Collie Dog Breed Information Guide


Thanks to the famously serendipitous Lassie, the Collie is probably the best known breed in North America. The Collie sports a lustrous sable coat that dances in the wind, and an alert, intelligent expression that is universally loved.

The Collie was bred as a herding dog and his love of chasing all that moves remains today. Collies are an elegant and loyal breed that gives as much affection as he receives. There is a certain glamour that is inextricably tried to the Collie, a sense of awe and admiration is common with onlookers. Famously intelligent, and fashionably groomed, the Collie is by all accounts, a star!

Collie History

Despite being a relatively young breed, little is definitively known about the Collie’s history. It is believed that the Collie is somehow related to the Border Collie, although no significant evidence exists. And the Collie’s name is equally uncelebrated. There is some speculation that the name Collie is derived from the Gaelic word madra caorach meaning sheep dog. This idea has been cemented as the Celts were among the first to use the Collie as general farm and herding dogs.

It was not until the 1800’s that the Collie’s services were well documented. By this time, a smooth coated Collie and a rough coated Collie had similar, but distinct jobs. The smooth coated Collie was employed to drive cattle as necessary whereas the rough coated Collie was used to guard flocks of sheep. The latter was chosen for his warmer coat and his ability to withstand more inclement weather.

The naturally handsome appearance of both varieties of Collies soon caught the attention of fanciers and efforts to refine them began. An especially elegant specimen named Old Cockie was thought to be responsible for establishing a taller stature and for popularizing the sable colour. By 1860, Queen Victoria took an interest in the breed and a Collie was added to the Royal Kennel. Not surprisingly, the aristocracy quickly followed suit and the Collie’s popularity in England soared.

Meanwhile, North Americans were slow to follow. There, the Collie continued to endlessly toil in farmers fields unaware of his counterpart’s comeuppance. Eventually though, the stateside Collie shed his humble chains and was rewarded with regal leisure. Some of the most prestigious estates in North America selected the Collie as their stately pet. With the fortune came the fame and the glamorous Collie was immortalized as Lassie, the preposterously intelligent star of the silver screen. This exposure catapulted the Collie into the all-time favourite breed in America.

Collie Appearance

The Collie appears alert and dignified. His facial features are sharp and his muzzle is quite narrow. There are two possible coats; the smooth coated Collie and the rough coated Collie.

The less popular smooth coated Collie is identical to the rough coated Collie in all ways except the coat. The rough coated Collie sports a expansive mane and heavy tail and leg feathering. Additionally, the rough coated Collie had longish fur on his underside that extends midway to the ground. The smooth coat variety has much shorter hair and a minimal mane.

Collie Temperament

The intelligence of the Collie has been touted as near miraculous, but this is more myth than reality. The Collie, while quite intelligent, does not have encyclopaedic knowledge of the law so don’t expect Lassie. But, the Collie is a sensitive and devoted dog who will do all within his power to please his owners. This graciousness extends to other family pets, even if this pet is (horrors) feline. Children will be treated with kindness and patience when it is reciprocated. But, once a child upsets or spooks a Collie, this breed will be cautious for some time after.

Collies can be timid and be spooked by loud voices, sudden noises and other unexpected sights and sounds. Sometimes the Collie can act defensively if frightened, and this can be in the way of a nip to the heel. Small children may play too rambunctiously and the Collie can be scared by this. And, a Collie’s sensitivity causes him great anxiety in disharmonious environments. He has, to be frank, a rather delicate constitution.

Collie Exercise Info

The Collie will need a good daily walk, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5 kilometres. Additionally, the Collie will love vigorous yard games, especially if there is an element of herding involved. Collies are at their happiest when allowed to run off leash in an area designed for this purpose. A Collie will not be aggressive with other canine pals at the dog park, although he may try to herd them. There is one caveat; be certain to have your Collie well trained to sit while you remove the leash and return to you when requested. Collies have unmatched ability to instantly change speed and direction and anyone less than an Olympian will never catch a Collie.

Collie Grooming Info

The degree of grooming your Collie will require depends on whether your dog has a smooth or rough coat. The smooth coat Collie requires less brushing – a weekly brush will do. This weekly routine should be sufficient to allow the Collie’s natural oils to add shine to your Collie’s coat. The rough coated Collie demands far more attention.

The voluminous mane on the rough coated Collie is white and fluffy. It dances gaily in the wind as the Collie prances majestically by. But the effect will be lost if your Collie’s mane is unstylishly matted with the ghosts of dinners past and heaven-knows-what else. To keep your rough coated Collie at his regal best, the mane needs daily brushing and spot-cleaning. In spring, you could make pillows with the shed unless you are most vigilant. Both the smooth and rough haired Collie will shed-a-plenty, but the rough haired shed will astound you!

Collie Training Info

Contrary to the Hollywood portrayal, a Collie cannot be trained to recognize a money laundering operation. That being said, the Collie is quite intelligent, sensitive and highly trainable. But training a Collie is a delicate procedure for this breed is a headstrong mix of fear, stubbornness and manipulation. So, the successful trainer will begin training early, and demonstrate with absolute consistency that only proper behaviour is acceptable. With a Collie, training with too firm a voice will cause the dog to wither. Your tone should be patient but definite. And, a Collie will not respond to a yanking leash. This strategy is doomed to failure as most Collies will become quickly annoyed and refuse further participation. Seek professional Collie trainers for advice and coaching if you are new to Collie ownership.

Collie Health Info

Some common health concerns for your Collie include; CEA, PRA, gastric torsion, dermatomyositis, demodicosis, seizures, microphthalmia, CHD and cyclic neutropenia.

Collie Right Breed Info

Collies need domestic harmony and a peaceful life. They are skittish by nature and will languish in homes with wild play and unrest. So, before buying a Collie, consider whether your home can provide the tranquility Collies crave. City folk with young children and hectic schedules may find the Collie too demanding of their time. Collies won’t sit passively by if they are ignored. Collies will act out in protest and can bark relentlessly if left unsupervised.

Suburbanites with larger properties may find the Collie to be an amiable pet, especially if they live in a quiet neighbourhood. The elderly will enjoy the Collie’s gentle nature, but there are exercise and grooming needs to be considered. The ideal adoptive family spends much of their time at home, has a large fenced yard and grown, calm children. A single, active person with few commitments can also provide an excellent home for a Collie.

When purchasing your Collie, resist the urge to purchase a dog inexpensively from a pet store or from an advertisement in a newspaper. You may unwittingly buy a mal-adjusted, sick, puppy mill dog. This is to be avoided at all costs.

More Information about the Collie Dog Breed

Collie on Wikipedia