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Collie (Rough) Dog Breed

Average sizes and life expectancy for this breed:

height 55.8-66 cm
weight 22-31 kg
lifespan 10-12+ years


The Collie dog breed is a native of Scotland. They were bred in the Scottish Highlands and northern England to herd sheep. Today, these graceful, intelligent dogs make great canine companions for families, as well as show dogs. They are also still revered by farmers for their impressive herding abilities.

Rough Collies are described as robust, devoted, loving, approachable, and quick in both mind and body. Rough-coated Collies have gorgeous long coats that flow behind them as they run. Their heads are wedge-shaped with a delicate bone structure. Despite, the similarities in appearance, Shetland and Border Collies are different dog breeds entirely.

Rough Collies are delicate and bright dogs. They are known for their undying devotion and their exceptional ability to predict their owners’ needs. They are also highly affectionate with their families. As a result, they do not like being left alone for long periods. Give them plenty of love, attention, and companionship, and your Collie will give it back in abundance to all members of their pack, including children. In fact, due to their background as herding dogs, these canines have even been known to try and herd children and other pets!

Rough Collies can do well both in the country and the city. But remember that they need constant companionship and regular daily exercise to remain happy and healthy. These dogs should ideally have at least an hour of exercise every day.

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Featured Image
Summary Image
  • iconGitBranch Registration: KC, AKC, FCI
  • iconGlobe Country of Origin: United Kingdom
  • iconArrowOutSimple Size: Large
  • iconDog Coat: Long
  • iconSwatches Colours: Sable and white, tri-coloured, and blue merle
  • iconBrain Temperament: Intelligent, loyal, active, protective, gentle, sociable

Exercise Needed Daily: 1 hour


Shedding: High


Type of home: House with a Garden


Training: Easy


Hypoallergenic: No


Potentially dangerous: No


Grooming: Once a Week


Watchdog Ability: Intensive


Barking Level: Medium


Good with Children: Yes


Environment: City & Countryside


Good with Other Animals: Yes



The Rough Collie's ancestors worked in the Scottish Highlands to herd sheep. There is little information on how these large dogs split into rough and smooth-coated varieties. However, some experts believe that Collies from Scotland were bred with the smaller, more nimble Welsh Collies that were used to herd goats. They first appeared in dog shows in the 1860s and immediately drew widespread attention across England, especially from the upper class.

After the industrial revolution, it's thought that these dogs were bred with the Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound) to create the ‘noble’ head that is now the trademark of Rough Collies.

Interestingly, most depictions of early Collies portrayed a disfigurement – a twist at the end of the tail. For example, it can be seen in Thomas Bewick’s ‘Shepherd’s Dog’s’, created in 1807, and the memoirs of Quadrupeds, published in 1809. Today, this trait is described as a ‘wry tail’ and is seen as an extreme fault.

When Queen Victoria acquired a Rough Collie after seeing them at Balmoral Castle, this breed shot to fame. They became even more popular after the release of the ‘Lassie’ film in 1943 when they became known as the all-American family dog. This film portrayed the breed as devoted, clever, and eternally faithful, which isn’t far from the truth!

Today, the Rough Collie dog is ranked among the top fifty most popular dog breeds by the American Kennel Club and remain celebrated for their faithful, affectionate, and protective demeanours.

Breed History
Breed Appearance


Rough Collies are beautiful, regal-looking canines. They have an air of elegance and charm that attracts dog enthusiasts the world over. Their wedge-shaped and finely chiselled heads are well-rounded, with flat skulls and blunt muzzles that taper smoothly from their ears to the tip of their noses. Their strong underjaw is clean-cut. Their almond-shaped eyes are medium in size and set rather obliquely on their face. They are usually dark brown in colour. However, blue merle coated Collies often have blue or blue-flecked eyes. Their expression is one of alert intelligence.

Their small ears are well-placed on their head. They hold them back when relaxed but bring them forward when alert or excited.

These dogs have powerful necks that are well-arched and muscular. Their shoulders slope slightly and lead into muscular front legs.

Their bodies are slightly longer than they are tall. Rough Collies have firm backs, deep chests, and are broad behind the shoulders. Their back legs are strong, with athletic thighs displaying strength on the lower part of the leg. These dogs have oval-shaped feet with well-padded soles and well-arched, tight toes. Though, their back feet are a little less arched than their front feet.

Their long tails are carried low when relaxed but lifted when the dog is alert or excited. However, the tail should never curl over the back.

Rough Collies have a very thick, coarse, and straight topcoat, while their undercoat is much softer. The hair around their necks is abundant, creating a distinctive mane. Their front legs are well-feathered and their lower back legs are well feathered too. Below their hock joint, the hair is smooth. Their long tails are bushy with plenty of feathering. The recognized coat colours of this breed, according to the Kennel Club registration, are:

  • Sable and white: Light gold to rich mahogany shades. A cream-coloured coat is highly undesirable.
  • Blue merle: Silvery-blue coat splashed with black patches.
  • Tricolour: Mostly black with tan markings on the head and legs.


Rough Collies are well known for their intelligence and ability to pick up on their owner’s moods and needs. These dogs are naturally very active thanks to their background as herding animals. So, they need constant stimulation, training, and guidance to remain happy. In fact, these dogs thrive in a range of canine sports including obedience and agility circuits. Rough Collies also make exceptional therapy dogs due to their gentle demeanours and sociable natures.

When they are not running around, these dogs love to curl up with their favourite people. They do not like being left alone for long periods, so these dogs are best suited to homes where someone is around for most of the day. They love to be involved in all household activities and they make ideal family dogs as they are famed for their love of children. They enjoy playing a variety of games and will naturally protect every member of their pack.

