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Scotch Collie Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Written by: Lisa Hertz

Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by Dogster Team

Scotch Collie (rough collie) running in grass

Scotch Collie Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

The Scotch Collie is often called the old-time or old-fashioned Collie because it is the ancestor of the Collie breed most people are familiar with today.

The modern rough and smooth-coated Collies recognized by most dog breed organizations are descended from Scotch Collies, the original Scottish shepherds’ dogs.

Breed Overview


Males: 19–25 inches; Females: 17–23 inches


Males: 35–80 pounds; Females: 32–70 pounds


12–16 years


Sable and white; black and/or tan with white; blue merle and white

Suitable for:

Families with children, agility training, herding


Intelligent, easy to train, responsive, alert

Scotch Collies have been around for centuries, helping farmers herd flocks of sheep in their native Scotland. Their appealing looks and temperaments made them popular among dog lovers around the world. This popularity led to the development of the modern Collie, while the traditional Scotch Collie has been declining in numbers over the years.

Recent attempts to revive the breed are helping to raise awareness about this smart and lively dog. Interested in a Collie that resembles the original working farm dog? Here’s what you should know about the Scotch Collie.

Scotch Collie Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

Scotch Collie Puppies

Scottish Collie puppies
Image By: Zuzule, Shutterstock

Finding a Scotch Collie puppy can be challenging because Scotch Collies are less widely available than rough or smooth-coated Collies, Border Collies, and Shetland Sheepdogs.

There are Scotch Collie breeders in the US and other parts of the world, but finding a puppy requires dedication and patience. The Old-Time Scotch Collie Association maintains a list of breeders and a puppy waiting list, so you can find a breeder near you and be notified when puppies become available.

When you bring home a Scotch Collie puppy, be ready to welcome a loving and intelligent dog into your family. They’re easily trainable and make amazing family pets.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Scotch Collie

No overview of the Scotch Collie would be complete without acknowledging the breed’s high intelligence and trainability. Like many other herding dogs, the Scotch Collie has a keen intelligence. They are alert, obedient, and eager to please.

The Scotch Collie was bred to be a hard-working farm dog, so if you don’t have any sheep to herd, you’ll probably want to provide your Scotch Collie with enough activity to keep it happy and content.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?

Scotch Collies are excellent with children and make very good family pets, especially if you have some property for both dogs and kids to run and play.

Keep in mind that the Scotch Collie was bred to be a herding dog, and this herding instinct can sometimes apply to children. This herding behavior can be redirected to play and other activities with proper training.

Even if there are no children around, Scotch Collies make good companions for active adults who enjoy spending time outdoors with their dogs.

Scotch Collies are devoted to their families, but some can be a little reserved around unfamiliar people.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Since Scotch Collies have a long history as working farm dogs, sometimes they were used for other jobs besides herding, like guarding or hunting.

While most will get along with other dogs and other types of animals, it’s best to confirm that your dog doesn’t have a strong prey drive when it comes to small pets like cats. Talk to your breeder about how your Scotch Collie was socialized. Did it interact with other animals besides mom and littermates?

Herding dogs will sometimes try to herd other animals like the family cat, but they can also be quite protective of other animals in the home.

Good training and socialization are key to ensuring that your dog gets along with other people and animals.


Things to Know When Owning a Scotch Collie:

Food & Diet Requirements

Like all dogs, the Scotch Collie should be fed a high-quality diet that is appropriate for its size, life stage, and activity level.

A good diet for an active herding dog should consist of at least 25% high-quality protein, 20% fat, and around 4,000 kcal/kg. This nutrition information can be found on dog food labels.

Keep in mind that Collies can sometimes be prone to bloat. Bloat occurs when the stomach fills with gas. In serious cases, the stomach can also twist. This is a life-threatening condition.

Bloat can be caused by consuming too much food and water too quickly. Feed smaller meals a few times a day and keep an eye on your dog while it drinks.

Keep containers of food out of your dog’s reach and give your dog time to digest before exercising.


Bred to be hard-working herders, Scotch Collies thrive on lots of activity and exercise. Too little activity and too much boredom can lead to unwanted negative behaviors in your dog.

Because they are so intelligent, activities that require a bit of brainpower are perfect for Scotch Collies. They also love to interact with their owners, so it’s important to devote time and attention to your dog.

Many owners of herding dog breeds swear by an obedience activity called Treibball.

Treibball is German for “push ball” and involves you and your dog working as a team as you direct your dog to push a large ball around a field.

Other interactive sports like agility and obedience training are also ideal for smart and active dogs like the Scotch Collie. Fetch toys like Frisbees are also always a hit with Collies.


