All About Collies

About This Breed

The Collie has been used for herding sheep for centuries. It is thought the ancestors to the breed were herding dogs that traveled with Romans in 500 B.C. The Collie became popular in the late 19th century when Queen Victoria fell in love with them while on a trip to Scotland. She took several back with her to Windsor Castle.

Physical Characteristics

The Collie is a large bodied dog with a long pointed face and erect ears. The legs are long and straight and the tail is pointed.

COLOR(S)

Most commonly seen in sable and white, blue merle, tricolored, and white.

COAT

Long (rough coat) or short (smooth coat). The hair of the outer-coat is coarse and rough, while the undercoat is dense and soft.

 

Personality and Temperament

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Moderate

POSITIVES

The Collie is a “caregiver”; very loving and nurturing with its family and excellent with kids, protective even — it is known for herding children just as it would with livestock.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

The Collie is generally known to bark a lot, and can be aggressive toward strangers it deems a threat. Also, the breed does shed a lot.

Care

IDEAL LIVING CONDITIONS

The Collie would do well in the city or in the country.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

The breed needs to be brushed weekly and should have regular grooming appointments to prevent matting.

Health

The following conditions are commonly seen in Collies:

  • Collie eye anomaly (congenital defect that can cause blindness)
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Collies should not be given medication that contains Ivermectin

History and Background

The origin of the Collie is rather obscure. One of the theories about the breed's origins is that of a stock and farm dog to the Celts, the first settlers on the British Isles. Since sheepherding and guarding are two of the oldest canine duties, the Collie's ancestors may reach far back into the history of dogs. 

Dog fanciers began to take an interest in the breed in the early 19th century. As breeding programs progressed, the Collie not only grew larger in stature but more refined as well. Queen Victoria was introduced to the breed in 1860 and she quickly developed a great fondness for them, keeping them at her castle in Scotland. The breed's popularity flourished under her sponsorship and the upper classes, as well as dog fanciers, took a liking to the dog. In 1867, "Old Cockie" was born and is credited with many of the characteristics associated with the breed, especially those of the Rough Collie.

Collies would later sport a variety of colors, including red, buff, and a few sables. The most popular colors included black, tan and white, black and white, and what is referred to now as blue merles, originally known as "tortoise shell." "Scotch" collies, a rough-coated variety, were also bred during the 1800s. And while the smooth-coated varieties were used to drive cattle or sheep, the rough-coated ones were able to withstand all weather climates, so were trained as guard dogs. 

By 1886 English breeders set a standard for the Collie's height and weight. As American settlers began to bring the breed to the New World as sheepherders, numerous changes began to take place. Most notably, the breed became slightly larger and heavier. Later, Albert Payson Terhune, an American author and dog breeder, increased the popularity of the breed with his collies at the Sunnybank Kennels, the lines of which can still be seen in today's Rough Collies. The Smooth Collie has not been as popular as the rough variety, but whichever the variety, the Collie is now considered an all-time favorite American breed.