The (Rough) Collie: A Proud, Sweet-Tempered, Family Dog

The rich-coated collie breed, a descendant of the rather less-refined Scottish working shepherd dogs, is much admired today as a pet and in the show ring

Rough Collies

The Collie’s history may go back as far as Roman Britain, but dogs recognizably of this type did not attract wide attention until the 19th century. Queen Victoria is credited with popularizing the breed both in Europe and the United States. Later, “Lassie”, the highly intelligent star of film and television, confirmed the Collie’s status as one of the best-loved dogs of all time.

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Working Dogs.

The list of jobs that humans ask dogs to perform is almost endless. In the thousands of years since dogs were domesticated, canine helpers have guarded homes, rescued people in danger, gone to war, and looked after the sick and disabled—to give only a few examples. In this book the working group is represented by breeds traditionally developed for pastoral work and guard duties.

Breed History

The rough and smooth Collie can both trace their origins to Scotland and England. In the early 19th century a taller, more refined dog had evolved. A favorite breed of Queen Victoria, and also a star as “Lassie” on television, this breed has maintained popularity for many years. The name may have arisen from the name of the sheep they often guarded in Scotland called the Colley sheep.

Others propose the name is Gaelic for “useful”.

Physical Characteristics

Height at Withers

Female 22-24” (56-61 cm), male 24-26” (61-66 cm)


Females 50-65 lb (23-29.5 kg), males 60-75lb (27-34 kg).


Rough Collie standard

The thick double haircoat runs over the body except on head and legs; the outer layer is harsh and straight, the inner layer is soft and wooly. Around the neck is a pronounced mane of very thick hair that is more developed in males. Recognized colors include tri-color, blue merle, white and sable and white. Note that the “white” dog has a predominance of white with markings of sable, blue merle or tri-color.

Smooth Collie standard

A thick undercoat and a short (1”), dense flat coat are the standard.


14-16 years.

Points of Conformation

This breed of dog has a very bright demeanor and their alert “Collie expression” is one of the points of judging. The dog presents a balanced appearance with straight limbs, deep chest, and a smallish head (dolichocephalic skull) with a slight stop and a tapering but blunted muzzle.

The eyes are medium sized, almond-shaped and match coat color except in the merle. The ears are normally tipped at the top quarter.

Topline is level.

Their feet are small, but the toes are well arched. The tail reaches to the tarsal joint or lower.

Breed Behaviour and Traits