Rough Collie

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This is simply a beautiful breed of dog. This breed became very well known from the 1940's book 'Lassie come home', along with the subsequent films, comics, radio plays, toys and animated TV shows. Such was the success of Lassie, that there is even a Hollywood walk of fame 'star' bearing the name! The 'Lassie' stories had a huge effect on the popularity of this dog as a family pet.


Rough Collies are thought to have descended from strains of local herding and working dogs in Scotland and Wales. The Scottish variety was a large and quite strong to deal with the harsh, upland conditions of hill farming sheep, while the Welsh variety was smaller. It is thought that crossbreeding with both English sheep dog type and the Russian Borzoi was undertaken, with the Borzoi lending its genes to create a thinner head of 'noble' appearance. This elegant head shape is still much desired for Rough Haired Collie breeders today and dogs are selectively bred to exaggerate this trait. As the breed formed, they came into the British consciousness more when Queen Victoria saw one at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and took one as a pet. They continued in this strain and gradually, as the Border Collie became the preferred working dog of choice, the Rough Collie became more popular as a pet.


Average height to withers: Males up to 24 inches and females up to 22 inches.

Average weight: Up to 32kg for males with females being slightly less.

The spectacular coat of the Rough Haired Collie stands it apart from many dogs. The thick and lush double coat has a downy and soft under coat with a coarser but verdant over coat. It has an impressive mane of hair around its neck and is feathered down its legs, underbelly and tail. There are 3 recognised colours for Rough Haired Collies. These are tricolour, sable and white and blue merle which presents on the coat as a mottled grey colour. All coats have a proportion of white hair present. The mane of hair around the neck serves to enhance the other feature of the Rough Collie that of its long, noble face and nose. The muzzle should never be square and blunt, but a rounded shape at the end of a tapered head and face. The eyes are almost always dark, but lighter eyes are sometimes seen in merle coloured Collies, and are an almond shape with a medium size. The ears usually tip forwards.

The back of this breed is straight and the chest is relatively deep. The overall impression of this dog should be one of grace and poise.


The impression left behind from the 'Lassie' stories is not far wrong with regards to this dog as they are loving, calm and capable. The Rough Collie has a very friendly disposition and is a friendly, low aggression dog that is easily trained and good with children. It is an active, intelligent, well mannered and quiet dog but once outdoors they have a tendency to become very excited and exuberant! Retaining some herding instinct, the Rough Collie is still a high energy dog and will require a couple of walks per day. This dog actively likes people and wants to be around its family meaning that left alone for long periods, it can become either very bored or show signs of separation anxiety, resulting in behaviours such as excessive barking, chewing and digging.

This dog definitely will benefit from training and prefers positive, gentle, and reward based methods. It simply will not respond to being treated harshly. The instinct to herd varies within each individual dog so some may display herding type behaviour and others won't, however, it may try to herd people and other animals by nudging, barging and possibly nipping at their heels.

There has been significant argument as of late amongst notable animal behaviour experts such as the renowned American behaviourist and writer Temple Grandin, whether the selective, single trait breeding for the typical long, thinner Rough Collie nose and head has had a detrimental impact on the physical size with regards to the space in the head for the dogs brain. Grandin argues that this has led to Rough Collies being born with much smaller brains and therefore has affected its capacity to learn and its general levels of intelligence. Whatever the case may be in this regard, the Rough Collie remains to be a friendly, affable and gentle dog and a popular choice as a family pet.


This breed has a life expectancy of up to 14 years old, in good health. Like all Collie breeds, the Rough Haired Collie can be affected by Collie Eye Anomaly or CEA. CEA is an inherited and congenital disease of the eye which affects certain parts of the eye. It is usually a mild disease that does not affect them to any disadvantage, however, breeders of Border Collies can now utilise a DNA test to ensure their dogs do not produce any pups which carry the disease. This breed can also be affected by Hip Dysplasia. Hip Dysplasia (HD) can affect all breeds of dog but is more prevalent in some breeds than others. It is caused by the abnormal formation of the hip ball and socket joint. Normally the ball would form a pivot point in the socket; however, some dogs are born with a genetic predisposition for HD. This means that at birth their hips are normal but as they grow, the hip joint does not grow correctly and as a result the ball no longer fits as it should. After the age of a year or so, the owner can opt to have their dog 'hip scored'. Hip scoring is a method used by vets to determine the degree of HD in dogs and involves the vet assessing a number of criteria during a diagnostic examination. If the dog is then found to have a high probability of HD, remedial action can be taken.

Caring for a Rough Collie

The coat of this breed requires frequent grooming to make sure no detritus is left behind in the thick coat, especially after a walk when grass seeds and burrs will easily stick in it. It may also benefit from a few trips per year to a professional groomer.

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