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Collie Breed Guide and Pet Insurance Plan

By Stacy Painter and medically reviewed by Cathy Barnette, DVM
published: February 7, 2023 - updated: March 31, 2023 • 5 min. read
A collie lying down.

Introduction to Collies

Collies are among the most popular dogs in America and are beloved members of so many families who have welcomed them into their lives. These Herding Group dogs are devoted and graceful, and they’ve been featured in lots of stories, television shows, and movies over the years. Collies have beautiful coats, love being around children, and are very intelligent. However, they do require steady companionship rather than being left alone and also a good amount of exercise to stay physically fit and mentally stimulated.

We wrote this breed guide to help you learn more about the collie breed of dogs and understand the best ways to care for your collie’s health.


Size of Collies

Collies are medium size dogs that fit well into many different households and lifestyles. Male collies are between 60 and 75 pounds and between 24 and 26 inches in height. Female collies are 50 to 65 pounds and 22 to 24 inches in height.

Here’s how big you can expect your collie to get as the dog grows from puppyhood to adulthood:  

Weight Chart15 weeks30 weeks40 weeks60 weeks
Male collies24-35 lbs.42-60 lbs.47-68 lbs.50-74 lbs.
Female collies22-35 lbs.37-60 lbs.42-71 lbs.44-74 lbs.
Collie running

Characteristics of Collies

Collies have wonderful personalities and a sense of adventure. They are friendly and good-natured dogs that are adaptable and have great herding abilities. They are often used as therapy dogs, but they can also excel in agility competitions and lure coursing. Collies are relatively quiet dogs unless they have a good reason to bark or are left alone for long periods of time. They require some time and attention for grooming, but this goes towards quality time spent with your dog.

As you get to know a collie’s personality, here’s what you can expect based on his or her breed characteristics.

Breed CharacteristicLevel (High, Medium, Low)
Affectionate with PeopleHigh
Good with KidsHigh
Good with PetsHigh
Need for ExerciseMedium
Energy LevelMedium
Intelligence LevelMedium
Able to Be TrainedMedium
Amount of BarkingMedium
Amount of SheddingHigh

History of Collies

Originating in Scotland, collies were popularized by Queen Victoria, who stayed at the Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands and fell in love with the breed. This was a local herding breed that was transformed from a common shepherd dog to a symbol of nobility. Historians believe that collies existed in Scotland thousands of years before that, however.

Written records of collies date back to the early 1800s, and the breed became popular in America in the 1900s. The American Kennel Club recognized the collie as a dog breed in 1885, and the Collie Club of America was formed in 1886. Authors have featured collies in books, and filmmakers have included collies in their shows and movies. The famous television show, Lassie, was about a collie and made the breed a favorite companion among children.

Collie Standard Information

Collies have a large and loyal following throughout the world and are one of the most recognizable dog breeds today. There are two types of collies that exist today: rough collies and smooth collies. Rough and smooth collies are judged by the same standard except for the characteristics of the coat. But overall, these dogs are responsive, proportionate, graceful, and balanced.

Here is an overview of the breed standard information for collies:


  • Light appearance in the head, not massive
  • Sides that taper in gradually from the ears
  • Well-rounded and blunt muzzle
  • Scissors bite
  • Eyes matched in color other than blue merles
  • Ears in proportion to head

Neck, Topline, Body:

  • Firm, clean, and muscular neck
  • Firm and hard body a bit longer in proportion to the height
  • Tail moderately long and carried low when quiet


  • Abundant coat except for head and legs
  • Straight and harsh outercoat for rough collies
  • Soft and furry undercoat


  • Sable and white, tri-color, blue merle, or white
  • No judging preference among the different colors
collie dog lying in snow

Caring for Collies

Collies have very showy coats that require a little extra care for grooming. They also have an elegant shape and are athletic as long as pet parents keep up with regular exercise. Yet these are well-balanced dogs that like their active time and their chill time too. Unlike some other breeds, collies are not one-person dogs and will bond with multiple people in a family and even new friends too.

