The Collie


The Collie was used extensively as a herding dog and hailed from the highlands of Scotland and Northern England. The true popularity of the breed came about during the 1860’s when Queen Victoria visited the Scottish Highlands and fell in love with the breed. From that point on Collies became very fashionable. The Collie’s character has been further romanticized and portrayed as the ideal family companion by  such authors as Albert Payson Terhune (“Lad of Sunnybank,”) Eric Knight (“Lassie Come Home,”) and in the 1950s TV series “Lassie.”


The Collie breed comes in two different varieties – the Rough and the Smooth. The two varieties are identical with the exception of the coat. The Smooth has a short, dense and flat coat, while the Rough Collie has a long, well-fitting, harsh-textured coat. It is abundant everywhere except on the head and legs and it is the crowning glory of the Rough variety of Collie.


Collies come in (4) different colors. The color long associated with the breed, thanks in part to Lassie, is the sable color. This color can range from a light golden tan to a rich mahogany color. The tricolor is black, white & tan. Blue Merle can range from a pale, silvery blue coloring, to a darker gray color, with black body spots of various sizes. The fourth color is white, which is a predominantly white body, with either sable, tri or blue markings, usually on the head. Typically all Collies are marked with the traditional white collar, chest, legs, feet, tail tip and sometimes white facial markings, called a blaze.


The Collie is a medium-sized dog, with females ranging from 22″ to 24″ and males ranging from 24″ to 26″ at maturity. Weights can range from 50 to 70 pounds.


Typically Collies live 10 to 14 years, with the median age being 12, although some have gone well into their 15th or 16th year.


Not only are they beautiful, but they are intelligent, friendly, loyal, loving and sensitive. They are real family dogs and are noted for being very people-friendly. Likewise, they are easy to train. In addition to being very clean dogs, they are one of the easiest breeds to housebreak. Typically the Collie is not a one-man dog. If raised properly and treated with respect, they make an ideal pet for the entire family. They are not recommended as a complete outside/backyard dog and under no circumstances should a Collie ever be chained or tied up. If kept outside for long periods of time with no human contact, they can become easily bored, as well as lonely. This can result in a noisy, unhappy dog. Collies, along with many other herding dogs, have long been known for their barking tendencies. They are notorious people dogs, known for wanting to be with their owners. They make great couch potatoes! While they are excellent watchdogs, they are not known for being aggressive. A Collie should never be nervous, shy or fearful. They love to play, retrieve and to go for long walks. In essence, they make great companions for young or old.


One of his greatest assets is his natural love of children. Even when not raised with children, the Collie can be charming, playful and protective with most well behaved kids. Stories have abounded for years of children guarded and protected by the family Collie.


A common misconception is that the Collie needs daily brushing or frequent bathing. The amount of coat care is dependent upon the amount of coat a dog may have and the time of year. Rough Collies in full coat should be brushed once a week or every two weeks. A dog that is out of coat or in summer coat is going to need less grooming. Spayed females and males shed once a year. Intact females shed according to their heat cycle. The smooth coated variety will require less brushing and maintenance, but both varieties do shed. Collies are a very clean breed and are noted for not having a doggie odor frequently found with some other breeds. It is recommended that the puppy or adult dog receive a Microchip implant or a tattoo for future identification purposes.


You should do your homework before purchasing a dog or puppy by reading up on the breed and talking and visiting with various breeders. And most importantly, by seeing the dogs. This can either be done at dog shows, performance events or by visiting a breeder’s home or kennel. The Collie has a rich and loyal following. People who love Collies for all the reasons the breed is famous for, usually do so for life! Once you have determined what you want in a dog and evaluated your lifestyle, make sure you have the desire and ability to commit to the lifetime of the dog. The Collie is the most beautiful and most noble of all the breeds and they deserve only the best!


This is the single most important thing you will do in selecting a puppy. Don’t be offended by the breeder who asks you a million questions. It only means that they care about where their puppy is going and the kind of life it will lead. Will the breeder take the puppy back if the buyer is no longer able to keep or care for the puppy? Check out the breeder’s environment. Dogs or puppies should be housed in clean, parasite and odor-free surroundings. Warning signs are matted, dirty smelling coats, inflamed, matter-filled eyes, flea and fly infestation, and/or scars on the faces and ears. The environment says a lot about the breeder. Puppies should come with a health guarantee, a schedule of shots and dewormings, given and due, and a feeding schedule. Depending on local laws, the best age for a puppy to go to his new home is 8 to 10 weeks.


Responsible breeders breed only purebred dogs that are eligible for registration with the American Kennel Club. This does not guarantee quality or health, it only guarantees the purebred nature of the particular animal. A pedigree (or family tree) is provided by most breeders.


As a rule the Collie is a healthy/hardy breed. However, the Collie, like all breeds of dogs, has certain health issues. Collie Eye Anomaly is an inherited eye disease that is present at birth. Collie eyes can be easily checked when the puppies are 5-6 weeks old, by a qualified Board Certified Ophthalmologist.

It is something that the average Veterinarian is not qualified to diagnose. Do not buy a Collie from a breeder who hasn’t had the dog’s eyes checked or doesn’t offer a certificate of its status.


In some instances, Collies have been known to have sensitivity to certain drugs, such as Ivermectin (for Heartworm control). If you live in an area prone to Heartworm, please do not use any heartworm preventative containing Ivermectin as the active ingredient. For more information, please visit the Collie Health Foundation’s page on Ivermectin ( or the Washington State page on Multi-drug Sensitivity ( /ivermectin/index.asp).


Collies often do well in obedience, agility and herding. They will at the very least love the resulting attention, and you will have a well-behaved dog!


Expect a responsible breeder or rescue organization to require you to sign a contract agreeing to spay or neuter your Collie at the appropriate time. The breeder has a large investment in insuring the genetic health of each puppy he produces and wants to ensure that his precious puppies are not bred indiscriminately without proper health screening. Neutering also eliminates problems caused by heat cycles in females or territory marking by males.


The Collie Club of America is the national Collie club. It has been in existence for 120 years, and is there to protect and promote the breed, with members in every state. Members are bound by a code of ethics and should be your first point of contact if you are considering adding a Collie to your home. Most states have a representative that is an excellent source of first contact to add a Collie to your household.

( As a member, you will receive a bi-monthly Bulletin and an annual Yearbook. The club secretary’s address can be found at


Collie Club of America (

Collie Health Foundation (

Collies Online (


The Magnificent Collie, Collie Concept and The New Collie.


Collie Expressions (

and the AKC Gazette. (