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Family livestock, herding
Life Span 8-12 years
Avg Size of Male: 24 – 26 inches, Weight: 60 – 75 pounds
Avg Size of Female: 24 – 26 inches, Weight: 60 – 75 pounds
Original Function: sheep herding
Overall Rating (out of 5)
A gentle and devoted friend and companion, the collie is an intelligent dog that is generally willing to please. It is a wonderful dog for a family with children, and it usually gets along with other dogs and pets in the family.

Collie refers to various breeds of herding dog originating primarily in Scotland. The exact origin of the name is uncertain, although it probably originates in Early Scots col(l) (coal), meaning black. Another explanation sometimes put forward is that collie was a regional word in Anglo-Saxon for "something useful." The fictional Lassie, star of movies, books, and television shows, was a rough collie, which helped to popularize Collies in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as in many other countries. Lad of Sunnybank also deserves credit for making the collie popular and was a real dog written about by Albert Payson Terhune. The Collie Club of America [1] is one of the oldest breed-specific clubs in existence in the United States (founded in 1886). However, there are three different dog breeds with "Collie" in their name:

Collie (including both Rough Collie and Smooth Collie varieties)
Border Collie
Bearded Collie
The farm collie was a generic term for a wide range of herding dogs common in North America until the middle of the 20th century.

Shetland Sheepdogs (commonly known as "Shelties") are sometimes mistakenly called Miniature Collies, but they are a completely different breed of distinct origin.

The highlands of Scotland were the natural home of the collie, where the sheepdogs had been used for centuries by shepherds, but the modern form of the breed was mostly developed in England in the late 1800s. This early form of the breed was usually referred to as the Scotch collie (or Scottish collie) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Scotch collies were heavier and less fine-boned than today's rough and smooth dogs. The ancestors of the modern Collie were first exhibited as "Scotch Sheep-Dogs" in the 1860 Birmingham (England) dog show.

Collies come in two varieties of the breed based on coat length in America; in the UK these are shown as separate breeds. The rough collie is the collie seen in films and on television (e.g., Lassie). The downy undercoat is covered by a long, dense, coarse outer coat with a notable ruff around the neck, feathers about the legs, a petticoat on the abdomen, and a frill on the hindquarters. The smooth collie likewise has a double coat, but the outer one is short and dense, albeit there is a notable ruff around the neck. Both rough and smooth varieties are available in four distinct colors. Sable collies are generally the most recognizable, the choice of the Lassie television and movie producers. The sable color on these dogs can range from a light blonde color to a deep reddish-brown, with any hue in between possible. Tri-colour dogs are mostly black and white with tan markings. Blue Merle collies are best described as tri-colour dogs whose black has been diluted to a mottled gray-blue color. White collies are usually mostly white on the body with a head coloration of any of the three previous. A lesser-known variant of blue merle colouring is that of the "phantom merle" - a seemingly tri-colour dog, with only perhaps a slight merling of one or two areas of fur, which actually carries the gene for merling, which is a dominant dilution gene. If bred to another dog with a merle gene, the resulting pups may be "double-dilute", which can result in devastating and lethal neurological conditions. In America, a dog with the phantom merle coloring is described as being "cryptic for merle." The least-seen colour among collies is sable merle, that is sable collies carrying the merle (dominant dilution) gene. These collies have white hairs mixed in among the sable ones along with patches of white in the sable. They may have dark eyes, merles eyes (dark brown irises with patches of blue) or blue eyes (often called China blue color). In America, blue-eye sable merle collies are disqualified from the conformation show ring, according to AKC rules.

As modern-day "Lassies", both rough and smooth collies have become successful assistance, and therapy dogs. At least one guide dog school, Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida, currently trains smooth coated collies as guide dogs, and a number of collies are currently partnered with disabled individuals around the United States.


