The Collie dog breed from Scotland and Northern England is a medium sized working dog. They are very active dogs with a particularly strong herding instinct. Collies have been used extensively for herding sheep and cattle, and have rightfully earned their name which means ‘useful’ in Gaelic. The famous Collie dog Lassie has played a big role in making this breed a favorite with most people. These dogs make excellent family pets, especially for people with an active lifestyle.
The exact history and lineage of the Collie dog breed is not known, but they are thought to be connected to the same bloodline of the Border Collie. The name might have come from either ‘coal’ because of their predominantly black coat, or from “coolley,” referring to the mountain sheep with a black face found in Scotland.
This excellent working dog that can function as both guard dogs and herders would have proved very useful to the Celts who lived in the area from a very long time, but there are no records of this dog prior to early 19th century. Two types of collies were used at that time, one smooth-coated, and the other rough-coated.
While the rough-coated Collie guarded the sheep, the smooth-coated ones were mainly cattle drovers. It was not long before these excellent workers caught the attention of dog breeders who started working on collies to refine the breed.
Another important turning point for the breed came when Queen Victoria acquired a Collie in 1860. As the aristocracy followed suit, the breed was suddenly elevated to fashionable circles from their work dog status. Most wealthy families of the time welcomed Collie dogs in to their families, making the breed very popular. As a consequence, the breed was standardized and their characteristics were spelled out by the end of the 19th century.
Around this time, the American settlers had herds that needed the services of efficient herding dogs. Many new families coming to the New World brought their Collie dogs along, as did wealthy settlers traveling to Europe on business. Their popularity steadily increased in the 1900s, and the television show Lassie made this breed everyone’s favorite dog in America and elsewhere in the world.
Over 2 feet in height, and weighing up to 75 pounds, Collie dog breed is medium-sized. It is very nimble and light-footed, combining speed with great agility. The head is typically long and narrow with well proportioned ears that stand erect or slightly folded at the tips. The coat may be short and smooth or long and rough. The color is black or a mixture of black and tan or red and tan. Most of them have a typical white pattern around the neck, chest and underside.
Collie dog breed is known for its gentle and friendly nature. They get along very well with children and other pets in the household and outside. At the same time, Collies are excellent guardian dogs too. They are intelligent, and always remain alert to the world around them.
Coming from working dog stock, Collies are not for staying idle. They become bored and frustrated without sufficient exercise and activity; and this may lead to behavioral problems in some dogs. Even though occasionally stubborn, these dogs are generally pleasant and love pleasing their family. Occasional nipping at the heels is common, and it stems from their strong herding instinct. Barking can be a problem with some dogs, though.
Grooming and exercise
The Collie’s coat needs a thorough brushing one to two times a week if it is smooth; and more often if it is rough-coated.
The Collie dog breed is known for its workaholic nature. Unless you’re keeping it in a farm with plenty of herding opportunities, you may need to provide equally strenuous and stimulating activities to compensate.
These tough dogs can live outside in areas with mild climates, but hot weather doesn’t suit them. When brought up as family pets, they are better off spending the nights indoors with the family.
Common health issues of Collie dog breed
The Collie dog breed generally enjoys robust health, most dogs remaining free of common canine health issues. Collie Eye Anomaly is a breed-related inheritable disorder in this breed. Some dogs may be born with microphthalmia or develop progressive retinal atrophy. Puppies born with a genetic condition called Grey Collie Syndrome do not live beyond puppyhood.
Certain skin problems such as dermatomyositis and demodicosis may occasionally occur in these dogs. They may have hip dysplasia, seizures, and gastric torsion too, but they are not very common. The average life expectancy of the breed is around 10 years, but with good care some may live up to 13 years.