If you’re looking for inspiration for a perfect family dog, the Rough Collie could be just the breed you’re looking for. A member of the herding group, the Rough Collie, currently ranks at number 38 in the American Kennel Club’s chart.
The Rough Collie is the breed that first found international fame in the famous 1950s movie, “Lassie Come Home.” The Rough Collie has a long, luxuriant coat and majestic bearing. Also, there’s another type of Collie, the Smooth Collie, which has a shorter, flatter coat.
In this article, we’re going to focus on the Rough Collie. We take a look at the Rough Collie’s history, health, and personality, and we find out whether one of these beautiful dogs would make a good family pet for you.
The Rough Collie originates from the Scottish Highlands where he was used for herding cattle and sheep.
In the 1860s, Queen Victoria discovered the Rough Collie during a vacation to Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The royal seal of approval immediately caused demand for the breed to boom. By 1877, Collies were being shown at the Westminster Kennel Club show, where they were taken up by wealthy dog lovers, including J.P. Morgan.
In 1886, the American Kennel Club came into being, and the Collie Club of America became the second parent association to join the AKC.
From 1954 to 1973, the Rough Collie saw a massive worldwide increase in popularity, thanks to the T.V. show, Lassie, which aired at that time.
Modern Rough Collies are not generally used for traditional herding duties. However, they can be found working as assistance dogs, aiding people with disabilities. However, these active dogs enjoy a new career as family pets and sporting dogs in disciplines, including agility and obedience.
Rough Collies adore children, and they typically bond very closely with all the members of their human family. Collies, as a breed, are very affectionate, thinking everyone is their friend. They will snuggle up with anyone who is willing!
On the downside, the Rough Collie is a herding breed, and they can nip at heels, which could frighten small children and won’t go down well with the family cat, either!
Also, as far as a Rough Collie is concerned, anything that moves is fair game to be herded. That includes your kids, other dogs, chickens, etc. This can be remedied with proper training, though.
These fluffy pups are loving, smart, and loyal. They are known to almost never be aggressive, nor are they shy around strangers. However, they are vocal and will alert you if someone steps into their territory. For this reason, they make great watchdogs in the family home.
Size & Appearance
Collies are medium-sized dogs, standing from 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weighing in at around 50 to 70 pounds. Their thin frames are covered in thick, long coats, which make them look heavier than they actually are.
An angular head, elongated muzzle, almond-shaped eyes, and long, lush coat make the Rough Collie highly recognizable. They have a wispy appearance that comes from these long and pointy features, as well as their long fur that flows behind them when they run.
Their long muzzles lack a stop, so they have a flat, wedge, or “dished” face. Their ears stand erect but the tips fold over adorably from the top.
Coat & Colors
Rough Collies come in several color combinations which include White, Sable & White, Tri-Color, and Blue Merle. A white collie has a sable and white head, but an entirely white body.
Rough Collies are double-coated. These pups shed year-round and “blow” their coats twice yearly in the spring and fall. That means massive shedding all over your place! Because of the amount of shedding your Rough Collie does, this breed is not suitable for a home with allergy sufferers.
Exercise & Living Conditions
As a general rule, a Rough Collie should have two half-hour walks every day that includes plenty of running and aerobic exercise. You should try to include playtime too, including games of fetch that will give your Rough Collie a chance to enjoy his innate instinct to herd.
Note that a bored Collie who doesn’t get enough exercise can be prone to barking and indulging in destructive behavior.
Although a Rough Collie has a double coat and would be warm enough living outside, these dogs are so family-oriented that an isolated collie would certainly suffer from separation anxiety. That would lead to incessant barking and destructive behavior. A Rough Collie should be kept indoors with you and your family.
Rough Collies are very clever and quick to learn. As soon as your Rough Collie puppy is old enough and has completed his course of vaccinations, take your pup to special puppy classes for general socialization and basic training.
Keep your training methods consistent and reward-based. Collies love the attention they receive when performing simple tricks or competing in agility or herding competitions.
The average lifespan for a Rough Collie is between 10 and 14 years. However, unfortunately, the Rough Collie is prone to a large list of health problems, including drug sensitivities, progressive retinal atrophy, collie eye anomaly, epilepsy, and bloat.
Collies can be affected by multiple drug sensitivity issues. Some of these issues are the result of a mutation in the multi-drug resistance gene, MDR1. That means that dogs with this mutation can suffer potentially fatal reactions to several common drugs, including ivermectin and loperamide.
Always have your puppy checked by your vet for these conditions. A simple cheek swab is all that’s required to give you peace of mind. Check out this article for more useful information.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA is a condition that causes the progressive wasting of the photoreceptor cells in the dog’s eyes. The disease causes the dog’s eyesight to deteriorate over time, ultimately resulting in blindness gradually.
