Collie Breed Guide

Collies are large, light, and graceful dogs with beautiful, bushy coats. The breed may have either a rough or a smooth coat in four colors: sable and white, blue merle, tri-color, and white. The outer coat is harsh and straight, while the undercoat is soft, close, and furry. These dogs have abundant hair on the frill and mane. They have wedge-shaped heads and almond-shaped, medium-sized eyes. Their bodies are firm and muscular. Collies measure 22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 50 to 70 pounds. With proper care, they live up to 14 or 15 years.

Because they are very low-maintenance dogs and tend not to be demanding, destructive, or needy, some people consider Collies ideal family pets, especially for busy people.

Devoted companion animals, Collies love and get along well with children. They are an excellent choice as a family dog and they love and protect their entire family. Unlike some other breeds, Collies do not become overly attached to a single member of the household.

Collies are a popular choice for movies and television shows due to their gentle nature and striking appearance. But unlike Lassie, the most well known Collie, this breed is not known for being a natural babysitter or rescue dog.

Collies are loyal and mild-mannered dogs that love people. They are also an intelligent and sensitive breed, and they may be wary of strangers or seem standoffish or aloof when around unfamiliar people. With loved ones, they are warm and affectionate.

Because they are very low-maintenance dogs and tend not to be demanding, destructive, or needy, some people consider Collies ideal family pets, especially for busy people. However, this breed can be moody and will get into trouble if left alone for long periods. In general, though, Collies are mostly amiable and well-behaved, and they tend to think before they act, a trait that sets them apart from most other dog breeds.

Collies need daily walks lasting from 30 to 45 minutes, but they are also happy playing the role of couch potato. They enjoy a fun play session with their human family members and are almost always happier indoors than outside. In fact, when these dogs are at the dog park, they are more often seen standing at the edge observing than joining in with the other dogs. This is partly due to their lack of interest in running around aimlessly and partly due to their natural aloofness around strange animals.

Collies are prone to a number of health conditions that may interfere with quality or length of life. The breed is at increased risk for Collie eye anomaly, which is a condition that affects a large number of Collies and leads to blindness, distichiasis, pyrotraumatic dermatitis, deafness, cerebellar abiotrophy (rough-coated), hip dysplasia, arthritis, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, and bloat. Patent ductus arteriosis, a congenital heart defect, also affects the breed.

Collies are also known to suffer from multiple drug sensitivities resulting from a genetic mutation in the multi-drug resistance gene (MDR1). Having this condition can cause dogs to experience serious or fatal reactions to several common drugs, including ivermectin, a common heartworm preventive, and loperamide, which is an antidiarrheal agent. Additionally, Collies are very sensitive to heat and their noses are prone to sunburn.

Routine veterinary care, preventative vaccinations, regular exercise, and proper nutrition help ensure Collies live 10 to 14 years.

Collies are intelligent and eager to please, but they can also be stubborn. These dogs are also unusually sensitive; they become depressed if their feelings or hurt or if they are harshly criticized. They respond best to consistent, positive, reward-based training, and they especially enjoy being praised for good performance. Repetitive obedience exercises are likely to bore this breed, and this can quickly undermine training. It's essential to keep training sessions short and to mix things up to keep these dogs interested and paying attention.

Although they are generally well behaved, Collies are vocal dogs and barking can become a problem, especially if not dealt with during training. Boredom is the primary reason these dogs bark excessively. In fact, boredom is the primary reason for most of the Collie's negative behaviors.

Due to their herding instincts, these dogs may nip at the heels of children or herd the neighbor's cats or chickens. These behaviors should not be tolerated. Regular exercise outside ensures these dogs are calm and quiet inside. Fortunately, Collies are very easy to house-train and rarely misbehave when given plenty of love and attention.

These dogs are not a good choice for anyone allergic to canine dander. Collies shed all year, and rough-coated Collies go through a heavy shed twice a year. During this time, it's important to brush the coat daily to keep loose hair under control. Smooth-coated Collies don't blow their coat, but they shed more throughout the year than rough-coated dogs do.

When shedding is not an issue, a thorough brushing once or twice each week will keep the skin and coat healthy and the Collie's hair free of tangles. A soft slicker brush or rubber curry brush is great for getting through the coat and removing dead hair. Failure to groom the Collie regularly will result in significant tangles and matting and a frizzy look to the coat.

These dogs have no odor and are very clean, so they rarely need bathing. The nails need trimming every few weeks, and the teeth should be brushed regularly to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Also, it's important to clean and check the ears weekly to prevent and identify ear infections.

The Collie's exact origin in unknown, but these dogs have been around for centuries as herding dogs in England and Scotland. Originally, their primary use was as droving dogs, guiding sheep and cows to market.

The breed may get its name from a breed of black-faced sheep in Scotland called the Colley. Very few records of the breed's beginnings were kept, as shepherds were much less interested in maintaining pedigrees than in the working abilities of their dogs.

During the 1860s, Collies became very popular when Queen Victoria fell in love with the breed when visiting the Scottish Highlands. Collies have continued to surge in popularity, and they are now commonly kept in the United States as companion animals.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Collie in 1885.