Collie was used to herd and guard sheep and to drive the sheep to market in the 1800s in Scotland, but it was in England in the late 1800s that the breed we know today began to take shape. The Collie dog breed didn’t catch the public’s eye until the publication of Alfred Payson Terhune’s (1872–1942) stories and books about his treasured Collies: Lad, Wolf, and Bob. When Lassie was introduced in movies, books, and on television, the public was reminded of these beautiful dogs, and their popularity soared again.
The breed’s long wedge-shape head is unique and instantly recognisable. Standing 22 to 26 inches tall and weighing 55 to 75 pounds, with females smaller than males, the Collie should be lean with no extra weight. The rough coat variety has a long double coat with a lush mane, well-feathered legs, and a plumed tail. The smooth coat variety has a short, dense double coat with no feathering. Collies may be sable and white, tricoloured, blue merle, and white.
The smooth variety needs twice weekly brushing, but the rough Collie’s coat takes considerably more work. Both the smooth Collie and rough Collie shed, and shed a lot during the spring and fall. In addition, the rough coat can tangle and mat. A daily brushing and combing can keep the coat looking good, keep the hair in the house to a minimum, and prevent mats from forming.
A vigorous walk morning and evening and a fast game of catch will keep most Collies happy. A bored Collie who is not exercised regularly will get into trouble. Every dog and owner should attend a basic obedience class together. You may want to continue your training, attend advanced training, or learn how to participate in dog sports. A well-trained Collie can be a wonderful family companion. Collies are loyal to a fault, great with children, and watchful of the home.
As dedicated watchdogs, some Collies bark too much, which is annoying to neighbours, but training can help temper that trait. Health problems include a sensitivity to heart-worm preventatives, eye defects, gastric bloat, and torsion.