- Breed group — Herding group (American Kennel Club)
- Height — 22-26 inches
- Weight — 50-75 pounds
- Coat length & texture — Short, dense, and flat or long and rough
- Coat color — Double coat of sable of various shades; tri-color of black, white, and tan; blue merle or a silvery blue to dark gray; or white with markings of previously-mentioned colors. Most collies sport white markings around the collar, chest, and legs, with some donning a white mask called a blaze.
- Exercise needs — Moderate to high
- Intelligence — High
- Barking — High frequency and intensity
- Life span — 12-14 years
- Temperament — Playful, attentive, loyal, and energetic
- Hypoallergenic — No
- Origin — Scotland
Collie fun facts
- The collie breed comes in many shapes and sizes. Most people know the long, elegant coat of the rough collie, but there are two types of collies. Smooth collies have short hair for those looking for a little less grooming fuss.
- Get ready to hear people yell “Lassie!” at every turn. Rough collies are famous for their majestic coat and distinct profile, traits that earned them a spot on the silver and small screens.
- Herding is in their blood. Collies go back hundreds of years as a herding dog for shepherds in northern England and Scotland. To this day, these agile dogs love to show off their wits and leadership.
Collie temperament and characteristics
Collies are celebrated for their sociability, playfulness, and loyalty to their owners, making them great family dogs. Coming from a long line of herding animals, these dogs take to training and love to please. However, with their high intelligence, they tend to get bored when understimulated.
Collies need a firm hand and strong leadership from dedicated and attentive owners. First-time owners, don’t be daunted — these dogs do well in most suburban spaces with walks and plenty of room to run around. With their natural playfulness and energy levels, well-trained collies are also great with kids, so collies make for excellent family dogs, too.
Be aware that collies sometimes like to “herd” small children, which might startle young kids, so it’s best not to leave toddlers alone with these dogs.
Common collie health problems
Collies are a generally healthy breed, but in addition to some common problems many others face, this breed has a few unique health problems to watch.
- Hip dysplasia. Even though the collie is only a medium-sized dog, its hip joints can suffer from hip dysplasia later in life. Symptoms may occur in dogs as young as 1. Owners should watch for visible discomfort and talk to their vet about anti-inflammatory drugs and diet options.
- Collie eye anomaly. This genetic disorder that affects many herding dogs occurs when part of the eye fails to develop properly. Puppies can be easily checked for collie eye anomaly (CEA) at around 6-8 weeks of age by a vet ophthalmologist, and, fortunately, any issues tend to not get worse over time.
- Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). This imposing disorder is also known as bloat, a potentially fatal twisting of the stomach, which can impair blood flow to the stomach and can lead to rupture and life-threatening sepsis. Eating too quickly may lead to air in the digestive tract, which makes bloat much more likely.
- Multi-drug sensitivity (MDR1). Another health issue that is common among collies is this general sensitivity to certain medications . This genetic mutation affects the absorption of drugs, so owners should consult their vets to find alternative medications suitable for their collie.
Cost of caring for collies
With these health concerns in mind, new owners should be aware of the potential costs of treatment and alternative drugs specific to collies and other herding breeds. In addition to the typical costs for routine vet visits, emergency fees for injuries and complications from common conditions may set owners back thousands of dollars.
To offset the surprise costs of such issues, owners should consider investing in pet health insurance, where a few dollars a month can end up saving you thousands. A pet savings account may also be a viable option for those looking to squirrel away a rainy day fund for their new family member.
History of the collie
Collies originally hail from the Scottish highlands where they dutifully looked after and guided flocks of sheep and other livestock for hundreds of years as a cherished herding breed. Over time, though, their noble silhouette and lithe, agile stature guided them to the show floor and the silver screen.
The long, fitted coat of the rough collie has swept people away in dog shows and dog sports across the world since the late 1800s — the breed even has a popular dedicated category at the famous Westminster Dog Show. Queen Victoria is known for cherishing the collie breed’s beauty. Beyond the show floor, the collie is perhaps even better known for its screen presence.
Both a major motion picture “Lassie Come Home” and a beloved television show “Lassie,” adapted from the 1940 novel by Eric Knight, made America fall in love with the elegant pointed snout of the titular Lassie. She is a rough collie always looking out for her family, especially for little Timmy with his tendency to get into all sorts of trouble. Today, collies are cherished for their utility and loyalty in the home, on the range, and the screen.
