is an excellent article on canine coat genetics on Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_(dog).

Collies - breeds of herding dogs that developed from the old working collies of the 19th century in Great Britain and Ireland, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. (See "The Origin of the Word 'Collie' ".)

Copper Age - also known as the Chalcolithic or the Eneolithic. It is an "early phase" of the Bronze Age, before metallurgusts discovered that adding tin to copper formed the harder bronze. In Europe, the Copper Age began around 5,000 BC.

Dependency - a species loss of its ability to live in the wild.

DNA - a molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and function of an individual.

Dog Fancy - a hobby involving the appreciation, promotion or breeding of purebred dogs. Within the Dog Fancy, each breed has its own organization of fanciers, usually called a breed club. Generally, a Kennel Club unites these breed clubs.

Belyaev_fox.jpg Domestication - a process whereby a population is changed at the genetic level, through generations of selective breeding, to accentuate traits that are ultimately of benefit to humans. A usual by-product of domestication is dependency, so that the domesticated species loses its ability to live in the wild. It differs from taming in that there is a phenotypical (see phenotype, below) and genotypical (see genotype, below) change in the species. For example, in the 1950s, Dmitry Belyaev, a Russian scientist, spent years breeding silver foxes for calmer, less fearful behavior so that they could be more easily handled, and eventually he succeeded in domesticating them. Those foxes no longer showed any fear of humans, their adrenaline levels (crucial to the flight-or-fight response) became significantly lower than in wild foxes, they wagged their tails and licked their caretakers to show affection, their coats became spotted and its ability to camouflage disappeared, and some developed floppy ears and curled tails. In other words, they solved the riddle of how dogs evolved from wolves.

Left, one of Dmitry Belyaev's domesticated foxes. Remind you of someone?


Dorsal - the back or top of a dog's body. (See ventral, below)

Double coat - generally, a soft undercoat and a coarser topcoat.

Drove - a group of livestock being driven in a body (derives from the Old English draf or drifan, "to drive"),

Drover - a person who drives livestock; a person in charge of the drove.

Droving - the act of driving livestock, usually long distances to market.

English Literature - works written in Modern English since the 15th century when English acquired much of its modern form.

FCI - The Fédération Cynologique Internationale, an international association of kennel clubs based in Belgium, that sets physical standards for dog breeds that breed clubs and breeders usually embrace.

Gene - the molecular unit of inheritance of an individual.

Genome - all of an organism's hereditary information.

Genotype - the genetic makeup of an individual. Inherited genotype contributes to the phenotype (see below) of an individual.

Herding instinct - an innate, fixed pattern of behavior that allows (or even compels) a dog to move and control livestock without instruction or training.

Horde - a wandering tribe of nomadic people. From a Turkic word ordu or orda, "khan's residence".

Hun - from the Turkic Hun-y, originally the name of a tribe from the Steppe.

Hybridization - the crossbreeding of a dog of one type or breed with a dog of another type or breed.

Hybrid Vigor - a strength, usually in terms of growth or stamena, that occurs when amimals are bred from more than one breed or strain.

Iron Age - generally, the prehistoric period of a culture when cutting tools and weapons were made of iron or steel. This took place in different cultures at different times, but very roughly began in the late second to early-to-middle first milleniums BC. The Iron Age generally followed the Bronze Age and ended with the beginning of the historic period.

Kennel Club - a local or national organization that unites some or all of the individual breed organizations. Some, like the American Kennel Club, is also the registry for all breeds it "recognizes" (see Recognition, below).

Landrace - a type or variety of domestic animal which has developed by adaptation (rather than by selection, see below) to the natural and cultural environment in which it lives. A landrace differs from a formal breed because it has not been purposely bred to conform to a particular type. Landraces are commonly more genetically and physically diverse than formal breeds.

Landscape Management - where sheep are used to clear overgrown land and/or keep weeds in check. For example in some places sheep are grazed in powerline cuts, parks and recreation areas, or in forests to keep the ground from being overgrown.

Locus - the specific location of a gene on a chromosome. Plural is loci.

