Three collies pose for the camera side-by-side.

Owning a Collie: Things to Know

The Collie is among the world’s most recognizable and beloved breeds. They are intelligent, friendly, loyal, loving and sensitive family dogs and their favorite place to be is with their people. Collies make great companions for both the young and the old, and they usually get along well with other family pets.

This is a medium-sized dog weighing about 50 to 70 pounds. They stand 22 to 26 inches high at the shoulder and have a lifespan of 10 to 14 years.

If you’re thinking of owning a Collie, here are the things you need to know about this special breed. The Collie comes in two distinct varieties. In the show ring, both varieties are considered the same breed and are judged by the same standard. First, there is a full coat, which is known as the Rough variety. (Are you familiar with the 1950s television show Lassie? It ran from 1954 to 1973. Lassie is a Rough Collie.) The other variety of Collie is the short coat, which is known as the Smooth variety. It has a dense, short coat with a lot of undercoat.

The Collie comes in several colors including sable and white, tri-color, blue merle, and white.

If you are familiar with the show Lassie, you also know that the Collie would eagerly come to the rescue whenever the situation warranted it. This is a gentle, affectionate, sensitive breed. They are extremely intelligent dogs with an uncanny ability to know when something is wrong. They love their families and are very protective. There are many true stories about Collies coming to the aid of people and animals.

If you have children, owning a Collie can be a great idea. Collies love children and they make great family pets. They love to play with children and are very protective of them. As with any breed, you should teach children how to approach and touch dogs and supervise their interactions. Teach your child to never approach any dog when he is eating or sleeping and never try to take a dog’s food away.

Owning a Collie can be very rewarding. This is a great family dog. Collies love being with people. Collies are devoted to the entire family and are very protective. The breed is eager to please and very easy to housetrain. Collies do well in homes where family members have flexible work schedules and time to spend with them, train them and play with them.

As a herding breed, the Collie is bred to work all day and needs quite a bit of exercise. This athletic dog should get a nice walk twice a day (about 30 to 45 minutes per walk). Collies do not do well being left alone for long periods of time. When they go for long periods of time with nothing to do they will become bored and bark incessantly.

Things to Know When Training a Collie

When training a Collie, experts recommend early socialization and obedience training. Training a Collie should be a life-long event because the dog can become easily bored and they must be mentally and physically stimulated to stay healthy and happy. Collies always enjoy learning new tricks and are eager to please.

When training a Collie, remember that Collies respond best to consistent rewards-based training. This dog enjoys the attention that comes from performing. So the Collie loves to do tricks and to compete in agility or herding events.

Any dog can develop unwanted behaviors such as barking and digging if the dog is bored, untrained or unsupervised. Start training your new Collie the day you bring him home. They are capable of learning from a very young age. Don’t wait until your Collie is 6 months old to begin training or you will be dealing with a dog that is more headstrong. Your Collie should have early socialization and obedience training beginning as a young puppy.

To learn even more about training collies, read our article Things to Know When Training a Collie.

Collie Agility Training: How to Train a Dog for Competition

Collie agility training is a fun sport for both the Collie and the owner. During an agility trial, the dog demonstrates its agile nature and versatility by following the cues of its handler through a timed obstacle course consisting of tunnels, jumps, weave poles and more. The dog must follow your directions through the correct order of obstacles. This amazing sport helps strengthen the bond between the dog and the handler and it provides plenty of fun and exercise for both. If you have fun with it, your dog will too.

Collie agility training is one of the best ways to get your Collie to calm down, behave better and stay fit. The sport requires a lot of training and finesse but it is incredibly rewarding.

Agility competitions are held nationwide and are overseen by multiple organizations including the USDAA, the NADAC, and the AKC. These organizations can connect you with local programs to help you get started in the sport.

For more information on collie agility training, read our article Collie Agility Training: How to Train a Dog for Competition.

Collie Temperament: What to Expect

Collies are smart, very connected to people and they learn quickly. To be content, Collies need consistent daily exercise and active play that will challenge them intellectually. When Collies don’t get the daily exercise they need, or when they are left alone for long periods of time, they will become bored and resort to barking.

The Collie temperament makes this breed a good choice for a therapy dog. The Collie has a calm and welcoming personality and loves to be petted. They enjoy caring for people.

There are positives and negatives when dealing with the Collie temperament. While they learn quickly and are eager to please, they may become bored with repetitive obedience exercises, so find a way to change up the routine to keep things fresh. Collies also have an independent streak that can make them a bit stubborn. As herding dogs, Collies are used to making some decisions on their own. You should learn to embrace that independence and work with it.

Because they are herding dogs by nature, Collies have a tendency to nip at your heels in play. This is a behavior that should not be permitted. It can be frightening to children and annoying to both people and other animals.

To learn more about the collie temperament, go to Collie Temperament: What to Expect.

How to Groom a Collie

Collies need a lot less grooming than you might think. Overall, the Collie is a clean dog with minimal doggy odor.

All Collies require regular grooming, but Smooth Collies are the easiest to groom because of their short coats. Rough Collies require a little more work, but it is not a difficult coat to care for. You must brush from the skin outwards and the long coat needs to be back brushed. Don’t just brush over the top because mats start at the skin.

To best groom a Collie, brush the dog once or twice a week for a Rough Collie or once a week for a Smooth Collie. Grooming should take you about 10 to 20 minutes to do a good job, depending on the amount of coat your dog has and the time of year.

Rough Collies will blow coat twice a year. During this heavy shedding period, brush your Rough Collie daily to help control the shedding.

If you have a Smooth Collie, the dog will not blow coat. So just brush this dog once a week to keep shedding under control.

In addition to brushing, you should bathe your Collie at least four times a year. Also, trim your Collie’s nails once a month as needed. Check your Collie’s ears once a week for dirt, redness or odor that can indicate an infection. And don’t forget about daily tooth brushing to improve your dog’s health and keep his breath fresh.

For more information on grooming a collie, read our article How to Groom a Collie.