Choosing a breed to fit a family lifestyle can be a daunting, but fun, task. When debating between breeds it is important to know as many facts and information about the breed as possible before making the final decision. The collie is one of hundreds of different dog breeds and may or may not not be the right choice for some families.
The exact historical origins of the collie are shrouded in mystery but the breed has been around for several centuries in and around the United Kingdom, particularly in Scotland. Traditionally the dogs were used to herd sheep and cattle out to market. Today, they are still used for herding but are also used for show and sport competitions, as well as for companionship.
The Scottish collie goes by multiple names. It is referred to as both the rough collie and the smooth collie, with the only difference between the two names being the type of fur coat. The Scottish collie has also been referred to as the Scotch collie but most recently goes by just "collie," as recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1991.
The coat of the collie can be either rough or smooth. The rough coat features a straight, harsh outer coat with a softer, dense inner coat. The rough coat also features a larger mane and feathering on the legs. The smooth coat variety features shorter, hard and dense fur. Both varieties come in the same colors: sable and white, tri-color, white and blue merle.
Male collies range in size from 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder, with weight ranging from 60 pounds to 75 pounds as accepted by the AKC. Female collies can range from 22 to 24 inches and can weigh between 50 and 65 pounds. However, as with any living creature variation can occur with individual dogs being shorter, taller, lighter or heavier.
Collies are known for being relatively healthy dogs but like many larger breeds they can suffer from hip problems, which in turn can result in additional health issues such as arthritis or lameness. Some lines within the breed can suffer from heart disease or eye problems such as Collie Eye Anomaly. The lifespan of a collie can vary greatly from as little as 4 years to as long as 16 years.
Owners and potential owners of collies should keep in mind that the nose is a sensitive area. The skin is thinner and the fur is thinner in volume and length, therefore sunblock is recommended as this area is more sensitive to the effects of the sun.
Queen Victoria is credited for the rise in popularity of the collie breed. According to the American Kennel Club in the 1860s Queen Victoria visited the Scottish Highlands. It was there that she fell in love with the breed and went on to introduce them to the rest of the world. From then on collies grew significantly in popularity.
Aside from the beloved dogs of Queen Victoria there is one particular dog who is extremely famous: Lassie. The show of the same name ran for 19 seasons. Lassie is one of three dogs who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Though Lassie is a well known dog several collies actually played the part of Lassie throughout the series, including the original dog who was a male collie named Pal.
The collie breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885. It was later recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1914. Over the past decades several clubs have also formed, including the Collie Club of America, American Working Collies Association, and various location-specific clubs including the Collie Club of Colorado and the Collie Club of New England.