The short-coated version of the Rough Collie brought to fame by Lassie, the Smooth Collie is a loyal and loving companion popular all over the world. This friendly, gentle pastoral breed from Scotland is incredibly adaptable and can just as easily guard a flock of sheep or goats as he can make for an affectionate companion pet for his beloved owner.
Smooth Collies are very similar to Rough Collies, in terms of appearance (apart from simply their coats) and in temperament. In fact, in America, they are considered to be the same breed whereas here in the UK and in some other countries they are considered a separate breed. Whatever the case may be, prospective owners will find many similarities between the two.
The easiest way to define the appearance of a Smooth Collie is simply to imagine a short-haired Rough Collie. That is to say that they are a medium- to large-sized breed that exude intelligence and alertness from their outward appearance. They are seemingly perfectly proportioned, and their expression is the most important aspect of their appearance.
Their eyes showcase a sweet and gentle expression and are almond-shaped and dark brown in colour whilst their ears are large and carried erect when the dog is alert. Their long tails typically hang low and raise slightly when at a lively gait.
As one can imagine, their coats are smooth, short, and dense. Three colour combinations are possible: sable (from Lassie fame) and white, tricolour, or blue merle.
The most similar breed (if considered to be separate as in the UK) is the Rough Collie. Breeds that look somewhat similar include the German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, and the Shetland Sheepdog.
How big do Smooth Collie dogs get?
Height: males 60-66 cm; females 55-61 cm
Weight: males 27-32 kg; females 24-29 kg
The most distinguishing feature of the Smooth Collie’s appearance, i.e. his expression, also carries over to his extremely friendly temperament with no signs of aggression or nervousness. The Smooth Collie is a remarkably well-tempered breed, perhaps contributing to his widespread popularity worldwide.
This breed is playful, highly intelligent, affectionate, and exceptionally easy to train. Moreover, despite their gentle side towards owners and their families, they double as superb guard dogs and watchdogs largely due to their original use as sheepdogs in Scotland and Wales.
Are Smooth Collie dogs intelligent? Yes, very.
Are Smooth Collie dogs affectionate? Yes, exceptionally.
Do Smooth Collie dogs have high or low energy levels? About average energy levels.
Are Smooth Collie dogs loyal? Yes, very.
Are Smooth Collie dogs playful? Yes.
Are Smooth Collie dogs aggressive? No, but they are territorial defenders.
Are Smooth Collie dogs easy to train? Yes, they’re amazingly easy to train.
Are Smooth Collie dogs good guard dogs? Yes, they are superb guard dogs and watchdogs.
In terms of socialisation, Smooth Collies tend to get along well with owners, their families, other pets, and even around strangers provided they’ve been introduced and accustomed to their presence. They are still naturally territorial and will defend their owner’s property, but if they recognise a visitor that comes to the house frequently they ought to remain calm and composed.
Around other dogs, Smooth Collies are fairly easygoing and don’t generally cause any problems provided they’ve been socialised as puppies. The same can be said for smaller pets such as cats or birds.
With children, including young children, Smooth Collies are playful and gentle, although it’s nevertheless a good idea to always maintain supervision on account of their large size.
Do Smooth Collie dogs get along with other pets? Yes, they get along very well.
Do Smooth Collie dogs get along with other dogs? Yes.
Are Smooth Collie dogs good with kids? Yes, they love being around children.
Are Smooth Collie dogs good with strangers? Yes, they tend to be quite friendly around strangers.
It may seem like Smooth Collies are suitable for just about any owner, but that isn’t the case at all. In order to remain happy, healthy, and to promote good development as puppies, it’s best to only consider adopting or purchasing a Smooth Collie if you have the patience and put in the effort required to raise them well.
Firstly, they require near-constant attention. This may be surprising given that they are a pastoral breed, and pastoral dogs typically can remain outdoors and alone for hours (and sometimes days) on end without human interaction. In any case, they are quite needy and thus are best suited for owners who can dedicate plenty of quality time with them.
Moreover, they do not do well in small apartments in urban centres. They require plenty of space, and preferably a garden or large field to claim as their own territory.
On account of these limitations, they may not be the best breed for first-time owners, but for owners ready and willing to put in the effort and/or have experience raising puppies, the effort is certainly one that pays off in dividends.
Are Smooth Collie dogs good for first-time owners? No.
Are Smooth Collie dogs hypoallergenic? No.
Are Smooth Collie dogs prone to drooling? No, hardly at all.
Are Smooth Collie dogs a good breed for apartment living? Not really, they prefer homes.
Do Smooth Collie dogs shed a lot? Yes, they shed profusely throughout the year.
Do Smooth Collie dogs bark a lot? Yes, they are known to be yappy.
Can Smooth Collie dogs be left alone at home? No, they do not tolerate isolation.
Can Smooth Collie dogs handle the heat? Yes, they prefer warm climates.
Can Smooth Collie dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes, somewhat.
Are Smooth Collie dogs sensitive to loud noises? Yes.
