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What Breed of Dog Was Lassie? Famous Dogs!

rough collie lying in the garden

If there’s one dog’s face and name that’s instantly recognizable, it’s Lassie. The Lassie television series started in 1954 and ended in 1973, capturing the hearts of millions of Americans each year. Though the show is no longer in syndication, many people remember the beloved Lassi that lives on a farm with the family with her owners and eventually went to work with forest rangers and children.

Whether you were too young to watch the show or old enough to remember each episode, it’s safe to say that Lassie is an American classic. She was smart, fearless, loyal, and strong. But what breed of dog was Lassie?

Lassie was a Rough Collie, and like many of this dog breed, she had a beautiful white and sable coat and was full of energy. This breed also comes with a white and black spotted coat, that makes it stand out from other similar breeds. Rough Collies are known for their beautiful long coats and their high energy levels–which may explain why it was chosen as a dog for the show.

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Rough Collie History

Collie breeds have traditionally been sheepherders, originating from the Scottish Highlands. These long-haired Collies are derived from Scottish and Welsh herding dogs. Collies have a long history that dates back hundreds of years.

They were first illustrated in Thomas Berwick’s 1790 book, “A General History of Quadrupeds.” The breed quickly became popular, and Queen Victoria was soon interested in them. And then the Lassie television show hit the scene in the 70s and its popularity in the states grew quickly.

Rough Collie Personality Traits

rough collie
Image Credit: Grigorita Ko, Shutterstock

Collies are intelligent and highly trainable. Collie house training is very easy, and your Collie will be responsive once you begin obedience and agility training–though it’s always easier to train pups.

It’s best to keep their training fun and challenging, and you can’t expect your Collie to be satisfied with doing the same repetitive tasks every day. Regular stimulation is essential for Collie’s personality type–they’re hyper-active dogs. So, things like daily walks along different paths will always be welcomed by these dogs.

Rough Collie Grooming

rough collie grooming
Image Crdit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

You will need to brush your Collie during the shedding season. Rough Collies have a tendency to become matted, especially behind their ears and around their elbows. To remove dead hair and prevent infection, it’s best to brush your Collie at least once a week.

You may be surprised to find that the amount of hair your Collie sheds depends on whether you neuter or spay it. Unspayed females shed for three months after heat cycles, while spayed females have one big shed every single year.

Ironically, male Collies tend to shed more around their birthdays than females. Be aware of when your male (or female) Collie was born so you can predict when you’ll be experiencing a big shedding period–this way you can prepare your home as well.

Common Health Problems of the Rough Collie:

Just like any other dog breed, Rough Collies are known to be susceptible to certain health conditions, though they are typically considered to be fairly healthy dogs. Here are some of the most common health issues associated with this breed:

  • Dermatomyositis:  This is a genetic condition that affects the blood vessels, skin, and muscles, It, in turn, causes severe inflammation of the tissues.
  • Collie Eye Anomaly: This condition can be passed on from the parents to their pups. It can lead to mild vision problems if the eye does not develop properly–and blindness can occur in severe cases.
  • Grey Collie Syndrome: Grey Collie Syndrome is a hereditary condition that affects the bone marrow stem cell function. This fatal disease affects the Neutrophils, which are white blood cells that form an important part of a canine’s immune system.
  • Bloating/Gas: Just like humans, dogs can get bloating in their stomachs and digestive tracts. When the stomach is full of air, it creates pressure inside. This blocks the blood supply to the heart from the abdomen and hind legs. This could be fatal in Collies (and any dog) if it’s too severe and left untreated.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This type of retinal atrophy is more common in older dogs. As the eyes age, the photoreceptor cells in the eyes begin to degrade. When light hits the affected area, dogs with this condition have a reflective eye (very much like a cataract in humans). It’s a condition that can eventually lead to blindness.
  • Epilepsy: Collies can also be prone to epilepsy, which is a common neurological condition that causes seizures, fainting spells, and a lack of awareness. It can be treated with medication, similar to epilepsy in humans.

Are Collies Hypoallergenic?

Scotch Collie (rough collie) running in grass
Image credit: Chris Rinckes, Shutterstock

No. Rough Collies are dogs with double coats that can produce significant amounts of dander. They’re actually fairly known for their ability to shed fur throughout the year–which is why they require more thorough grooming on a weekly basis.

Are Rough Collies Good with Small Children?

Yes, they are. Rough Collies are usually a very friendly and affectionate breed. They’re curious and usually love to play with children. They also can be gentle and sweet with children of all ages, which is why they’re considered a great breed for children.

Are Rough Collies Apartment-Friendly?

Rough Collies generally aren’t great apartment dogs. However, if their exercise needs are met on a regular basis then these dogs can gradually adapt to apartment life.

Are Rough Collies Good with Cats?

rough collie puppy and kitten playing
Image redit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

Yes, Collies are usually friendly with cats and other household pets. This breed is ideal for people who wish to have a cat and a pet dog in the same home. However, it’s important to introduce them to cats slowly, as they may be a bit overbearing initially due to their curious and happy-go-lucky nature.

Are Rough Collies Good with Other Dogs?

Yes, Rough Collies usually get along well with other dogs. They are fairly calm and happy to roll around with other dogs and can make new friends quickly. They enjoy playing and are happy to share their toys with them. Collies are a social breed and sort of look at other dogs like their brothers or sisters. So, if you have a household where there are multiple pets, a Collie will usually fit right in.

How Much Exercise Does a Rough Collie Require Each Day?

Rough Collies should get moderate to extended daily exercise to stay fit and healthy. They love long walks in the park, around backyards, or in open areas. These dogs also enjoy running or morning jogging– so if you’re a runner, they’ll make for a great partner.

Collies are super playful and should have some level of moderate activity each day to keep them from going stir-crazy. This not only keeps them tearing up things around your home, but it makes them happier overall.

Do Collies Make Good Guard Dogs?

rough collie in the garden
Image Credit: Lisjatina, Shutterstock

Not really. This breed isn’t usually considered the best guard dog, but they can make pretty awesome watchdogs. Although they don’t possess the aggression required to be a good guard dog, these Collies have typical canine protective instincts which allow them to effectively look after their home as well as protect their family. They can alert their owners by barking if they see trespassers or home intruders. But you definitely shouldn’t expect them to have the aggression of a Rottweiler or Pitbull.

Are Collies Suitable for First-Time Dog Owners?

Rough Collies are excellent for first-time dog owners, as they’re very friendly and easy to manage day to day. Rough Collies are fun, loyal, and easy to train. They are easy to maintain, which is why Rough Collies are a great breed for newbie dog owners or those who are just starting out. Just be sure to groom them regularly to avoid having your house covered in dander.

Do Collies Bark Often?

They can. Rough Collies can be quite talkative. They can be quite vocal and can bark when they feel like it. If not properly trained, they can also become quite noisy. They bark to get attention from their owners or protect their homes. These canines can be controlled by constant guidance and training from their owners. Training them to minimize their barking while they are pups will help you keep your sanity when they grow into adolescents and adults.

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Wrapping Things Up

The dog featured on the popular Lassie television show was a Rough Collie. These dogs are medium-sized dogs with friendly and active temperaments. They make for great family pets and can be excellent as watchdogs. Rough Collies will need to be groomed regularly, as they are a double-coated breed that can shed quite a bit.


Featured Image Credit: Lisjatina, Shutterstock

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