Breed At A Glance


Sweet, loyal and easy to train

Life Expectancy
14-16 years

Average Height
Males 24-26 inches; Females 22-24 inches

Average Weight
Males 60-75 lbs; Females 50-65 lbs

Coat Color
Sable and white, tri-color (black, white & tan), blue merle, or predominantly white with sable, tri-color or blue merle markings

Coat Length/Texture
Rough variety has a long double coat; Smooth variety has a one-inch coat

Shedding Propensity
Seasonally heavy, twice per year

Also known as Scottish Collie, Rough Collie, Smooth Collie

General Temperament

The Collie’s intelligence, coupled with it’s sweet and gentle nature, have made it one of the top family dogs for the last few decades. Patient and passive, they are especially good with small children and other family pets. As puppies, they sometimes exhibit herding behavior, nipping at the heels of family members, but they usually outgrow this as adults. They are unendingly loyal and protective of their families, especially children. They can sometimes be suspicious of strangers or people they don’t like, but are never aggressive.

They are obedient, sensitive, and extremely easy to train; in fact, they have long been considered one of these easiest dogs in the world to train. Training should be gentle and never heavy-handed, otherwise the dog can become willful and stubborn. But with plenty of positive reinforcement, they are generally eager to please their owners and willing to work. Collie puppies are easy to housetrain, sometimes after only a week once they are 10-12 weeks old.

Collies are an energetic and active dog that functions best with a house with at least a medium-sized fenced yard, although they can do well in an apartment if they are given a long daily walk. They are very devoted and need the attention of their families, and should never be an “outside dog.”

Breed History

The rough-coated Collie, the more familiar of the two coats, originated in Scotland as a herding and guarding dog. The breed’s name most likely comes from it’s charge, the Scottish black-faced sheep called the Colley. After the Industrial Revolution, when dog ownership became popular in England, the Scottish Collie was interbred with the Borzoi to get a more noble-looking head. Laborador Retrievers and Irish Setters were also introduced into the breeding line along the way, giving way to a Collie that was taller and sturdier than what we see today. Over the years, this dog has been bred more as a companion than as a herding dog, and has since been replaced by the Border Collie as a herder in it’s native Britain.

Descended from generations of hard-working herding dogs, the Collie is a conscientious creature of immense intelligence, so much so that he has been trained for many purposes, such as a rescue dog, guide for the blind, movie star, and as a watch dog.

Body Structure and Composition

One of the characteristic features of the Rough Collie is its head, with the lean and tapered muzzle that is light in relation to the rest of the body. The eyes are medium sized and attentive. The ears are generally 3/4 erect with the tips bent forward, although the dog can lay them back or hold them vertical when alert. The rough-coated version has a downy undercoat that is covered by a long, dense, coarse outer coat with a notable ruff around the neck. The smooth-coated variety also has a ruff around the neck, although not as pronounced as it’s rough-coated brother. The Collie body is strong, sturdy and muscular, with a level back and solidly-built legs. The tail is moderately long and carried down or level with the body, but never curled up over the back.

Medical Information

As a result of it’s popularity, the Collie has been subjected to questionable breeding practices in the past, leading to some recurrent inheritable health problems. But they are generally a health breed, as long as the individual dog comes from a reputable breeder with documented health certifications. Some lines are prone to eye problems, including Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA, a condition resulting in degeneration of cells of the retina and eventual loss of sight) and Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA, which can involve retinal degeneration, cataracts, and/or retinal detachment). There are other health problems that occur in this breed, although they are somwhat rare as this is a hearty and healthy breed. These issues can include Hip Dysplasia (when the head of the thigh bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the hip socket, causing loss of mobility and arthritis-like symptoms), Epilepsy (recurrent seizures), and allergies.

Regular brushing of the rough-coated Collie is essential to remove dead hairs and prevent matting. The smooth-coated version takes a bit less maintenance: a good brushing every one to two weeks is acceptable. The rough-coated Collie is sensitive to heat, and should not be left outdoors on a hot day without the protection of a reasonable amount of shade and plenty of water (smooth-coated Collies aren’t as susceptible to heat exhaustion).

Anecdotal Information

The novels of Albert Payson Terhune celebrated the temperament and companionship of Collies and were very popular in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s.

The most famous Collie in the U.S. is arguably the literary representation named Lassie, who has been portrayed in books, television and movies. The character of Lassie was created by author Eric Knight in the short story “Lassie Come Home” published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1938, and as the novel Lassie Come Homein 1940.

The mascot of Texas A&M University is a Collie named Reveille.

The loyalty of the Collie to it’s family has been well-documented throughout recent history. One Collie is even known to have travelled 2,000 miles to reunite with it’s family after it was lost.

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