The Rough Collie is a medium / large breed of dog. People sometimes refer to them as ‘Lassie Dogs’, thanks to the character of Lassie, a Rough Collie who has appeared in novels, movies and television shows.
The most recognisable feature of the Rough Collie is the long fluffy coat. This coat is found in four different coat colours, sable and white, tricolour, blue merle and white, though even ‘white’ examples typically have small patches of colour. The coat is double layered, with a coarse outer coat over a downy under coat. This coat requires regular brushing to prevent matting.
They are a medium / large breed, with males typically weighing between 20–29 kg, and females between 18–25 kg. The breed has a very distinctive face, with its long thin muzzle, and alert eyes. Their ears stand proud of their coat, but the points typically tip, rather than standing straight up. Similar breeds include the Smooth Collie, which is a shorter haired variety, and the Shetland Sheepdog, which is a smaller breed with Rough Collies in their ancestry.
Rough Collies can be a shy breed, so early socialisation and experience of different environments are important. Similarly, they are usually excellent family pets, but it is advisable for them to spend time with children at an early age. The breed is not typically aggressive, though can be prone to barking. This is normally easy to train out of the breed if done at an early age. They are an intelligent breed, that usually responds very well to training. They are also incredibly loyal, and will always go out of their way to help their family. It is this characteristic that resulted in the life-saving characteristics of the Lassie character.
While typically a robust and healthy breed, Rough Collies can be prone to a number of health issues. These include eye conditions, such as collie eye anomaly, which is an improper development of the eye, that can result in vision problems or blindness. They are also prone to progressive retinal atrophy, which is a degenerative eye condition that can result in blindness. Both of these genetic conditions are preventable with careful breeding practices. As with other larger breeds, they can also be prone to hip dysplasia. Their deep chests also make them prone to bloat, so a break between eating and exercise is vital. Canine cyclic neutropenia is a blood disorder that usually results in non-standard (typically grey) coat colour. Most dogs that suffer from this condition die at a very young age.
The Collie breeds have an 18th century Scottish and Welsh origin. Traditionally used as sheepdogs, they thrived in the harsh environments of the Scottish highlands and Welsh mountains, working with Highland and mountain sheep. In the 19th century, these Scottish and Welsh dogs came to England and began to be crossed with English sheepdogs. As a result, the Rough and Smooth Collies began to appear. With the rise in popularity of companion dogs, the Rough Collie was soon bred more for the characteristics of a pet dog, rather than a working one. In the UK, this has led to a decrease in the size of the Rough Collie, even since the 1960’s. In America, however, the breed standard still calls for a larger dog.
The most famous Rough Collie (and arguably one of the most famous dogs of any breed) is the aforementioned Lassie. The Lassie character first appeared in the novels by Eric Knight, and has since appeared in numerous films and TV series. Due to the level of the character’s fame, Lassie has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. The Simpsons have even parodied Lassie, with a character called Laddie. Other famous examples include Jezebel, in the film Marmaduke, Flo, in the film All Dogs Go To Heaven, and Sledge, in the film Homeward Bound II: Lost in San-Francisco.
The Rough Collie in the attached photo is Bonnie. We recently received a visit from Bonnie at our Morley surgery.