Described by the American Kennel Club as devoted, graceful and proud, the collie is ranked 38th on their list of most popular breeds. While many people think of Lassie when they think of the collie, there is much more to the breed. If you are considering adding a collie to your family read on to learn more about the breed and decide if this is the right dog for you.
A (brief) history of the collie
The Collie Club of America says, “The Collie was used extensively as a herding dog and hailed from the highlands of Scotland and Northern England. The true popularity of the breed came about during the 1860s when Queen Victoria visited the Scottish Highlands and fell in love with the breed. From that point on Collies became very fashionable. The Collie’s character has been further romanticized and portrayed as the ideal family companion by such authors as Albert Payson Terhune (“Lad of Sunnybank,”) Eric Knight (“Lassie Come Home,”) and in the 1950s TV series “Lassie.”
1. Elegant and graceful
The collie is an elegant, graceful dog that stands 22-24 inches tall (females) or 24-26 inches tall (males). They have a regal look to them and a smooth, strong gate. Their expressive eyes and elegant presence make them a distinctive looking breed. Most people can easily identify a Collie even if they aren’t dog experts.
2. Easy to train
Collies are intelligent dogs who learn quickly. They should still attend some puppy classes to learn basic obedience and get some socialization. Once they have a good foundation, Collies can be herding dogs, hunting dogs, or participate in dog sports like Rally, Agility or even become Therapy Dogs.
3. Two coat lengths
Collies can have either have rough or smooth coats. Rough coated collies are more familiar. They have ample longer hair everywhere except for on their heads and legs. The smooth-coated collies have shorter, courser hair on their bodies. Both coats are lower maintenance but do require some brushing to ensure that their coats don’t get matted. Even with their longer hair, rough-coated collies may only need to be brushed out about once a week. Unless you are out running through dirt and mud, your collie will also only need to be bathed every few months.
4. Good watchdogs
Even though Lassie was a fictional dog, she was a protector and watchdog. This characteristic is representative of collies in general. If you have children, a collie is a great addition to your family. He or she will protect and watch out for your children (and enjoy the job).
5. Not aggressive
Even though collies are protective and good watchdogs, they are not aggressive. While any dog of any size, temperament or breed can become aggressive if trained or provoked, collies age generally not an aggressive breed. Their mellow and regal nature makes them a great family dog and loyal pet.
6 Temperament traits of Collies
Collies are intelligent dogs. They can learn many tricks or participate in dog sports. Training a collie will require structure and practice like with other breeds, but these dogs learn quickly and easily. Use lots of praise and tasty treats to make training sessions lots of fun and something you and your dog both look forward to.
While Collies are very intelligent, they can also be shy. When introducing them to new people and places go slowly so you don’t overwhelm them. If you are having a large party in your home, you can give your dog a quiet place to take a break from all the excitement if you see them getting overwhelmed. Fill a kong with something delicious like some peanut butter or even some fresh from the fridge Ollie.
While some dogs are stage 5 clingers and others are more catlike in their independence collies are more of the former than the latter. You need to be careful not to let clinginess turn into full-blown separation anxiety.
4. Emotionally sensitive
Collies are responsive to moods and stress. If you live in a high-stress household, your dog may pick up on it. Chronic stress isn’t just bad for you, it can also be bad for your dog. Chronic exposure to stress can make your dog develop some neurotic behaviors. To keep this from happening, try to find some ways to reduce your stress and the stress of those you live with. Collies are also known to be big barkers and sensitive to any noise and distraction. If your collie is starting to bark at everything you will want to work with them to reduce their need to bark. If you are having trouble, you might want to get help from a trainer who is certified and uses positive reinforcement and fear-free training methods. You don’t want to use harsh correction or otherwise punish an already emotionally sensitive dog.
5. Moderately active
Collies need regular exercise but not too much. A few moderate leash walks or a trip to the dog park to work off some excess energy should suffice. While they enjoy being active, collies are also happy to relax at the end of their days with their families.
6. Sociable and friendly
Looking for a happy and friendly dog? Look no further. While collies are very friendly dogs they can easily become overwhelmed. If you get a collie puppy, socialize them slowly and take your time introducing them to new people and places. Check-in with your puppy frequently to make sure you aren’t seeing signs of stress in your dog. Reward your puppy for good interactions and keep them short. You always want to end on a positive note.
After learning all about the characteristics and temperament traits of collies it should be fairly clear that these are great family pets. They like to be with and protect their families, they have the social skills to charm anyone and they genuinely enjoy children. While these observations are generalizations about the breed, you will want to work with a breeder or a rescue to find the right collie to fit into your lifestyle and your family. A reputable breeder should be able to help you choose a dog that is not only a good fit but also healthy.
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