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Scotch Collie

Nicole Cosgrove

Scotch Collie (rough collie) running in grass

The Scotch Collie is a medium to large breed from the UK originally bred to be a working dog though more commonly today kept as a pet. Other names it has been known by include Old Farm Collie, Farm Collie, Scottish Collie and Old Time Scotch Collie . It has a life span of 12 to 16 years and is known as a landrace dog, where the dogs have consistencies enough to show they are a breed though there are variances in appearances more so than in breeds that are standardized.

The Scotch Collie at a Glance
Name Scotch Collie
Other names Old Farm Collie, Farm Collie, Scottish Collie, Old Time Scotch Collie
Nicknames SC
Origin UK
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 40 to 70 pounds
Average height 19 to 24 inches
Life span 12 to 16
Coat type Double, wavy or straight, flat
Hypoallergenic No
Color Sable, tricolor, black and white, blue merle, white; some may have tan markings
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Good but nothing extreme
Tolerance to cold Very good
Shedding Moderate to heavy – expect hair around the home and on clothing
Drooling Moderate
Obesity Average
Grooming/brushing Above average
Barking Occasional to frequent – may need training to stop on command
Exercise needs Fairly active
Trainability Moderately easy to easy
Friendliness Very good to excellent
Good first dog Good to very good
Good family pet Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with children Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other pets Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with strangers Good to very good with socialization though can be wary at first
Good apartment dog Good – can adjust with regular walks and exercise but best with a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Prone to several health issues including skin disorders, nasal dermatitis, eye problems, drug sensitivity, and hip dysplasia
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $260 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $675 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license
Average annual expenses $1420 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $700
Rescue organizations Collie Rescue Network, Collie Sheltie Rescue, Collie Rescue Foundation, check local rescues and shelters
Biting Statistics None reported under Scotch Collie but under Collie Attacks doing bodily harm: 4 Child victims: 4 Maimings: 3 Deaths: 1

The Scotch Collie’s Beginnings

The Scotch Collie is an old breed from the UK, specifically Scotland hence the name Scotch. It was used for herding sheep and other animals along with being a guard dog for them and the farm, and a general working farm dog. Some were also used to hunt with. There is a debate about where the name Collie comes from, some say it comes from the old English word for coal or black, referencing the type of sheep they were used for, and some say it comes from the Gaelic word Coilean for dog, or the Celtic word for useful is collie. There is also no absolute certainty about its ancestors, it is thought it descends from ancient herding dogs possibly Celtic, Viking or Roman in nature.

In the 1800s a good number of these dogs came to America to help farmers and they became a very popular dog there too, being loved for their hardworking nature but also being good companions. As dog shows became popular in the late 1800s in the US and the UK as well as elsewhere in the world, the dog became a success in dog shows. In 1885 in the US the Scotch Collie Club was started and the AKC recognized it, and then in 1886 the Collie Club of America was started.

Then the Scotch part was dropped from its name and it became known as smooth and rough collies. Their success in dog shows though had a negative impact on their form as began to change with longer heads and such to suit what was prefered by judges in shows. A new type of dog emerged and the old Scotch Collie as it was originally became less popular. Numbers dropped and while a few remained on small family farms and homesteads in the US, the breed was on a decline.

New Lease on Life

While they themselves were not doing so well the Scotch Collie did have a huge impact in a number of other breed’s development including of course the Rough and Smooth Collie, the Shetland Sheepdog, English Shepherd, Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Gordon Setter and Australian Cattle Dog. In the 1990s interest in the Scotch Collie returned and the last ones were found in rural places in North Carolina and Tennessee and in Canada. There were called Old Time Farm Shepherds to avoid people confusing them with the modern collie dogs of today and breeding efforts were started to revive the original dog. Its instincts as a herding dog are not what they once were, it is more a companion dog or general working dog now. The OTSCA was formed (Old Time Scotch Collie Association) in the 2000s but it remains a rare dog with only 174 dogs registered. It is no longer recognized by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Scotch Collie is a sturdy looking dog that is medium to large weighing 40 to 70 pounds and standing 19 to 24 inches tall, but it is agile still along with that power. It has a deep chest and upright neck that is long with a slightly sloping back line, strong shoulders and powerful back legs. It has a wedge shaped head with erect ears and its eyes are alert. Its coat is double with a thick inner coat and a long and slightly wavy or straight outer coat that is weather proof. Common colors are black, white, sable and tan.

The Inner Scotch Collie


The SC is a very friendly, social and sweet dog which is why with socialization it makes a great family companion. It is very loyal and loves to spend time with you, in fact some can be needy and will stick close to you so it is not a dog that is happy being left alone for long periods. It is best with homes where one person is home more often than being out. It expects to be a part of family activities and is definitely not a dog to leave outside even when being kept mostly as a working dog.

How it reacts to strangers can vary from one to another but in general it is aloof or wary at first but should be fine with socialization and proper introductions. It is a versatile breed, it adapts well to different living arrangements or different types of owners. It can be taken on by a new dog owner but you need to do your homework and be firm and confident around it. They do tend to bark occasionally to frequently so some need to be trained to stop on command. It is alert and will let you know if there is an intruder trying to get in.

Living with a Scotch Collie

What will training look like?

