Collie: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

rough collie

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The collie is a medium-large herding dog breed from the United Kingdom whose coat comes in two varieties: smooth (short) and rough (long). The dog has a wedge-shaped head with a long nose, almond-shaped eyes, and upright ears that slightly fold over. Many people recognize this breed thanks to the popularity of Lassie, a rough coat collie. And like Lassie, collies are known for being devoted companions that are quite in tune with their owners.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 22 to 24 inches (female), 24 to 26 inches (male)

Weight: 50 to 65 pounds (female), 60 to 75 pounds (male)

Coat: Long/rough, short/smooth

Coat Color: Black, white, and tan; blue merle; blue merle and white; blue merle, white, and tan; sable; sable and white; sable merle; white; sable merle and white; white merle

Life Span: 12 to 14 years

Temperament: Loyal, affectionate, attentive

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: United Kingdom

Characteristics of the Collie

Collies tend to have quite a friendly and attentive personality. They have good temperaments for households with children, as long as they have proper training and socialization. Collies are fairly active and playful dogs, and they can be rather vocal.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Collie

The collie’s ancestors can be traced back thousands of years in Scotland. They likely were Roman herding dogs that bred with the local dogs. But the first mention of the collie wasn’t until around the year 1800. 

Queen Victoria, whose rule started in 1837, took a liking to these collies during her trips to the royal family’s Balmoral Castle in Scotland. And it’s largely thanks to her that the breed became popular throughout the United Kingdom in the latter half of the 1800s. 

Collies made their way to North America during that time as well. The American Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1885. The collie’s popularity later received a huge boost thanks to the “Lassie” TV series that first aired in 1954.

Collie and child in old black-and-white photo having a tea party
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Tommy Rettig with Lassie and puppies in a basket
Actor Tommy Rettig with Lassie and puppies  Getty Images
Collies and people at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City in February 1957
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Collie Care

Collies like an active lifestyle, but they can relax too. How much grooming you'll have to do largely depends on whether you have the smooth or rough coat variety. Also, plan on consistent training and socialization to keep your dog friendly and well-mannered.


Collies should get at least one to two hours of exercise per day via walks, jogs, hikes, vigorous play, and more. Having a fenced yard is ideal to allow them to run freely. They also tend to love dog sports, such as agility and herding, which will help them burn some physical and mental energy. Collies prefer to be active with their humans. When left to their own devices, they might develop problem behaviors, such as excessive barking. But when properly exercised, they're usually calm in the house.


Plan to brush a smooth collie at least weekly to remove loose fur. But rough collies will need brushing at least a few times per week to prevent tangles and mats. Be sure to work slowly and diligently through the whole coat, as mats can often be hiding in the thick fur. Also, expect periods of higher shedding once or twice a year, during which you’ll have to brush both varieties more frequently. 

Bathe your collie roughly every month, depending on how dirty it gets. Check its nails once a month as well to see whether they need a trim. Look in its ears at least weekly for wax buildup and abnormalities. And brush its teeth ideally every day.


Collies are generally smart and eager to please. They tend to do quite well with training and thrive with positive reinforcement; harsh corrections can cause them to shut down. Start both training and socialization from a young age to instill good manners. Besides formal dog training courses, aim to have your collie meet different people and other dogs, and take it to various locations. Positive experiences will help to build its comfort and confidence.

two rough collies sitting on grass
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Collie running with ball
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Blue merle collie sitting on grass
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Common Health Problems

Collies are generally healthy dogs, though they are prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water available to your collie. Feed a high-quality canine diet that’s nutritionally balanced. It’s common to feed two measured meals per day. However, collies are prone to bloat and potentially life-threatening stomach twisting, which can be triggered by eating too quickly. So consider feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help prevent this. Always discuss the type of food and the amount with a vet to make sure you’re meeting your dog’s individual needs. 

Where to Adopt or Buy a Collie

Collies are a fairly popular dog breed, so you might be able to find one at a local animal shelter or breed-specific rescue group. See whether shelters have a breed wait list that you can get your name on. If you’re looking for a collie puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $800 all the way to $10,000.

For further information to help you find a collie, check out:

Collie Overview

  • Devoted companion

  • Generally good with kids

  • Typically takes well to training

  • Prone to excessive barking

  • Somewhat involved grooming needs for rough coat variety

  • Prone to some hereditary health issues

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in a collie, make sure to do plenty of research to ensure that the breed is right for your lifestyle. Talk to collie owners, reputable breeders, rescue groups, and veterinary professionals. Spend some time with collies, too, if possible. 

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are collies good family dogs?

    Collies with sufficient training and socialization tend to be excellent family dogs. This breed is known to love kids, be very tolerant, patient, and protective.

  • Are collies aggressive?

    Collies generally feel protective of their family and property, but that rarely translates to aggression as long as the dog is well trained and socialized. Instead, they often will bark at perceived threats.

  • Are collies good apartment dogs?

    Collies are medium-large dogs that do best when they have a yard to play in. But if you're able to take them out for enough exercise each day, they might be able to live in a spacious apartment.

Article Sources
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  1. Collie. American Kennel Club.

  2. Collie Puppies and Dogs. Adopt a Pet.