Breed Group: Herding

Temperament and Behavior

Bred for herding, a Collie needs daily mental and physical exercise or it will become bored and frustrated. A happy Collie is gentle, devoted, and mild-mannered. They are intelligent and willing to please but can be stubborn. Once socialized and introduced, Collies are generally very good with children and make good playmates. But children should be supervised, as many Collies nip when excited. Their herding behaviors which include chasing, nipping, and prodding, need an outlet and cannot simply be suppressed. They may try to herd cats and other small pets but generally accept other animals, including dogs. Collies tend to be quite vocal and make excellent watchdogs. But with their love of people, they make only average guard dogs. Though not “clingy”, they relish every moment spent with their family. Left alone, they use their voice to express their displeasure to the discomfort of anyone within earshot. Sensitive dogs, they react more to loud noises than most breeds and sometimes do not do well in homes with high tension and loud voices. They have average exercise requirements. Owners willing to invest time with their dog will find a Collie to be a wonderful companion. More active outside than in, they enjoy daily walks, jogs, or herding sessions, but are fairly mellow indoors. Some think the smooth-coated Collie is more active and retains more of its herding instincts than the rough-coated variety.

Physical Characteristics

Collies have two coat variations, rough, which is what most people visualize when the breed is mentioned and smooth, which is a short-hair variety. More specifically, the rough variety has a long, straight outer coat that is harsh to the touch. The undercoat is soft and extremely dense. The coat is most abundant on the mane and frill, and short on the face and legs. The four recognized colors are Sable and White, Tri-color, Blue Merle, and White. Tri-colored Collies are predominantly black, with white and tan markings. The Blue Merle is a mottled or “marbled” color, predominantly blue-grey and black with white markings and usually has tan shadings. The smooth-coated variety has a short, hard, dense, flat coat which is much easier to maintain. Both coat types shed heavily. An average dog stands 22-26 inches tall. Males typically weigh 60-75 pounds with females weighing 50-65 pounds. Collies are fairly cold-tolerant (particularly the Rough Variety) but are much happier indoors with family than outside.

Trainer's Notes

Collies are smart and capable of learning a great deal. Although they can be stubborn, they are generally easy to train with consistent, light-handed methods. As with all herding dogs, it is important to provide regular mental and physical challenges so they do not become bored. But Collies are so interested in pleasing, they will participate in repetitive training simply because they are asked. Collies are reasonable pets for new owners, provided that you are prepared to be patient and take the time to train them, spend the time they need on an ongoing basis, and understand their tendency to shed.


Collie, rough coat


Collies are generally healthy but are among the breeds most affected by Bloat. They are also prone to the hereditary eye diseases of CEA and PRA both of which lead to blindness. It is very important to have puppies tested for eye problems by an AVCO-certified ophthalmologist (not a regular vet) at 6-8 weeks of age. Less significant problems with their eyes include PPM, Dry Eye, and Distichiasis. Many Collies have sun-sensitive noses and are overly sensitive to a broad range of drugs. Do not buy puppies whose parents both have merle colored coats. Collies typically live to the age of 12 to 14 years old.


AKC rank 37th. Collies are popular dogs with about 4,700 registered a year. This means you probably won’t have to go on a waitlist. But it also makes the breed popular enough that it is very important to research your breeder. Buy only from a reputable breeder who has a history of using good breeding practices.

Breed History

The origins of the Collie are as obscured as the origin of its name. Direct evidence of the Collie dates only from about 1800. Originally developed as a sheepdog in Scotland, the Collie has become one of the world’s most popular dogs. In addition to herding, Collies also serve as water rescue and seeing-eye dogs. Their beauty has also made them very popular show dogs.

Additional Information

Collies have long been popular with the wealthy, including Queen Victoria and J.P. Morgan. Other famous Collie owners include US Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Doris Day, Bo Berek, Judy Garland, Art Linkletter, Walter Mondale, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, Sir Walter Scott, and Casper Weinberger all owned Collies. Some dogs have even become famous in their own right, perhaps no more so than the many dogs who portrayed Lassie in film and the TV series. The National Breed Club is the Collie Club of America.

Is A Collie THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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