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Nicole Cosgrove

June 21, 2021
Scotch Collie (rough collie) running in grass
Image credit: Chris Rinckes, Shutterstock
The Collie comes in two varieties, the Rough or Long Haired Collie and the Smooth Collie. In some countries including the US, these are two versions of the same breed. In other places like the UK these are two separate breeds. It is a large purebred bred originally for herding and now talented in other areas such as competitive obedience, guarding, search and rescue, guide dogs, agility and tracking. As great as it is as a working dog it is also a great family dog.
Here is the Collie at a Glance
Name Collie
Other Names Rough Collie, Smooth Collie, Scottish Collie, Long-Haired Collie, English Collie,
Nicknames Lassie Dog
Origin United Kingdom
Average size Large
Average weight 60 to 75 pounds
Average height 22 to 26 inches
Life span 8 to 14 years
Coat type Long, double, dense or Smooth, double, short, dense, flat
Hypoallergenic No
Color Tan, mahogany, sable, white, black, blue merle
Popularity Quite popular – ranked 36th by the AKC
Intelligence Quite intelligent
Tolerance to heat Good – can handle fairly warm climates
Tolerance to cold Very good – does a little better in colder climates
Shedding Constant and even heavier twice a year, the Smooth collie can shed a little less but is still a big shedder
Drooling Low – not a dog prone to drooling
Obesity Average – possible but it is not highly prone
Grooming/brushing High maintenance especially the long coated ones, brush daily
Barking Occasional to frequent (if bored)
Exercise needs Quite active – regular exercise will be needed
Trainability Easy to train – obedient dog
Friendliness Excellent – very social dog
Good first dog Very good – as long as you are prepared for the shedding and grooming!
Good family pet Excellent – great family dog
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good with socialization – has a high prey drive
Good with strangers Very good – approachable
Good apartment dog Moderate to good – can adapt but best in a larger home with a yard
Handles alone time well Moderate – prefers not to be left alone for long periods
Health issues Good – some health issues including skin issues, collie nose, eye problems and dysplasia
Medical expenses $485 a year including basic care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for dry dog food and pet treats
Miscellaneous expenses $645 a year for license, basic training, grooming, toys and other miscellaneous costs
Average annual expense $1400 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 4 Maimings: 3 Child victims: 4 Deaths: 1

The Collie’s Beginnings

The Smooth and Rough Collie both have the same beginnings coming from a local herding dog in Scotland. It comes from the Highlands mostly but was also bred and used as a herding dog in some of the Lowlands and the north of England. Reference to it can be found in the 1700s but it had been there for hundreds of years in some form as a working dog guarding and herding flocks of highland sheep. It is speculated that they descend from shepherd dogs brought over by the Romans. Even its name has unclear origins.

In the 19th century on one of her visits to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Queen Victoria saw the Collie and brought a Rough Collie back with her to England. Her favor of the breed also led to them becoming more popular in England and moving from just a working dog to being bred for shows and as a companion. It was first shown at a dog show in 1860 in Birmingham under the class Scotch Sheep Dogs. The Collie Club in England formed in 1881.

In 1879 it was imported to the US and the Collie Club of America was formed in 1886. It is actually one of the oldest breed clubs in the US. The American Rough Collie was still in development by the turn of the century and British bred Collies were still more successful in dog shows. But over the next 20 years improvements were made.

New Lease on Life

Breeding for show purposes has changed its appearance over the years. In the 1960s it was a lot taller than the UK’s Collie today, though the US version remains taller too. In the UK it became more of a companion dog than a herding dog as the Border Collie took over that role. Recently in some countries there has been a renewal in using them as a working dog. Overall the Rough Collie is more popular then the Smooth and the Smooth is more popular in Britain than in the US.

Interestingly in the US the Smooth and the Rough Collie are both seen as the same breed with just a different coat. As such in shows they are judged by the same standards apart from the coat. They are allowed to interbreed and statistics refer to the Collie rather than one or the other. In the UK and other countries they are two separate breeds though recently in 1993 the Kennel Club there did allow for interbreeding. The most famous Collie is probably Lassie from the movies and this even led to the dogs often being called Lassie dogs. It is currently ranked 36th most popular dog by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Collie is a large dog weighing 60 to 75 pounds and standing 22 to 26 inches tall. In the US the Collie tends to be larger than the UK version. Both coat types have double coat, the longer ones are harsh and dense and shorter ones lay flat. The longer coats have a ruff around the neck. Common colors are red, sable, white, black, tan, mahogany and blue merle. It has a strong and lean body that tends to be a little longer than its tail and a long neck. The tail is fairly long and is held low and it has a deep chest.

It has a rounded muzzle, black nose and almond shaped medium sized eyes that can be dark brown, blue or one of each. Ears are ¾ erect, small with tips that fold forwards. Often ears are taped when they are young to ensure they tip to show standards. This does not hurt the dog. Dogs not being bred for show though may have ears that do not tip.


The Collie is a very social and friendly dog and is a breed suitable for new owners as it is not too hard to train or care for (apart from its shedding). It is intelligent and responsive and is also alert making it a very good watchdog. It has some protective instincts and is very loyal so as well as letting you know of an intruder it will also likely act to defend you.

A well bred and raised Collie should not be nervous or aggressive, it should be gentle but should have socialization to help with shyness. It can be quite vocal and some respond to training to stop this while some do not. How much herding instinct they have also varies, some will try to herd the kids and pets and some will not. In general though it is a great family dog.