Here are some general tips for taking the best care of a collie:

Best Living Environments:

  • Houses with fenced yards
  • Apartments are okay too, if properly exercised
  • Homes with children and other pets
  • A climate that is not too hot (sensitive to heat)

Type of Exercise:

  • Running around in a fenced yard
  • Daily walks
  • Off-leash play in a dog park

Mental Enrichment:

  • Don’t leave alone in a yard for long periods of time
  • Ongoing dog sports or training to keep the dog mentally stimulated

Training Strategies:

  • Easy to train because they are intelligent and eager to please
  • Use positive teaching methods
  • Try obedience and agility training
  • Lure coursing, barn hunting, and herding can be fun for collies too

Grooming Tips:

  • Require regular grooming to maintain the coat
  • Rough collies may require extra grooming compared to smooth collies
  • Undercoat needs to be brushed during shedding times
  • Spayed females do a big shed once per year
  • Male collies shed around their birthday and need extra grooming then
A smooth collie
A smooth collie has shorter fur than a rough collie.

Common Health Problems of Collies

Collies have a moderately long life span and typically live between 12 and 14 years. The Collie Health Foundation has researched various ways to improve the health of this breed. The national breed club for collies recommends that dogs get a PRA Optigen DNA test and MDR1 DNA test to verify if any serious health conditions are present. You can avoid many health issues with your collie if you get your dog from a responsible breeder who has done the recommended health checks and clearances. Skin, eye, and joint issues are common with collies, as well as allergies and sensitivities to medications.

These are some of the most common health issues that arise with collies:

  • Nasal solar dermatitis (skin that peels and oozes, may lead to cancer)
  • Collie eye anomaly (inherited condition that can cause blindness)
  • Dermatomyositis (autoimmune skin disorder)
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (eye disease)
  • Nodular granulomatous episclerokeratitis (immune disorder)
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Allergies to food and environmental conditions
  • Sensitivity to anesthesia, insecticides, and some heartworm medications with ivermectin

Diet and Nutrition for Collies

Collies need two to three cups of dry dog food per day, divided into two meals. It can be difficult to recognize whether a collie is overweight or underweight because of their thick coat. As a general rule, adult collies need between 990 and 1280 calories per day. A few recommended dog foods for collies are Royal Canin Large Adult Dry Dog Food, Purina Pro Plan Adult Complete Essentials Shredded Blend Lamb & Rice, and Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Light Chicken Meal & Barley Dog Food.

Where to Adopt or Purchase Collies

If you are looking to bring a collie into your household, one resource to look at is the Collie Club of America. This organization offers information about finding responsible breeders registered with the American Kennel Club. If you want to adopt a collie in need of a loving home, you can look to online resources to find a collie near you, such as PetFinder and Adopt-a-Pet. There are also collie-specific rescue organizations that you can work through depending on where you live, such as the Collie Rescue of the Carolinas, Tri-State Collie Rescue, and Freedom Collie Rescue in Texas.

Related Breeds

In addition to the traditional collie dog breed, there are other similar and related breeds that you may be interested to learn about if you love this type of dog. Here are some other dogs to read about before making a final decision about what type of canine companion you want to have.

Pet Insurance for Collies

Collies are amazing dogs to get to know and love, but as you have learned in this breed guide, they need extra care to address a variety of potential health concerns before they become major issues. Healthy Paws offers collie pet insurance to give you peace of mind that you can always afford to pay the vet bills if something goes wrong with your collie. Whether your pup gets into an accident, becomes sick, gets diagnosed with a genetic condition, or could benefit from alternative care, Healthy Paws is here for you and your beloved collie.

Please tell us just a few details about your collie on our website to get a dog insurance quote and take the important next step in being proactive about your furry friend’s health.

Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry and pet insurance specifically for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for Healthy Paws pet insurance was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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cathy barnette
By Cathy Barnette, DVM

Cathy Barnette, DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), is a veterinarian and freelance writer based in Punta Gorda, FL. She graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, then headed to North Carolina, where she spent fifteen years working in small animal general practice. Cathy recently returned to her home state of Florida and now dedicates her working hours to creating educational content for pet owners and veterinary team members for Healthy Paws Pet Insurance LLC & the Healthy Paws Foundation. Cathy is passionate about making complex medical information accessible to pet owners, allowing them to partner with their veterinarians to make informed decisions about their pets' health. Cathy is a member of both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Medical Writers Association. In addition to her human family members, she shares her home with one dog, two cats, and a dove. Cathy Barnette on LinkedIn

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