Types of Collie Dog Breeds
Animal file: Rough Collie
When you say the name ‘Collie’, the image which springs to many people's mind is that of a Rough Collie. Perhaps this is because one of the most famous fictional dogs in history is Lassie, the dog actors which played her all being Rough Collies. Others may think of the Border Collie, another very popular breed. However, Collie dog breeds are even more varied. According to the International Canine Federation (FCI), these dogs are all in group 1, meaning they are types of shepherd and cattle dogs. In addition to these Collie-type dog breeds, we can find the Old English Sheepdog, the Corgi and many more.
At AnimalWised, we bring you our complete list of all types of Collie dog breeds. We provide information on each breed as well as photos so you can know what they look like.
What are Collie breeds of dog?
Collie dog breeds are originally from the United Kingdom, specifically Scotland and the north of England. They are all types of herding dogs, meaning they were used to herd livestock on farms. While there are many other different types of herding dog breeds, Collies are generally considered to be the most adept at this task. Not only do they have the right physical size, strength and stamina, but they are some of the most intelligent dogs around.
While still used as working dogs today, all Collie breeds are also known as wonderful companion animals. They are often full of energy, so they are not necessarily ideal for all families. Their keen brains and high activity levels mean they need a lot of mental and physical stimulation, respectively. They are not suitable for sedentary families.
Since they have a history and development which is well recorded, they are also very popular show dogs. There are certain characteristics to which they need to conform, which you can see in our information provided below. While they are all herding dogs with high intelligence and physical prowess, not all Collie dogs are the same. This is why we show you the different types of Collie dogs and their differences below.
Rough collie (Long-Haired Collie)
As stated in the introduction, the Rough Collie is not only one of the most famous Collie type breeds, it is one of the most famous dogs in history. Despite this, other dog breeds, including the Border Collie, are perhaps becoming more famous still. Their origins date back to the 19th century when they were used as a working sheepdog. Since this time, many factors have contributed to the Rough Collie's popularity as a companion animal.
Firstly, we can mention their look. Also known as the Long-Haired Collie, this is a very handsome breed. They have an elongated snout, expressive eyes and a beautiful mane. Although the hair on their face is short, it lengthens out over their body and requires more care to maintain coat quality than other Collie breeds.
Looks are not the only appealing aspect of the Rough Collie. Their intelligence and character make them impressive specimens. If you have ever seen a Lassie film, you will see the dogs perform incredible feats of bravery and do so while hitting their mark for film. This is because the Rough Collie not only responds well to training, they require it for their well-being.
Rough Collies stand at about 55.8 to 66 cm (22 to 26") for males, with females being a little shorter. Their weight can vary, with some being as low as 20 kg (44 lb) and others growing to weigh up to 34 kg (75 lb). Their life expectancy ranges from about 12 to 14 years, with the right care.
The Rough Collie history of being used as a working dog means exercise is in their blood. They cannot be left unattended for too long and they are not suitable for sedentary families. However, they can be wonderful with kids with the right training and can be the perfect pet for any family willing to meet their needs.
Smooth Collie (Short-Haired Collie)
Less popular than the Rough Collie and not often found outside of the United Kingdom is the Smooth Collie. This Collie breed is a short-haired version of the Rough Collie and has similar origins, also being used as a Sheepdog in the 19th Century. Despite their history, they do not necessarily need to be out in the countryside all the time. In fact, they can fare well in the city and even be an apartment dog, as long as all of their exercise needs are met.
Except for the obvious difference in their coat, the Smooth Collie shares many characteristics with the Rough Collie. They are tolerant dogs for children and are ideal for training. Their double layer coat can come in a range of colors, including the famous sable color which Lassie shares. They can also come in blue merle, tricolor (black, white and tan) and the less common all white.
The Smooth Collie has approximately the same measurements as the Rough Collie. For a long time, they were considered the same breed. In fact, the Rough Collie would sometimes give birth to short-haired puppies. However, they are now considered a different type of Collie and have had different breeding lines for generations.
The Border Collie is one of the best known Collie dog breeds. As with other Collie dogs, they have an excellent adaptation for learning and are highly valued for their trainability. These dogs originated a little earlier than the Rough Collie during the 18th century. At this time they worked as cattle herders, able to control animals much larger than themselves. Although many Border Collies are still used on working farms, they have become a very popular companion animal.
