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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Welsh Collie
Average Cost to keep/care for a Welsh Collie
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Welsh Collie is a highly intelligent dog that for centuries has been working alongside shepherds herding flocks of sheep in some of the remotest regions of the Welsh hills. They have always been highly prized thanks to the way they work sheep which is different from that of a Border Collie in that they do not fix their eye directly on the flock, but rather work the sheep with a "loose eye". Today, these charming, active dogs are also becoming a popular choice as companions and family pets thanks to their good looks, their intelligence and their loyal, affectionate natures.
However, anyone wishing to share a home with a Welsh Collie would need to have the time to dedicate to such an intelligent, high energy dog and register their interest with breeders because very few well-bred puppies are produced every year. With this said, Welsh Collies are "true" working dogs and quite unlike a Border Collie being much happier in a working environment rather than in a domestic one.
It is thought that Welsh Collies first appeared on the scene during the 19th century when working collies found in both England and Scotland were crossed with native Welsh breeds. However, the true origins of these working dogs remain a bit of a mystery although there is some belief that Gellgi or "Covert Hounds" may be in the breed's ancestry. With this said, herding dogs have been around in Wales for many centuries and figure in many legends and folklore.
These herding dogs were mentioned in records that date back 800 years which could well be the ancestors of the Welsh Sheepdog we see today and they were so highly prized that they were considered being just as valuable to their owners as the livestock and flocks these herding dogs protected and herded for their masters. There is also a record of a "red dog" that Dafydd ap Gwilym wrote about when he visited a farmhouse during the 1300's which ran out to greet him on his approach.
There were a variety of different and unique sheep herding dogs found in Wales during the 18th century with many shepherds using five or more dogs at one time and they were rangier than the collies we see today. However, the number of collie breeds fell by the 1940's seeing just two or three being left with the oldest breeds like the Black and Tan Sheepdog and the Welsh Hillman almost vanishing altogether.
The most popular Welsh working dogs were descendants of the Black and Tan which had been crossed with working Border Collies. The first sheepdog trials were held in the late 1800's which saw the Scottish Border Collie becoming the most popular working dog at the time. However, the number of Welsh Collies fell into decline because they were crossed with too many other collie types. With so few records of the breed, the only way a dog was judged to be a true Welsh Collie was in the way they worked sheep which was far different to that of the Border Collie in that they did not "fix" their eyes on the flock, but worked them with what is referred to as a "loose eye". Welsh Collies were also very able to work on their own without the need of a shepherd being around.
The Welsh Sheepdog Society was established in 1997 with an end goal being to preserve and to promote what is thought to be the oldest and purist of Welsh working dog breeds. Although still highly prized for their working skills, the Welsh Collie is not recognised as a breed in its own right by The Kennel Club and very few well-bred puppies are registered with the Welsh Sheepdog Society every year.
Height at the withers: Males 48.26 - 55.88 cm, Females 45.72 - 53.34 cm
Average weight: Males 13 - 18 kg, Females 13 - 18 kg
Welsh Collies are medium sized dogs that tend to be a lot rangier and longer legged than their Border Collie cousins. Because they are bred for their working abilities and intelligence, their appearance and conformation can vary quite a bit. Farmers often tell people that what determines a Welsh Collie is not their looks, but rather what is in a dog's head.
Welsh Collies are well balanced, graceful dogs and they are always alert, ready to obey commands they are given loving nothing more than to be in working environment. They boast double coats with some dogs having luxurious wavy coats whereas others have slicker, finer ones.
Welsh Collies have broad heads with a very distinct stop and tapering muzzle. They have black noses except if they have brown or chocolate coats when their noses can be brown to match their coats. Dogs with blue coats have slate coloured noses but all dogs have well developed nostrils. Their oval eyes are set wide apart on a dog's head being brown in colour except for Merles where one or both eyes can be blue. Sometimes just part of a merle’s eye is blue, but all Welsh Collies boast a very keen, alert, intelligent and mild look in their eyes whether they are working or at when they are at rest.
Their ears are medium in size and set well apart on a dog's head which they carry either erect or semi-erect. Their mouths are strong and dogs boast a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. A Welsh Collie has a strong, muscular neck that’s slightly arched and which is wider at the shoulder than at the nape.
