The Collie is perhaps one of the most famous breeds in the canine kingdom due to a century of royal love and Hollywood stardom. Beyond the big screen, collies are most known for being great with children. They are intelligent, medium-sized dogs, with a long fluffy coat and a gentle disposition.
Want to learn more? Let’s start by learning about how this lovely breed came to be.
What’s In This Guide
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the Collie.
- Are Collies good family pets?
- What kind of Collie is Lassie?
- Do Collies shed a lot?
- Are Collies affectionate?
- Can Collies be left alone?
Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: Ranks 38 of 193 in ACK rankings.
- Purpose: Herding
- Weight: 50-75 lbs.
- Temperament: Affectionate, Loyal, Regal
Collie Breed Review: Contents
- History and original Purpose of the Collie
- Fun Facts about Collie
- Collie Appearance
- Collie Temperament
- Training and Exercising your Collie
- Collie Health and Care
- Do Collie Make Good Family Pets
- Rescuing a Collie
- Finding a Collie Puppy
- Raising a Collie Puppy
- Popular Collie Breed Mixes
- Collie Products and Accessories
History and Original Purpose of the Collie
The Rough Collie has quite the Cinderella story with an origin that is believed to have begun in the 1800s in Scotland and Wales.
The Scottish and Welsh varieties were very different in both size and temperament.
The Scottish version was larger and more aggressive whereas Welsh collies were smaller and much friendlier.
Crossbreeding these ancient herding dogs with English sheepdogs is believed to have resulted in the first versions of the Rough and Smooth Collie varieties.
Originally used in Scotland as herding dogs, the breed managed to steal the heart of Queen Victoria during the late 19th century.
The Queen adored Scotland and subsequently fell in love with their local breed, taking this beauty from the pastures and skyrocketing it into national stardom.
Literary and Film Fame
It wasn’t long before the phenomenon had spread to America. There the breed launched to fame thanks to American author and breeder Albert Payson Terhune’s Sunnybank Collies books.
However, the Rough Collie reached their peak thanks to the success of Eric Knight’s novel Lassie Come-Home.
The British author’s novels led to a number of popular movies and even a beloved television series.
This landed the Rough Collie in the homes of many after this widespread promotion of their spectacular qualities and affinity for children.
Fun Facts about Collie
- Well, you know about Lassie, but did you know that across all the big screen appearances, he was played by five generations of dogs?
- In addition to Queen Victoria’s love, they were also popular with several presidents in the early 1900s, including two white dogs that lived with President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge.
So, what does he look like?
They have erect ears, a wedge-shaped head, and beautiful, expressive eyes!
The traits vary depending on the type, but really only the coat changes.
For example, a Rough (or long-haired) Collie has a long, double-layer coat while a Smooth Collie has a short, dense coat that lies flat.
Both varieties shed and come in six standard color combinations, including the following:
- blue merle
- white and sable
- sable merle
Females are typically around 22 to 24 inches tall and males 24 to 26 inches.
Females average around 50 to 65 lbs and males 60 to 75 lbs.
Experts recommend early socialization and obedience training for this breed.
Early socialization will help to keep your puppy well rounded and able to adapt to different settings.
Furthermore, prospective owners should also note that Rough Collies can become bored easily and will need to be mentally and physically stimulated to stay healthy and happy.
For this reason, training should be utilized throughout the Rough Collie’s lifetime, as they enjoy learning new tricks and are eager to please.
Being a herding breed, he may have a tendency to herd you about.
While this can be annoying at times, early training can help discourage this behavior.
Training and Exercising your Collie
This is an active, athletic breed who, as previously mentioned, is eager to please and incredibly intelligent!
They are easy to train and enjoy picking up new commands,
Training should be simple with this intelligent herding breed, although experts suggest training should begin as early as possible to ensure your dog stays well-balanced and mentally happy.
But to keep their intelligence from turning to boredom and subsequently negative behaviors like excessive barking, they’ll need to be taught new tricks often and given lots of doggy jobs.
As previously mentioned, he should have early socialization and obedience training beginning in puppyhood to ensure they are adaptable and healthy.
His exercise needs go beyond running and playing in the backyard.
He will do best not only with games of fetch and playtime, but also with long walks, jogs, or hikes with his people.
Anything he can do with you will keep him happy.
After all, he is a family dog through-and-through and wants nothing more than to be with his humans.
