The Collie has a longstanding reputation as one of the most beautiful of dog breeds. Though many people may have a mental picture of the Collie as looking like Lassie, or Lassie-colored, the Collie is actually bred in two different coat types and four different color variations that add to the breed’s great beauty and appeal.
The overall “look” of the Collie is defined by The Collie Standard—a specific set of required breed
characteristics developed over the past 120 years and perfected by breeders ever since.
There are two types or varieties of Collie: the ROUGH Collie and the SMOOTH Collie. Both varieties are the same except for the length of their coats. The Collie is a double-coated breed with a harsh outer coat beneath which lies a downy undercoat.
Rough and Smooth Collies both come in the same four color combinations:
- Sable and white, which is shades of brown ranging from light straw to dark mahogany with white markings;
- Tri-color, which is black with tan and white markings;
- Blue merle, which is gray to silver with tan and white markings; and
- White, which is predominantly all white with a sable, tricolored, or blue merle head and body markings.
Note: The smaller Shetland Sheepdog is sometimes referred to as a “Miniature
Collie”when, in fact, the Shetland Sheepdog, or “Sheltie,” is a separate breed,
originating in the Shetland Islands of Scotland, with its own breed Standard.
Beauty is not the only reason to choose a Collie selected dogs strong in this nature, thus ensuring that the breed would remain not only highly intelligent and trainable, but able to have a strong, ongoing relationship with their
As the breed’s primary focus is
people, a Collie is equally
happy to run in the woods with
its family, walk on a lead with
them in town, or herd a gaggle
of geese on the farm and can adapt to
suburban yards or large rural spaces.
Collies bond easily with their families
whether they are acquired as puppies or
as older dogs. They are joyfully affectionate
and playful, with a great sense of
humor. With strangers they can be more
dignified and reserved, a throwback to
their herding origins in isolated parts of
the British Isles where it was not common
to see other people.
Collies have a well developed sense
of “home” that revolves around the
family, their schedules and routines, and
the home’s physical surroundings. In
fact, the breed is well known for its intuitive
awareness of family activities, to
the point where the Collie often senses
what is going to happen before it actually
does. The dog can recognize things
like the step of a family member at a distance
or the unique sound of an individual
vehicle—even the approaching time
when a family member is due home. The
breed’s sensitive nature descends from
its herding heritage, making the Collie a
wonderful housemate, ever watchful and
protective of the homefront.
Since the nature of the working Collie’s
relationship with the shepherd involves
dialogue, the Collie is quite vocal with a
large–and interesting!–range of sounds,
from barks of various pitches and intensities
to grunts and the famous Collie
“singing,” coupled with many facial
expressions such as the head
cocked to one side and the
other, puffing cheeks, nods,
smiles, nose nudges or even
gator-like teeth snapping—all
are ways which the dog communicates
what is going on.
Collies and Other Dogs
Another benefit of the
Collie’s shepherding heritage
is the breed’s ability to get
along with other dogs and
other animals in the same household.
The Collie’s original job often involved
multiple dogs who had to work together
to care for a flock of animals. This
translates into a breed which tends to
get along well with other dogs, and also
tends to be tolerant of other family pets
in the household.
As a family dog, the breed character of
the Collie is that of an intelligent and fully
participating family member with a strong
desire to please. The breed is a wonderful
choice for those who
want their dogs to be
fully engaged in their family lives.
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