Collie Guide

Herding Dog Breeds

The collie is an active, lithe, strong dog that combines strength, speed and grace. Its gait suggests effortless speed as well as the ability to change speed and direction instantly, as required in herding dogs. The coat can be of two types, both with a soft, abundant undercoat. The outer coat of the smooth variety is short, hard and flat; that of the rough variety is straight, harsh, abundant and long, particularly on the mane and ruff. The collie's expression is an important hallmark of the breed, and depends upon the shape and balance of the skull and muzzle, as well as the characteristics of the eyes and ears. It should be bright, alert and intelligent — traits accentuated by a fairly refined head.

The collie is gentle and devoted, a mild-mannered friend to all. It is a dog with a working heritage, and it needs daily mental and physical exercise or it can become frustrated. It is sensitive, intelligent and willing to please, although it is sometimes a bit stubborn. It can nip at heels in play. Some may bark a lot.

AKC RANKING 32

FAMILY livestock, herding

AREA OF ORIGIN Scotland

DATE OF ORIGIN 1800s

ORIGINAL FUNCTION sheep herding

TODAY'S FUNCTION herding trials

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 24-26 Weight: 60-75

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 22-24 Weight: 60-65

OTHER NAME Scottish collie

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Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Moderately playful

Affection level Moderately affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Moderately protective

Grooming needs High maintenance

Cold tolerance High tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

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A good walk or jog on leash or a fun play session is needed every day. Herding is an excellent exercise. The collie can live outdoors in temperate to cool climates, but it is such a family-oriented dog that it is far happier indoors. The coat of the smooth variety needs minimal care; the coat of the rough variety needs brushing or combing every other day, more when shedding.
• Major concerns: CEA
• Minor concerns: distichiasis, pyotraumatic dermatitis
• Occasionally seen: PDA, deafness, cerebellar abiotrophy (Rough)
• Suggested tests: eye, (cardiac), (hearing)
• Life span: 8 – 12 years
• Note: often sensitive to ivermectin. Merles should not be bred to merles because homozygous merle is lethal or detrimental to health.
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The derivation of the collie is as obscure as the derivation of its name. One theory of the breed's origins is that it was derived from the same rootstock as the border collie. One theory of the name's origin is that it was derived from a Gaelic word meaning useful, which certainly described the useful farm or stock dogs valued by the Celts who first settled on the British Isles. Although sheep herding and guarding are some of the most ancient of canine services, evidence of the collie dates only from about 1800. Both rough- and smooth-coated "Scotch" collies existed by that time, but they apparently were derived from different crosses. The rough-coated dogs were characteristically smaller and broader headed, and usually black or black and white. As the breed caught the interest of dog fanciers, both rough- and smooth-coated collies became taller and more refined. The rough-coated collie was especially influenced by the progeny of a dog named "old cockie," born in 1867 and thought to be responsible not only for setting type but also for introducing the sable color. Around this same time, Queen Victoria became enthusiastic about the breed; under her sponsorship, its popularity grew not only with shepherds appreciative of its working value but also with members of the upper class, who were enamored of its beauty. By 1886 a standard was drawn up that still describes the breed as it is today. Meanwhile, as sheep herding became more important in America, settlers brought collies with them to the New World. In 1878, Queen Victoria once again put the breed in the limelight by entering two collies in the Westminster Dog Show. This provided the impetus for America's social elite to join the collie clan, and soon the collie could be found in some of the most prestigious estates in America. Later the collie found a champion in Albert Payson Terhune, whose stories about collies heightened their popularity with people from all walks of life. The most famous collie of all, the television star Lassie, further popularized the breed, helping to make the rough collie one of the all-time favorite breeds in America. The smooth collie has never shared the same popularity.
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