The Collie is a medium sized dog with a slim head and muzzle, sometimes giving the illusion that it is smaller than it actually is in comparison with other medium sized breeds. Varying in color, Collies are most often found in a combination of brown and white, with a white chest and several shades of brown on their heads and backs being the most common.
While they are not considered to be working dogs, Collies are strong and lean and are therefore able to work and take a lot of exercise. With lean muscles, they can run fast and their body shape means that they have considerable stamina.
Collies are classified as Herding Dogs and there are two varieties: the Rough Collie and a smooth haired variety. Both rough and smooth-coated Collies were originally developed for herding and some breed organizations consider the two varieties to be variations of the same breed.
Life expectancy for the Collie is around 12 – 14 years.
There are significant differences in fur texture between the two varieties of Collie. Rough haired Collies will need more thorough grooming as their fur tangles much more easily; ideally they should be brushed on a daily basis.
Smooth haired Collies won’t need brushing quite as often and you can probably get away with brushing them every week or two. However, because Collies have a mane and their long hair has a tendency to shed, it is important to brush either type of Collie frequently to prevent hairs being spread onto furniture and soft furnishings in the house.
Collies tend to shed more through the spring and summer months, which means that grooming, should be carried out more often during these seasons.
The coat of the Collie is normally a combination of sable and white, tri-colored and blue merle. Double coated, the smooth-haired Collie has a dense, straight outer coat and a soft, furry undercoat. In comparison, the Rough Collie has a short, harsh and smooth outer coat and dense undercoat.
The Collie originates from Scotland where they were mainly employed as sheepdogs on farms and the smooth-coated variety was used to drove and guard sheep to market, which didn’t require such a thick coat.
The breed is also known as the Scottish Collie and the Collie name most probably originates from the Scottish Colley sheep – the black-faced breed which they herded.
Because of their loyal nature and strong lithe bodies, the popularity of the breed soon spread beyond Scotland and Collies are now found all over the world both as working dogs and as domestic pets.
The Rough Collie became even more popular, especially in the United Sates, after the television show, Lassie, whose starring role belonged to a Collie dog of the same name. Lassie helped around the farm where she lived and often saved the lives of the people she loved.
The Collie is classified as one of the Herding Dog group and they have been used to herd and drove cattle and reindeer as well as sheep. They have helped in Police work and tracking and have also performed search and rescue duties. In addition, they have acted as sentries and couriers for the Armed Forces and have provided services for physically disabled owners.
While nowadays Collies may not undertake such duties, they maintain the skills and features which made them so successful in these tasks.
Respectful and sweet natured, friendly and without aggressiveness, Collies are a loveable breed whose loyalty to their owners means that they will protect them at all costs. A calm animal, the Collie is not easily riled and providing that it is trained well will rarely bite, making them wonderful watchdogs and companions alike.
Collies are great around other animals, which makes them perfect for farms where they will keep the other animals in line without attacking them. They are also good with children and are happy to play outdoors, making the Collie a great choice for a family.
Collies are intelligent, active, courageous and determined and their herding instincts are so strong that they will even try to round up the family!
Like many breeds, the Collie is not without health problems. They are prone to eye ailments such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy and other anomalies. Therefore it is important to keep regular appointments with the vet for eye checkups, so that problems may be identified before they become too serious.
Collies also tend to be affected by
[-]Neutropenia – a blood disorder[/-]
[-]Hip Dysplasia – the abnormal development of hip joints[/-]
[-]Dermatomyositis – inflammation of the skin[/-]
As with all breeds, Collies can be susceptible to disease because of trauma, infections, and abnormalities of the immune system, genetic influences or degenerative conditions. You should note any changes in behavior and report them to your vet.
As Rough Collies have long hair, they need to be brushed regularly in order to prevent matting, although they do not need extensive care.
Rough haired Collies will need to be groomed on a daily basis, whereas smooth haired Collies can be left for a week or two. Brushing will keep shedding to a minimum and keep the fur shiny and attractive.
In addition to brushing and bathing your animal, you should also look after his eyes, teeth, ears, feet and nails. Ask your vet for information on how to clip toenails.
Collies need a lot of exercise to maintain their strong and lean physique. Playing, taking your dog for long walks and giving it plenty of activity will keep your Collie in peak physical and mental condition.
Collies are easy dogs to train being intelligent and agile and they respond well to a variety of training methods. They enjoy working and with their strong herding instincts they like their owners to provide interesting tasks.
Varied training sessions with a range of activities, tricks and rewards will keep your Collie mentally stimulated and happy.