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  • Temperament: Devoted, Graceful, Proud
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 37 of 194
  • Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female)
  • Weight: 60-75 pounds (male), 50-65 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Herding Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Collie standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Collie head facing left
Collie sitting in three-quarter view facing forward
Collie coat detail
Collie

Find a Puppy: Collie

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Collie is a lithe, strong, responsive, active dog, carrying no useless timber, standing naturally straight and firm. The deep, moderately wide chest shows strength, the sloping shoulders and well-bent hocks indicate speed and grace, and the face shows high intelligence. The Collie presents an impressive, proud picture of true balance, each part being in harmonious proportion to every other part and to the whole. Except for the technical description that is essential to this Standard and without which no Standard for the guidance of breeders and judges is adequate, it could be stated simply that no part of the Collie ever seems to be out of proportion to any other part. Timidity, frailness, sullenness, viciousness, lack of animation, cumbersome appearance and lack of over-all balance impair the general character.

HEAD

The head properties are of great importance. When considered in proportion to the size of the dog the head is inclined to lightness and never appears massive. A heavy-headed dog lacks the necessary bright, alert, full-of-sense look that contributes so greatly to expression. Both in front and profile view the head bears a general resemblance to a well-blunted lean wedge, being smooth and clean in outline and nicely balanced in proportion. On the sides it tapers gradually and smoothly from the ears to the end of the black nose, without being flared out in backskull (cheeky) or pinched in muzzle (snipy). In profile view the top of the backskull and the top of the muzzle lie in two approximately parallel, straight planes of equal length, divided by a very slight but perceptible stop or break. A mid-point between the inside corners of the eyes (which is the center of a correctly placed stop) is the center of balance in length of head.

BODY

Neck: The neck is firm, clean, muscular, sinewy and heavily frilled. It is fairly long, carried upright with a slight arch at the nape and imparts a proud, upstanding appearance showing off the frill.
Body: The body is firm, hard and muscular, a trifle long in proportion to the height. The ribs are well-rounded behind the well-sloped shoulders and the chest is deep, extending to the elbows. The back is strong and level, supported by powerful hips and thighs and the croup is sloped to give a well-rounded finish. The loin is powerful and slightly arched. Noticeably fat dogs, or dogs in poor flesh, or with skin disease, or with no undercoat are out of condition and are moderately penalized accordingly.

FORELEGS

The forelegs are straight and muscular, with a fair amount of bone considering the size of the dog. A cumbersome appearance is undesirable. Both narrow and wide placement are penalized. The forearm is moderately fleshy and the pasterns are flexible but without weakness.

COAT

The well-fitting, proper-textured coat is the crowning glory of the Rough variety of Collie. It is abundant except on the head and legs. The outer coat is straight and harsh to the touch. A soft, open outer coat or a curly outer coat, regardless of quantity, is penalized. The undercoat, however, is soft, furry and so close together that it is difficult to see the skin when the hair is parted. The coat is very abundant on the mane and frill. The face or mask is smooth. The forelegs are smooth and well feathered to the back of the pasterns. The hind legs are smooth below the hock joints. Any feathering below the hocks is removed for the show ring. The hair on the tail is very profuse and on the hips it is long and bushy. The texture, quantity and the extent to which the coat “fits the dog” are important points.

HINDLEGS

The hind legs are less fleshy, muscular at the thighs, very sinewy and the hocks and stifles are well bent. A cowhocked dog or a dog with straight stifles is penalized. The comparatively small feet are approximately oval in shape. The soles are well padded and tough, and the toes are well arched and close together. When the Collie is not in motion the legs and feet are judged by allowing the dog to come to a natural stop in a standing position so that both the forelegs and the hind legs are placed well apart, with the feet extending straight forward. Excessive “posing” is undesirable.

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collie illustration

About the Collie

The Collie is a large but lithe herder standing anywhere from 22 to 26 inches tall. The rough variety boasts one of the canine kingdom’s most impressively showy coats; the smooth coat’s charms are subtler but no less satisfying. Coat colors in both varieties are sable and white, tricolor, blue merle, or white. Collie fanciers take pride in their breed’s elegant wedge-shaped head, whose mobile ears and almond eyes convey a wide variety of expressions.

