About the Collie Breed

About the Collie Breed

MHCSR Website Collie #5The Collie is a large, lean, strong dog.  There are two coat varieties, rough and smooth.  The rough coat is long and abundant all over the body, but is shorter on the head and legs, and the coat forms a mane around the neck and chest.  The outer coat can be straight or curly and soft to the touch and the under coat is softer and tighter.  The smooth coat variety has a short one-inch coat all over the body.  Coat colors on both the rough and smooth variety include sable and white, tricolor of black, white and tan, blue merle or predominantly white with sable, tricolor, or blue merle markings.

The Collie is a highly intelligent dog.  Sensitive, mild-mannered, sweet, easy to train and loyal, it is usually good with other pets and friendly with other dogs.  They are natural herders.  Puppies may try to herd humans and need to be taught not to do this.  Faithful, playful, docile, protective of their family members, and good with children, Collies have an uncanny sense of direction.  They are good-natured, friendly dogs.  They are energetic outdoors.  Socialize them well as to prevent them from becoming wary of strangers. They are not aggressive, but they do tend to be suspicious of people when they sense unstable vibes.  Daily pack walks are important.  Without a firm, but calm, confidant, and consistent owner who sets the rules and sticks to them, they can become willful, stubborn, and indolent.  Sensitive to the tone of your voice, this breed should be trained gently, but with an air of authority or he will refuse to cooperate.  A clean breed, the Collie is relatively easy to housebreak.  Some owners report that rough Collies do not like the water due to how heavy their coats get when wet.  However, while some may not, it’s never an absolute.  Some smooth Collies have become successful at water rescue.

Collies are generally healthy dogs.  Some lines are prone to PRA, eye defects (Collie eye syndrome) and hip problems leading to acute lameness and arthritis.  Collies may need sun block on their nose, as they are often sensitive to the sun.  Some herding dogs carry a MDR1 gene, which makes them sensitive to certain drugs that are otherwise okay to give another dog.  If tested positive for this gene, these drugs can kill them.

The Collie needs plenty of exercise, which includes a daily long walk.  In addition, they would enjoy some romps off the leash in a safe and secure fenced area.

The outer coat sheds dirt readily and a thorough weekly brushing will keep it in good condition.  Take extra care when the soft, dense undercoat is being shed.  The smooth variety has a one-inch coat and should be brushed each one to two weeks.  Bathe or dry shampoo as necessary.  The rough Collie sheds heavily twice a year, and the smooth Collie is an average shedder.

The exact origin of the Collie is unknown, but it was descended from generations of hard-working herding dogs.  For centuries the rough-coated Collie was hardly known outside Scotland.  Early rough Collies were smaller, with broader heads and shorter muzzles.  The dogs were used for water rescue, herding, guiding cows and sheep to market and for guarding the flock in Scotland and England.   The breed’s name probably comes from its charge; the Scottish black-faced sheep called the Colley.  In the 1860s Queen Victoria kept Collies at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, making the dogs very popular.  In the late 1800s the Collie was mixed with the Borzoi, and 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 remaining) and 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.  The AKC considers the rough and smooth Collies as variations on the same breed and they are judged by the same standard with the exception of the coat.  The first Collie was presented at a dog show in 1860.  The Collie was recognized by the AKC in 1885.  The Collie is well known for its role in the movie “Lassie,” featuring a rough-coated Collie as the main character.  he herding instinct is still very strong in many of them.  They love to chase things.  Teach this dog not to chase cars.  A Collie should not be allowed to run free near a road as it may decide to chase a car or something else it sees across the road, running a high risk of getting hit by a car.  The Collie’s talents include herding, search and rescue, guide for the blind, agility, competitive obedience, acting in the movies, and as a guard and watchdog.