Scotch Collies are smart and eager to please, and easy to train. But even the fastest learners can benefit from basic obedience training and socialization with other dogs and people.

You can start training your dog from puppyhood with puppy kindergarten classes or basic obedience training. Your dog should learn the basic commands like sit, stay, come, and leave it.

Your dog should also be able to walk well on a leash and learn how to properly interact in group situations like going to the dog park. Beyond the basics, Scotch Collies thrive when learning and participating in the various dog activities we talked about above.

Keep teaching your dog new things. Mental stimulation is just as important to Scotch Collies as exercise, so a lifelong training plan will keep your dog happy and healthy.

Grooming ✂️

The Scotch Collie has a thick double coat. The outer coat is straight and long, while the undercoat is soft and dense. That attractive furry coat will shed seasonally and does require regular grooming with a pin brush. Mats can form in areas where the hair is especially long, so a quality steel comb is also good to have on hand.

An occasional bath may be necessary, even with regular brushing. Many owners like to trim the hair around the paws with scissors.

Don’t shave your dog’s coat, even in warmer weather. Shaving can cause the hair to grow back unevenly.

Health and Conditions

The Scotch Collie is commonly referred to as a landrace dog, not a purebred dog. Landrace dogs have adapted naturally to their native environmental conditions, bred by their owners without formal registers or pedigrees.

Does this mean that the Scotch Collie is healthier than a purebred Collie?

The answer depends on the individual dog and its ancestry. Non-purebred dogs like the Scotch Collie often have greater genetic diversity than purebred dogs, which can lead to more robust health.

On the other hand, when a dog is somewhat rare, a lack of genetic diversity can be a problem because the total number of individual dogs is small.

Collies as a group tend to have a few inherited health conditions in common, which we’ll discuss next.

The best way to ensure that your Scotch Collie puppy is as healthy as possible is to find a responsible breeder who tests for genetic health conditions in their breeding stock.

Minor Conditions
  • Hip Dysplasia
Serious Conditions
  • Collie Eye Anomaly
  • Multi-Drug Resistance Gene (MDR1)
  • Dermatomyositis

Minor Conditions:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This joint disease is common in several medium and large size dog breeds, including Collies. It can cause pain and lameness. In serious cases, surgery may be needed.

Serious Conditions:

  • Collie Eye Anomaly: An inherited eye disease that causes developmental defects of the eye. Several Collie breeds are affected. CEA can cause vision loss and blindness. Merle coloring can also be associated with eye problems.
  • Multi-Drug Resistance Gene (MDR1): Collies and some other dog breeds have this genetic mutation that allows chemicals from certain drugs to build up in the brain and become toxic. Affected dogs can develop severe and potentially fatal neurological problems.
  • Dermatomyositis: Collies can suffer from this hereditary inflammatory disease of the skin and muscles. Dogs can have hair loss and skin lesions in the affected areas, often on the face. In severe cases, the muscles in those areas become weakened.

Male vs Female

Choosing a male or female Scotch Collie puppy is mostly a matter of personal preference.

When it comes to size differences, males are generally larger than females in the Scotch Collie. This is common in medium to large size dogs.

The breed standard for Scotch Collies lists the male weight range as between 35—80 pounds and the female range as 32–70 pounds. That’s a broad range, so a male can be much smaller than a female, depending on each one’s size.

In terms of temperament, there can be some behavioral issues in dogs that have not been neutered or spayed. Spay/neuter, along with good training, will help eliminate unwanted behaviors like aggression in dogs.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Scotch Collie

1. They’ve Inspired Books

Albert Payson Terhune’s classic book Lad, A Dog was inspired by his own Scotch Collies.

2. Collies Are Intelligent and Loyal

A famous Scotch Collie named Shep waited for his deceased owner to return at a Montana train station for 5 ½ years.

3. They Were Popular with Royalty

Queen Victoria was a fan of Scotch Collies, which helped lead to the Collie’s increased popularity outside of Scotland.

Scotch Collie
Image Credit: Jędrzej Koralewski, Pixabay

divider-pawFinal Thoughts

Looking for a Scotch Collie of your own?

The Scotch Collie is a great choice if you are interested in helping to preserve a traditional breed with a long history as a working farm dog. It is a lively, family-oriented dog that’s well-suited to active families with children. Many owners report that they are remarkably sensitive to their humans’ emotions.

While not an officially recognized purebred Collie, this Collie ancestor has a devoted fan base that admires the breed’s handsome looks and endearing personality.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Chris Rinckes, Shutterstock

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