While active and athletic, he is an all-around go-with-the-flow family dog.
When properly trained and exercised, the Rough Collie knows when it’s time to play and when it’s time to relax!
Collie Health and Care
The Rough Collie life expectancy is about 9 to 14 years.
A lot of time, money, and research has gone into the study of certain diseases that affect the breed. But it’s still extremely important for a prospective owner to be vigilant.
One of the most prevalent kinds of health issues that affect the breed is hereditary eye diseases, such as Collie eye anomaly, which can lead to blindness.
Other potential issues include:
- skin allergies
- autoimmune diseases
- heart disease
- a drug sensitivity called MDR1 Mutation.
If you’re considering bringing a Collie home, you may want to consider having your puppy health screened for any of the above heritable health conditions.
Early health screening may help you predict or maybe even prevent any potential issues your puppy could face in his future.
Preparing for any oncoming health issues could help you to prepare for or even possibly avoid certain devastating and financially trying situations.
You should always ask to see evidence of both parents’ health tests when choosing a new puppy.
It’s also important to ensure your dog lives a healthy lifestyle and eats a proper diet. Speaking of diet, what’s the ideal food for your Collie dog? Let’s find out!
Feeding Your Collie – What is the Best Dog Food for the Rough Collie Breed?
Like most dogs, Collies will do best on high-quality dog food that is high in animal protein and low in unnecessary grains and additives.
Regardless of if you want to feed your dog canned food or dry dog food, we suggest looking for dog foods that list chicken, beef, or salmon as the first few ingredients.
Avoid foods that have high levels of sugar and additives like corn, soy, and wheat.
Because this breed is prone to eye and skin issues, you may be interested in specialty dog foods intended to support skin and eye health.
Regardless of what type of high-quality dog food you choose to feed your pup, you’ll want to make sure it is designed specifically for their age, weight, and activity level.
Also, your pup should eat dog food geared towards larger breed dogs, as larger dogs require certain nutrients for muscle and bone development.
Collie Grooming and General Care
Both Rough and Smooth Collies shed and require a good amount of grooming to keep their coats and skin healthy.
Still, the short hair of the Smooth Collie means their fur doesn’t mat the way the Rough Collie’s fur does.
This means the Rough Collie will need a bit more brushing to ensure his coat stays tangle-free and shiny.
Brushing about two or three times a week should do for this breed, regardless of the variety.
For the Rough Collie, the American Kennel Club (AKC), suggests that special care is taken behind his ears and around his elbows.
Now, let’s find out about his personality and what makes him such a great family dog!
Do Collies Make Good Family Pets?
The Rough Collie makes for an intelligent, family-friendly dog.
They do well in homes that have a large, fenced in backyard and family members who have time to spend with them, train them, and play with them.
A potential Collie owner should keep in mind that they are family-oriented breeds who enjoy being with their people. Thorough socialization as a puppy is vital.
They thrive as part of a family that has flexible work schedules and can spend a lot of time with them.
These are not outdoor dogs and should not be left alone for too long. Boredom and depression can lead to unwanted and destructive behaviors.
If you’re able to properly train and exercise your dog, then you’ll likely find they make an agreeable, fun-loving companion who can get on well with just about everyone!
The Rough Collie requires a bit of maintenance when it comes to grooming.
They shed a lot, so he may not be the best choice for allergy sufferers.
Also, keep in mind that he is a very active dog. He needs more than a few games of fetch or Frisbee to stay healthy.
Training and exercise will be a life-long endeavor with this breed. They will need plenty of training to stay mentally happy.
This is in addition to lots of daily walks, hikes, or jogs and backyard playtime to stay physically fit.
So, if you don’t mind a bit of loose hair on your clothes and furniture, and if you are able to provide your pup with the time, attention, exercise, and grooming they need…
The Collie will likely make the perfect dog for you and your family!
Rescuing a Collie
One of the benefits of going through a shelter or rescue organization is that the price is much less than you will pay for a puppy through a breeder. Adoption fees typically range from $50 to $100.
This is an especially good deal considering that rescues or shelters will often provide vaccinations, de-sexing, and breed-specific health screening.
Great news for both you and your potential pup as you can rest assured he is healthy and ready to go home with you.
Besides being a more economical option, rescuing a dog provides a home for a dog that has lost theirs and possibly saves his life.
Are Rescue Dogs Trouble?
