Collies, which are often referred to as Scotch Collies or Scottish Collies, are well known because of a Collie’s role in the popular TV series, “Lassie.” These dogs are well known for having a kind spirit, bravery, and loyalty to their owners, and they’ve become one of the most well-known dog breeds in the world today. Here’s a closer look at this loveable breed, their history, appearance, grooming needs, health, and more.
Origin and History
The Collie is a breed that was bred to be a working, herding dog that helped to manage, herd, and drive livestock. While the specific origin of this breed is unknown, it’s thought that they showed up with Romans on the British Isles around 2,000 years ago. Today’s breed probably came from Northern England and Scotland hundreds of years ago. In the early part of the nineteenth century, lovers of the breed started to keep records of the breed.
It wasn’t until 1877 that Collies would first be shown within the U.S., and the breed quickly became a prized possession of famous and rich individuals within this country. In 1886, the Collie Club of America was formed and continues to be active in the promotion of this breed today. Once the Rough Collie was chosen to star in the well-known “Lassie” films, they reached even greater popularity across the country.
While most people think about the image of “Lassie,” a fluffy, long-coated Rough Collie, a Smooth Collie is also found within this breed. Both types of Collies are agile, large, and proportionate. They have a wedge shaped, lean head with a face that is well chiseled. Their ears fold forward and are erect, and they boast dark, almond shaped eyes. This bread has a strong, wide chest and a low hanging, long tail.
Rough Collies have a long, straight, thick outer coat that feels harsh, and they have an abundant, thick undercoat that makes it tough to find the dog’s skin. Smooth Collies feature dense, short hair that lies flat on the body and an undercoat that is very thick. These dogs may come in tricolor, which includes tan, white, and black shadings and markings, sable, white, and blue merele, which includes black and silver-blue.
The males usually stand between 24 and 26 inches at their shoulder, while the females stand between 22 and 24 inches at their shoulder. Male Collies generally weight from 60 to 75 pounds, while the females weight a bit less, between 50 and 65 pounds.
The Collie is known for being fearless, intelligent, and loyal, and this makes them wonderful family dogs. The breed enjoys being with people and they are loving and patient with young children. While Collies have the ability to be stubborn, they are generally very easy to train. However, they need to be treated with gentleness, and treats and positive reinforcement work very well. Since these dogs are very sensitive, they can become skittish and timid if they are treated too harshly.
Collies need to have moderate exercise to stay happy and healthy, and they are not great dogs for small apartments. They need weekly runs and daily walks, and they love getting involved in interesting activities. Since they are so smart, they need to have regular mental stimulation along with the physical activity. If they don’t get the activity they need, they can begin to engage in destructive behaviors and may become overly anxious.
To make sure Rough Collies keep the proper appearance and texture of their coat, they need to be brushed a couple times each week. However, Smooth Collies will only need a weekly rushing to eliminate dead, loose hair. Both types of Collies should be bathed every six to eight weeks, and many owners choose to have a professional groomer deal with this task. Teeth cleaning and ear cleaning should be done weekly as well. Ears need to be checked for irritation and infection, and weekly teeth brushing will help to prevent tartar buildup and bad breath in the breed.
Originally, Collies were specifically bred to be working dogs, helping with herding and driving livestock to the market. Still today, they are used on farms for these purposes, although most Collies are now simply special family pets.
Collies generally live to be 12 to 15 years old. They do have several breed health concerns that owners need to be aware of, such as:
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Collie eye anomaly
- Skin disorders
- Immune mediated hemolytic anemia
- Elbow luxation
- Eye disorders
- Hip dysplasia
- Congenital ectopic ureters
- Congenital deafness
- Sensitivity to certain types of drugs