Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Smooth Collie
Average Cost to keep/care for a Smooth Collie
Smooth Collies are handsome dogs and like their rough coated cousins, they were bred to work as herding dogs. However, unlike the Rough Collie, they are not as popular and as such they have been placed on The Kennel Club's list of vulnerable native breeds. The only real difference between the two dogs is in the length of their coats with many breed organisations classing the Rough and the Smooth Collie as one and the same breed.
Smooth Collies were developed to work in the milder climate of the Scottish lowlands and as such they have shorter, close lying coats than their Rough Collie cousins and a lot of people think they were bred to drive cattle and herd sheep in all weathers and over challenging terrains. With this said, the actual origins of the Smooth Collie and how they came about remains a bit of a mystery. One of the most common theories is that they are descendants of Scottish herding dogs that were originally bred with dogs the Romans bought with them when they invaded England during the 5th century.
It's also thought they were given their name after Colley sheep, which these dogs herded, although some people believe the word comes from an Anglo-Saxon term meaning ‘useful’, while there may also be a link to the Gaelic / Irish words for ‘doggie’ which are càilean and cóilean. Queen Victoria was a fan of the breed and used Smooth Collies on the farms on her Balmoral Estate. She also purchased several dogs for her own kennel which guaranteed the popularity of the breed during her reign. This led to people choosing Smooth Collies not only as working dogs, but as companions and family pets. They also became a popular breed in the show ring.
Smooth Collies were only classed as a unique breed in their own right by The Kennel Club in 1994. However, their popularity has fallen and sadly today, these charming, loyal and hardworking dogs have been placed on the list of vulnerable native breeds and anyone wishing to share their home with one would need to register their interest with breeders for the pleasure of doing so.
Height at the withers: Males 56 - 61 cm, Females 51 - 56 cm
Average weight: Males 20.5 - 29.5 kg, Females 18 - 25 kg
Smooth Collies have an intelligent, kind and alert appearance about them. They are very noble, dignified and well-balanced dogs that look like they are built to work. Their heads are nicely in proportion with the rest of their bodies and when seen from the side or from the front, their muzzles appear wedge-shape and quite blunt with a nice smooth outline. Their skulls are flat, tapering nicely to a dog's black nose. They have a slight stop and nice clean-cut, strong jaws.
The Smooth Collie always has a very intelligent, sweet expression about them. Eyes are medium in size, almond shaped being set rather obliquely on a dog's face and a nice dark brown in colour. However, merle dogs can have one or two blue or blue flecked eyes. They have moderately large ears that are wider at the base being set nicely apart on a dog's head. Dogs hold their ears back when relaxed, but they carry them forwards and semi-erect when they are working or excited.
The Smooth Collie has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are powerful, muscular and well arched being a good length which adds to a Smooth Collie's athletic appearance. Their shoulders are nicely angulated and sloping with dogs having straight, muscular front legs. Their bodies are a little longer than they are tall and backs are level rising gently over their loins. Ribs are well sprung and chests are rather broad and deep.
Smooth Collies have strong hindquarters with muscular thighs that show a lot of sinew on the lower part of the leg. Their feet are oval shaped with well arched, tight toes and firm pads with their back feet being a little less arched than their front ones. They have long tails that dogs carry low with a slight upward turn at the tip when resting, but they carry their tails higher and gaily when alert or working.
When it comes to their coat, the Smooth Collie has a flat, short outer coat that's quite harsh to the touch and a very profuse undercoat. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
Smooth Collies are highly intelligent and loyal dogs that form very strong bonds with their owners and families. However, they are not the best choice for first time owners or people with young children because they are known to be a little snappy at times. They are best suited to people who lead active, outdoor lives and who would like to have a smart, energetic and loyal canine companion at their side and who are familiar with the specific needs of this type of smart, energetic dogs.
Some Smooth Collies like the sound of their voices which is something that needs to be gently curbed when dogs are still young and before it develops into a real problem. They are never happier than when they are doing something and enjoy taking part in all sorts of canine sports which includes activities like flyball, agility and obedience trials all of which they are known to excel at.
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 and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life so they understand what’s expected of them. A Smooth 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.
Although loyal and affectionate towards their owners and families, Smooth Collies are naturally wary of strangers, but rarely would one of these dogs show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards anyone they have never met before, preferring to keep their distance and bark. As such, they are very good watch dogs.
Smooth Collies a very smart dogs and although they are fast learners, they need to be handled and trained by people who are familiar with the particular needs of this type of energetic dog. The downside to them being so intelligent is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits and behaviours as they are the good. As such, their training has to begin 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 their owners expect of them. Smooth Collies just like their Rough Collie cousins, 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 they get when competing with their handlers. The key to successfully training a Smooth 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 short 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 that Smooth Collies are extremely smart characters.
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.
Smooth Collies are loyal and affectionate dogs, however, they are best suited to families where the children are slightly older and therefore know how to behave around dogs. They are not the best choice for households where there are toddlers because some Smooth Collies can be a little snappy and cannot resist herding which includes the kids and they do so by nipping at their heels. As such, any interaction between young children and a dog should always be supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm.
When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well 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, a Smooth Collie 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 just to be on the safe side because a Smooth Collie would want to herd and round them up which is a trait that’s deeply embedded in their psyche.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Smooth Collie is between 9 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Smooth 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, energetic dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Smooth 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 Smooth Collie has a short, close lying double coat which consists of a harsher top coat and a denser undercoat. They are low maintenance on the grooming front with a weekly brush and wipe over with a chamois leather is all it takes to keep their coats tidy and in good condition.
They shed steadily 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 Smooth Collie is a high energy, 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 40 to 60-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 Smooth 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, Smooth 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 Smooth 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.
Because Smooth Collies are known to suffer from bloat, it is really important for them to be fed twice a day instead of giving a dog one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls which makes it easier for dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more at risk of suffering from gastric torsion.
If you are looking to buy a Smooth Collie, you would need to pay anything from £100 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy and you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because not many well-bred puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Smooth 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 Smooth 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 Smooth Collie would be between £80 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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