They can be affectionate dogs and great with children. They are very intelligent and active. In fact, according to Stanley Coren's list of the most intelligent dog breeds, this Collie breed is number 1. Unlike the Smooth Collie, this breed's nature does not work well in small spaces. Ideally they will need a garden or outdoor space to run around in.
It cannot be stressed enough how much physical and mental stimulation the Border Collie requires. If they are not given intelligence games and training on a daily basis, they can start to develop behavioral problems.
In terms of physique, the snout is elongated, but less than that of the Smooth and Rough Collie. Their life expectancy is around 12-14 years. They are medium and light dogs and their long dense coat can have different colors, but black with white is perhaps the most common.
Since the Australian Shepherd bears a strong resemblance to the Border Collie, they are often thought to be another type of Collie breed. However, although the Australian has Border Collie in its genealogy, they are not considered a Collie breed. Take a look at our article on the difference between Border Collies and Australian Shepherds to learn more.
We finish our complete list of Collie breed types with the Bearded Collie. This is a very old dog breed with origins dating back to at least the 16th Century. They were also used as sheep herding dogs. The breed almost disappeared at one point, but was taken back from the edge of extinction during the 20th Century.
They are cheerful, friendly dogs, good with children and have adapted to life in cities. They are also great dogs to live with other dogs and animals. Unlike the previous Collies on our list, the Bearded Collie is not very easy to train. They can be a little stubborn and will need a lot of patience and energy to make them learn advanced tricks. However, their basic education can be carried out relatively easily.
The Bearded Collie's longer coat means they need to be brushed every day, especially because they are prone to tangles. Their coat color is commonly blue and white, but they can have black, fawn, brown or tan markings. Their hair naturally parts on their back and can grow over their eyes. For this reason, they will need to be periodically groomed.
Their look is reminiscent of the Old English Sheepdog and some do not consider the latter a Collie breed. Our article on Bearded Collies vs. Old English Sheepdogs will help you learn more. They are prone to musculoskeletal diseases, skin problems and cancer. However, with good care and some luck, they can live to around 12 to 13 years.
Not all types of Collie breeds have the word ‘Collie’ in their name. As you can see in the photo below, it almost appears that the Shetland Sheepdog is a smaller version of the Rough Collie. This is not far from the truth. Otherwise known as a Sheltie, the Shetland Sheepdog has the same coat color and patter, facial shape and other features as the Rough Collie.
Despite their similarities, the Sheltie is not considered a direct descendent. They do have Rough Collie blood, but they are also mixed with the King Charles Spaniel and other breeds which are currently undetermined. As with other popular animals from Shetland, such as the Shetland pony, the Sheltie is a smaller version of similar-looking animals.
The Sheltie's small size does not prevent them from being working dogs and used in herding. They are very intelligent, active and loving towards their human family. They are generally healthy, but they are prone to certain genetic diseases. This is especially the case when bred for ‘unique’ coat colors as they often use too limited a gene pool. This is similar to double dapple breeding in dogs.
Other types of Collie breeds
While we have included all the types of dog breed which use the name ‘Collie’ in their name, there are other types of herding dog which are also considered Collie breeds. They include:
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Australian Kelpie
- Australian Shepherd
- Blue Lacy
- Cumberland Sheepdog
- English Shepherd
- McNab Shepherd
- New Zealand Heading Dog
- Old English Sheepdog
- Stumpy Tailed Heeler
- Welsh Sheepdog
Not all of these dog breeds are officially recognized by all breeding standards agencies, but some are on their way.
If you want to read similar articles to Types of Collie Dog Breeds, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.
- International Cynological Federation. (2010). Border collie . Available at: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/297g01-es.pdf
- International Cynological Federation. (2016). Bearded Collie . Available at: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/271g01-es.pdf
- International Cynological Federation. (2010). Short haired collie . Available at: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/296g01-es.pdf
- International Cynological Federation. (2012). Long-haired collie . Available at: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/156g01-es.pdf
- Fogle, Bruce. 1995. The Encyclopedia of the Dog . London: Dorling Kindersley.