Familiar to many as TV’s Lassie, Collies have light, graceful frames with long, bushy coats. Their lean, wedge-shaped heads have flat tops and lean, chiseled faces. Their ears are often pointy and their noses point out. Slightly longer than tall, they have trim, muscular bodies, broad chests covered in mane and hanging tails. In addition to the more familiar rough coated variety, there is a smooth variety with a short, dense and thick coat. Typical colors are sable, tricolor, blue merle, sable merle, and white with markings of the other colors. Overall, Collies carry themselves with grace, strength and harmonious balance.
Friendly, loving and highly intelligent, Collies are gentle and loyal friends to the entire family—including other pets. However, in spite of their devotion to the home and family, they can be so wary of strangers that they may seem standoffish or aloof. At the dog park or during doggie playtime, you may find your Collie being more the observer than a participant.
Collies love play and attention, but they are remarkable low-maintenance—neither destructive nor demanding. Except for the occasional moodiness, they are usually steady and amiable. When it comes to guarding, Collies tend to think before they act. If they sense a threat they will protect the family and household, but Collies are more likely to play the role of friendly companion.
They love regular exercise, but don’t need the vigorous amount that a Labrador Retriever needs. Collies definitely appreciate regular “mellow time” around the house.
In spite of their famous TV cousin, Collies are not rescuers and shouldn’t be counted on to baby-sit children or run back to the house to alert you when someone’s hurt. Working Collies—a far cry from your typical Collie—are agile, busy and motivated to work. If you’re considering adopting one, be prepared to give them a big field and lots of jobs to do.
Collies need daily brushing and regular grooming to keep their coats from getting too frizzy. Also, they are sensitive to heat, and their noses are prone to sunburn. In the warm months, make sure they get plenty of shade and water.
A healthy Collie can live as long as 16 years. Common health issues include: eye problems, hip dysplasia and arthritis.
Collies have existed in Scotland and northern England as long as there have been shepherds. For generations, Collies were used for herding cows and sheep, and their masters did not keep breed records. In the 19th century—thanks to the interest of Queen Victoria and others—Collies became popular pets, leading dog fanciers to take notice. The Collie Club of America began in 1886, and to this day the Collie ranks among the most popular breeds in the U.S.