The other day I groomed a Rough Collie for some people who do Collie Rescue. It was an older boy, who had obviously seen some hard times. He had scars all over his face, and a chunk of ear missing. He was apparently a stray that had been picked up by a humane society in another state. You have to wonder, who could lose a Collie. They really aren't that common anymore, yet, thanks to Lassie, very recognizable. My guess is someone dumped him. Poor boy. He was terrified of the bath (probably his 1st ever) but by the time I got to finishing him, he stood very well on the table, and seemed to enjoy the pampering. He was beautiful when he was done, and I am happy to report he had already found a new home, which he was being placed in the next day. Lucky people, this was one nice dog.
Anyone who has ever seen a Collie (and I think most everyone knows what Lassie looks like) knows how beautiful they can be when cared for. Sadly, though they really are one of the most even tempered dogs I have run into for the most part, they are one of the most neglected. No one (it seems) who chooses a Collie has any idea that Lassie didn't look that way naturally. People actually BRUSHED her/him (yes, I know the real Lassie was a male dog). He didn't just go running through the swamps with Timmy and magically turn sparkling white and beautiful. These clueless people buy an adorable puppy, then once they realize that long hair smells bad and sheds all over, they are kicked outdoors and ignored for the better part of their lives.
I am asked many times, "what are the most neglected breeds?" I'm sure it's different by region and popularity of breeds in your area, but where I live, there are a select few, including the Collie that come to mind (in no particular order)
Newfoundlands. Yep..another ADORABLE puppy. So cute and sweet, they look just like a little bear cub. By the time they are 9 months old, they are a 100 lb drooling mass of stinky, shedding hair, that still has some major growing to do. For some reason this breed also gets neglected big-time in the training department as well. They never really learn to walk on a leash, so they drag their owners everywhere, making them even less cute and cuddly. Soon, they are kicked out of the house, too much hair (Oh, and did I mention drool??) in the house. Then to add insult to injury..they cost large amounts of money to get professionally groomed! No kidding. I can't believe that 200lb untrained mess doesn't cost around $40 to groom!
St. Bernards See all the above statements.
Samoyeds. Again..simply the cutest little ball of 8 week old fluff you've ever seen. This breed REALLY needs brushing. That long coat gets matted very fast, and unlike the Saints and Newfies, the ones we have to groom don't really appreciate the tugging and pulling involved in de-matting. Oh..and surprisingly enough, that pristine white coat stays like that for about 7 minutes, unless it's the dead of a very snowy winter.
Old English Sheepdog Another "movie" breed that appears on the big screen to always stay clean and "shaggy". Everyone loves a shaggy dog until they have to brush them. They lose even more of their appeal when the messy face that just got a huge drink out of a mud puddle gives you a big sloppy kiss. As an owner of another shaggy breed (Bearded Collies) I can say with authority that all that lovely coat brings in EVERYTHING, sticks, small trees, leaves and of course DIRT. The coat gets matted without frequent brushing and then they bring them to me, where I have no choice but to shave them. Shaggy dogs that have been shaved down are not as cute...let's face facts.
So, by now you have noticed that there is a theme to this sorry list. Large and Hairy. Don't get me wrong, I see plenty of neglected small dogs too, but across the board, I am hard pressed to find even ONE or TWO owners of the above dogs that actually is committed to caring for them. It's sad, and I try very hard to council the people who think to ask before they buy one of these breeds. No offense is meant to those of you who own, love and care for these breeds...I'm just talking about my little corner of the world. There are many breeds that "look cool", but very few people should own them. I will continue to try and be tactful, when someone tells me "I've always wanted one of those dogs".