Collie Dogs
Information, Behavior and Training

Everybody is familiar with Collie dogs courtesy of the famous television show "Lassie". But even in real life, this breed remains the perfect portrait of loyalty and affection.

Collies are sweet-natured dogs that crave human attention and companionship. They also have an innate predisposition to be responsive towards humans.

If you are considering opening your home and heart to this breed, make sure you understand this breed's needs for companionship and attention.

Whether you are thinking about buying a puppy or adopting an adult dog and want to know if this is the right breed for you or just want to learn more about this breed, I hope this article will help you find the answers to your questions.

Breed History

Surprisingly, very little is known about this breed's ancestry. Some historians believe that its ancestors were introduced to the British Islands by Roman conquerors about 2,000 years ago.

What we do know is that the breed as we know it today originates from Scotland, more precisely the Highland regions. Also known as Collis, Colley, Coally, and Coaly, Collie dogs were used mainly for the purpose of herding sheep, goats and cattle.


The name of the breed comes from the Scottish word "colley" which means "black sheep".

Until about 2 centuries ago, Collies were used strictly as working dogs and didn't look anything like the Collie of today. However, some breeders began to refine the breed in the early 19th century, splitting it into 2 distinct breeds - a much larger breed that we know as the Collie and a working dog, known as the Scotch or Farm Collie. Actually, there is no standard for the Scotch Collie and it's rather a type of a dog, not a breed.

The breed became popular after Queen Victoria discovered and fell in love with it during one of her visits to her Scottish retreat. Many other members of the Royal Family and aristocracy have owned the breed. Other famous owners included Gloria Swanson, President Coolidge and J.P. Morgan, whose Collie puppies had won numerous dog competitions in the early 1900s.

The breed was introduced to the United States in the late 19th century. It was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885 and categorized under the herding group. The Collie Club of America was founded in 1886.

Today, Collie dogs are commonly used in Search and Rescue, drug detection, as therapy dogs and, of course, as pets and companions.

Collie Dog Cleseup

Breed Profile

Overall, the Collie is a portrait of balance and harmonious proportions. The American Kennel Club depicts them as "floating over the ground" when they are running. Collies come in two coat varieties - rough (more popular) and smooth coat Collie.

The muscular body boasts a moderately long neck that is heavily frilled and kept proudly arched. The deep chest features well-rounded ribs and leads to a strong, level back. The tail is typically carried low when calm, but readily perks up when the dog is excited; however, it doesn't typically reach over the back.

The front legs have flexible pasterns and present as straight and muscular. The rear legs appear less muscular and feature well-bent hocks and stifles. The feet are overall small, oval and tough, presenting well-arched toes.

The head is never massive but is rather light. The ears are proportioned and shouldn't be either too large or too small. The nose is black. Collie eyes are dark, almond-shaped and bright, giving this breed an overall intelligent and inquisitive expression. Merle or china-colored eyes are not faulted in blue merles. The teeth must meet in a scissor bite.

The beautiful Collie coat is double, boasting a straight, harsh top coat and a soft, furry under coat. Four colors are acceptable in this breed - sable and white, tri-color, blue merle and white. The smooth Collie and rough Collie puppies are judged by the same standard. The only difference is that the smooth variety is expected to have a shorter and harder flat coat.

    Height Weight
  Male 24 to 26 inches 60 to 80 pounds
  Female 22 to 24 inches 55 to 65 pounds

You may have seen dogs that resemble bred-down version of the Collie. Most likely, what you are seeing is simply a Shetland Sheepdog. Even though similar, Shetland Sheepdogs and Collies were bred independently. If you see an ad from somebody selling a Miniature Collie, chances are, the breeder has no clue on what a real Sheltie or Collie is, or he is purposely trying to deceive you.


Sweet, sensitive, loyal, good-natured and intelligent. These are just a few common adjectives used to depict this breed. But despite Collie's reputation for making good family dogs, it's important to remember that these dogs have a past heritage as working dogs and remain herding dogs at heart.

Collie Dog Facing the Camera

As herders, you may notice how Collie pups may have a natural predisposition to herd animals and humans, especially children. It's important to teach them at an early age that humans are not cattle or sheep!

While generally polite with strangers, Collie dogs require early socialization. This helps boost this breed's confidence and helps prevent excessive timidity. When it comes to watchdog qualities, Collie dogs fit the role very well, and without being aggressive.

Overall, this breed fares well with children. However, it's important to teach children how to treat this breed, and all dogs for that matter, with respect. No child and dog should ever be left alone unsupervised.

This breed is generally peaceful with other dogs but should be monitored around small pets as they may trigger its predatory drive.

When it comes to training, use gentle methods. This breed is sensitive and will not take well to harsh training methods and intimidating tones of voice. Loads of praise, gentle guidance and rewards will help keep this breed motivated and eager to work. Because it's a very clean breed, Collie puppies are easy to housebreak.

Best Owner and Living Conditions

As mentioned earlier, this is a sensitive and peaceful breed. A loud and boisterous household filled with tension may be too much for it to handle. Stress, anxiety and neurotic behaviors may be the outcome.

Despite being all-around farm dogs, Collie dogs can thrive in a variety of environments. An apartment, a farm and a single-home dwelling with or without a yard are all places these dogs can live in as long as they aren't left alone for too long and are provided outlets for pent-up energy.

Activity and Exercise

Despite their past as herders, Collie dogs do not require excessive amounts of vigorous exercise to be happy. More than exercise, this breed craves attention. If you spend a lot of time outside the home, this breed may suffer from separation anxiety and may engage in destructive chewing and howling sessions.

While you won't need to jog with this breed for miles, Collie dogs are still working dogs that require regular opportunities to vent their energy and keep their minds stimulated. Daily walks, fun games and romps in the park will work wonders. However, if you really want to see a Collie in action, you should try to enrolling him in herding trials or the new sport of Treibball.


Collie Grooming

That beautiful Collie coat comes at a price. Both rough and smooth Collie varieties are heavy shedders so be prepared for loads of dead hairs covering every inch of your home. Brush several times per week, more often during the heavy shedding that occurs in the spring and fall. Bathe only when necessary.

Health Concerns

When it comes to health, the Collie breed may be predisposed to several health conditions. Hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, Collie nose, Collie eye anomaly, dermatomyositis and Collie granuloma are a few disorders known to affect this breed.

Visit dog health problems to learn more about dog diseases and health care.

Purchasing Collie puppies from reputable Collie breeders is a good step in reducing the chances for these disorders.

Even healthy dogs get sick. While many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, there are many others that you may handle on your own. Learn how to save time and money (and how to prevent small problems from becoming big problems) by diagnosing and treating dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.

Two Collie Dogs

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for Collie dogs is between 12 and 16 years.

Final Thoughts...

Collie dogs make treasured and devoted friends and, just like Lassie, are blessed with that uncanny ability to know when something is not right. Countless stories of Collies coming to the rescue abound among owners of this breed, which is another good reason to cherish Collie dogs.

Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?

If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Collie rescue and adoption center. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.

Related Articles

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? Then check this Collie Behavior and Obedience Training Guide.


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Collie Dogs » Dog Breeds

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