Melanistic mask is a pattern that gives the appearance of a mask on the dog's face. The hair on the muzzle, and sometimes the entire face or ears, are colored by eumelanin (black or brown, or their dilutions, blue or lilac) instead of pheomelanin (tan, pale cream, or mahogany). It is controlled by a dominant gene. If a dog has this gene, they exhibit a mask.

Morphology - a branch of biology dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features.

Neolithic or New Stone Age - a period in the development of human technology beginning 12,000 - 7,000 BC with the rise of agriculture (different places at different times).

Nomadism - following the seasonal movement of livestock long distances to find pasture. In nomadism, the entire population moves with the herd, taking their homes with them. Homes, therefore, had to be portable, and yurts, tents, and houses on wheels or runners were developed for the purpose by various nomadic groups. In most cases they move to summer pastures in the spring, returning to winter pastures in autumn. The term has to some extent lost its pastoral association, and has come to mean an individual or group of people that have no permanent abode and wander. However, its original meaning derived from the Greek nomas, meaning "roaming in search of pasture".

Old working collies - the shepherd's dogs that were being used for herding sheep and cattle in the 19th century and earlier in Great Britain and Ireland.

Paleolithic or Old Stone Age - a prehistoric era distinguished by the development of the first stone tools. It extends from the introduction of of stone tools approximately 2.5 million years ago to the introduction of agriculture roughly 12,000-7,000 BC.

Pastoral - relating to the grazing of livestock.

Pastoralist - someone engaged in the grazing of livestock.

Phenotypee - the outward appearance of an individual.

Physiology - a branch of biology dealing with the study of function in living systems; or the way in which a living organism or bodily part functions. For example, the physiology of a dog ear would describe the parts of the ear and their functions.

Primative breeds - groups of animals that have not been "improved" and so retain their original traits. Generally speaking, these breeds are more hardy and well suited to the particular area in which they developed. Also known as landrace breeds.

Proteins - large molecules that perform a vast array of functions within living organisms, such as replicating DNA, responding to stimuli, and transporting molecules from one location to another.

Purebred - a modern dog breed with a documented pedigree in a stud book.

Recognition - acceptance of a breed by an organization that keeps records on purebred dogs.

RNA - a family of biological molecules that perform multiple vital roles of coding, decoding, regulation, and expression of genes.

Rough or rough-coated - see "Coat Type", above

Selection - a process by which humans breed other animals and plants for particular traits.

Smooth or smooth-coated - see "Coat Type", above.

Steppe - Russian word for a region of grassland plain without trees characterized by cold winter temperatures,and semi-arid climate during the summer but with enough percipitation to support grass. The largest steppe in the world is the Eurasian Steppe, which stretches from Hungary to Manchuria and was the home of ancient Eurasian pastoral nomads.

Shepherd's dog - a breed or type of dog used for herding sheep or cattle.

Stud book - see breed registry. Originally it was used to mean lists of males that were actively "standing at stud" or breeding.

Taiga - a Russian word for coniferous scrub forests.

Transhumance - the long-distance seasonal movement of livestock long distances to find pasture. In transhumance, only a shepherd or shepherds accompany the flocks, the rest of the population remains at home. Transhumance makes the best use of all the land, not only grazing and fertilizing the plain in winter, but removing the flocks to the mountains when crops are being planted, grown and harvested. Usually it is a move from the plains or lowlands to the mountains or highlands in the spring, and back again in autumn.

Transterminance - similar to transhumance, but the flocks or herds are moved a shorter distance, grazing among agricultural lands close to villages during the winter months, and driven to nearby higher pastures in summer. This was the type of grazing pattern used in the Scottish Highlands prior to the 20th century.

Type - a group of similar dogs that have never been isolated by a registry. Types may share certain common characteristics but may not share all characteristics. For example, types may share similar herding characteristics but may not share a specific look.

Ventral - the belly or bottom side of a dog's body.

Wire-haired - see "Coat Type", above.

Compiled and copyrighted ©2013 by Carole L. Presberg


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Last modified: February 1, 2014
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