Select Page

Derry, M. (2018). White Collies, Beauty or Genetic Defect. Society & Animals, Vol. 26, No. 1.

This article explores the relationship between standards of beauty and genetic knowledge in regulations for the breeding of nonhuman animals. Collie breeding and views concerning the coat color white, in North America and Britain between 1870 and the present, illustrate how advances in dog coat genetics did little to alter perceptions concerning beauty and/or quality held in the different countries. Today, North American Collie breeders consider white coats to be desirable. Modern British breeders see these coats as unacceptable. Breed standards that support practices have not changed to reflect a better understanding of genetics. An assessment of how attitudes to white Collies arose, and why these views differed between North America and Britain, illustrates how entrenched cultural perceptions concerning beauty/quality can be in the face of information that undermines their validity. The story introduces a larger topic: how can change be introduced in light of the complicated beauty/science axis?

Find it here!

Note: To read Society & Animals articles, you must either get a subscription to Society & Animals, which ASI scholar members get a discount for, or you can access it through a university account, or by purchasing the individual article from the publisher. Per our agreement with the publisher, once the article is three years old we will be able to add it to our archive of journal articles that is available to Scholar, Student, and Professional members. These archives contain the entire body of articles (minus the past three years) for both of the journals we edit, Society & Animals and Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Unless otherwise noted, all content on this website is copyright © 2018 The Animals and Society Institute. Please visit to find out more about our reprint and use policies.

Share Us Online