What to Know About The 3 Collie Dog Breeds

by Amy DeYoung

Do you know how to care for a Collie? Here's some tips, plus more info on the breed.

Many of us automatically think of border collies when the word ‘collie’ is thrown around. But did you know that there are actually three collie dog breeds currently recognized by the American Kennel Club? Keep reading to learn about the three types of collies and recommendations for caring for your collie! 

What Are Collies? 

Collies are herding dogs hailing from Northern England and the Scottish Highlands. The breed’s popularity exploded in the 1860s when Queen Victoria visited the Scottish Highlands and fell head over heels for this loyal companion dog, which quickly became her favorite breed among the many dogs she owned during her lifetime. 


Physical Traits

The collie breed has two primary variations: the short-haired or smooth collies and the rough or long-haired collies. Most people are familiar with rough-haired collies because of the famous fictional dog Lassie and the rough collie’s beautiful, showy coat. Both short and rough collies come in various colors, including sable and white, blue merle, white, or tricolor. 

These large, agile dogs stand up to 26 inches tall. Male collies weigh between 60 and 75 pounds, while most females weigh between 50 and 65 pounds. 

Behavioral Traits

Collies are known for being good with young children, playful, and protective of their loved ones. One of their most notable traits is their high intelligence, which can lead to behavioral problems if they don’t receive enough mental stimulation. However, they are also eager to please, making them highly trainable. 

Border Collie

Physical Traits

Border collies have a wavy double coat and a muscular, agile body. They stand up to 22 inches at the shoulder, weigh between 30 and 55 pounds, and come in rough and smooth coat varieties. Their beautiful almond eyes, or famous ‘herding eyes,’ give them an intelligent, intense expression. Border collies come in countless colors, including white and black, red, sable, brindle, red merle, lilac, and blue.  

Behavioral Traits

Border collies are highly energetic dogs with a work ethic that would put many of us to shame. These incredible dogs are affectionate family members, highly adaptable, and typically friendly to strangers. 

However, border collies can develop destructive behaviors if they are not given plenty of playtime and exercise to satisfy their workaholic nature and high energy levels.  They are also prone to boredom and require plenty of mental stimulation - remember, these dogs were made to work and won’t be happy living a couch potato lifestyle! 

Bearded Collie

Physical Traits

Bearded collies, or ‘Beardies,’ are sometimes mistaken for Old English Sheepdogs because of their shaggy, silky coats. However, bearded collies have a more lean, angular build. 

Bearded collies are the shortest of the three collie dog breeds and stand around 20 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 45 and 55 pounds. Full facial hair and a dreamy gaze are hallmarks of their breed. 

Behavioral Traits

Bearded collies are known for their affectionate, goofball nature and typically get along well with kids and other animals. Bearded collies can be willful but are trainable, especially when you turn the training into an engaging game. 

Like other collie breeds, they are known for being vocal and will bark frequently. A “beardie” is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an affectionate companion that enjoys the outdoors and plays well into their adult years. 

Collie Breed-Related Health Issues  

Generally, collies are a healthy and hardy dog breed, but they are susceptible to specific breed-related health issues. According to the Collie Health Foundation, skin problems, Grey Collie Syndrome, Dermatomyositis, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and bloat are some of the most significant breed-specific health issues. 

Epilepsy is a frequently inherited condition in Border Collies and will typically show up between six months and three years of age. 

Hypothyroidism is another common health concern in collie breeds. It occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, resulting in symptoms like weight gain, hair loss, skin diseases, behavioral changes, and more. 

Collie Breed Care

Grooming Recommendations

Collies have either rough or smooth coats, with rough coats being the most common. 

Rough-coated collies have long, thick hair everywhere except for their legs and heads and need a good brushing one to two times a week. 

Smooth-coated collies have shorter, coarser, and flatter hair on their bodies and only require a quick brushing once a week. 

Both smooth and rough-coated collies shed an average to above-average amount and can be prone to skin health issues. Otherwise, collies are a clean, neat dog breed that doesn’t require much grooming to stay smelling pleasant and looking sharp. 

Health Recommendations

Medium to large-sized dog breeds with deep, narrow chests, like collies, are more prone to a serious, sometimes fatal, health condition called bloat. Bloat occurs when the stomach fills with air, building pressure and preventing the blood from the hind legs and abdomen from flowing to the heart. 

Research has shown dogs only fed once a day are twice as likely to bloat as dogs given two meals per day. Fast eating may also contribute to bloat. If possible, feed your collie more than once per day, and consider using a slow feeder bowl if your collie is a fast eater to reduce their risk of bloat.

Exercise Recommendations

All collie breeds, especially border collies, require frequent exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Many collies get along well with other dogs, so a dog park is a great option. Games and learning tricks are other great ways to keep your collie physically active and mentally stimulated daily. 

Otherwise, a long walk, energetic play session, or run each day suffice for most collies and keep them happy at home and lean, provided they are fed a nutritious diet. 

Breed Nutrition

Collies need a balanced diet to support a healthy weight, coat, and energy levels. According to the Veterinary Centers of America, collies typically maintain a healthy weight. However, their full coats can hide weight gain, so it’s important for pet parents to regularly feel under their collie’s coat to check that their dog isn’t too thin or putting on excessive weight. 

Our gently air-dried, human-grade food is ready to eat with no fridge, prep, or clean-up required. Sundays all-natural food supports a healthy, shiny coat with high quantities of Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids - a must-have for supporting your beautiful collie’s coat!   

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