It is eager to please and fairly active so will need enough physical and mental stimulation otherwise it can display destructive behavior from boredom. It is a happy dog, very good natured but likes to get a lot of attention and can become unhappy if left alone for too long or not involved with family activity. It is sensitive and dies best in homes where there is not a lot of shouting or tension. Some Collie experts say Smooth Collies tend to be more outgoing and extroverted and the Rough Collie tends to be more calm and reserved.

Living with a Collie

What will training look like?

Collies are intelligent and eager to please, they listen well usually so training is fairly easy. Sometimes when you get ones from poor lines the training can prove to be harder but the good ones need fewer repetition than most dogs. Early socialization along with the training is essential as there is a chance it can become overly timid and nervous. With socialization it can be a more confident and happy dog.

It can have a moderately stubborn streak sometimes and they are also sensitive so will respond very poorly to harshness, scolding or impatience. Stay calm but firm, be positive and patient. Avoid jerking them or physical corrections as this can confuse them. Use your voice and guide them and praise them. Treats are effective too. Part of the training should include a quiet command. House training should be fairly easy.

How active is the Collie?

Although the Collie does come from being a working breed it is not excessively active but regular stimulation, physical and mental is still important. This is not a dog well suited for apartment living as access to at least an average sized yard is best for it. It will need two good walks a day as well as opportunities to play. Going somewhere where it can run free off leash is also a good idea. Dog parks will give it that as well as socialization opportunities.

Caring for the Collie

Grooming needs

The Rough Collie needs more grooming than the Smooth Collie. Both shed constantly and have two seasonal blow outs where the amount is very high and heavy. The Rough sheds slightly more though plus having a long coat it means the brushing is harder to do. Daily brushing should be undertaken for the long coats, one or twice a week should suffice for the short coat. The Rough Collie is far more prone to picking up burrs and other debris.

It is likely you will need to take it to a professional groomer on a regular basis. Do not have its coat shaved though, it is not good for its skin and some do not regrow it properly. Also be aware spaying or neutering can affect the texture of the coat. If it is not a show dog and there is a big mat it is probably a better idea to cut it out rather than trying to brush it or comb it as that is going to hurt the dog. Bath as it needs it being sure not to do it too often.

Other jobs include checking its ears once a week for infection and wiping them clean, brushing its teeth two to three times a week and clipping its nails when they get too long. Be careful with its nails, you can actually hurt the dog and cause bleeding if you cut too low down.

Feeding Time

A Collie is probably going to need 2 to 3 cups of a good quality dry dog food each day, split into at least two meals. Exactly how much your Collie needs will depend on its size, age, health, metabolism and level of activity.

Collies with children and other animals

When well socialized and bred a Collie is very good with children, other dogs and even with other animals though it does have a fairly high prey drive so may like to chase them. It is playful and happy to be energetic with children but can also be affectionate and gentle with them. Just as Lassie is in the movies she is also protective of them. Make sure the children are taught how to touch dogs and play with them nicely. With other pets in the family it is fine and even gentle.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The lifespan if the Collie can fall somewhere between 8 to 14 years. Usually they are a healthy dog but there are some health concerns that can affect them such as eye problems, canine cyclic neutropenia, hip dysplasia, NGE, drug sensitivity, bloat, epilepsy, allergies, Collie nose, hypothyroidism and skin problems.

Biting Statistics

Looking at reports covering 34 years of dog attacks against people in the US and Canada the Collie has been involved in 4 incidents. 3 of those were maimings, where the victim was left with permanent scarring, loss of limb or disfigurement. All 4 were children and one attack led to a death. This averages to 1 attack every 8 to 9 years which makes the Collie a safe dog to be around. Any dog can snap or react to certain situations in an aggressive manner. Ways to lessen the likelihood of this is to get a dog you can truly care for properly and make sure you have socialized and trained it.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A well bred Collie puppy for companion purposes can cost $800 to $1200 on average depending on where you are. A show Collie from a good or better breeder is going to be in the several thousands. You can get one cheaper if you are willing to use backyard breeders or puppy mills but we really do not advise that approach. There is also the option of adopting a rescue and giving a dog a second chance. This will cost just $50 to $400 but is more likely to be an adult dog rather than a puppy.

A new dog is going to need to go to the vet to have some things done. Shots, blood tests, micro chipping, a physical, neutering or spaying and deworming will cost you around $300. Some basic supplies you will also need will include a crate, collar, leash and such which will cost another $200.

Annual costs are also a factor to consider when getting a pet. You need to be able to afford its care and the items you will need. Food should be a good quality as it has more nutrients and there are also treats for it which can range in price quite dramatically depending on what you opt for. A guideline figure of $270 a year should cover that.

Medical expenses will depend on the health of your dog but the basics of pet insurance, check ups, vaccinations, flea and tick prevention and heartworm prevention will start at $485 a year.

Other costs will include toys, licensing, training, grooming and other miscellaneous items. These will start at around $645 a year.

Owning a Collie will cost you around $1400 a year.


Looking for a Collie Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

The Collie is a great family dog with the right socialization, training and care. It will be loyal, even devoted to you and is very affectionate. It will need a certain level of attention and it will not want to be in a home where it gets left alone for very long periods of time. It is a dog that sheds so if that is not something you want to be cleaning up and having to brush its coat each day this is not the dog for you.

Take care where you buy your Collie from. With Lassie’s popularity a lot of bad breeders took advantage of the demand and this has led to some pretty poorly bred lines being around. There is a lot of joy and love this dog can bring to your life when you get it right.

Meet Gollie – A Collie x Golden Retriever Mix

Collie , Golden Retriever Mix
General Information
Size Large
Height Up to 24 inches
Weight 50 to 75 pounds
Life span 12 to 15 years
Touchiness Very sensitive
Barking Occasional
Activity Very active
Breed Traits




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Image credit: Chris Rinckes, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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