They would have remained an obscure breed had it not been for Queen Victoria falling in love with them in the 1860s. Since then, they became quite fashionable among British nobility and the wealthy. They soon became part of the exhibitions at the Westminster Kennel Club and this prompted more dog lovers to take them up as pets.

American banker and financier JP Morgan admired them so much that he even started his own kennel. He had well over a hundred at a time, spent a lot of money on care, and won many championships. While he eventually sold off his kennel in 1908, he still played a huge role in making the breed a hit in the United States.

They have since been featured in different types of media over the years. They have made appearances in books such as Lassie Come-Home by Eric Knight and Lad of Sunnybank by Albert Payson Terhune. However, it was the TV show Lassie that ran from 1954 to 1973 that truly made them widely known and loved.

 
 

Breed Characteristics

Collies have long been portrayed as ideal family companions and that’s actually not far from the truth. In real life, they are loyal, resourceful, sensitive, and smart. They are friendly with people and easy to train too. Although they get protective and will bark, they are not aggressive and therefore perfect around children.

Generally standing anywhere from 56 to 66 centimetres tall and weighing around 48 to 70 pounds, they fall under the medium-sized category. The typical standard collie and border collie lifespan is an average of 10 to 14 years old though some do live well past their 15th year.

Their coats can be long, flat, or short with the usual base colours being sable, red, tan, and black. They often have white on parts of their legs and faces, over their shoulders, or under the chest and belly as well. Their tails can be bushy, feathered, or smooth but never touch their backs or curl at the base.

A wide range of formal breeds and types have been derived from the landrace collies of Britain. Many of them are the working and herding types while some have been bred as pets and for conformation showing.

One of the most well known of the working types would be the border collie. Developed in the Anglo-Scottish border region, they were specifically bred for their obedience and intelligence. They continue to be employed in driving cattle, sheep, and other livestock to markets across the globe.

 
 

Health and Grooming

While collies are a generally hardy breed, they can still develop certain health conditions. It’s not certain that they will get all or any diseases but it pays to be aware if you’re thinking to get one as a pet.

Some breeds are affected by a mutation in the MDR1 gene causing them to be sensitive to certain steroids, opioids, and antibiotics. They can also display lower levels of cortisol than normal. Other health conditions you should be especially mindful of are hip dysplasia and eye anomalies.

It’s important to find a reputable breeder who can show you health guarantees for both the sire and the dame of a puppy. Be sure to ask about specific clearances for hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s disease, thrombopathia, and elbow dysplasia, among others.

Moving on to grooming, the amount of coat care necessary will depend on their variety. A rough collie would need to be thoroughly brushed twice a week. If you want to keep them looking like Lassie, you’ll have to brush them even more frequently. A smooth collie will be fine with being brushed just once a week, however.

Brushing teeth should be done at least two times a week to remove bacteria and tartar build-up. Daily brushing is advised for the prevention of bad breath and gum disease. Nail trimming should be done once a month and ear checks once a week.

Bathing should be as needed, which is usually every six to eight weeks. To make your job easier, invest in items like the Siccaro DryGloves. As it’s comprised of two layers of fabric, it can absorb up to eleven times its weight in water so you can quickly dry off your pet both at home and outside. It’s also made of organic bamboo, which has antibacterial properties effective for reducing bacteria and odour in a natural and non-toxic way.

 

Exercise Needs

Being an active breed, collies need to get some form of exercise every day. A border collie can be especially restless and energetic and will need to be kept busy physically and mentally.

Bear in mind that they were bred to herd sheep. This requires them to have a lot of enthusiasm, stamina, and energy so that they would excel at what they do. Even if your pet wasn’t trained to drive cattle, they still need a way to release all of their energy and that can be done through physical and mental exercise.

Collie puppies tend to stalk and chase anything that moves, be it a bird, a child, or a passerby. Hence, it’s advised to keep them in fenced yards where they can burn off some of their energy in a safe place. Just keep a close eye on them as they can become overexerted. You also have to ensure that they’re getting breaks in between their playing.

They are also an extremely intelligent breed and thus need to be mentally stimulated so they can stay alert and occupied. When they aren’t kept engaged, they may become hyperactive and start to develop destructive behaviours. Once they’ve been allowed to play, walk, and run as much as they want, they will be content to sit at home with you and your family.

 

Trainability

As they were bred to work with humans, they are pretty easy to train. Experts even claim that they are one of the most trainable breeds in the world. They are eager to please and quick on their paws though they do get bored with repetitive routines.

If you leave them alone for too long, they may bark excessively. This can be avoided if you let them join in family activities and keep them challenged with sports or exercises. Early socialisation is also beneficial, so start training them as puppies, preferably as soon as you bring them home.

Reward-based practices can be particularly effective for collies. They actually like to revel in attention that comes with performing, whether in herding, competing, or doing tricks. Give them food or praises if they perform well so they know to keep it up. This will also help them to stay focused on your training as they can get easily distracted given all their energy.

Overall...

Collies are an excellent choice when you’re looking to own a dog as a pet. Not only are they great with families but they’re also generally healthy. Get in touch with a good breeder to add an energetic pup to your household today. If you already own one, ensure that you take proper care of them so that they can live well beyond the typical border collie lifespan.

 
Siccaro icon
Siccaro icon