The Collie is one of the more popular of the herding dog breeds. There are two varieties of Collies – the Rough-coated Collies and Smooth-coated Collies. The Collie has a long and tapered muzzle, flat head, almond shaped eyes and small ears that are semi-erect when it is alert. Collies have excellent hearing that can detect a shepherd’s whistle or voice from very long distances. The Rough Collie has a profuse long, straight harsh outer coat with a soft furry undercoat. The Rough variety also has an abundant mane and feathering on its hindquarters. The Smooth variety has a short harsh outer coat. Both varieties of this breed have coats that are: sable and white; tricolor; or blue merle; all with white markings. Male Collies stand 24 to 26 inches and female Collies 22 to 24 inches at shoulder height. Collies can weigh from 45 to 75 pounds.
Collies belong to the American Kennel Club (AKC) Herding Dog Group.
Rough-coated Collies originated in the Scottish lowlands and probably got their name from a type of black sheep called the Colley. Early forms of this breed were used as sheep herders in the 16th and 17th centuries. Queen Victoria became enthralled with this breed and brought them to Windsor Castle in the 1860’s. Soon after this recognition the Collie became a popular English show-dog. In the 1940’s this breed gained additional fame in the U.S. when it starred in the ‘Lassie’ movies. This fame resulted in extensive over breeding and the development of some neurotic Collies. In more recent years breeders have been much more responsible and are once-again producing friendly, intelligent family dogs. The Collie was ranked 36th out of 154 dog breeds in 2004 AKC registrations.
This is a good-natured, intelligent and friendly breed of dog that makes an excellent companion. The Smooth Collie is more active and athletic than the Rough-coated variety – although you can get both varieties in the same litter. Collie puppies need to be thoroughly socialized in order to build confidence. Collies need a lot of social interaction and can become noisy or destructive if left without human companionship for long periods of time. Most collies are good with children and other pets if thoroughly socialized when they are puppies. Collies can be trained to a fairly high level through the use of praise and food rewards. Collies can be very sensitive to noise and loud voices. Collies are wary of strangers and make good watchdogs. This breed does well with novice or first-time dog owners.
Collies need regular exercises and activities to keep them busy. Collies can be car chasers, so exercise them in safe areas. Most Collies can jump over a five-foot fence so additional measures will have to be taken to keep them safe.
The Rough-coated Collie needs a lot of brushing with a pin brush that reaches the undercoat. This should be done thoroughly at least once per week and more often when they are shedding. The Rough variety is a heavy shedder. The Smooth-coated Collie needs only moderate grooming and is a much lighter shedder.
Collies usually live for 12 to 14 years. Common health problems include ‘Collie-eye’ anomaly, skin disorders and deafness in merles.