Their forequarters are strong and well boned with well laid-back shoulders and nice, long straight front legs. They boast athletic looking bodies with well sprung ribs, a deep chest and deep, muscular loins. The hindquarters are muscular with well-developed thighs and long back legs adding to a dog’s rangy appearance. Their feet are oval shaped with deep pads, tight arched toes and short nails.
Welsh Collies have quite long, low set tails with a slight curve in them which goes right to the tip which adds to the perfect balance and proportions of these dogs. When excited, dogs carry their tails raised, but never curled over their backs.
When it comes to their coats, Welsh Collies can either have quite long hair or their coats are short and smooth, but both have a dense topcoat and softer undercoat which offers a lot of protection against the elements. Long-coated dogs have longer hair around their necks and upper shoulders and they have feathers on their legs and under their tails. Border Collies, as previously mentioned come in a variety of colours and colour combinations which are as follows:
Any white in a dog's coat should never be the predominant colour.
When a Welsh Collie moves, they do so with great purpose and cover a lot of ground with the minimum of effort when they do. They are quick on their feet and able to turn on a sixpence when needed without ever losing their balance and momentum.
Prospective Welsh Collie owners should be wary of any puppies or dogs that show any sort of exaggeration whether in their looks or conformation. A responsible breeder would always ensure that puppies they produce are of a good size and conformation. It is also worth noting that Welsh Sheepdogs with merle coats may suffer from congenital deafness thanks to the merle gene. Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums.
Welsh Collies are intelligent, high energy dogs that are never happier than when they are working which makes them quite demanding to live with in a home environment. Owners need to have the time and energy to keep these dogs busy both physically and mentally. As such, they are not the best choice for first time owners simply because they need to be trained and handled by people who are familiar with their needs for them to be truly happy, well rounded dogs.
The instinct to work is deeply embedded in a Welsh Collie’s psyche which means they are better suited to families who live in a rural environment and who lead active, outdoor lives and where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house. Puppies need to be well socialised from a young age and this must include introducing them to lots of new situations, people, noises, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's a good idea to enrol young dogs into puppy classes which is a great way to start their training in earnest after having taught them the "basics" when they first arrive in the home. Welsh Collies are "true" working dogs and very unlike Border Collies. As such, they are much better suited to being in a working environment where they are always given a job to do which they need to be truly well-balanced and happy dogs.
Welsh Collies have extremely strong herding instincts and need to "herd" everything they come across which includes any children. They tend to be wary around people they don’t already know, but rarely would a Welsh Collie show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance.
Welsh Collies are not the best choice for first time owners because they benefit from being trained and handled by people who are familiar with the needs of such an intelligent and high-energy dog. It is also worth noting that the Welsh Sheepdog Society will only sell registered puppies to working farms.
Welsh Collies were bred to protect and herd large flocks of livestock which is a trait that is deeply embedded in a dog's psyche. As such, they will chase and herd any animal that moves which means care should always be taken as to where and when a dog can run off the lead more especially if there are any wild animals or livestock close by.
Welsh Collies have a very playful side to their natures although they take things quite seriously. Being so intelligent and having so much energy, Welsh Collies need to be given things to do and are never happy when ignored or left to their own devices for too long.
Welsh Collies are better suited to being on working farms rather than in a domestic environment because the need to work is so deeply embedded in their psyche.
Welsh Collies form extremely 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 work outdoors 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.
Some Welsh 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, bearing in mind that like all collies, they can be ultra-sensitive to raised voices. Others will only bark when there are strangers about or when something they don't like is going on in their surroundings, but rarely would a Welsh Collie show any sort of aggression, preferring to keep their distance.
Some Welsh 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 dog 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 essential for a dog's coat to be thoroughly dried off to avoid any skin issues flaring up because moisture is trapped in it.
Welsh Collies are natural watchdogs having been bred to "protect" flocks from predators and rustlers. As such, they are very quick off the mark when it comes to letting their owners know when strangers are about or when something they don't like is going on in their surroundings although they would rarely do this aggressively.