Collie Eye Anomaly
Collie eye anomaly is the term used to describe a whole host of eye conditions that range from minor to severe. These conditions are usually present at birth and can be detected in puppies as young as five to eight weeks of age. When buying a Rough Collie puppy, always check to make sure that the breeder has had the pup screened for eye problems and can provide you with a certificate to prove it.
Bloat, or gastric torsion, is a condition where the stomach fills with air, potentially twisting on itself and cutting off the blood flow. Bloat can strike suddenly and is invariably fatal if not detected and treated immediately. Some signs of bloat include drooling, pacing, pale gums, lip licking, dry heaving, and general signs of pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, once a dog has suffered an episode of bloat, it’s highly likely that he will suffer another.
Rough Collies do best on high-quality dog food that’s meat-based, preferably with no grain content. Many respected collie breeders and experts on the breed feel that collies should not be fed a diet that contains soy or corn.
Because of the Rough Collie’s risk of bloat, two or more small feeds per day are recommended, rather than one large feed. It’s also been shown that the addition of a small amount of meat to the food can reduce the risk of bloat.
Rough Collies need grooming two to three times a week to keep the coat in good condition and prevent it from matting. The undercoat needs brushing out more often during the dog’s twice-yearly coat blowing periods.
Note that spayed female Rough Collies have one big shed annually. If not spayed, females shed around three months after their heat cycle and will require more grooming at this time. Male Rough Collies shed most around their birthday, and need more brushing then.
It is also important to mind a Rough Collie’s teeth. They are prone to periodontal disease, so brushing them several times a week to ward off tartar and plaque-causing bacteria is ideal to keep them in good health.
You should also trim your Rough Collie’s nails at least once or twice a month to prevent injury. Long nails in dogs can cause arthritis and other health conditions in our canine companions.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
A good place to begin your search for a Rough Collie puppy is the website of the Collie Club of America.
Look for Collie breeders who subscribe to the Club’s code of ethics, which forbids the sale of puppies through pet stores. You could also check out the directory of breeders on the collie breed page of the AKC website.
The current price of a well-bred rough Collie puppy is around $1,200 to about $1,500.
Be very wary if you’re offered a puppy for a cheap price. It’s highly likely that the puppy has come from a so-called puppy mill.
Puppy mills are commercial enterprises that exist solely to produce vast amounts of puppies quickly and cheaply. To keep costs down, the breeding animals and puppies are not screened for the eye conditions to which Rough Collies are prone. Also, puppies are typically not vaccinated or wormed, and many succumb to entirely preventable diseases soon after arriving at their new homes.
You should note that lots of backstreet pet stores get their puppies cheaply from puppy mills.
Rescues & Shelters
If you like the idea of offering a forever home to an unwanted Rough Collie from a shelter or rescue center, you might want to check out the Collie Club of America’s rescue network.
If you’re unsure whether a Rough Collie would settle well in your home, some shelters will allow you to take a dog home with you on a trial basis. If the arrangement doesn’t work out, you can return the dog to the shelter who will then find a more suitable home for him.
As Family Pets
So, would a Rough Collie make the perfect canine companion for your family?
Let’s recheck the main points:
- Rough Collies are medium-sized dogs that do need somewhere with lots of space.
- Because of their propensity for excessive barking, an apartment or place where you have very close neighbors would not be the best arrangement.
- Rough Collies shed continually and have two major coat-blowing periods every year. If you have allergy sufferers in your home, this is not the breed for you.
- Because they are double-coated and molt continually, you’ll need to have plenty of time for brushing your rough Collie, ideally two or three times each week.
- Rough Collies are highly affectionate dogs who love to be around children and their human family members.
- When socialized from a young age, Rough Collies will interact well with other family pets.
- As the Rough Collie is a herding dog, these pups will enjoy herding anything in the family that moves, including you, your kids, and the family cat!
- If a medium-sized dog is too big for you, especially with this much fur, you can look at a border collie or border collie mix like the borador. Another great breed to compare the border collie with is the Australian shepherd, which is a herding dog and is smaller than a Rough Collie.
- You’ll need to be prepared to spend lots of time exercising your Rough Collie, as these dogs were bred to work all day and are not couch potatoes.
- You can’t keep a Rough Collie outside in a kennel. These dogs are much too family-oriented for that! A lonely Rough Collie will occupy his time by barking incessantly and could become destructive also.
So, if you have an active household with kids, other pets, and no allergy sufferers, the Rough Collie could be a good match for you. You’ll need to be an enthusiastic groomer too to cope with all the shedding that your new canine companion will do!
If your perfect pet is an affectionate, family dog that loves kids, a Rough Collie could be the ideal match for you. However, you should note that the breed doesn’t take kindly to being left alone for long periods, and barking can be a problem for your neighbors if you live in a small community.
Rough Collies need lots of exercise, so you’ll need to enjoy walking. Also, Rough Collies shed profusely, meaning that you’ll need to devote a lot of time to grooming your dog.
So, if you want a loving, loyal, intelligent, trainable family pet, look no further than the magnificent Rough Collie!