Gentle, affectionate and attentive with sporting ambition

The elegant and friendly Collie is unequivocally one of the biggest sweethearts among dog breeds. While the Rough Collie, with its long and flowing coat is instantly recognisable, you might have to take a second look to identify the less common variety, the short-coated Smooth Collie.

But no matter if Rough or Smooth, the Collie’s world revolves around its family and this dog loves nothing more than to be included in whatever activity you have planned. Collies adore their family and can be good playmates, but also vigilant protectors and guardians; in principle, however, they are friendly and neutral towards strangers.

Unlike their namesake, the Border Collie, Collies have a more laid-back approach to exercise. While both physical and mental training are key in keeping them from becoming bored or restless – a guarantee for incessant barking – they appreciate relaxing with their people just as much.

As the Smooth Collie never became a fashion dog, but has always remained a working dog, it places higher demands on its owners in terms of exercise and training. But in principle, Collies have a healthy understanding of work-life balance.

The Collie is an old Scottish sheepdog breed which being popular with Queen Victoria gained general attention and was bred on for beauty and as perfect pet.
The earliest Collies were mostly black/white or black/tan or tricolour. The first Collie to have the sable coat colour was Old Cockie, a popular show dog born in 1868.
After the wars the Collie regained popularity due to the fictional character Lassie, a female Rough Collie featured in literature and films.
The Collie has a sensitive nature and is a kind, easy to train and attached family companion but also eager to please in dog sport actions.
There are two coat varieties, rough and smooth. According to FCI standards two breeds, but some countries allow interbreeding, in the USA it is one breed.

Collie characteristics

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Before the Collie enchanted Queen Victoria and gained fame as the loyal and brave Lassie, this breed humbly herded sheep in the Scottish Highlands. The Collie’s ancestors are assumed to be dogs that the Romans brought to the country following the conquest of Britain in 43 CE. Though there are no written records to prove it, these dogs were most likely bred with local ones, until over time, dogs with a similar appearance to today’s Collie emerged.

There are quite a few theories on how the Collie got its name. Given the fact that many breeds used to be named after their type of job or the animals they were working with, it’s seen as the most plausible theory that the name derives from a black-faced breed of sheep the Collie used to guard – the Colleys.

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The Collie continued to herd sheep in steep terrain and harsh climate, unbeknownst to most, until it captured a special lady’s heart. Queen Victoria had two passions that would come together to change the Collie’s history: animals and Scotland. In the 1860s, during one of her visits to Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, Queen Victoria saw the local Collies and could not help but fall in love with them.

By the 1880s, Queen Victoria had declared the Collie her favourite dog and the breed’s popularity began to rise throughout England, but it took a few more decades for the Collie to become the instantly recognisable breed it is today. Presumably at this time Borzoi blood was crossed in, as both breeds were popular at court and the typical head shape of today's Collies and the untypical nature for herding dogs - described in the breeding standard as "impassive dignity" - could be the heritage of the Russian sighthounds.

In 1940, Eric Knight published a novel called Lassie Come-Home, sparking renewed interest in the Collie. Over the following years, the novel grew into a massive franchise with movies and a long-running TV show that brought the loyal, brave and devoted Lassie into the hearts of many. Which in turn brought the Collie into the homes of many, where it has earned itself the spot of beloved family member, enthusiastic playmate, and loyal and attentive companion.

Breed facts

FCI: Sheepdogs and Cattledogs - Group 1
KC: Pastoral Group AKC: Herding Group
merle, black, sable
View colour distribution
Agility, Herding, Obedience
The Collie is also a skillful participant in Rally Obedience and Nosework.
Great Britain
Medium to large
Coat type
Rough or smooth

Breed standards


The Collie can be affected by eye diseases, such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), as well as Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), which is specific to the Collie and other Sheepdog breeds. There is also the Grey Collie syndrome, a stem cell disorder solely found in grey-coated Collies. The breed can also suffer from Dermatomyositis and Degenerative Myelopathy.

In addition, the Collie may be affected by the MDR1 gene defect, which prevents the body from producing a protein responsible for filtering toxins. As a result, certain medications (such as the heartworm drug Ivermectin) as well as flea and tick repellents and anaesthetics can cause mild to severe symptoms of poisoning.