Rough Collie


Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Rough Collie
Average Cost to keep/care for a Rough Collie

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #116 out of 238 Dog Breeds.

The Rough Collie breed is also commonly known by the names Collie, Scottish Collie, Long-Haired Collie, English collie, lassie dog.
14 - 16 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Pastoral Group
Males 55.8 - 66 cm
Females 50.8 - 61 cm at the withers
Males 20 - 34 kg
Females 15.8 - 29 kg
Average Price (More Info)
£731 for KC Registered
£643 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics


The Rough Collie is one of the most striking dogs when it comes to looks. They boast long, heavy, luxurious coats. They have an intelligent, elegant look about them which are just some of the reasons why the breed has found its way into the hearts and homes of people all over the world. Made famous in the book and film "Lassie Come Home", this beautiful dog was originally bred as working dog and boasts being among the most intelligent dogs on the planet. Today, the Rough Collie is a popular choice as companion dogs and family pets thanks to their kind, calm and loyal natures.


Rough Collies are thought to be the descendants of an ancient breed the Romans bought with them when they invaded England in 50 BC and of breeds that were native to Scotland in times long past. It is thought these handsome dogs were named after a breed of sheep called Colleys they worked that were bred in Scotland's lowlands. One of the biggest fans of the Rough Collie was Queen Victoria who was so impressed with the breed, sh took her dogs to Windsor Castle after staying at Balmoral Estate.

The breed was once known as the Scottish Sheepdog with the first dogs being exhibited at the Birmingham Dog Society Show where they were an immediate hit. After this Rough Collies became a sought after breed and by the late 1800's, they found their way over to America where they became a popular choice as companions and family pets. Rough Collies became known the world over after a film was made of the 1940's book "Lassie Come Home" and they have remained one of the most popular dogs from then onwards both as pets and working dogs.


Height at the withers: Males 55.8 - 66 cm, Females 50.8 - 61 cm

Average weight: Males 20 - 34 kg, Females 15.8 - 29 kg

The Rough Collie is a very beautiful looking dog and one that boasts having a tremendous amount of dignity and elegance. Their heads are nicely in proportion with their bodies, being finely chiselled and wedge-shaped which adds to a dog's graceful appearance. They have flat skulls and well rounded, blunt muzzles which taper smoothly from a dog's ears to the tip of their black noses. Their under jaw is clean cut and strong and their eyes are medium in size being set rather obliquely on a dog's face. Eyes are almond shaped and a dark brown colour. Rough Collies always have a kind, intelligent and thoughtful look about their eyes. Merle coated collies can have blue or blue flecked eyes whether it's one or both of them.

They have small ears which are nicely placed on a dog's head, not too close together, yet not too far apart either. Dogs hold their ears back when relaxed, but they bring them forward when excited or alert with the top part of their ears falling naturally forward. The Rough Collie has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Necks are powerful and a good length being well arched and muscular. Their shoulders are sloping and nicely angled with dogs having muscular and straight front legs that show a moderate amount of bone.

The Rough Collie is slightly longer in the body than they are tall. They boast firm backs that gently rise over a dog's loins. Their ribs are well sprung and chests are quite broad and deep. Back legs are strong with muscular thighs showing a lot of sinew on the lower part of the leg. Their feet are oval shaped with well-padded soles and nicely arched, tight toes. However, a dog's back feet are a little less arched than their front ones. Tails are long which dogs carry low when resting, but higher when excited or alert and moving.

When it comes to their coat, the Rough Collie boasts having a very thick, straight and coarse to the touch outer coat with a much softer and very close undercoat. The hair around a dog's neck is profuse forming a distinctive mane with dogs having smooth faces and ears. Their front legs are nicely feathered and lower back legs are profusely feathered although below the hock joint, the hair is smooth. Tails are profusely feathered. The accepted breed colours are as follows:

  • Sable and white
  • Tricolour
  • Blue merle


The Rough Collie is an extremely well-balanced and even-tempered dog which is why they have consistently remained one of the most popular family pets and companions with people the world over. They are also extremely intelligent and well-mannered, loving nothing more than to be in a family environment and included in everything that goes on around them. Rough Collies form strong ties with their owners and as such they do not like being left on their own for any length of time. They are best suited to families where at least one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out. When they are left on their own, they often develop separation anxiety which sees dogs becoming neurotic and stressed out. They can also become destructive around the home and start barking excessively which can turn into a real problem.

It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life so they understand what is expected of them. A Rough Collie is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.

They like to herd things and this includes the herding the kids which they do so by nipping at their heels which is a working trait that's deeply embedded in their psyche and one that needs to be gently curbed when Rough Collies are still young and before it becomes a real issue.

Rough Collies are a great choice for first time owners because they are so intelligent and eager to please which in short, means in the right hands and environment, they are very easy to train. However, because they are high maintenance on the grooming front, anyone wishing to share their homes with one of these handsome, graceful dogs would need to have the time to dedicate to grooming their canine companion which ideally should be every single day.

Intelligence / Trainability

The Rough Collie is a smart dog and a fast learner. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits as they are the good ones. Their training has to start early with puppies being taught the basics and boundaries as soon as they arrive in their new homes. Their training also has to be consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what owners expect of them. Rough Collies are never happier than when they are given something to do which is why they are so amenable to learning new things.

They excel at many canine sports which includes activities like flyball, agility and obedience because they thrive on the attention they are given during their training and the one-to-one contact when they are competing with their handlers.  The key to successfully training a Rough Collie is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions shorter which helps dogs stay more focussed on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored and Rough Collies are highly intelligent dogs.

They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods, but they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and quick witted dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved.

Children and Other Pets

The Rough Collie has remained one of the most popular family pets for good reason. They thrive in a home environment and seem to have an affinity with children of all ages and they enjoy playing games with them. However, any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could result in a small child being knocked over, albeit by accident.

When well socialised from a young enough age, the Rough Collie generally gets on with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, they would think nothing of chasing off any other cats they encounter because they would see them as fair game. Care has to be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets they don’t already know, just to be on the safe side.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.

Rough Collie Health

The average life expectancy of a Rough Collie is between 14 and 16 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

The Rough Collie is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these handsome and good natured dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

  • Eye testing for multifocal retinal dysplasia, collie eye anomaly, and progressive retinal atrophy.
  • Hip Dysplasia - Breeders should have stud dogs hip scored
  • Multi-drug resistance - Breeders should have stud dogs tested
  • Degenerative myelopathy - Breeders should have stud dogs tested
  • Nasal Solar Dermatitis (Collie Nose)
  • Deafness  

Caring for a Rough Collie

As with any other breed, Rough Collies need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


The Rough Collie boasts having a long, luxurious and profuse double coat that consists of a straight and thick top coat and a much softer, dense undercoat. They are high maintenance in the grooming department and ideally need to be brushed on a daily basis to prevent any knots and tangles from forming in their coats, paying particular attention to the feathering on a dog's tail and legs as well as their back-ends. They also need to be professionally groomed anything from 2 to 3 times a year which makes keeping their coats looking good that much easier in between visits to a grooming parlour.

They shed quite profusely throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.


The Rough Collie is an energetic, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need anything from 60 to 80-minutes exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible, but only in a safe environment. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Rough Collie would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active, high-energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble.

With this said, Rough Collie puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.


If you get a Rough Collie puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Average Cost to keep/care for a Rough Collie

If you are looking to buy a Rough Collie, you would need to pay anything from £400 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Rough Collie in northern England would be £19.44 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.75 a month (quote as of August 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Rough Collie and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Rough Collie would be between £70 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred puppy.

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