This breed tends to be moderately easy to easy when it comes to training especially if you know what to expect, have experience or have a professional trainer work with you and your dog! It is intelligent and with a positive approach but still being firm and consistent you can have good training sessions with it. It does not respond well to harsh methods, it is best to be gentle with it but still letting it know you are the boss. Offer it praise and rewards it, use treats as a great way to motivate it and keep sessions fun and short. If it gets bored it can become more difficult to work with. Start basic obedience training and socialization early. Let it learn appropriate responses to different people, places, situations, animals and so on. It is happier when it has this foundation to fall back on, and you have a more trustworthy pet.

How active is the Scotch Collie?

As mentioned the SC is quite adaptable to various environments and ways of living. As long as it gets enough physical exercise and mental stimulation it can do either urban or rural living. Ideally while it can adapt to apartments it is happiest in a home that has access to some kind of yard. Expect to take it for a couple of good walks a day, give it some play time with you each day, let it play in the yard too. Then a few times a week take it somewhere like a dog park where it is safe to let it off leash for some run and romp around time. It can also join you for a jog, hike and such. It does like to have some kind of job or role to play, if that is not possible have a good rotation of toys for mental challenge at the ready.

Caring for the Scotch Collie

Grooming needs

The Farm Collie will need a certain amount of grooming, it does shed an average amount, sometimes heavier so clean up around the home is needed and regular brushing. Expect to brush at least twice a week, possibly every other day, the long coat is prone to tangles and matting. For that reason it does need to be trimmed now and then. Give it a bath as needed using a good canine shampoo, nothing for people! Over bathing or using the wrong products is the cause of skin problems in a lot of dogs.

Then there are additional care needs like teeth cleaning, ear cleaning and nail clipping. Its teeth should be brushed with a dog toothpaste and toothbrush and if you can do it daily but if not try for at least twice a week. The ears need to be cleaned once a week, wipe them down with a cloth that has been dampened and do not push anything into them. You can also check for infection signs at this point, redness, irritation, wax and such. Dog nails are not like peoples so if you are doing it yourself make sure you know where it is okay to cut. In the quick of the nail or the lower section are nerves and blood vessels that mean if cut will hurt the dog and cause it to bleed.

Feeding Time

The Scotch Collie will eat around 2 to 4 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals to avoid Bloat occurring. The amount varies because the exact size of the dog, its level of activity, metabolism, age and health can all impact it. Always ensure it has water at all times that is kept as fresh as possible.

How is the Scotch Collie with children and other animals?

When well socialized and especially if raised with them, the Scotch Collie is very good with children, other dogs and other animals. It is lively and enjoys playing with children but can also be affectionate and protective of them. Make sure the children are taught what is acceptable in terms of touching dogs and playing with them. With other pets in the family it is known to be fine living with them but in those who still have stronger herding instincts it may try to gather everyone together at times!

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Scotch Collie has a nice life span of 12 to 16 years but there are a few issues it can be prone to like eye problems, a sensitivity to certain drugs, skin problems, allergies and hip dysplasia.

Biting Statistics

Looking at data gathered from reports covering 35 years of dog attacks against people in the US and Canada, the Scotch Collie has not been involved in any incidents. However there are 4 incidents connected to the Collie which we are including here just in case a mix up happened with the exact breed that was involved. Of those 4 attacks that did bodily harm, 3 were maimings, where the victim was left with permanent scarring, loss of limb or disfigurement. All victims involved were children and one attack led to a death. Do keep in mind that any dog can snap or react to certain situations in an aggressive manner. Only 4 attacks in three and a half decades means this is not a dog to be fearful of. Ways to lessen the chances of these incidents are to make sure you have socialized and trained it, exercise it well and give it the attention it needs.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Scotch Collie puppy for companion purposes from a decent breeder can cost about $700. Prices can go higher than that though if you choose to go on a waiting list for a top breeder with a great reputation and lots of experience. You should always avoid using backyard breeders or puppy mills and even pet stores. There is another option, consider adopting a rescue and giving it a new chance at a forever home. Adoption tends to range around $50 to $400 but is more likely to be an adult dog rather than a puppy and also unless you find a breed specific rescue, is more likely to be a mixed breed dog.

This new companion is going to need to visit a vet to have some medical needs done when it is home. A physical exam, shots, blood tests, micro chipping, neutering or spaying and deworming will cost roughly $290. Some items will also be needed such as a crate, bedding, collar, leash and such which will cost another $200.

Annual costs are then another price of dog ownership to prepare for and it helps to know what is coming before you make a final choice on breed. If feeding it a dry dog food it should be a good quality at least as it has more nutrients and is a great deal better for the dog. There are also various treats to choose from and prices range a great deal. An estimated cost for food and treats is about $260 a year. Then there are medical expenses that will vary from one dog to another depending on its general health and any accidents that might happen. For basic care like check ups, vaccinations, flea and tick prevention and heartworm prevention and then pet insurance you are looking at somewhere in the region of $485 a year. Then the miscellaneous costs that come up like annual licensing, basic training, toys, grooming and miscellaneous items are about another $675 a year. This gives an annual estimated starting figure of $1420.


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

The Scotch Collie is not a common dog anymore so you may need to have a look around for good breeders or do some traveling. It is still a good general farm dog today but it also has a lot to offer as a companion, loyalty, affection, close attachment, and such. Shedding is something you will have to deal with, and its coat does tangle easily so will need regular brushing and trimming. It does like to be active so needs owners who are happy to take it out and play with it.

Featured 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.