The majestic Collie, thanks to a hundred years as a pop-culture star, is among the world’s most recognizable and beloved dog breeds. The full-coated ‘rough’ Collie is the more familiar variety, but there is also a sleek ‘smooth’ Collie.
The Collie is a large but lithe herder standing anywhere from 22 to 26 inches tall. The rough variety boasts one of the canine kingdom’s most impressively showy coats; the smooth coat’s charms are subtler but no less satisfying. Coat colors in both varieties are sable and white, tricolor, blue merle, or white. Collie fanciers take pride in their breed’s elegant wedge-shaped head, whose mobile ears and almond eyes convey a wide variety of expressions. Collies are famously fond of children and make wonderful family pets. These swift, athletic dogs thrive on companionship and regular exercise. With gentle training, they learn happily and rapidly. The Collie’s loyalty, intelligence, and sterling character are the stuff of legend.
Queen Victoria’s deep and abiding love for Scotland made a lasting impact on the Collie’s history. It was the dog-loving Victoria, during her many extended stays at Balmoral Castle on the Scottish Highlands, who popularized the local herding breed among her courtiers and subjects during the second half of the 19th century. Her enthusiasm for Collies began the breed’s ascent from humble shepherd dog to worldwide canine superstar.
It is supposed that the Collie’s ancestors reached Scotland nearly 2,000 years before Victoria did, brought by the Romans during their conquest of Britain in the first century of the Common Era. Over several centuries, the Roman herding stock was interbred with local dogs. Sometime during this long unwritten history, we can surmise that a stouthearted sheepherding dog recognizable as the Collie came into focus. (A prevalent theory holds that the name Collie derives from the name of a particular strain of black-faced sheep called colleys.)
The Collie enters the written record around 1800, and by the time Victoria “discovered” the Collie later in the century, the breed’s now-familiar characteristics were set. In 20th-century America, author and dog breeder Albert Payson Terhune popularized the breed for generations of eager young readers, who were thrilled at the adventures of the Sunnybank Collies. In 1940, British author Eric Knight launched one of the great pop-culture franchises of all time with his novel Lassie Come-Home. Thanks to Knight’s books, spin-off movies, and a long-running TV show, Lassie made Collies the ideal canine companion of every child’s fantasy.
Temperament: Graceful / Devoted / Proud
Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 50-75 pounds
Life expectancy: 12-14 years
The Collie Health Foundation has invested lots of research dollars to identify and solve health issues, and their website offers great information on health issues in the breed. The minimum requirement is for puppies between 6-8 weeks old to have an eye check by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist for Collie eye anomaly, an inherited eye disease. Some Collies may also have a sensitivity to certain drugs, known as the MDR1 mutation. More information can be found on this at http://vcpl.vetmed.wsu.edu. Collies typically live from 12 to 14 years and are as a rule healthy, but after doing their research prospective buyers should ask questions of breeders and have an understanding of what health guarantees can be provided.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- PRA Optigten DNA Test
- MDR1 DNA Test
Smooth Collies, while they won’t mat, require regular grooming, as they have a double coat, and the undercoat needs brushing out during shedding periods. Rough Collies need attention to avoid matting, especially in certain areas such as behind the ears and elbows, and to remove loose undercoat. A weekly brushing down to the skin eliminates that problem and keeps the coat and skin healthy. If females are spayed, they do a big shed once a year; if intact, females shed about three months after their heat cycle, and males around their birthday, so those times require a little extra grooming.
While there are variations among individuals and families, Collies generally are quite active and require regular exercise. They need aerobic exercise and the chance to be able to run and play. Teaching them to fetch can provide good exercise, and having a fenced yard where they can run and going on daily walks help too. They should not be relegated to the backyard for long periods of time, as with boredom comes barking. Collies are people dogs and want to be with their owners first and foremost. Ideally, a Collie will be ready to go when it’s time to go, and able to chill when it’s time to chill.The majestic Collie, thanks to a hundred years as a pop-culture star, is among the world's most recognizable and beloved dog breeds. Click To Tweet
While Collies are very smart and easy to train, puppy classes are recommended for general socialization and training. But it shouldn’t end there. Collies love training and learning, and both make for a better companion and build a good relationship with the owner and family. Collies thrive on positive teaching methods. They excel in obedience, agility, and herding, and even barn hunt and lure coursing, and owners will discover something fun to do with their dog!