As made famous in the Lassie films and novels, the Rough Collie is a breed with a unique appearance and a big heart. Rough Collies are a long-coated pastoral breed of supreme beauty and luxury. They aren’t all looks, however. Rough Collies are amongst the most intelligent breeds and have a wonderful temperament which nicely complements their adorable looks. As puppies, Rough Collies are just as cute and cuddly as one could imagine. For this reason and many others, Rough Collies make an excellent family pet and are ideal for first-time owners as well.
Some highlights of Rough Collies:
Intelligent: this breed is amongst the most intelligent dog breeds on the planet.
Family-friendly: Rough Collies are superb family pets and get along well with children of all ages.
First-time owners: this breed is an ideal puppy choice for first-time owners.
Training: thanks to their high intelligence, Rough Collies are able to be trained easily and can accomplish many complex tasks.
Grooming: although they have long, shaggy coats of fur, Rough Collies are quite easy on the grooming front.
Some downsides to the Rough Collie:
Behaviour: if proper training isn’t provided whilst they’re still puppies, Rough Collies may show signs of disobedience as they grow into adulthood.
Isolation: this breed should not be left alone for anything more than a short period of time.
Health: Rough Collies are prone to some hereditary and congenital health problems and diseases.
Shedding: due to their long coats of fur, Rough Collies shed heavily and require constant cleaning.
Both the Rough Collie and the Smooth Collie originated in Scotland and Wales as working, pastoral dogs, responsible for herding sheep, cattle, and goats from the hilly and mountainous terrain into the lowlands. Collies in Wales tended to be smaller in size, whereas its Scottish cousin tended to be larger and more well-adapted to the Highlands. This latter breed became the favoured breed over time and is the predecessor of modern Rough and Smooth Collies. It has been suggested that the earliest ancestors of the Collie bred from dogs that were imported into Britain during the Roman invasions of the 1st century BC and native pastoral breeds in the land of the Picts (modern Scotland). After the Industrial Revolution in Britain, the ownership and breeding of domesticated dog breeds for home and family became fashionable. Rough Collies were amongst the most popular in the late 19th century thanks to Queen Victoria, who owned Rough Collies herself after visiting Balmoral Castle.
Few breeds can be recognised as instantly as the Rough Collie. This breed appears perfectly proportioned and stands tall with dignity and great beauty. Their physique exudes strength and activity with no sign of coarseness. Border Collies have long double coats of fur on their bodies which culminates in a big, fluffy collar that resembles a mane. They have signature heads, typically lighter in colour that are rounded with tapered muzzles. They have much less hair on their head than elsewhere on their bodies.
Rough Collies are large-sized dogs. Males grow on average to 56–66 cm in height, whilst females can grow up to 51–61 cm high.
Fully-grown adult male Rough Collies weigh between 20-34 kg on average. Female Rough Collies weigh between 16-29 kg on average.
This breed has the following commonly-accepted coat colours:
White markings are always preferable with any coat colour. This can commonly be seen on the collar (in part or in full), shirt, legs, feet, and tail tip. A white streak on the muzzle or head is also common. Note that all-white or predominantly white colour coats are not desirable.
This breed was used as a pastoral dog for centuries, and as such has a natural tendency to keep watch and an ability to withstand various climates and terrain. They are now mostly used as companion pets and have made this transition remarkably well. Rough Collies look friendly and happy and are known to be an excellent breed around families and children. Although they are fairly large, Rough Collies never look nervous or aggressive. They can be disobedient, however, if they haven’t been well-trained as puppies. Gentle training is required since they are intelligent and sensitive. If prospective owners are willing to put in the effort to raise them well as puppies, they make an excellent puppy choice for first-time owners.
Rough Collies make excellent watchdogs, but they aren’t the best guard dogs since they are seldom aggressive and prefer to keep their distance.
Pastoral breeds tend to bark only when they need to, such as when they’re herding sheep or cattle. They will also bark to alert owners to suspicious activity, but they aren’t known to bark excessively.
This breed can be trained fairly easily. Rough Collies respond best to gentle treatment, and since they’re so intelligent they can learn with little effort provided that owners are patient and persistent.
As puppies, Rough Collies are certainly playful. As they age, they will still enjoy playing with owners and their families, including children of all ages.
Rough Collies are known to be an excellent breed around children of all ages. They are kind, gentle, and affectionate. Small children and toddlers should be supervised at all times, however.
Provided they’ve been socialised and introduced to other pets in the home, Rough Collies are able to get along with other dogs, cats, and smaller pets. Cats and small pets may trigger the Collie’s prey drive, however, so ensure that he is supervised whilst playing around smaller pets.
Rough Collies do not enjoy being left alone for anything more than short periods of time. Consequently, family members should always be present to keep them company and to provide them with the attention they require.
Rough Collies tend to enjoy the water and will jump in any chance they get. Puppies should be introduced to the water gradually so that they don’t become frightened or traumatised. Allow them to dip their toes into the water at first and allow them to go for a supervised swim when they feel comfortable enough to do so.
Generally, Rough Collies are expected to live anywhere from 14-16 years.
This breed requires plenty of daily exercise. An hour per day of outdoor, off the lead playtime is recommended to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
This breed has an unfortunately high disposition to certain illnesses and suffers from common health issues including:
Collie eye anomaly;
Progressive retinal atrophy;
Canine cyclic neutropenia;
Sensitivity to medications;
Rough Collies can adapt to living in many environments, but they’re happiest and healthiest living in a home (small or large). They can be kept in urban environments but prefer living in the country, where they can roam and wander in the garden or in the fields.
A fully-grown Rough Collie should be fed 2 to 3 cups of high-quality dog food every day, divided into two meals. Puppies should be fed a little less than this, divided into 3-4 meals per day. Adjust as necessary to promote good health and to prevent overfeeding.
Rough Collies require frequent grooming, but they’re slightly less demanding than other breeds of a similar size and with long double coats of fur. Nevertheless, they should be brushed at least once per day and groomed professionally 2-3 times per year.
This breed sheds profusely and will require frequent house cleaning to keep furniture and carpets clean.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: roughly £400-800 for a well-bred Rough Collie puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £70-100 per month
You can read our general buying guide here, with the most important thing being going to view your Rough Collie puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Rough Collie puppy buying advice:
As previously mentioned, Rough Collies are very prone to Collie eye anomaly (CEA). This genetic disease can normally be detected at around 6-8 weeks of age by a veterinarian. Ensure that your Rough Collie puppy is healthy by obtaining all medical documentation necessary and by visiting the veterinarian to diagnose for CEA as puppies.
Rough Collies are amongst the most popular and iconic breeds thanks to television and Hollywood fame. As such, many unscrupulous dealers may try to sell undesirable puppies bred with unethical breeding practices. Ensure that your puppy doesn’t come from a ‘puppy mill’ and was bred according to Kennel Club standards. Be prepared to wait until a reputable dealer has been found before purchasing a puppy.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: Rough Collie Rescue: https://www.roughcollierescue.org.uk/ Rough and Smooth Collie Rescue UK: https://www.collielife.com/rescue/roughcollierescuepage.html Kennel Club of Great Britain: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/display.aspx?id=5119 UK Dog Trust: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/ Blue Cross: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/rehome-pet Federation Cynologique Internationale: https://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/156g01-en.pdf