Generally, Smooth Collies are a healthy breed ranking around average when compared to other breeds. They are a particularly long-lived breed, with some dogs reaching 16 years of age. Developed and inherited health problems may present themselves, however, with the most common condition by far being Collie eye anomaly (CEA).
If your Smooth Collie appears to be perfectly healthy, bring him in to see the veterinarian anyway for routine check-ups to keep him happy and healthy. If problems present themselves, have him looked after sooner rather than later.
Some common problems include:
Collie eye anomaly (CEA): extremely common to all Collies, Collie eye anomaly is actually the norm, with ‘normal’ dogs being the minority. Ranging from blind spots to fully detached retinas, CEA is a lifelong condition. Fortunately, it can be tested for during the first six weeks after birth and doesn’t tend to degenerate but rather to remain stable;
Hip dysplasia: large breeds such as the Smooth Collie may suffer from hip dysplasia, which can result in a limp gait or complete lameness;
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): a degenerative eye condition (not the same as CEA above) that worsens over time and potentially leads to full blindness.
How long do Smooth Collie dogs live? - 14-16 years
As an active, energetic breed, Smooth Collies need plenty of exercise and playtime. It’s often said that a tired dog is a happy dog, and this is certainly the case for the Smooth Collie.
Around an hour’s worth of exercise are necessary every day to keep your Smooth Collie fit, healthy, and happy. Complement their high intelligence with activities that are mentally stimulating as well as physically stimulating and allow them plenty of off-lead time where and when it is safe to do so.
Around the water, Smooth Collies may enjoy going for a quick dip provided that they are accustomed to the water and have been introduced gradually on their own terms. They don’t much like being on boats, but a day out at the sea might just end up with your Smooth Collie going for a swim with the family.
How much exercise does a Smooth Collie dog need? - About 1 hour per day
Do Smooth Collie dogs like water play? Yes, they tend to like playing in the water.
Although Smooth Collies are a large breed, their diet is fairly lean for a dog their size. It is therefore extremely important to provide a nutritious, high-quality diet packed with all of the vitamins and minerals needed to promote healthy growth and development.
Owners may wish to consider raw food or cold-pressed dog food diets, as these have proven health benefits as well as promoting better digestion, but it’s always best to follow the breeder’s guidelines and to consult with a veterinarian to ensure that their diet is appropriate for their development stage and their weight.
Are Smooth Collie dogs prone to weight gain? Yes, especially as they age.
How much should I feed a Smooth Collie puppy? About 160-340g per day, in 2-3 sessions.
How much should I feed an adult Smooth Collie dog? About 210-380g per day, in total.
This breed requires plenty of care and maintenance in terms of grooming, so be prepared to spend countless hours every month brushing and cleaning off your Smooth Collie. Although their short coats (compared to Rough Collies) are easy to brush, owners still must put in the effort to promote a healthy, glossy coat and to stave off infections.
Emotionally, Smooth Collies are likewise demanding for a pastoral breed. They require near-constant company and are thus better suited to families that can devote plenty of time to being around them.
- Grooming: 3-4 times per week, brush your Smooth Collie’s coat and remove any dead hairs and/or debris. Check for infections in the ears and eyes.
- Emotional care: do not make a habit of leaving your Smooth Collie at home alone for prolonged periods. Even if they may be in the garden on their own for a few hours, they need to be reassured that their owner or a family member is nearby.
The recent history of the Smooth Collie is fairly well-established, having begun in Scotland under the reign of Queen Victoria. As a fan of Smooth and Rough Collies (she is said to have preferred the Smooth Collie!), she had many brought back to Windsor from Balmoral for her kennels at the same time that families in Britain were beginning to use pets as companions rather than strictly working or pastoral dogs.
The ancient history is shrouded in mystery, however. Some claim that the Roman conquest of Britain saw ancestor breeds introduced to the British Isles, many of which were bred for function as pastoral guards in what is today Scotland and Wales.
This breed is recognised by just about every kennel club and association worldwide, including the Kennel Club here in the UK. Whilst a popular breed, they are officially classified as a vulnerable breed in the UK.
Queen Victoria was fond of Smooth Collies and Rough Collies and was known to have kept many in her kennels;
As of 1994, the UK Kennel Club prohibits the interbreeding of Smooth and Rough Collies;
Since 2003, the Smooth Collie has been recognised as a vulnerable breed in the UK.
There are plenty of Smooth Collie puppies available for sale or adoption here in the UK, which also has the side effect of attracting puppy mills and unethical breeders to capitalise on the demand for these adorable puppies. Please read our buying guide and if you still wish to purchase a Smooth Collie, ensure that you only acquire a puppy from a reputable breeder here in the UK.
How much does a Smooth Collie cost to buy? - Between £400-£800.
How much does a Smooth Collie cost to feed? - An adult Smooth Collie costs about £1.30-£1.50 per day to feed.
How much does insurance for a Smooth Collie cost? - About £20-£40 per month.
Sensible alternatives to purchasing a new Smooth Collie puppy include rescue and adoption.
Additional resources can be found via Smooth Collie registries and associations such as: