Hereditary health and longevity of the smooth collie dog breed

Hereditary health and longevity of the smooth collie dog breed

Breed Facts

The smooth collie is the short-coated equivalent of the rough collie dog breed, and like the rough collie, was also bred and produced as a working herding dog, and is such is a very lively, intelligent and active breed that requires a lot of entertainment!

A large breed, the smooth collie stands between 22-24” tall at the shoulder, and can weigh up to 34kg, with males being noticeably larger than females. They are slightly longer than they are tall, with a straight back and deep chest, long muzzle and semi-erect ears. Their coat is double layered, with a dense, warm undercoat and longer guard hairs on top, and can be seen in either sable, blue merle, tricolour or pure white, although it is unusual to see a smooth collie that is all white in colour.

They are sociable with both people and other dogs, watchful and very energetic, spending the greater part of their day outside when kept within working roles. This means that they need a lot of attention and plenty of exercise when kept within the domestic home in order to thrive.

If you are wondering if a smooth collie is the right choice of pet for you, it is of course important to do plenty of research into the breed before committing to a purchase, including finding out as much as possible about the hereditary health and general longevity of the breed. We will cover these factors in more detail within this article.

Smooth collie longevity

The average lifespan of the smooth collie is 12-14 years, which places the breed towards the top of the rankings across the board for all breeds of a similar size and build. This indicates a general propensity to good health and wellness, and that the dog is not one that is liable to be plagued with a lot of minor ills throughout their lives.

Genetic diversity

The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for the smooth collie is 7.3%, which is higher than the 6.25% or lower that is accepted as the ideal for pedigree dog breeds. This indicates that the smooth collie breed as a whole is subjected to some degree of inbreeding, in order to keep their breed lines viable in perpetuity. Smooth collie breeders should seek to reduce the coefficient of inbreeding statistic within their own breed lines where possible.


The shape and build of the smooth collie is considered to be well balanced and robust, and is a good example of a fit and healthy working dog type. The breed is in proportion and has a sturdy yet lithe build, and is generally considered to be fit for life, and not prone to suffering from any health issues or flaws due to their shape and general structure.

Health testing for the smooth collie

The British Veterinary Association and The Kennel Club monitor the hereditary health of all pedigree dog breeds, and make recommendations for health testing and screening for health conditions that are prevalent within the breed and have a known genetic element to them. Recommended health tests for the smooth collie are:

  • Hip score testing, with the breed’s mean hip score being 6. Potential parent dogs should receive a hip score below this figure to be considered to be viable breeding stock.
  • Testing for various eye conditions, including collie eye anomaly, retinal pigment epithelial dystrophy, progressive retinal atrophy, and multiple ocular defects. Annual testing is advised to receive a clean bill of health.
  • DNA testing is available for collie eye anomaly.
  • DNA testing is available for degenerative myelopathy.
  • DNA testing is available for generalised progressive retinal atrophy.
  • Smooth collies should be tested for multi-drug resistance.
  • The breed should also be tested for the merle gene.
  • DNA testing can be performed for canine cyclic neutropenia.

Other health conditions

As well as the known hereditary health conditions listed above, the smooth collie has also been recognised to have a slightly elevated set of risk factors for various other health conditions too, but for which no pre-breeding tests are currently offered. While there is no sure-fire way to avoid buying a puppy that may develop one of these conditions, finding out as much as possible about the health of the parent dogs of the line can help the buyer to make an informed decision on the future health of any given litter.

Known health conditions recognised within the smooth collie breed are:

  • Idiopathic epilepsy, although this can often be managed with medication.
  • A propensity to developing bloat, due to the deep chest of the breed.
  • Hypersensitivity to Milbemycin and Ivermectin.
  • Entropion of the eyelids.
  • Coloboma, an eye condition that can cause eventual blindness.
  • Pancreatitis.
  • Abnormal eye development, including overly small eyes.
  • Cutaneous histiocytosis of the skin.
  • Dermatitis of the skin.
  • Nasal carcinoma, a type of cancer.


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