Rough Collie

Other names: Collie, Scottish collie, Long-Haired collie, English collie, Lassie dog

Rough Collie
Rough Collie

The Rough Collie came about in the early 1800s and was first known as a herder of Scottish farmland livestock. Rough Collies are seen in various colours of coat. Arguably the most famous of all Rough Collies was the dog that starred in the TV series Lassie which first aired between 1954 and 1971. Six dogs in total played Lassie throughout those years and contributed to the popular notion of the Rough Collie as a brave and loyal dog. Rough Collies are used by armed forces and security services around the world.


Key facts about the Rough Collie

  • Life expectancy : Between 11 and 13 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful, Intelligent
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Long
  • Price : Between £620 and £780

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)


Section 1 : Sheepdogs

Physical characteristics of the Rough Collie

Adult size

Female dog Between 20 and 22 in
Male dog Between 22 and 24 in


Female dog Between 37 and 57 lb
Male dog Between 44 and 62 lb

Coat colour

Collies are coloured white and sable or a mix of mahogany and sable; there are also varieties of tri-coloured, blue merle, double merle or a mix of sable and merle.

Type of coat

The hair is long.

A coarse outer coat with a mane around the neck beneath which lies a dense and downy undercoat.

Eye colour

Usually dark-brown colour; the eyes of blue merle Collies are often blue or brown and flecked with blue.


The head of the Rough Collie is light and small in relation to the rest of its body. The muzzle is slender and the foreface of the dog follows a rounded yet wedge-like line from the ears to the point of the nose. The upper third of the ear folds over. The body of the dog is longer than it is tall at the withers and the tail is long with a swirl at its tip.



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A very affectionate dog is the Rough Collie. This even-tempered dog enjoys most of all the company of its people.


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Collies love attention from humans and will play all day long if given the opportunity to do so. Interactive games are the most stimulating type of game for the Rough Collie, and games such as these cement the dog’s bond with its owner.


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The Rough Collie is a calm dog and one not easily given to fright or agitation. Early socialisation of the Collie is essential however: dogs that have not been acclimatised to noises, bright lights, sudden movement and occasional shouting tend to become timid and shy.


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Exceptionally intelligent, the Rough Collie aims to please and will learn things quickly. It is a patient and inquisitive dog, and not clumsy. The Collie wants to feel that its place in the pack is valued and worthwhile.


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Rough Collies are herders not hunters. The dog’s want to chase smaller animals is not born of a desire to harm but rather to control the animal, and usually for the benefit of the owner. Due to their willingness to learn, Collies can easily be recalled in the event of a chase.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Shyness is a common trait of Rough Collies but socialisation and interaction with humans other than those of their pack will eradicate this. They are not overly confident dogs at the best of times but a happy medium can be reached.


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The Rough Collie is not known for its independence. It is faithful and loyal to its owner and will probably follow the owner through the house.

Behaviour of the Rough Collie

Tolerates solitude

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Collies do not appreciate being left alone for long periods of time or being isolated from the action (for instance, shut away during a dinner party). They are happiest when involved in all of the comings and goings. If forced to be on their own for a long time they will exhibit antisocial behaviour such as chewing and scratching furniture, and excessive vocalisation.

Easy to train / obedience

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Rough Collies are relatively easy to train but their training requires consistency and dedication on behalf of the owner. The dog does not respond well to a harsh criticism or a telling off and is liable to become timid and unresponsive if berated. Once trained the Rough Collie is exceptionally obedient.


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The bark of the Rough Collie is high pitched at times; the dog is also known to howl. Early training is needed to reinforce the notion that barking for no good reason is unacceptable.

Tendency to run away

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Proper training that is confident and varied works wonders for this dog; to train to recall is perhaps one of the most important lessons a dog can learn. Rough Collies can be trained to recall but are in any case less likely to run away than dogs belonging to some other breeds.


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If it finds itself in an enclosed space or at home for long periods of time without exercise and fresh air, the Rough Collie will notify you of its displeasure by destroying your furnishings, doors, window sills and carpets.

Greedy / Gluttony

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To own an active dog does not preclude its owner from administering a strict dog food diet. Rough Collies require just two meals a day of high-quality dog food, ideally formulated for active dogs. Some dogs of the breed are prone to put on weight if overfed and under-exercised.

Guard dog

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The Rough Collie’s bark is an alarm bark; it uses its voice to warn of impending dangers. In this respect it makes an excellent watchdog. However, the dog’s bark is most certainly worse than its bite, which is non-existent. The Collie is more likely to wag its tail and make friends with an intruder.