Collies are famously fond of children and make wonderful family pets. These swift, athletic dogs thrive on companionship and regular exercise. With gentle training, they learn happily and rapidly. The Collie’s loyalty, intelligence, and sterling character are the stuff of legend.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Collie

Find a Puppy: Collie

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Collie Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

Good nutrition is the very first thing the owner can do for their Collie to ensure healthy skin and coat and general well being. Collies do well on a good-quality dog food that is primarily meat-based, with fewer grains as ingredients. Many breed experts feel that Collies should not be fed foods with corn or soy in the ingredients. Collies have a risk of bloat, so two feedings/multiple feedings per day as opposed to once a day is recommended, and some meat added to the food has been shown to reduce risk.

GROOMING

Smooth Collies, while they won’t mat, require regular grooming, as they have a double coat, and the undercoat needs brushing out during shedding periods. Rough Collies need attention to avoid matting, especially in certain areas such as behind the ears and elbows, and to remove loose undercoat. A weekly brushing down to the skin eliminates that problem and keeps the coat and skin healthy. If females are spayed, they do a big shed once a year; if intact, females shed about three months after their heat cycle, and males around their birthday, so those times require a little extra grooming.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

While there are variations among individuals and families, Collies generally are quite active and require regular exercise. They need aerobic exercise and the chance to be able to run and play. Teaching them to fetch can provide good exercise, and having a fenced yard where they can run and going on daily walks help too. They should not be relegated to the backyard for long periods of time, as with boredom comes barking. Collies are people dogs and want to be with their owners first and foremost. Ideally a Collie will be ready to go when it’s time to go, and able to chill when it’s time to chill.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

While Collies are very smart and easy to train, puppy classes are recommended for general socialization and training. But it shouldn’t end there. Collies love training and learning, and both make for a better companion and build a good relationship with the owner and family. Collies thrive on positive teaching methods. They excel in obedience, agility, and herding, and even barn hunt and lure coursing, and owners will discover something fun to do with their dog!

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Easy Training

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

The Collie Health Foundation has invested lots of research dollars to identify and solve health issues, and their website offers great information on health issues in the breed. The minimum requirement is for puppies between 6-8 weeks old to have an eye check by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist for Collie eye anomaly, an inherited eye disease. Some Collies may also have a sensitivity to certain drugs, known as the MDR1 mutation. More information can be found on this at http://vcpl.vetmed.wsu.edu. Collies typically live from 12 to 14 years and are as a rule healthy, but after doing their research prospective buyers should ask questions of breeders and have an understanding of what health guarantees can be provided.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • PRA Optigen DNA Test
  • MDR1 DNA Test

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Collie
Collie
Collie
Collie

History

Queen Victoria’s deep and abiding love for the Scotland made a lasting impact on the Collie’s history. It was the dog-loving Victoria, during her many extended stays at Balmoral Castle on the Scottish Highlands, who popularized the local herding breed among her courtiers and subjects during the second half of the 19th century. Her enthusiasm for Collies began the breed’s ascent from humble shepherd dog to worldwide canine superstar.

It is supposed that the Collie’s ancestors reached Scotland nearly 2,000 years before Victoria did, brought by the Romans during their conquest of Britain in the first century of the Common Era. Over several centuries, the Roman herding stock was interbred with local dogs. Sometime during this long unwritten history, we can surmise that a stouthearted sheepherding dog recognizable as the Collie came into focus. (A prevalent theory holds that the name Collie derives from the name of a particular strain of black-faced sheep called colleys.)

The Collie enters the written record around 1800, and by the time Victoria “discovered” the Collie later in the century, the breed’s now familiar characteristics were set. In 20th-century America, author and dog breeder Albert Payson Terhune popularized the breed for generations of eager young readers, who thrilled at adventures of the Sunnybank Collies. In 1940, British author Eric Knight launched one of the great pop-culture franchises of all time with his novel Lassie Come-Home. Thanks to Knight’s books, spin-off movies, and a long-running TV show, Lassie made Collies the ideal canine companion of every child’s fantasy.

Did You Know?

There are two varieties of Collie: rough and smooth.
Blue merle Collies were originally known as "tortoise shell" to describe their color.
The Collie Club of America, Inc., organized in 1886, was the second parent club to join the AKC.
The earliest illustrations of Collies are found in woodcuts in the history of quadrupeds by Thomas Beswick around 1800.
Perhaps the most famous Collie is Lassie, a fictional character created by Eric Knight for the novel Lassie Come-Home, which was made into a film by MGM in 1943 using a rough Collie named Pal.
Benjamin Harrison owned a collie named "Dash."

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Collie is a lithe, strong, responsive, active dog, carrying no useless timber, standing naturally straight and firm. The deep, moderately wide chest shows strength, the sloping shoulders and well-bent hocks indicate speed and grace, and the face shows high intelligence. The Collie presents an impressive, proud picture of true balance, each part being in harmonious proportion to every other part and to the whole. Except for the technical description that is essential to this Standard and without which no Standard for the guidance of breeders and judges is adequate, it could be stated simply that no part of the Collie ever seems to be out of proportion to any other part. Timidity, frailness, sullenness, viciousness, lack of animation, cumbersome appearance and lack of over-all balance impair the general character.

HEAD

The head properties are of great importance. When considered in proportion to the size of the dog the head is inclined to lightness and never appears massive. A heavy-headed dog lacks the necessary bright, alert, full-of-sense look that contributes so greatly to expression. Both in front and profile view the head bears a general resemblance to a well-blunted lean wedge, being smooth and clean in outline and nicely balanced in proportion. On the sides it tapers gradually and smoothly from the ears to the end of the black nose, without being flared out in backskull (cheeky) or pinched in muzzle (snipy). In profile view the top of the backskull and the top of the muzzle lie in two approximately parallel, straight planes of equal length, divided by a very slight but perceptible stop or break. A mid-point between the inside corners of the eyes (which is the center of a correctly placed stop) is the center of balance in length of head.

BODY

Neck: The neck is firm, clean, muscular, sinewy and heavily frilled. It is fairly long, carried upright with a slight arch at the nape and imparts a proud, upstanding appearance showing off the frill.
Body: The body is firm, hard and muscular, a trifle long in proportion to the height. The ribs are well-rounded behind the well-sloped shoulders and the chest is deep, extending to the elbows. The back is strong and level, supported by powerful hips and thighs and the croup is sloped to give a well-rounded finish. The loin is powerful and slightly arched. Noticeably fat dogs, or dogs in poor flesh, or with skin disease, or with no undercoat are out of condition and are moderately penalized accordingly.

FORELEGS

The forelegs are straight and muscular, with a fair amount of bone considering the size of the dog. A cumbersome appearance is undesirable. Both narrow and wide placement are penalized. The forearm is moderately fleshy and the pasterns are flexible but without weakness.

COAT

The well-fitting, proper-textured coat is the crowning glory of the Rough variety of Collie. It is abundant except on the head and legs. The outer coat is straight and harsh to the touch. A soft, open outer coat or a curly outer coat, regardless of quantity, is penalized. The undercoat, however, is soft, furry and so close together that it is difficult to see the skin when the hair is parted. The coat is very abundant on the mane and frill. The face or mask is smooth. The forelegs are smooth and well feathered to the back of the pasterns. The hind legs are smooth below the hock joints. Any feathering below the hocks is removed for the show ring. The hair on the tail is very profuse and on the hips it is long and bushy. The texture, quantity and the extent to which the coat “fits the dog” are important points.

HINDLEGS

The hind legs are less fleshy, muscular at the thighs, very sinewy and the hocks and stifles are well bent. A cowhocked dog or a dog with straight stifles is penalized. The comparatively small feet are approximately oval in shape. The soles are well padded and tough, and the toes are well arched and close together. When the Collie is not in motion the legs and feet are judged by allowing the dog to come to a natural stop in a standing position so that both the forelegs and the hind legs are placed well apart, with the feet extending straight forward. Excessive “posing” is undesirable.

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collie illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black White & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 034
Blue Merle Check Mark For Standard Color 050
Blue Merle & White Check Mark For Standard Color 051
Blue Merle White & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 052
Sable Check Mark For Standard Color 164
Sable & White Check Mark For Standard Color 165
Sable Merle Check Mark For Standard Color 166
Sable Merle & White Check Mark For Standard Color 277
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199
White Merle Check Mark For Standard Color 311

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black & Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 039
Blue Merle Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 033
Sable Check Mark For Standard Mark 026
Sable Merle Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 032