Welsh Collies are highly intelligent dogs which means in the right environment and with the correct amount of early socialisation they can be easy to train. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits and behaviours too. These high energy collies are often seen competing in many canine sports which includes activities like agility, obedience trials, flyball and many herding events that are held all over the country all of which are activities they excel at and enjoy.
The key to successfully training a Welsh Collie is to start their education as early as possible. Training sessions must be short and very interesting to keep these hyperactive dogs focused on what they are being asked to do. They love the one-to-one attention they are given when they are being trained and it reinforces the bond they form with their owners.
Like other collies, they do not respond well to harsh correction, but they do answer well to positive reinforcement. It's important to handle a Welsh Collie puppy with a firm yet gentle hand so they understand their place in "the pack" and who is the alpha dog in a household. They are never happier than when they know who they can look to for direction and guidance, although Welsh Collies are renowned for being able to work on their own because they are independent thinkers by nature which is another reason why they are best handled and trained by people who are familiar with their particular needs.
Like all puppies, Welsh Collies are adorable when young and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in a home. New owners must start out as they mean to go on bearing in mind that Welsh Collies like all collies are extremely intelligent and quickly learn new things which includes the good and the bad. As such, boundaries and limits must be set out so that a puppy understands what an owner expects of them and what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
Welsh Collies have a strong instinct to round things up even when they are in a home environment which can see them herding children as well as anything else they come across. As such they are not the best choice for families with younger children, but they do well in households where children are older and who therefore know how to behave around dogs. However, any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by adult to make sure playtime does not end up getting too boisterous which could end up with someone getting knocked over, albeit by accident.
Welsh Collies can be a little reserved around other dogs they have never met before, but usually get on well with dogs they already know. If a Border Collie has grown up with a family cat in the home, they are generally get on well together, but they would think nothing of chasing any other cats they come across. Because they have such a strong instinct to round things up, they might start to herd other pets and smaller animals, as such care must be taken whenever they are around them.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Welsh Collie is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Welsh Sheepdog Society was only established in 1997 and as such not many puppies have been registered which in short, means that as yet it is hard to say whether the breed is affected by any hereditary or congenital health issues. With this said, all stud dogs should be health checked before they are used in any breeding programme to ensure that Welsh Collies remain a pure and healthy breed. The health concerns associated with the breed are as follows:
Welsh 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 dogs, Welsh Collies can 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 Welsh 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 Welsh 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:
There are not breed specific breeding restrictions for Welsh Collies because they are not Kennel Club registered. However, prospective owners should always ask breeders about any health issues that could affect them. Although not Kennel Club recognised, responsible breeders would follow the advice as laid out about the KC when it comes to good breeding practices.
Welsh Collies are not Kennel Club recognised (As of February 2018), as such there are no Assured Breeder requirements in place.
As with any other breed, Welsh 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.
Welsh 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 Welsh Collie puppies, bearing in mind that like many collie-types. they can be ultra-sensitive to loud sounds and can even be stressed at when people start shouting around them. 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.
As previously mentioned, Welsh 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 Welsh 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 Welsh 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 Welsh 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 Welsh Collie 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 grooming needs of a smooth-coated Welsh Collie's are far less than that of a longer haired dog. A weekly brush is all it takes to keep things tidy and to remove any dead and loose hair from a dog's coat. A dog with a longer coat would need more frequent brushing to prevent any knots and tangles from forming in their coats. Welsh Collies are often allergic to fleas so it's important to make sure that preventive treatments are always kept up to date.
Welsh Collies shed throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to keep on top of things. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Welsh 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 and obedient dogs. They need a minimum of 2 hour's exercise a day and ideally even more, bearing in mind that they are much better suited to being in working environment.
With this said, Welsh 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 Welsh 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 fed 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.
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 Welsh 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 Welsh Collie must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Welsh Collie can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Welsh Collie, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred puppy.
The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Welsh Collie in northern England would be £20.49 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £42.76 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 Welsh 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 Welsh 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 healthy Welsh 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.
Welsh Collie puppies are among one of the more popular dogs in the UK which means that well-bred healthy puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Welsh Collies there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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