Breed Category: Herding
Country of Origin: Scotland
Average Size: 55-65 cm (at the withers)
Average Weight: 24-35 kg
Average Life Span: 12-14 years
Grooming Requirements: Medium
Exercise Requirements: Medium

History

The collie is a well-known breed of dog that comes in many varieties.  The traditional collie originated in Scotland, where it mainly herded sheep and cattle.  The breed dates back several centuries, though the exact date of origin is unknown.  Its namesake may be derived from the Scottish word for “coal,” as black is a predominant colour in collies.  Another possibility is that it stemmed from “colley,” the name for a type of Scottish sheep.

The breed is still used in many parts of the world as a working dog, though it is also commonly kept as a companion dog.

The breed’s popularity soared in the mid 1800s when Queen Victoria fell in love with it during a visit to Scotland.  It later became even more popular in response to a mid 1900s American TV series called Lassie, which featured a brilliant collie that often performed heroic acts to protect its family from harm.  The breed has also grown in popularity in other parts of the world, including Australia.

There are many types of collies, stemming from various parts of the world.  The following breeds are a variety of collie:

Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Collie
Australian Kelpie
Australian Shepherd
Bearded Collie
Border Collie
Cumberland Sheepdog
English Shepherd
German Coolie
Huntaway
Old English Sheepdog
Rough Collie
Scotch Collie
Shetland Sheepdog
Smooth Collie
Welsh Sheepdog

Appearance

The collie is a large dog, but is actually quite lean.  It is graceful and elegant in its movements.  It generally has a long, narrow snout and close-set eyes.  Its ears may be folded or erect.  Tails on some collie types may have been docked in years past, though most now have a long, full tail that is carried low.

Other physical characteristics are dependent on the type of collie, as some, like the Border Collie, have long and smooth fur while others, such as the Australian Cattle Dog, have a short, coarse coat.  The coat may be solid or multi-coloured and some may have merle or marbled patterns.  The predominant base colours are black, brown, tan and white.  Grooming needs vary, though weekly brushing of the coat is typically all that is required.

Temperament

Collies are beloved throughout the world for their energy and stamina.  They are eager to please and excel in obedience.  Working collies are dedicated to herding and are renowned for their high intelligence.  As pets, collies may try to herd family members or other pets in the home.  They are loyal to and protective of their owners.

They are an ambitious breed that thrives on activity and work, so it is crucial that they have a job to do in order to prevent destructive behaviour that stems from boredom.  This may be as simple as retrieving the paper or chasing squirrels in the backyard, though the breed is intelligent enough to handle more involved tasks such as agility exercises.

Health

There are genetic disorders which may affect the collie, such as canine cyclic neutropenia, which is a condition caused by defective stem cells.  Collies are also prone to sensitivities to drugs and antibiotics.  It may also experience joint problems or arthritis, particularly as it advances in age.

The average lifespan of a healthy collie is 12-14 years.