If Lassie is your idea of the perfect dog, learn more about the standard Rough Collie.
The Standard Rough Collie
The standard Rough Collie is a beautiful animal to behold. This is the classic "Lassie" type of Collie with the magnificent mane of hair that frames the head and chest.
Collies have long, flat heads that taper gracefully from the widest point at the ears to the end of the nose. The ears are held erect, but fold over slightly at the tips. These dogs are of medium build, evenly proportionate and carry long, full-coated tails.
Size ranges from 22 to 26 inches high with weight spanning 50 to 75 pounds on average. Bitches fall into the smaller range of the spectrum with males tending toward the larger sizes.
These dogs come in a variety of colors that includes:
- Sable merle
- Sable and white
- Sable merle and white
- Black and white with tan markings
- Blue merle
- Blue merle and white
- Blue merle, tan and white
- White merle
Collies are a very old herding breed, so old in fact that no one is entirely sure of their origin. It's generally accepted that early development took place in Scotland and England. By most accounts, a stud dog known as "Old Cockie" is largely accepted as being responsible for the current look of the breed.
These days Collies are more likely to be family dogs rather than working herds of livestock. Collies have enjoyed a berth in the top 20 dog breeds according American Kennel Club stats in recent years.
It's difficult to find a dog breed more friendly, loyal and downright fun than a Collie. These dogs make wonderful family companions, although they have retained some of their herding instincts. Sometimes this leads to a bit of heel nipping as they try to persuade you where they think you ought to go, but this seldom results in any real harm and is easily discouraged.
Collies are a bit protective of their people, and usually check out newcomers before accepting them. However, it should be noted that they are not really guard dog material. That said, these dogs also tend to get along well with other dogs and pets in the home.
The Collie's intelligence and patience are legendary, and these dogs are easily trained for a variety of activities. They can be housebroken quite quickly from the age of three months on, and they accept obedience training very smoothly. The main concern is that they should not be trained using any harsh methods or tone of voice. This will cause them to quit responding altogether. You can persuade a Collie to do virtually anything you ask, but you can never bully one into anything.
Collies also make wonderful service dogs, acting as guides for the sight or hearing impaired and even serving as rescue dogs. Additionally, they often make great agility dogs.
All of that abundant coat on the Rough Collie requires a good deal of care to keep in healthy condition. These dogs need to be brushed through right down to the scalp at least once or twice a week to prevent the formation of mats. Shampooing should be carried out as needed, but it may be easier to just wash the rear and undercarriage twice a month and reserve the full bath for when it's truly needed.
Shedding takes place twice a year in the spring and fall. During this time, daily brushing is required to remove the dead hair before it either winds up in mats or floating around your home.
A Smooth Alternative
If you're thinking the Rough Collie would be your ideal companion except for all that grooming, there is an alternative. The Smooth Collie is virtually the same dog, but with a short, close fitting coat that requires far less maintenance. This means you can spend more time enjoying your pet and less time bathing and brushing.
As a breed, Collies are at risk for several genetic health problems.These include:
- Hip Dysplasia: This is a degenerative disease that affect the dog's hip joints, but is occasionally found in the elbows as well. Dogs can be born with varying degrees of joint malformation, but the problem rarely becomes obvious before one year of age.
- Canine Arthritis: This condition is closely related to dysplasia and causes painful inflammation of the joint tissue.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This condition leads to a deterioration of the retina, eventually causing blindness.
Barring any health problems, a healthy diet, routine veterinary care and moderate exercise are all that's needed to keep these dogs in good physical shape. The average life span of a healthy Collie ranges from 12 to 15 years.
Collie Club of America
The Collie Club of America is an organization devoted to promoting the breed and preserving its well being. This site offers some breed history, as well as a code of ethics for breeders to follow. Anyone wishing to become a member may submit an application provided at the site. Upon approval, a membership fee will become due.