First dog

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In the right hands this dog is easy to train, but training cannot be done light-heartedly. The Rough Collie may not be a good first dog unless the owner is willing to dedicate time and patience to training, and is at home with the dog more often than not.


Rough Collie in a flat

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The Rough Collie may only need moderate exercise but it does not do well in a flat. A large garden and large running space indoors will make for a calmer dog. This dog does not like to be confined and needs extra room outdoors in order to stretch its legs.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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Although not as energetic as some of the other types of collie, the Rough Collie still needs a moderate amount of exercise to keep its mind and body healthy. 60 to 80 minutes of walking every day is adequate but more would be good, and time off the lead would be perfect. Insufficient exercise can lead not only to obesity but also behavioural problems stemming from boredom.

Travelling / easy to transport

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Once trained, a Rough Collie is exceptionally obedient, comfortable with new surroundings and enjoys new experiences. The Collie is not a home-dog that is happier to stay in one place for a long period of time.


Rough Collie and cats

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Collies will chase cats, even cats that they have grown up with. They are not jealous dogs and do not mean harm (with exceptions), but their herding instincts will kick in with anything smaller than them. If you own a cat and are considering introducing a collie into your home you should seek advice on how best to acquaint the animals.

Rough Collie and dogs

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The Rough Collie prefers the company of humans to the company of dogs. They do not tend to want to fight other dogs and will be mortally upset if another dog is aggressive towards them. Given time a collie will live in relative harmony with another dog.

Rough Collie and children

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The bossiness of the Rough Collie should not be a surprise given its upbringing as a herding dog. Young children that run around the house may find themselves being herded like sheep by a Collie. They are rarely aggressive with children though and may knock a small child over only by accident.

Rough Collie and the elderly

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This is a dog that requires a moderate amount of exercise and some dedicated grooming. However, due to their want to be at home with someone all the time the Rough Collie would make a good, worthwhile companion for an elderly person.


The price for a Rough Collie can vary according to its origin, gender and age. For a dog registered at the Kennel Club, they will cost on average £780.

Concerning your average monthly budget to satisfy your Rough Collie’s needs, it will vary between £100 and £150 per month.


Brush the Rough Collie’s double coat regularly (at least twice a week) to prevent the coat from becoming matted and tangled. The coat’s hairs are liable to pick up dust, insects and plant seeds from the outdoors, which should be brushed out. A bath is recommended for the Rough Collie four times a year. A regular check inside the dog’s outer ear is also recommended.


Rough Collies experience a ‘blow coat’ as the weather changes: they will shed more profusely as summer approaches. Grooming will prevent too much shedding but these dogs are not ideal for owners who suffer with hair-related allergies.

Nutrition of the Rough Collie

A high-quality and calorie-rich dog food will suit the active Rough Collie. Neutering and old age slow the dog’s metabolism down, which poses the danger of a dog’s gaining weight when fed the same diet. Be vigilant of your dog’s health and adjust servings accordingly.

Health of the Rough Collie

Life expectancy

13 to 15 years.

Strong / robust

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Rough Collies demand exercise regardless of the weather. Originating in Scotland the breed is robust and not prone to illnesses, chills or sickness.

Withstand heat

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The Rough Collie will not tolerate hot weather. The double coat of the Rough Collie causes the dog to feel especially uncomfortable in the summer.

Withstand cold

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Although the double coat of the Rough Collie will keep the dog warm in the snow owners should make every effort to acclimatise the dog before taking outdoor walks in very cold weather.

Tendency to put on weight

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Weight gain can be a feature of the Collie. Some dogs of the breed have a huge appetite and will eat to obesity but others are very particular about their diet.

Common illnesses

Good to know

Rough Collies become easily bored if they are not exercised enough or played with. They are family dogs and need to feel as though they are a valued and integral part of the family. If the dog is allowed to be bored and is neglected it will exhibit antisocial behaviour and may even become unmanageable.

Origins and history

The suspected origin of the Rough Collie dates back to the first Roman invasion of Britain. Soldiers brought with them a breed of herding dog that was able to control herds of animals that accompanied the marauders on their quest to conquer. Successive breeding with similar dogs already found in Scotland may have been instrumental in the creation of the collie we know today. Queen Victoria was especially fond of the Rough Collie.


Good names for a Rough Collie: Daiko, Hanna, Miko, Sun

Find out more dog name ideas here


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