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Collie

 

Collie

 

General Description:

Best known and made popular from the series of LAD books by Albert Payson Terhune and from the radio and television series of “Lassie”  from our parent’s day and perhaps our own childhood, collies bring a feeling of love and family to mind. The breed’s sensitive nature descends from its herding heritage, making the Collie a wonderful housemate, ever watchful and protective of the home front.
Collies are their own breed, not to be confused with the Shetland Sheepdogs, “Shelties” who look very similar in coat and coloring. They are members of the AKC Herding Group possessing the typical herding traits, which can be endearing or annoying. They can herd anything from sheep, goats, ducks, to children!
Two types of collies are the Rough coat, the “Lassie” type with a long full double coat and the Smooth double coat.  The Smooth collie is not as prevalent but many prefer the smooth variety with its short, hard, dense flat coat of good texture.
This beautiful breed started out as lowly working dogs, cherished only by the farmers who relied on them to watch their flocks of sheep. The original were predominately black and closer in size and shape of the Border collie, not the large, heavy coated breed we know today.  In the 18th century, the dogs that worked the rough terrain of Scotland’s hill country and endured its cold, blustery winters had to be hardy and independent and able to work far away from their masters.  They had to be both quick to respond to commands and able to solve problems on their own, for the lives of the sheep often depended on the response and decisions of the dogs.  This intelligence, independence and responsiveness are the characteristics of our current collies.
While the breed may have originated in Scotland it is England that popularized and changed the breed. There, Collies were 1st exhibited in 1860 in a “Scotch Sheep Dogs” class; Queen Victoria attended this show. Adoring the breed she kept Collies with her elegant and graceful Borzoi at her Balmoral Castle in Scotland. In time, all Collie show dogs had to have the Borzoi influence to enter the show ring. The working dogs (Scotch collie) separated and returned to the farm while the show type is what we see today—larger dogs with flatter faces. The English Collie was imported here in 1879.
The breed's name probably comes from its charge; the Scottish black-faced sheep called the “Colley.” In the 1860’s Queen Victoria kept Collies at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, making the dogs very popular. With other wealthy people including J.P. Morgan.  Some felt the Collie would be more graceful and appealing if they had the nose of the Borzoi; the Borzoi and Collie were bred.   All show dogs had to have the Borzoi blood for them to win in the show ring. The working dogs separated, branched out and became the different breeds (with the Scotch Collie , also known as the ‘farm collie’, remaining); the show type became what we see now, the large dogs with flatter faces. The Rough Collie is much more popular than the Smooth Collie. The Smooth Collie is more popular in Great Britain than it is in the United States, but is gaining some popularity in the States. The Smooth Collie is the same as the Rough Collie, but without the long coat.

 

Size:

Females: Preferred height at the shoulders is 22-24 inches, and roughly 50-65 pounds. Males: Preferred height at the shoulders is 24-26 inches, and roughly 60-75 pounds.

 

Color:

There are currently four AKC recognized colors; sable and white, tri-color (black, white and tan), blue merle and white. Sables come in a variety of shades; pale golden to a rich gold to a reddish gold to the mahogany sable with rich dark shades covering the back and sides. The sable-merle is currently under consideration as a recognized separate color. You seldom see the beautiful unusual white collie with a sable, tri or blue merle head.

 

Energy Level:

To maintain their health, Collies need regular daily exercise. They love to play, perform, and take walks and hikes. Without regular exercise, a collie will tend to become lazy and curl up at your feet. Involving them in an activity such as agility, herding or carting is great exercise for you to share together.

 

Life expectancy:

Average longevity is between 12 to 14 years.

 

Children:

An exceptional family dog, part of the magical mystique of the Collie is the special relationship they develop with children. However, some collies with strong herding instincts may tend to ‘herd’ young children especially under the age of 5. As with all dogs, adults must teach dog and child how to respect one another.

 

Other animals:

Since the collies heritage is from shepherding many animals their ability to get along with other animals and dogs is 2nd nature to them. Being the social breed they are, you will find them to be exceptionally eager to meet and make new friends with other dogs. Some collies not raised with cats may exhibit strong herding tendencies but with training your kitty and collie can get along well.

 

Abilities:

Highly intelligent and trainable Collies are able to quickly grasp the situation and respond accordingly. Some puppies nearly housetrain themselves! Collies are successfully trained in Obedience, Rally, Agility, Herding, Carting, Assistance and Therapy. Collies thrive on being around people; an obediently trained therapy collie can light up faces and bring much joy to the young and old.

 

Shedding/Grooming:

The rough collie requires extra attention and care as compared to smooth collies. Although ‘smooths’ also have a double coat and shed equally as much; their coat is about an inch long and does not mat as with the long-coated ‘roughs’. Weekly brushing is highly advised for both types to keep the coat looking its best, maintain healthy skin and to keep free of mats. Roughs ‘blow’ their coat sometimes twice a year causing heavy tufts of shedding; professional grooming may be helpful during this time. Frequent bathing can damage the coat and dry the skin; usually about 4-5 times a year is normal for bathing. Professional grooming is not required but is very helpful for proper mat removal, trimming hair around feet, pads, ears and keeping nails trimmed. Collies should never be shaved, only under extreme circumstances; these are generally medical reasons. The double coat keeps them warm and cool. Having a professional groomer remove some of the undercoat especially on the tummy in the summer will help keep your collie cooler.

 

Health:

Known to be a healthy breed they are prone to being born with eye anomalies. Reputable breeders have their puppies eyes certified between 7-8 weeks of age. As is common in many large breeds, hip dysplasia, heart problems, epilepsy are not common problems in Collies but can occur. Cancer can also occur but not anymore common than any other breed. Other common problems can be; skin allergies, multi-drug sensitivity and arthritis. Many breeds are subject to the same diseases.

 

Best with:

Adults, children over 4-5 years old. They are a great family dog and ideal for active singles and seniors, loving to be with you wherever you go. Collies require regular exercise especially as they age or they will surely develop into ‘couch potatoes’. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the Collie is their character, temperament and personality. Their primary focus is their loyalty and love for master and family and the activities surrounding their environment. This is not a breed that will go off by themselves and curl up in a corner.

 

Not for:

An owner that is absent or uninvolved pet owner, neat fanatic or allergy sufferer. The person that believes a ‘dog’s place’ is outside; regardless of their coat, a collie is an inside dog. You cannot abandon a collie to the backyard/garage or his spirit will break. If you cannot tolerate some hair in the house regardless of diligent grooming, a collie is not for you. If you believe that a loud firm voice and hand is the way to discipline inappropriate behavior, you will also damage the collie’s sensitive nature. If you are looking for a silent dog partner, this is not a Collie. Collies can be quite vocal, some collies more than others. They do tend to bark for a reason not just to hear themselves bark; training will quiet them.

 

Pros:

Grooming requirements, need for people companionship and you can’t carry them around in a purse.

 

Cons:

Grooming requirements, need for people companionship and you can’t carry them around in a purse.

 

Further Information:

Collies can “talk”, which is not a barking sound. They will make a sound in the back of their throat and move their jaws just as if talking to you; you can encourage the communication by ‘talking’ back to them. Generally, the talking is when they are playing, want something either from you or another dog. It is quite endearing!

And what's it like to rescue a collie? Read Taffy's story here. Taffy and the puppies have been adopted.

Collie Club of America
American Working Collie Association
American Kennel Club
Breed Details

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