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Collie dog breed profile

Do you know the difference between Collies and Border Collies?

Whether your dog is a purebred Collie or a Collie mix, learning about the breed can explain a lot about your pet's personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt a Collie and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.

If the '50s TV star "Lassie" stole your heart, then the gentle Collie might be the breed for you. They're adaptable pups who love being around family and will happily romp around in the yard or lounge about.

But as with any breed, there are always care requirements to consider before deciding what pet is right for you — like groomingtraining and exercise needs.

What’s the difference between Collies and Border Collies?

While both were bred for herding, the beloved Border Collie came from the border separating Scotland and England, while the charming Collie hails from ancient Rome. They’re similarly named, but both dog types are distinct and separate breeds.

Collie history

The Collie breed might have England’s Queen Victoria to thank for their long-standing popularity, Dr. Elizabeth Devitt, DVM, a general practice veterinarian and veterinary consultant for Fetch, shares. While they hail from herding dogs in ancient Rome, the Queen brought Collies into the royal spotlight.

‍What do Collies look like?

There are two types of Collies: Smooth Collies and Rough Collies. Rough Collies look majestic with soft, flowing fur and long, sleek muzzles. Smooth Collies sport a short coat, but both boast the same narrow muzzle and coat colorations of sable and white, tricolor, blue merle or white.

“Both types [of Collies] weigh about 50 to 75 pounds and stand about 22 to 26 inches high at the shoulders, with males being taller and heftier than the females,” Dr. Devitt says.

RELATED: German Shorthaired Pointer dog breed profile

‍Do Collies shed?

According to Dr. Devitt, all Collies shed, but they only require weekly brushing most of the year. However, they’ll need more grooming attention during their annual shed out and females that aren't spayed will lose fur during their heat cycle.

Collie temperament

Collies were bred to be working pups. So, they love exercising, socializing and generally doing something new and interesting. “This isn’t the breed to leave home alone all day,” Dr. Devitt shares.

Whether rough-or-smooth coated, Collies enjoy their humans' company and are eager to learn something new from them — like retrieving the paper. They have brains and beauty, Dr. Devitt says, and are happy to flaunt them both.

All Collies share similar temperaments, although some say Smooth Collies are more active. “They also like to be inside when the family gathers around and aren’t above being couch potatoes,” Dr. Devitt notes.

‍What health issues do Collies face?

Being a Collie pet parent means understanding the health risks associated with the breed. And according to Dr. Devitt, Collies are at risk for a few inherited health conditions, including:

  • Collie eye anomaly: Also called choroidal hypoplasia, this inherited disease can cause blindness in pups. A veterinary ophthalmologist can detect it in Collie puppies as young as 5 weeks.
  • MDR-1: This gene mutation causes drug resistance. “It can put a dog at risk for toxicity from common heartworm preventatives and other specific medications,” Dr. Devitt says.
  • Familial dermatomyositis: a skin-and-muscle disorder.
  • Degenerative myelopathy (DM): results in the progressive loss of rear-limb mobility.
  • Gray Collie Syndrome (GCS): Pets with this inherited disease have lighter-colored or grayer coats compared to healthy Collie pups. “It’s a fatal white blood cell disorder,” Dr. Devitt explains.

Collies are also at risk for bloat and are prone to developing elbow-and-hip dysplasia.

When adopting a Collie, asking questions about any known family history can be helpful when it comes to inherited diseases. Plus, there’s genetic testing for the MDR-1 mutation and early evaluation for Collie eye anomaly, Dr. Devitt notes. The earlier an inherited disease is detected, the sooner you and your veterinarian can discuss a management plan.

Collie rescue

Are you interested in adopting a Collie, Collie mix or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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