The origin of the Collie is largely unknown, although it is generally believed to have descended from shepherding dogs brought to the Scottish Highlands by the Romans in the 5th century. Originally bred for working fulfillments, both the Smooth and Rough Collie were widely utilised in herding cattle and other cloven footed animals, earning their classification amongst the 'pastoral' branch of canines. A regular visitor to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Queen Victoria became passionate about the breed, which in turn resulted in increased demand. Following the 'Lassie' television series that aired from 1954-1973, the breed rose to enormous popularity, both as a working dog and devoted companion pet.
With little distinguishing the two varieties besides coat length, the Rough Collie is identifiable for its dense double coat in common colour variations of sable, blue merle or tricolour black, tan and white, and the Smooth Collie is recognised by its flat double coat, revealing its athletic morphology more clearly. Both variations boast a medium-sized, proportionate build, with defined facial features, a tapering muzzle and forward-set ears. The breed derives its name from the black-faced sheep that shared the Highlands, known as the 'Colley.' Compatible with children as well as other house pets, although its natural inclination to herd or round up smaller animals needs management from an early age.
An outstanding companion, both variations of the breed make the ideal choice for families or the dedicated sole owner, providing they understand the dog's need for regular exercise and enrichment. Intelligent and versatile, the Collie can be applied to a variety of tasks, whilst being easy to house and obedience train. Affectionate and mannered, the Collie should never be timid or aggressive, but devoted to its master. A healthy Rough or Smooth Collie weighs an average of 20-34 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 12-14 years. It is not uncommon for the breed to outlive this expectancy when shown appropriate care.
Typically healthy and long-lived, the Collie is prone to no known genetic or hereditary diseases, and breed-specific ailments are limited. As with most canine breeds, the Collie is known to suffer with skin allergies, optical disorders and arthritis. Some herding breeds carry a gene that makes them unsuited to receiving certain types of medication, and testing for this gene is essential before any drugs are administered.
I have owned and shown rough collies for 47 years and absolutely love the breed. Throughout the years, rough collies have frequently been bred with physical characteristics which fall outside the breed standard, but a true rough collie is one of the most majestic breeds known to man. A gentle breed who is truly faithful and great fun. They love outdoor life but, unlike their border cousins, do not require excessive exercise and are adaptable to most life styles. My own collies enjoy camping, caravanning, cottage holidays, boats etc.