Myths and Facts:
There are many myths and facts surrounding the origin of the Coolie. The name "Coolie" or "German Coolie" was a derogatory name given to the German immigrants that settled in Australia in the 1800's. These
immigrants brought their good herding dogs with them to be used in their everyday life as a shepherd. The dogs they used took on the name of German Coolie, sometimes called Kuli, or German Collie.
According to Linda Rorem's research, the Coolie originated from Celtic dogs. These Celtic dogs were crossed with old working Collies of Great Britain and Ireland. These were then crossed with dogs to make farm
and ranch working dogs, like what was called the "Smithfield". From there they split in three different ways: the Australian Cattle Dogs, Australian Working Kelpie and German Coolie (now called Koolie) were found in
Australia; the Bearded Collies, Sheepdog/Cattledog, and Welsh Sheepdogs were found in Great Britain; the McNab, Australian Shepherd and English Shepherd were found in North America.
Research in 2004 by Iris Combe and Pat Hutchinson, followed a similar path. The Celtic dogs were crossed with working dogs, like the Smithfield, and from there the Coolie was developed. The rough and smooth
coated Collie had an influence in the early development, also. The name "Smithfield" was a name taken from the central Smithfield meat markets of London. These dogs were heavy built, black, flop-eared, bob-tailed
with white around the neck and sometimes feet and end of the tail.
The early Coolie were said to be a heavy built, rough coated dog that was vicious to the point that many were not suitable for the work of livestock tending. Many depended on livestock for survival and a dog that did
not fit the need of the producer quickly fell by the wayside. The stockmen used various breeds in the development of a working dog that was efficient in it's job as a herding dog, loyal and could be trusted. Once
perfected, the Coolie breed was then established. Many Australians have continued to nurture the breed and genetically select the best possible working dog for what fits their need on the ranch.
Every dog is an individual. This means that every dog has its own unique DNA fingerprint, which includes the combination of genetic materials, called micro-satellites, that come from each parent. Currently, a person
can request a DNA profile of their dog to be kept in storage to provide positive identification of the dog in case it is stolen, or for registration into a Kennel Club, or for verification of the actual parentage of the dog.
Dogs of any breed can be tested for parentage verification. This DNA test is reliable and determines biological relations with 99.9% accuracy and non-biological relations with 100% certainty.
There has been some misleading information concerning DNA testing of the Coolie breed. A Coolie can be DNA profiled and can be tested for parentage verification. This test can not and will not verify ancestors
within lines, unless a DNA profile for each and every single dog in the line is on file at the laboratory conducting the testing. In simpler terms, a DNA test will not tell a person if their dog is kin to a dog on the other side
of the country --- unless that dog is an offspring or parent.
Mars Veterinary currently offers a DNA test for breed specificity - please visit their website for further information - USA and Australia
There is, however; a DNA test that can genetically determine the breed composition of a dog. Metamorphix, Inc., has introduced the first DNA-based diagnostic test that can genetically determine the breed
composition of a dog. MMI Genomics, Inc., states they, "[are] a leader in animal DNA analysis and pedigree certification, is proud to announce the release of their Canine Heritage™ Breed Test. Developed
exclusively by MMI Genomics, the Canine Heritage™ product uses state-of-the-art SNP-based DNA technology to genetically identify breed characteristics and certify 38 potential breeds".
No dog is perfect. The Coolie is no exception. Many think the Coolie is disease/genetic defect free. This simply is not true. Any dog can have genetic defects. Testing is not something that is common with the farm
dog. Simply, if the dog can't work then he is of no use and is culled (often times destroyed). Herding dogs, like the Coolie, are notorious for having a high pain tolerance. Just because the dog has never taken a lame
step, does not mean he isn't dysplastic.
Looking at the various breeds that were used in the early development of the Coolie, it is safe to say that they too have genetic problems like their historical ancestors. Some of the defects that are common among
these ancestors are Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Progressive Rod and Cone Degeneration (PRCD), Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) and Hip Dysplasia (HD).
Cerebellar Abiotrohy has been found in the Coolie breed. Information about the dog (and pedigree) that was medically diagnosed as positive can be obtained from the German Coolie Registry and Club.
To guard against producing future generations that are riddled with genetic defects, it would make sense to have all breeding dogs tested for these defects.
The plain truth and fact is that the color of the coat has nothing to do with the dog's "ability". Rather he has natural herding ability, is a good agility, sport, ring, or performance prospect has no bearing on what color
he is or isn't. Those are "traits" that are governed by a totally different set of allelic pairs/genes.
Some have said that a merle dog will "dilute" the working ability of the dog, or cause a lowered immunity. This is simply not true. The merle color is governed by entirely different genes than that of the inherited
"traits" or the ones that regulate the immune system of a dog. It is easy for the novice to confuse which genes regulate what because of the depth of knowledge that is required to understand genetics.
If a puppy is born with a cleft pallet, malocclusion, renal disease, or other defects, these defects are normally inherited genetically and not due to the color of the dogs coat.
"SOME" forms of deafness and blindness have been linked to the lack of pigment in the coat. Please keep in mind that deafness and blindness are caused by many factors, not just coat color, or the lack of coat
Breeding a merle colored dog to another merle colored dog is not recommended.
Some Coolie breeders practice breeding merle to merle, but this is not without consequences. These "consequences" are something that is either denied or not spoken out loud. Breeding merle to merle *could yield
offsprings that are double or homozygous merles. These homozygous merles are lighter in color, have more white on them and are sometimes deaf and/or blind, or could be both deaf and blind.
Here is an example of the genetic statistics when a person breeds two heterozygous merles together: This hypothetical mating is of two heterozygous merles (M/m) that are genetically black, are not carrying the
brown, dilution or spotting gene, and are carrying tan points. So, in other-words the dogs would look like self black merles (merles with no white or tan on them).
Maternal genotype specified: atat EE KK BB DD Mm SS
Maternal phenotype: Black Merle carrying tan point
Paternal genotype specified: atat EE KK BB DD Mm SS tt
Paternal phenotype: Black Merle carrying tan point
4 potential genotypes:
25.00% atat KK Mm Rfstd Hdfair Edyfair Plxno - Black Merle carrying tan point
25.00% atat KK mM Rfstd Hdfair Edyfair Plxno - Black Merle carrying tan point
25.00% atat KK Rfstd Hdfair Edyfair Plxno - Black carrying tan point
25.00% atat KK MM Rfstd Hdfair Edyfair Plxno - Black Double Merle carrying tan point
3 potential phenotypes:
50.00% Black Merle
25.00% Black Double Merle
3 potential phenotypes with carried traits:
50.00% Black Merle carrying tan point
25.00% Black carrying tan point
25.00% Black Double Merle carrying tan point
1 potential carried traits:
100.00% tan point
There are some Coolie kennels that are claiming to have produced merle colored pups from two solid colored parents. One kennel in particular is claiming that a solid colored Coolie can "carry" the merle gene, this
is not true. A dog is a merle or he isn't, just plain and simple. Given the breeding ethics of that kennel, the puppies more than likely have a different sire, or several different sires. The only way to be absolutely
sure would be to DNA parentage test all of the offspring, the dam and the sire. The dam or sire could be a cryptic merle (a dog that is merle, but the merle pattern can not be seen). Both parents could be tested for
the merle gene, also.
To say that two SOLID colored, non-merle, dogs produced merle pups, is just not correct and very misleading. Then to continue to report that "solids can carry the merle gene", is showing just how little knowledge of
genetics that person has.
For a larger picture of the historical
ancestry of the herding dog, click on