A gentle and devoted friend and companion, the collie is an intelligent dog that is generally willing to please. It is a wonderful dog for a family with children, and it usually gets along with other dogs and pets in the family. The collie can be reserved and wary with strangers, making it a good watch dog, but its friendliness prevents it from being a very good guard dog. Puppies can exhibit innate herding behavior by nipping at heels, but they usually grow out of this behavior as adults. The collie puppy is quite easy to housetrain. Sometimes this dog can be a little stubborn, and at times may bark a lot. Overall, the collie is a friendly, good-natured dog that is devoted to its family.


The smooth-coated variety of the collie needs very little coat care: occasional brushing is all that is needed. The rough-coated variety takes considerably more time to keep the coat looking its best. This coat should be brushed at least two to three times per week and more often during shedding seasons, which is normally twice a year. When the dense undercoat is being shed, extra care should be taken. The rough coat sheds dirt easily. Bathe or use dry shampoo as necessary. An active dog, the collie should be provided with a long walk or jog, on a leash, every day. It also enjoys energetic play sessions in the yard. The collie does best with an average fenced-in yard, and it is not recommended for apartment dwelling because of its tendency to bark. This breed is sensitive to heat, so shade and plenty of water needs to be provided on warm days. As with most dogs, obedience training should begin early. The collie is quick to learn, and it responds to the tone of your voice.


The collie is typically a very healthy breed, and is known to inherit few health conditions that are both serious and prevalent. Some health conditions of note include Collie eye anomaly, PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), gastric torsion, dermatomyositis, grey collie syndrome (a type of neutropenia), collie nose (discoid lupus erythomatosus), and demodicosis.[1] Seizures, canine hip dysplasia, microphthalmia, and cyclic neutropenia are also occasionally seen.[2] The Collie Health Foundation ( maintains a website and database on disorders affecting collies.

Some Collies suffer from a special gene defect due to a mutation in the multidrug resistance gene, MDR1. This is also known as "the Ivermectin-sensitive collie". All dogs with this mutation must be descandents of a dog who lived in Great Britain in the midst of the 19th century. This mutation is found worldwide and can even cause the death of a dog, if it gets the wrong medicine (based on Ivermectin, Doramectin, Loperamid and many more pharmaceuticals). Therefore all Collies and breeds akin to them (such as the Shetland Sheepdog) should either be tested or receive a different class of heartworm preventative drug, such as milbemycin oxime (Interceptor brand by Novartis).

Collies typically live an average of 12 to 14 years.


The origin of the collie, as well as the source of its name, is not well documented. Several theories abound, including one that the dog was created from the same ancestors as the Border collie and that the name of this fine breed was derived from the Gaelic word that means “useful.” Others say that the name comes from a Scottish black-faced sheep called a “Colley.” It is said that the collie was brought to the British Isles by the Celts when they first settled there. However, evidence of the collie is not documented until the 1800s when the breed was known as rough- or smooth-coated Scotch collies. It is claimed that t he smooth collie is the same breed as the rough collie; it just doesn’t have the longer coat. The AKC considers the two as varieties of the same breed. It is believed that these two Scotch collies originated from different crosses, and according to some sources, it was hardly known outside of Scotland for many centuries. The rough-coated Scotch collie was usually a smaller black or black and white dog with a broader head. In time, both varieties became taller and more refined thanks to the interest of dog fanciers. It is believed that a rough-coated collie named “Old Cockie” was responsible for the introduction of the sable color in this breed in the late 1800s. It was at this time that Queen Victoria became impressed with the collie and kept the dog at the Balmoral Castle in Scotland. It is reported that collies were mixed with the Borzoi at this point in time. Thanks to the Queen’s sponsorship, the dog became very popular with the upper class as well as working shepherds. Around this time in America, sheep herding became very important, so settlers brought their collies with them. Queen Victoria added to the popularity of the collie when she entered two of them in the Westminster Dog Show in 1878. This caused the breed to surge in popularity in America among the social elite. Author Albert Payson Terhune also championed the breed when he wrote stories about this fine dog. The collie has succeeded in many areas over the years, including work as a rescue water dog, sheepdog, herding dog, guard dog, and a guide for the blind.






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