Many other breeds share the collie name and classification. The excitable border collie, the dutiful Australian shepherd, and many other herding dogs are all considered collies; however, most dog lovers in the United States think of the rough collie by default.
Caring for your collie
Collies are loving and take to training well, but they can still be an intimidating breed to provide proper care for. If you start strong with early vet visits and proper vaccinations, you can feel confident you’ll begin your new adventure off on the right paw.
If you’re looking for even more ways to prepare your home for a new pup or puppy, betterpet has you covered with detailed how-to guides for puppy-proofing your home and prepping for the harrowing teething process of young dogs. And, of course, to ensure you know where your dog is at all times, it’s a good idea to consider looking into FidoAlert.
This community-based tool is for quickly recovering missing pooches; even a dog as dedicated as the collie can wander off without you noticing.
Collies are built for running and activity, so they need a bit more movement to get enough exercise compared to other breeds. These agile herders need at least two hours of exercise a day, which can be split across multiple morning and evening walks and time spent playing fetch and chasing squirrels in the backyard. These dogs are smart, too, so stimulate their minds as they work out the zoomies.
Play games, teach tricks, or maybe even consider making an agility course. Just be wary of the summer heat; those long coats warm up quickly in the sun, but smooth collies handle the heat a little better since their coats are much shorter.
With that eye-catching long coat, you’d think that the collie is a high-maintenance dog, but, fortunately, you can keep your new friend looking show floor ready with a few thorough brushings with a pin brush each week. Collies, with their high intelligence and mischievous streak, can, however, get into some messes. Planning for occasional baths with high-quality shampoos is a good idea as well.
Diet and nutrition
Collies are a pretty active breed, so plenty of high-quality dog food and fresh water is a must for both puppies and adults. Puppies need to be fed frequently, starting at four times per day and gradually tapering off to two times as your collie grows into adulthood. Most collies need around two cups of food a day, and you’ll spread that out over multiple feedings. Each brand is a little different, so make sure to read up on what is considered appropriate for a medium-sized dog.
Keeping the feeding schedule consistent is vital as well as it helps establish a routine and will aid in training your new dog. Of course, your dog deserves the best, so consult your vet and do plenty of research when picking your brand of dog food.
Training your collie
With their high intelligence and desire to please, collies take to training well as long as owners are dedicated and consistent with that training.
Housetraining a collie puppy should be a simple affair because they are so naturally curious and attentive, but do note that collies have sharp hearing, and your new puppy may be easily distracted by strange sounds at first. You can use this trait to your advantage by incorporating a clicker for positive reinforcement into your training routine.
Collies are natural herders, so they like to be active and intellectually engaged. As they grow, take them out into the yard or somewhere with plenty of space to encourage them to move around as you train.
Breeds similar to the collie
Not quite sure that a collie is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- Australian shepherd. These herding dogs have boundless energy and are perfect for you if you want the collie’s playful mobility taken to the extreme.
- Border collie. As the name implies, these dogs are a type of collie, but they are a bit smaller and much more playful.
- Shetland sheepdog. These pups are the fun-sized version of the charm and elegance of the rough collie. These are perfect for potential owners with limited space.
Frequently asked questions
Do collies bark a lot?
They sure do! Collies were bred for herding, so they have calls for alerting and directing baked into their genes. Keeping your collie stimulated can prevent boredom barking, though.
What’s the difference between a rough collie and a smooth collie?
Rough collies sport the picturesque long sable coat made famous by Lassie, and smooth collies have much shorter and more manageable coats.
Are collies calm dogs?
While collies do like exercise and demand mental stimulation, they are generally calm and gentle creatures. If a collie is acting restless, they likely just need a short walk or some loving attention.
How do I care for the rough collie’s beautiful coat?
A 10-minute brushing a few times a week will do the trick, and you should consider bathing your dog every 1-3 months, depending on how often they like to roll in puddles. Collies, though, are a generally clean breed.
Do collies shed?
They do, usually once or twice a year as the seasons change. Keep up with the brushing, though, and you shouldn’t come across too many clumps of long hair around your house.