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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Smooth Collie
Average Cost to keep/care for a Smooth Collie
Breed Specific Buying Advice
Smooth Collies are handsome dogs which like their rough coated counterparts, they were bred to work as herding dogs, but over the years this trait is not as strong as it once was. With this said, Smooth Collies now focus on protecting their families instead which makes them all the more endearing to have around the home.
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 even though they make such wonderful family pets. It is worth noting that the only real difference between the two breeds, is in the length of their coats with many breed organisations classing the Rough and the Smooth Collie as one and the same although in the UK they are classed as breeds in their own right.
Rough Collies were developed to work in the milder climate of the Scottish Lowlands and as such they were bred to have shorter, close lying coats than compared to their long-coated Rough Collie counterparts. A lot of people think they were bred to drive cattle and herd sheep in all weathers and over challenging terrains, but 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 crossed to Roman dogs that were bought over when they invaded England during the 5th century.
It's also thought they were given their name after Colley sheep, which they herded, although some people believe the word comes from an Anglo-Saxon term meaning ‘useful’. But 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 farms situated 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 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 Kennel Club’s list of vulnerable native breeds. As such 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 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 for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
The way a Smooth Collie moves is a distinct characteristic seen in the breed where they move their forefeet relatively close together while their back feet when seen from behind move parallel to each other showing a tremendous drive in their hindquarters. When seen from the side, a Smooth Collie’s action is smooth with dogs taking long strides and covering a lot of ground in an effortless way.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
Smooth Collies are highly intelligent and loyal dogs that form very strong bonds with their owners and families. They are a good choice for first time owners because they are renowned for being so amenable and affectionate by nature. They are not as energetic as other collie-type breeds which sets them apart as being great family pets.
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.
As with other breeds, it's important for Smooth Collies to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation should 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 should 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.
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 good watch dogs, but not terribly good “guard dogs”, bearing in mind that their eagerness to “protect” is directed at making sure their families are kept safe.
Smooth Collies are the perfect choice for first time dog owners because they are so amenable and people-oriented, loving nothing more than to please and to entertain their families. They are particularly good with young children and older people too although playtime can get a bit boisterous at times when dogs are still young.
Smooth Collies are very social by nature and even though they have working and hunting dogs in their lineage, they do not have a very high prey drive. However, this is not to say that a dog would not give chase to a smaller animal when the mood takes them and this includes squirrels and the cat from next door should they venture into a dog’s garden.
Smoothies have a very playful and fun-loving side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained and being so clever, they quickly learn how to please an owner which makes them all the more endearing to have around the home.
Smooth Collies are better suited to households with a secure back garden that a dog can safely roam in whenever possible so they can really let off steam and express themselves as they should.
Smooth Collies form strong ties with their families and dogs are never very happy when they find themselves left on their own for longer periods of time. They are better suited to people who either work from home or in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out so they are never alone for any length of time which could see a dog suffering from separation anxiety. This can lead to them being destructive around the home which is a dog's way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained.
One of the best ways of reducing the risk of a dog suffering from separation anxiety, is to leave them alone for very short periods of time when they are puppies and to increase the time they are left to their own devices gradually always keeping an eye on how stressed they get each time.
Some Smooth Collies like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them which could end up making them timid and shy. Others will only bark when there are strangers about or when something they don't like is going on in their surroundings, but are always generally quick to settle down again with many owners claiming it’s like a Smoothie has an “on/off” button.
Most Smooth Collies love swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Smooth Collie off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own. It is also important to thoroughly dry off a dog's coat to prevent any moisture from being trapped in it which could lead to a skin problem flaring up.
Smooth Collies are always alert to what goes on around them. As such, they are quick off the mark to let an owner known when something they don't like is going on and when there are strangers about. With this said, they are just as quick to "turn off" the alarm once they know things are okay.
Smooth Collies are smart dogs and although they are fast learners. 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 must begin early with puppies being taught the basics and boundaries as soon as they arrive in their new homes. Their training also should be consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what their owners expect of them.
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 focused 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.
Like all puppies, Smooth Collie puppies are very cute, but they are ultra-intelligent too and this means they pick new things up quickly which includes the good and the bad. Once a puppy is settled, new owners must start out as they mean to go on which means laying down rules and boundaries. This helps a clever puppy understand what an owner expects of them and what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. It also helps establish a "pecking order" and who is the alpha dog in a household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
Smooth Collies are loyal and affectionate dogs that make good family pets bonding quickly with families and children, always willing to join in a game when asked. Like their Rough coated cousins, they are tolerant around kids of all ages although like any other breed, they don't like being tugged around. It is worth noting that although some Smooth Collies we see today have retained much of their working instincts, when they are in the home environment, they typically direct this towards looking after their families and children rather than flocks of livestock.
When Smooth Collies are well socialised, they 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 although this is not to say a dog might not chase off the cat from next door if they come into the garden.
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:
It is worth noting that all Kennel Club Assured Breeders must have their dogs eye tested annually for CEA and MDR1. The Kennel Club also strongly recommends that all puppies be eye screened by an approved ophthalmologist when they are between 5 and 12 weeks old.
It is also worth noting that the average COI for the breed with the Kennel Club currently stands at 7.3%.
Smooth Collie puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Like other breeds, some Smooth Collies gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Some Smooth Collies are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Smooth Collie breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
As of January 2013, it is no longer possible to register puppies whelped from merle to merle matings with the Kennel Club because of the health issues associated with the merle gene, namely impaired vision and hearing.
It is worth noting that Smooth Collies may have one or more Rough Collies in a litter and there is an option to register them as such with the Kennel Club, but this must be done with an accompanying letter.
It is mandatory for all KC Assured Breeders to use the following tests on their dogs and all other breeders are strongly advised to follow suit:
The Kennel Club recommends that all breeders use the following tests on their dogs:
The Kennel Club strongly recommends that all breeders use the following tests on their dogs:
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.
Smooth Collie puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Smooth Collie puppies, bearing in mind that they are ultra-sensitive to loud environments. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Smooth Collie puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Smooth Collies need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with a Smooth Collie in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include taking a look at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Smooth Collies need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older dogs don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
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 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 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.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Smooth Collie puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 13 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Smooth Colli must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Smooth Collie can be fed the following amounts every day:
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 £20.87 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £42.98 a month (quote as of February 2018). 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 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 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, healthy, Kennel Club registered pedigree Smooth Collie puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Smooth Collies have been placed on the Kennel Club's vulnerable native breed list which means not many well-bred puppies are available every year which means that well-bred puppies command a lot of money. As such, with Smooth Collies there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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