Sometimes people assume that if a dog is a rescue it must have problems, but this is not necessarily true. There are many reasons that people may be unable to keep their amazing dog.
In addition, rescue organizations also often do temperament testing on the rescue animals so you will likely be aware of the dog’s past and personality9
If you have your heart set on a rescue, there are many shelters and rescue clubs available.
Finding a Collie Puppy
If you are smitten with the Rough Collie and would like to look at some puppies, we would love to help!
Here are our tips on how to find the perfect puppy for your household!
If you want to get a pup through a breeder, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to over $1000, especially if your puppy’s parents are show quality.
One of the benefits of going through a reputable breeder is that you will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding temperament and health issues of the parent dogs or previous litters.
Also, a reputable breeder will have previously had their puppies health screened and will be able to provide you with certificates proving their puppies are healthy and ready to be taken home by you.
A good place to start might be looking at our guide to finding your puppy.
Puppy Mills and Pet Store Puppies
It is important to avoid puppies which may be cheaper because they were raised irresponsibly in puppy mills. This includes many sold in pet stores.
In order to raise the puppy with less money, the puppy mill will almost certainly have had to sacrifice on things like cleanliness, health checks of parents and puppies, and early socialization.
Since early experience has a profound impact on the puppy for life, and many such dogs’ lives end tragically, it is best to not support such businesses.
While many of us often think in terms of single pure-bred dogs, mixed breeds are becoming more popular.
In addition to cool features, they also have the advantage of slightly more robust health and longer life.
Raising a Collie Puppy
Caring for a vulnerable puppy is a big responsibility. There are some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training. You’ll find them listed on our puppy page.
Popular Collie Breed Mixes
Comparing the Collie with Other Breeds
Rough Collie vs. Border Collie: Both are highly intelligent, herding breeds. The Border Collie is a bit more high energy, and the Rough Collie a bit more sweet and mellow.
Rough Collie vs. Smooth Collie: Both share many similar traits, however, the Smooth Collie has a short coat.
Rough Collie vs. Golden Retriever: Both are friendly dogs who enjoy attention. Their size is similar. The Golden Retriever’s instincts as a hunter will come out more than in the Collie. The Collie will tend to be more protective (at least with barking) than the retriever.
Other dog breeds you might want to consider:
Pros And Cons of Getting A Collie
- There will be shedding — in abundance.
- It does take some attention to maintain the luxurious coat.
- They may get uncomfortable in very hot weather.
- You will be getting a loving, intelligent companion.
- They are great with kids — your own or others’.
- You can fulfill a childhood dream of having your own Lassie.
Collie Products and Accessories
Here are a few tools that may help you care for your new dog.
- Best Organic Dog Treats – Which Brand Is Best for Your Pup?
- 13 Awesome pet tags you and your pup will love
- The best indoor puppy playpens
Collie Breed Rescues
- Collie Club of America — Rescue (also has a listing of affiliate rescues by state)
- Collie Rescue Foundation (also has a listing of affiliate rescues by state)
Do you have more to add about the beautiful and family-friendly breed? If so, we would love to hear from you in the comments!
This article has been extensively revised and updated for 2019
References And Resources
- Adams VJ, et al. 2010. Results of a Survey of UK Purebred Dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Arvelius P et al. 2014. Genetic Analysis of a Temperament Test as a Toll to Select Against Everyday Life Fearfulness in Rough Collie. Journal of Animal Science.
- Bjerkas E. 1991. Collie Eye Anomaly in the Rough Collie in Norway. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Duffy D et al., 2008. Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behavior Science.
- Gacsi M et al., 2009. Effects of Selection for Cooperation and Attention in Dogs. Behavioral and Brain Functions.
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell.
- Howell, Tiffany j, Tammie King, Pauleen C Bennett, Puppy Parties and Beyond: the role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior, Volume 6, pages 143-153.
- Jeusette I et al., 2006. Hypercholesterolaemia in a Family of Rough Collie Dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Nathan B Sutter and Elaine A Ostrander, Dog Star Rising: The Canine Genetic System, Nature Reviews Genetics.
- O’Neill et al., 2013. Longevity and Mortality of Dogs Owned In England. The Veterinary Journal
- Packer et al., 2015. Impact of Facial Conformation On Canine Health. PlosOne.
- Schalamon et al., 2006. Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years. Pediatrics.
- Strain G., 2004. Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk. The Veterinary Journal.