While they are not known to be overly vocal dogs, Rough Collies do have a habit of barking excessively when they are bored. So, it's important to understand this trait as it’s a clear sign that your dog needs attention. Rough Collies are not suitable for a backyard lifestyle.

Rough Collies are athletic dogs, so they need regular aerobic exercise and plenty of opportunities to play. Teach them a variety of tricks and recall training to stimulate their minds and bodies.

Breed Personality
Breed Trainability


Rough Collies are very clever and can pick up new commands and tricks with ease. However, these dogs need consistency, so puppy classes are a good option for overall socialization and training.

Rough Collies enjoy training and they seem to relish in the attention that comes with performing. It’s an essential part of their upbringing and will help to solidify the dog-human bond. However, make sure you keep them on their toes by engaging them in a wide variety of training activities to prevent boredom. These are incredibly bright dogs so it's best to be creative with training.

Positive reinforcement training works very well for this breed. Just be sure to reward them with treats or fuss when they get something right. These dogs live to please their owners, So, as long as you respect your canine, they will respect you back.

It’s worth noting that these dogs have a tendency to nip, especially when they are puppies. This is believed to be a result of their herding background. When first introducing these dogs to other pets or children, you will need to supervise and ensure that no nipping takes place. Luckily, these are intelligent dogs that will pick up the message fairly quickly! Remember to never punish a Rough Collie as this is likely to cause confusion and make the situation worse.

Coat & Care

Smooth Collies have a double coat that requires regular weekly brushing. Bear in mind that you may need to brush them more often during the shedding seasons in Spring and Autumn. These dogs can shed large amounts of hair so make sure you keep on top of grooming. In addition, Rough Collies need care and attention to prevent matting in specific areas such as the elbows and behind the ears.

Bathe your dog as required. Roughly every six to eight weeks is ideal. Just make sure you don’t bathe them too much as this can dry out the skin and can even make the coat brittle. Many dog owners choose to pay a professional groomer to groom their Collies, particularly the Rough variety, due to their thick coats. New dog owners may find brushing them a challenge at first. But don’t worry; a little bit of practice and instruction from a breeder or a professional groomer will stop this from becoming a hard chore.

You should check their ears once a week for discharge, redness, dirt, or a foul odour that could indicate an infection. Wipe their ears weekly with a cotton ball moistened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to prevent ear problems and infection.

Clean your dog's teeth by brushing them at least two or three times a week to eliminate tartar and bacteria buildup. Ideally, daily brushing is best to prevent tooth and gum disease and bad breath. Moreover, their nails should be trimmed regularly. Long nails can be uncomfortable for your dog which can result in walking and running issues.

Also, make sure to check their body parts for rashes, sores, redness, or any indication of infection such as inflammation of the eyes, ears, skin, nose, mouth, and feet. Your Rough Collie’s eyes must be clear and with no discharge or redness.

Breed Coat & Care
Breed Health


Rough Collies are generally healthy, but like all dog breeds, they are prone to particular health conditions. You should only purchase a Rough Collie puppy from a reputable and licensed breeder to ensure they have been well cared for. A good breeder will also DNA test your pup to check for any underlying health issues.

Not all Collies will develop a health condition, but it’s essential to be mindful of them if you are considering this dog breed. Some of the more common health issues found in Rough Collies include:

  • Collie Nose – Also known as nasal solar dermatitis. This is an immune disorder that causes the skin of the nose to peel. They may also suffer from nasal discharge, or the nose may lose its colour pigment. This condition is exacerbated by UV exposure, so it tends to be worse in the summer months. There is no cure for Collie Nose, but it can be managed
  • Dermatomyositis – This is a genetic autoimmune skin disorder that causes abrasions, lesions, and muscle problems.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – A family of eye diseases that causes the slow deterioration of the retina in the eyes.
  • Hip Dysplasia – An irregular formation of the hip socket that can lead to pain and lameness. Collie dogs with hip dysplasia must not be bred.
  • Collie Eye Anomaly – A genetic condition that causes developmental defects in the eyes, eventually leading to blindness.
  • Degenerative Myelopathy – A progressive disease of the spinal cord which causes weakness and lameness in the legs. It typically occurs in dogs over 7 years old.
  • Drug Sensitivity - A genetic mutation that causes adverse reactions to certain drugs such as ivermectin, insecticides, and anaesthesia. Make sure to consult your vet before giving your Collie dog any medication or other pet products.

Children & Other Pets

The playful Rough Collie is well-known for its love of children, so they make exceptional family pets. They are also incredibly protective of their family and will diligently watch over them and keep them safe from danger.

Collies are generally gentle and calm around other pets. They have even been known to care for bab animals such as chicks, rabbits, and goats.

However, you should still always supervise any interaction between your pets or between your Rough Collie and children to prevent any mishaps. Furthermore, it's important to teach your children how to properly approach and interact with any dog to create a harmonious household. Rough Collies can be sensitive to loud noises and rough handling.

Rough Collies are not only stunning to look at, but they have the personalities to match. As long as you provide consistent stimulation and training, you will have a devoted and protective canine companion for years to come.

Breed with Children & Other Pets

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Similar Breeds

Collie Smooth Dog Breed

Collie (Smooth)

United Kingdom

Size Size : Large

Coat Coat : Short

Registration Registration : KC, AKC, FCI

Exercise Exercise : 1 hour

Training Training : Easy

Grooming Grooming : Once a Week


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