The Rough Collie

The collie is beautiful, elegant and is well known as a loving, faithful family dog. Popularized by the movie and television canine Lassie, the collie is an easily recognized breed. The dog comes in two separate varieties: The rough collie, the one most people are familiar with; and the smooth collie, that does not have the flowing coat of the rough collie.

History and Origin

The exact origin of the collie is not known but it is widely accepted that the collie has a long history as a sheep herding dog in Scotland and northern England. 

The name collie is thought to come from the term “Colley” or “Coll” a term used to describe the black faced sheep that the dog herded. It also describes the predominately black color of the dog at that time.

In the early 19th century, dog fanciers took an interest in the breed and began a strict breeding program. During an 1860s dog show, Queen Victoria fell in love with the the collie, and fueled by this link to royalty, the popularity of the collie skyrocketed. It was no longer just a herding dog.

In 1867, a dog name “old Cockie” was born. This dog is credited with the original sable coloration of the rough collie. Most sable rough collies have “old Cockie” somewhere in their lineage. The sable rough collie is not the only one with a famous ancestor. In 1873, a dog named “Trefoil” was born and the tricolor collie line was begun.

The collie was accepted into the English Kennel Club in 1886. Also in this year, the Collie Club of America was founded and the breed was accepted into the American Kennel Club as part of the herding dog group.

Appearance and Size

The collie is a tall, lean, elegant dog with a long and tapered nose. The rough collie has a long flowing hair coat that can be sable and white, tricolor or blue merle (additionally in the USA  white). The outer coat is long and abundant and the inner coat is soft.The size of a British collie bitch is between 51 - 56 cm with a weight of about 20 kg. Dogs are up to 5 cm bigger.


Collies are loyal and affectionate dogs. They are intelligent and quite active and some may be high strung and sensitive.A devoted and faithful family dog, the collie is ideal for homes with children. Due to their tolerant nature, they are also excellent in homes with other dogs.

Though not known for having guard dog tendencies, collies will alert the family when strangers approach.

The average collie can live up to 12 to 15 years.

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Be alwayas aware that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.