27 July 2001

Fox collies – imaginary or real?What you think

Whether fox collies are fact or fiction. Jeremy Hunts article

(Farmlife, July 13) certainly struck a chord with our dog-owning readers

I read the article by Jeremy Hunt with great interest. Though having never heard of fox collies, and whether it is fact or fiction, it was like my own dog being described.

I have always thought my stunning four-year-old tri-colour Flight (pictured above) looked a bit foxy (with the pricked ears and the pointy face) and my young son nicknamed him Fox Face. He has such wild eyes and now that we do dog agility with him (he had been to sheep) he goes round with such a manic determination one could but wonder.

Flight was a very difficult pup, would never look you in the eye and still even now has that certain "edge" where I never feel completely in control. Always very unpredictable, but most of all just different, he always wants to be running, but when tired he lopes off to lie down (ignoring all calls), just like a fox at the end of a long chase.

Whenever we do the agility either at training or competitions, I have always made the point that my dog is the only dog doing it for himself and not to please me. I, therefore, regard this as the difference that probably makes a "Fox Collie".

Linda Bainborough,

3 Brook Crescent, Asfordby Valley, Melton Mowbray, Leics.

In 1970 I collected blood samples from a clients pet fox and "alleged" Jack Russell x fox for Buckton & Cunningham of the Cytogenetics Research Unit at Edinburgh, who were investigating the variations in chromosome numbers in red foxes.

They had investigated many "alleged" dogs x foxes and found all to have the typical canine chromosome patterns.

D Brown

(veterinary surgeon)

25 St Johns Place,

Mansfield, Notts.

I was intrigued by your article on the fox collie. Our collie bitch, now alas gone, was very private about being in season. Apart from one lovely litter of puppies, our only barometer of her condition was the ever-hopeful terrier riding "jockey style" around the farm.

But in "fox barking" time and on bright moonlight nights, I was fascinated to see our bitch barking and obviously calling to a mate. I never actually saw her mating, but I did see her and a fox playing in the moonlight in front of the farmhouse.

Mary Fry

Tockington Park Farm, Almondsbury, Glos.

Your article on fox collies comes as something of a relief to me, as I had never heard of them, but I am sure I have one!

Lucy, as she is called, has always had the look of a fox; small in stature, pricked ears, low carried tail and a "fox-like" gait.

She is a prolific hunter, despatching birds, mice and rats with consummate ease, and will spend hours sitting by a mole hill until the hapless mole ventures to the surface. She can escape from any pen or building and does not understand the concept of "walks". She has never been keen on other dogs, and is dramatically shy of guns.

Were she not black and white, I am sure many more suspicions would be raised.

So yes, fox collies do exist, whether this is because of collie/fox matings or shared ancestry I do not know, but Lucy provides us with hours of entertainment, as well as fulfilling cattle duties on a dairy farm. Not many foxes I know can do that!

Leonie McGuigan

2 New Cottages, Knighton, Shrivenham, Wilts.

I bought my dog, Fly (below), as a pup about seven years ago from a sheep farmer in north Wales. She is a mixture of colours and has the look of a fox, we have even been chased by a gamekeeper who had spotted her from a distance away and was ready to give her a bullet.

She loves scrambling through the hedge bottoms and often reappears at the other end of the field with torn ears and covered in thorns.

I do believe it is possible for a dog and a fox to mate. After all, their characteristics are very similar. Needless to say I keep a very close eye on Fly when she comes into season, as she is an outdoor dog and we have foxes in our garden.

Frances Arthur

34 Main Street, Milton, Derbys.